Archives For David Dockery

We are grateful to the Lord He has led David Dockery to the ministry of president of Trinity International University. It has been a joy to spend time with him the past few weeks as he has made this transition into the EFCA. I am very encouraged by his life and doctrine, his commitment to the church and the academy, and his living out the pastor-theologian model.

Bill Jones, chairman of the EFCA Board of Directors (BOD), released an official announcement today: “We are pleased to announce that both the EFCA Board of Directors and the Board of Regents of TIU have unanimously recommended Dr. David Dockery to serve as the president of TIU.”

Jones describes Dockery “as a humble and godly man, who has a passion for the ministry of the gospel in local churches in this country and around the world.” More specifically, Jones highlights that Dockery “wants to serve within the EFCA and to see Trinity continue to be a blessing to the broader Church.”

In conjunction with the announcement by the BOD a “video introduction of David Dockery” was released which consists of an interview conducted by Jones.

I encourage you to take 15 minutes to “meet” David Dockery. I believe what you hear in the video will accurately reflect what you read above.

Thank the Lord for this new season of ministry for David, TIU and the EFCA. And please pray for David and Lanese during these exciting days of transition.

*David is serving in an interim capacity until this summer when the EFCA Conference gives final approval to this appointment, as required by the EFCA bylaws

The Importance of a Christian Worldview

Greg Strand – November 7, 2013 5 Comments

Yesterday I referred to a new blog series on A God-Centered-Worldview. David Dockery, who served as president at Union University, Jackson, TN (1995-2012), writes the first post: “Why is it important to have a Christian worldview?

Dockery notes that everyone has a worldview, since all are faced with “the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.” This is not unique to the Christian, but is foundational for all, whether or not they know or can articulate it.

Dockery defines a worldview as follows:

it is a comprehensive life system that seeks to answer the basic questions of life. A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life. . . . A Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the test of history and experience. A Christian view of the world cannot be infringed upon, accepted or rejected piecemeal, but stands or falls on its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers a stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight that bears not only on the religious sphere but also on the whole of thought. A Christian worldview is not built on two types of truth (religious and philosophical or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-embracing system that shapes religion, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, the arts, the humanities, and all disciplines of study with application for all of life.

The beginning of a Christian worldview is in God and His creation, as explicitly taught in the Bible (Gen. 1:1) and confessed in the Apostles’ Creed, “We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Dockery writes,

The central affirmation of Scripture is not only that there is a God but that God has acted and spoken in history. God is Lord and King over this world, ruling all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does in order that humans and angels may worship and adore him. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To think wrongly about God is idolatry (Ps. 50:21). Thinking rightly about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the believer’s life objective (Jer. 9:23–24). We can think rightly about God because he is knowable (1 Cor. 2:11), yet we must remain mindful that he is simultaneously incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33–36). God can be known, but he cannot be known completely (Deut. 29:29).

There are important implications of affirming and living by a Christian worldview, under the Lordship of Christ. Dockery lists a number of them, which I summarize.

  • A Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life, giving us a sense of God’s plan and purpose for this world. Our identity is shaped by this worldview.
  • A Christian worldview provides a framework for ethical thinking.
  • A Christian worldview has implications for understanding history. . . . God who has acted in history in past events will also act in history to consummate this age.
  • A Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and doing, based on a new way of being.
  • A Christian worldview is a coherent way of seeing life, of seeing the world distinct from deism, naturalism, and materialism, existentialism, polytheism, pantheism, mysticism, or deconstructionist postmodernism.
  • A Christian worldview offers meaning and purpose for all aspects of life.

In conclusion, Dockery emphasizes “six particular applications where a Christian worldview provides a difference in perspective” (included in full):

1. Technology—Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as God’s stewards or an object of worship that will eventually rule us. A Christian worldview provides balance and insight for understanding this crucial aspect of twenty-first-century life.
2. Sexuality and marriage—Sexuality has become a major topic for those entering the third millennium. Much confusion exists among Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is good in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual intimacy, separated from covenant marriage, in hetero-sexual or homosexual relations is sinful and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose and negative consequences.
3. The environment—Environmental stewardship means we have a responsibility to the nonhuman aspects of God’s creation. Since God’s plan of redemption includes his earthly creation, as well as human (see Rom. 8:18–27), we should do all we can to live in it carefully and lovingly.
4. The arts and recreation—The arts and recreation are understood as legitimate and important parts of human creativity and community. They express what it means to be created in the image of God. We need to develop critical skills of analysis and evaluation so that we are informed, intentional, and reflective about what we create, see, and do.
5. Science and faith—For almost two centuries science has been at the forefront of our modern world. We must explore how we see scientific issues from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. An understanding of God includes the knowledge we gain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, a picture of God’s world emerges that complements and harmonizes the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
6. Vocation—Important for any culture is an understanding of work. Work is a gift from God and is to be pursued with excellence for God’s glory. We recognize that all honest professions are honorable, that the gifts and abilities we have for our vocation (vocatio/calling) come from God, and that prosperity and promotions come from God.

The essence of a Christian worldview is to bring every thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This is reflected in the way we think, the way we speak and the way we live – a comprehensive way of thinking and living. All of life is lived in dependency on the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God, for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the spread of the gospel as we serve and edify others.

A few questions for you.

  • Do you have a Christian worldview?
  • What difference does it make?
  • What are you doing to foster this in your own life, the life of your family and the life of your church family?

At our local EFC church we are using The Gospel Project material for our Sr. High Sunday School and our adult Christian Living Class (also known as Sunday School). This is an excellent curriculum and we have profited greatly from this biblical material, as affirmed by both teacher (me) and those participating.

The theme for Winter 2013-14 is “Making Your Case (Worldview and Apologetics).” In conjunction with the hard-copy material provided for teachers and participants, there is also a blog series providing additional material, A God Centered Worldview.

The theme and blog are explained in this way:

A Christian perspective of the world is vitally important for Christians and non-Christians alike. We need a Christian worldview so we will be grounded in the foundational beliefs that undergird our identity as Christ’s followers. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it’s true. Likewise, we need to understand and be equipped to respond to the big questions people have and to engage in the big debates of our society.

We hope to provide Students and Adults with a biblical perspective on our world. In the Winter study we will not only cover foundational concepts for a biblical worldview but also address some of the big questions skeptics (and some Christians!) have about our faith. Our prayer for the The Gospel Project is that our studies will make participants gospel grounded missionaries—firm in the faith and gracious in your witness.

In this blog the following authors will address various themes/truths/responses related to a defense of the Christian faith and upholding the Christian worldview.

  • Why is it important to have a Christian worldview? By David Dockery
  • How did we get the Bible and can we trust it? By Darrell Bock
  • What is unique about Christianity among the world religions? By Jonathan Dodson
  • What is the importance covenant marriage? By Tim Keller
  • Isn’t Christianity intolerant? By Paul Copan
  • What is our problem with hell? By Matt Capps
  • How should we treat challenges to the Christian faith? By Gary Habermas
  • Why is creation care important? By Russell Moore
  • If God is good, why is there suffering? By Jeremy Evans
  • What does the Bible say about abortion? By Nigel Cameron
  • Does life have meaning apart from God? By Andy Mclean
  • Why does the resurrection really matter? By N. T. Wright
  • What does the Bible teach about sex? By Clayton King
  • How does one develop a Christian mind? By J. P. Moreland
  • Is the unity of the Bible is evidence that it is God’s Word? By Adrian Rogers

If the first post by David Dockery on “Why is it important to have a Christian worldview?” is reflective of the rest of the series, it will be outstanding. I will post include a post on Dockery’s excellent article tomorrow.

Though this blog series is intended to supplement the material in The Gospel Project, it could serve as an excellent stand-alone reading assignment for “understanding a biblical worldview.” Read the material and I think you will agree!

 

The EFCA strongly affirms that dictum that we “major on the majors, and minor on the minors.” As Rupertus Meldenius stated in the midst of the tragic Thirty Years War (1618-1648), “in essentials unity, in non-essentials charity, in all things Jesus Christ” (with some variation of the last statement).

In the EFCA we refer to this as “the significance of silence,” which means that on those non-essential matters we will debate issues but we will not divide over them.

It is one thing to state this as a policy. It is another thing to live this policy out in practice. It requires a great deal of grace and maturity, without compromising truth.

One of the doctrines that appears to lead perpetually to questions, concerns, and tensions is that of salvation: does faith precede regeneration (generally referred to as the Arminian/Wesleyan position), or does regeneration precede faith (generally referred to as the Reformed/Calvinist position)?

This doctrine has, once again, become a hot-topic issue in the Southern Baptist Convention. Last year at their annual Convention there were “heresy accusation” claims.  (This discussion does not remain in the SBC alone. It affects all denominations that are a place for both of these understandings of salvation, including the EFCA. I will write about our EFCA commitment and practice at a future date.)

Because of this discussion in the SBC, a “Calvinism Advisory Committee” was formed by Frank Page, President, SBC Executive Committee, to respond to the questions being raised, the tension the SBC is presently experiencing. This Committee, made up of 19 members with David Dockery, retired president of Union University, serving as chair, released their statement as they approach their annual Convention meeting: “Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension: A Statement from the Calvinism Advisory Committee”:

Here is one of the key conclusions they made of their time together, which is stated as part of the introduction to this Statement, each of the four components – truth, tension, trust and testimony – being delineated thoroughly:

Four central issues have become clear to us as we have met together. We affirm together that Southern Baptists must stand without apology upon truth; that we do indeed have some challenging but not insurmountable points of tension; that we must work together with trust; and that we must encourage one another to testimony.

Dockery affirms this work with these words:

For several years, Southern Baptists have been asking important questions about our identity and our future. At times we have struggled with trying to grasp the breadth of our doctrinal and historical differences, particularly related to matters such as Calvinism. What has been needed is a new consensus that will help point us toward a new sense of cooperation and renewal for the sake of the Gospel. It is our hope that Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension, while not a perfect statement, will, nevertheless, provide a significant and positive step in that direction. The statement reflects the efforts of many diverse voices who have attempted to speak as one with a sense of convictional civility and Spirit-enabled charity toward and with one another. We pray that these efforts will enable us to serve collaboratively and work faithfully, while offering a joyful and Gospel-focused witness to a lost and needy world.

As would be expected, the document has been and will be variously considered. For some, it will be considered good and necessary. For others, it will be considered bad and unnecessary. And one knows there are all kinds of varied responses in between and outside those! Christianity Today has included a brief update.

Because we in the EFCA live with the same doctrinal parameters on the doctrine of salvation, I would encourage you to read the whole document. There is much for us to learn in the EFCA about living and ministering together from the common foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

David Dockery, President of Union University, Jackson, TN, serves as the editor of a new series published by Crossway: Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition (you can see the books available in this series at Crossway’s website). This looks to be an excellent series.

I have the inaugural volume written by Dockery and Timothy George on my desk, The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012). In the preface they write of the ultimate goal of these series of books (p. 12).

At the heart of this work is the challenge to prepare a generation of Christians to think Christianly, to engage the academy and the culture, and to serve the church and society. We believe that both the breadth and the depth of the Christian intellectual tradition need to be reclaimed, revitalized, renewed, and revived for us to carry forward this work. These study guides will seek to provide a framework to help introduce students to the great tradition of Christian thinking, seeking to highlight its importance for understanding the world, its significance for serving both church and society, and its application for Christian thinking and learning. The series is a starting point for exploring important ideas and issues such as truth, meaning, beauty, and justice.

Justin Taylor interviewed Dockery about this series , and I include below a few of the key statements made by Dockery.

Dockery explains the goal of this series:

The “Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition” series is designed to provide an overview for the distinctive way the church has read the Bible, formulated doctrine, provided education, and engaged the culture through the centuries. The various contributors to the series all agree that personal faith and genuine Christian piety are essential for Christian living and for service in the church.

The authors of the books in this series will focus on the following:

The contributors to the series will explore how the Bible has been interpreted in the history of the church, as well as how theology has been formulated.  We will seek to ask:

  • How does the Christian faith influence our understanding of culture, literature, philosophy, government, beauty, art, or work?
  • How does the Christian intellectual tradition help us understand truth?
  • How does the Christian intellectual tradition shape our approach to education?

These books are primarily intended for college students and those associated with college and university campuses. But the scope of those who can benefit from these works include pastors and church leaders.

I think that the books can be quite valuable for pastors and church leaders.  At the heart of this work is the challenge to prepare a generation of Christians in all spheres of life to think Christianly about church, culture, and society.  We hope that readers will better understand the breadth and depth of the Christian intellectual tradition.  The works are designed to be accessible and understandable in order to provide a framework to help introduce Christ-followers to the great tradition of Christian thinking, seeking to highlight its importance for understanding the world, its significance for serving both church and society, and its application for Christian thinking and learning.  We trust that the series will be a starting point for exploring important ideas and issues such as truth, meaning, beauty, and justice. We are certainly encouraged by the initial warm response that the series has received from a wide-ranging group of scholars and academic leaders.

As Dockery considers the future of Christian higher education, he remains both excited and concerned. Two of his concerns are:

  1. divorcing academic excellence with Christian commitment/piety, and
  2. the moral pressure placed on Christian institutions that compromise the mission.

Unfortunately, many institutions take an either/or approach to this matter, thinking that they must choose between academic excellence or Christian commitment.  The result has been a long list of institutions, since the days of Harvard University, who have walked away from their Christian commitments and their connections to the churches.  On the other hand, there are some institutions that have focused only on Christian faithfulness and authentic piety, but have avoided serious academic work.  We must avoid this “either/or” approach to higher education.  Likewise we need to avoid models that separate head and heart, faith and reason, or Christian tradition and intellectual inquiry.  We need a coherent approach to Christian thinking and living that seeks to bring these matters together rather than separating them from one another.

Special interest groups continue to offer pressure on Christian institutions of higher education to conform on issues that will compromise our mission.  We must anticipate that the issues of sexuality and sexual freedom, including same-gender unions, could possibly impact federal funding or accreditation matters.  The right to hire will likely be the most important legal issue that Christian colleges and universities will face in the years ahead.  These issues, along with the growing economic pressures faced by every campus, will make the challenges of providing Christ-centered higher education in this century more challenging than ever before.

Dockery’s goal? For Christian institutions to become more mission driven as they serve the church and society.

With these factors in mind, we must think wisely, carefully, strategically, and creatively as we look toward the future to become more thoroughly mission driven.  I am hopeful that Christian institutions in North American and particularly those in the Global South can work together to serve church and society, providing thoughtful foundations for us to engage the  culture and envision a blessed and kingdom-focused future for the days ahead.