Review: Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century

ConvictionalCivility_CVR_PRINT.inddMy first contact with David Dockery came in, what I called a resounding call to take up the gospel, Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological ProposalIn that volume he inspired me and countless others to “Move beyond confusion and controversy to a new consensus focused on the Gospel.” It is only right that such a team has come together to share of his lasting influence and of his commitment to the gospel in Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century.

A volume dedicated to and in admiration of David Dockery is a wonderful tribute to a man who has exampled,a lifestyle of bearing witness for Christ and of contributing to the common good.” Not only has he done that for those who know him, he has done so for many of us who will never cross paths with him. Lingering somewhere between a young, restless, and reformed commitment and a conviction to uphold the Second London Confession of 1689, Dockery has assisted me by displaying the life of Christ for a watching world. Not only that he has given us a clear path to walk on in lieu of the mission we are called to fulfill as believers in Christ’ atoning sacrifice but he has provided a lifestyle worthy of emulating.

This volume is broken up into two parts. The first part includes essays from prominent thinkers who explore the convictional civility through the lenses of their vocations and their respective disciplines. Names like James Leo Garrett Jr., R. Albert Mohler Jr, Millard Erickson, and Timothy George show up here. They explore the ideas, among others, of Convictional Clarity, Imaging God through Union with Christ, and Higher Education.

Part two is dedicated to featuring congratulatory remarks and comments from those who have been endeared to Dockery. They make note of his influence, not only on their lives, but on their leadership as well. Here we see Baptist leaders which include; Nathan Finn, George Guthrie, and Daniel Akin. This section highlights the personal influence which Dockery has exuded over these other leaders. More fitting words could not be said in his honor.

This Festschrift is a fitting volume to a dreamer who dared to take God at his word and continues to live out the Great Commission. More than anything else in this volume, this comment from Timothy George and David Dockery hit home the hardest; “We desire to foster a forum where scholars from diverse perspectives with the Baptist family could share the results of their research and in the process experience, perhaps, the miracle of dialogue–not a raucous shouting at one another, nor a snide whispering behind each other’s backs, but a genuine listening and learning in the context of humane inquiry and disciplined thought…The Christian faith is deeper and wider than the experience of any one believer: it is the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, and the living out of that confession by the power of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the people of God.”

I pray for more leaders like David Dockery. Men and women who are under the conviction that the gospel is to be understood and exampled, even amid a culture that disregards God. May his influence over Trinity Evangelical Divinity School continue to shape leaders for future ministry. God has raised him up to shape a culture in which we can agree on the essentials and disagree with civility on secondary issues. This has been a wonderful volume full of essays and congratulations to a man worthy of double honor.

Mitchell, C. Ben, Sanderson, Carla D.,  and Thornbury, Gregory A. eds. Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century : Essays in Honor of David S. Dockery. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2015. 208.

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