JACKSON, Tenn. – March 12, 2009 – Union University President David S. Dockery is featured prominently in “Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study,” the monumental 700-page work on Baptists by James Leo Garrett Jr.
Garrett has been a Baptist theological educator for more than 50 years, teaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Baylor University.
Gregory A. Thornbury, dean of the School of Christian Studies at Union, said Garrett’s new “Baptist Theology” book is now the standard volume on the identity of Baptists throughout history.
“The significance of the work is that the Baptist movement is one of the major tributaries flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, and no one had attempted such a comprehensive intellectual history of the movement before,” Thornbury said. “To begin in the 17th century and to bring it up to 2009 is an astonishing achievement. And no one could have told the story better than James Leo Garrett.”
Thornbury added that ideas and theology shape movements, and that’s what Garrett has captured in his book.
After tracing the roots of Baptist beliefs, Garrett starts with English General Baptists such as John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, moving then to English Particular Baptists. From there he turns to Roger Williams and other early American Baptists, then Baptists leaders and theologians up to the present day.
Dockery is included in Garrett’s final chapter, “New Voices in Baptist Theology.” The chapter includes summaries of John Piper, Tom Nettles, D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem and Timothy George, among others.
Garrett provides a brief biographical sketch of Dockery and a summary of his writing and editing projects, including such works as “Baptist Theologians,” “Theologians of the Baptist Tradition,” the New American Commentary series, “Shaping a Christian Worldview: The Foundations of Higher Education,” “Biblical Interpretation Then and Now” and dozens of others.
“Dockery’s greatest specialization has come in biblical hermeneutics, beginning with his doctoral dissertation,” Garrett writes.
He also describes Dockery as an “Evangelical-Calminian Baptist”: “On soteriology he has espoused a Calminian or Amyraldian position between Calvinism and Arminianism,” Garrett writes.
Thornbury observed the significance of the space dedicated to Dockery.
“He gets as much coverage as E.Y. Mullins,” Thornbury said. “David Dockery has been more productive and prolific than any other Baptist theologian in recent history. He’s been involved in building movements and shaping coalitions that have impact and effect.”
Thornbury also cited Dockery’s role in helping to bring about a renaissance of Christian higher education by focusing on the Christian intellectual tradition.
“He’s a major figure in Baptist history,” Thornbury said.