David Cox II

About David Cox II

Dave's Blog
Dave Cox is a member of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church of Woodstock. He is a graduate of MBI with a B.A. in International Ministries '96. Currently enrolled at Reformed Baptist Seminary working on an M.T.S. He enjoys writing, running and teaching God's Word. He and his wife Julie have 3 adult children.

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Controversies Book Review

Controversies Book Review

Controversies

by Dr. William F. Luck
TCB Rating:
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Book Overview

I met Bill sometime about 1998 or 99 at a Bible study of the Gospel of John held at a downtown Chicago law firm. I was a recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute ('96) and had heard he was a former teacher. I never had him as a teacher at Moody but did take numerous classes with friends of his (Paul Haik, Paul Nevin, John Walton, Tom Cornman).

Controversies Book Review 1

SUMMARY

Recently I have been discovering his books, and this one in particular was of great interest – as all biographies are to me. Having read Controversies – let me say at the outset, THIS is the book to read to get a handle on this rather interesting and complex man! He has written more than 20 other books, and this book puts them all in context with history and helps you to see how it is that Bill, for example, took on the very challenging topic of Divorce and Remarriage in the late 70’s.

If you like to get a historical feel on the theological debates and discussions of the 70’s through the 90’s you will get that here! Many of his contemporaries are given a new light as we read how they interacted with Bill, and others. Oftentimes we only see men in light of the conclusive books they have written, but we do not get an inside look as to how they came to writing and why they ended up believing as they do.

Controversies will put such men as G. Coleman Luck (Bill’s father), Coleman Luck, Jr (Writer of numerous TV series in the 90’s and Bill’s older brother), Paul Feinberg, Greg Bahnsen, Lou Goldberg of MBI, Robert Van Kampen, Irwin Lutzer, Norm Geisler, Paul Little, Clark Pinnock, Walter Kaiser, Thomas Parker, Bruce Rigdon, Mark Cosgrove, Jim Williams, John Buell, J. P. Moreland, Lou Barbiari, Gary Freisen, Bill Bright, Bill Gothard, Robert Gundry, Stan Gundry, Alan Johnson, in a new light (not necessarily a bad light!).

Remember “Hampden DuBose” (https://www.hampdenduboseacademy.com) boarding school? Read Bill’s account of his time there! Ever wonder what it might be like to be a conservative in a liberal seminary? Wonder no more as Bill takes you in depth through his years at McCormick Seminary (‘73-4).

Want to wade into some deep ethical debates, but not so deep that you’ll drown? Bill takes you there and makes the trip worthwhile. You may not agree with him, but you will certainly appreciate his authenticity in the discussion.
Perhaps I should give you Bill’s take on his autobiography.

I Dislike Controversy. This book is both autobiographical and theological. It covers a life spent defending the truth of the Scriptures as best I knew how. I did not intentionally set out to become involved in the controversies discussed herein, and it surprises me to realize just how many controversies there were.

I’m growing old now, and am not in the center of intellectual debate. I miss my old friends and opponents. Searching on the Internet to find their pictures (with which I have peppered my pages) produced a sad experience.

Some are pictured as they were when I was young and active. Others were pictures of my teachers and old friends as they are now. How we have aged. And some…well…some have passed on to be with the Lord, friends like Paul Feinberg, Greg Bahnsen, Lou Goldberg, and Robert VanKampen. They are missed.

I hope that those who read this book will be entertained and enlightened. I hope that some of the positions set forth, will help readers consider these controversies in new ways and come to satisfying conclusion—even if they don’t agree with me. I used to grade down students who simply agreed with me for the sake of a grade.

I would rather have someone disagree with me and think for themselves. If I manage to help people think through the issues and grow in their thinking, this book will have been worth the writing.
And, finally, as I always do, if you wish to communicate with me regarding what you read herein, I may be reached at rotasman@hotmail.com

CONCLUSION

I do wholeheartedly commend to you Bill’s autobiography, Controversies. And after that, you will know which of his many books to consider next!

dnf
By | 2018-07-10T22:01:48+00:00 July 14th, 2018|

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians Book Review

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians Book Review

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians

by Helmut Thielicke
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Book Overview

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians was written by Helmut Thielicke and first published in 1962 when he was 54. Thielicke spent a number of years preaching and teaching in various churches, and eventually took a professorship at the University of Hamburg.

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians Book Review 1

INTRODUCTION

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians was written by Helmut Thielicke and first published in 1962 when he was 54. Thielicke spent a number of years preaching and teaching in various churches, and eventually took a professorship at the University of Hamburg. While he is an academic, he was not entirely stuffed away in the ‘ivory castle’ due to his many years working directly in those various churches. This book is certainly a recommended read for those planning on a life of ministry, but not necessarily for others.

SUMMARY

Thielicke takes on what to him are 13 important issues that can run a young theologian into shipwreck. Whether the reader agrees with his chosen topics, there is a very definite progression he follows, to instruct young men (and possibly women) as the shipwreck could be a single offense or it could be a steady progression down the path described.

The chapters take on the appearance of brief homilies given in a lecture hall. Chapter one is largely apologetic in nature asking for a gracious reception to things which were uttered in lecture but now put into written form. This appears to be the only chapter which was conceived first for the page, whereas the remainder seem to have been the fruit of many years lecturing to these young ones.

Thielicke presents a common path young theologians take, as they begin their first year studies.

The intent is to show the landmines that may lay before a young minister in training so that he can avoid embarrassing or obtuse mistakes. Thielicke is grooming the minister for service, and much of what is found book is quite practical in nature and useful by all. In chapter two he appears to take seriously the concerns of “the so-called ordinary congregation.” (loc. 115).

In chapter four Thielicke presents a very useful adage, “During the period when the voice is changing we do not sing, and during this formative period in the life of the theological student he does not preach.” (loc. 170). In chapters five and six he warns of a pridefulness which can take hold of the student when he arrives home on break.

From chapters seven through nine, and also twelve, he presents serious theological matters which should move the reader to deep consideration. These chapters are the area of most critical consideration. The remaining chapters present matters of devotional consideration. These are presented largely as advice from the older to the younger.

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EVALUATION

Thielickes’ work is a mixed bag. A great many things are commendatory. The fact that he sees his students as “souls entrusted to” him (loc. 92) endears the reader. In a very enlightening point he shows that the student is often not grasping the depth of a matter, though he does live in the “secondhand experience” (loc. 161) of others he is reading.

He states plainly that this is due to “truth and love” that are “seldom combined.” (loc. 196).  In a powerful statement where he states, “Truth seduces us…but love is the opposite” (loc. 196) the language is picturesque. This is a good statement, but subtly woven into this same beautiful chapter is a hint to the darker things which are to come.

It is in chapter 6, for the first time Thielicke tips his hand a bit where he hints that he does not necessarily hold to the reformed view of the Scripture, suggesting that miracles may be merely “legendary.” (loc. 204).

In chapter seven there are a number of false suppositions, such as the questioning by the “pious” (loc. 234) that science is out of place in the realm of theology. No less than Dr. R.C. Sproul has said that theology is the “queen of the sciences”. Indeed the first 60 pages of Shedds’ Dogmatic Theology is dedicated to the science of theology! These two men are themselves considered to be of great piety.

However, the area of greatest concern is revealed in chapter eight. Here is presented the very reinterpretation (historically speaking) of the Scriptures, demythologizing the Holy Word of God. His reference to sectarianism as “disfiguring the body” (loc. 279) in chapter nine could otherwise be overlooked, but in light of his leanings, what ‘sect’ or denomination would suit him? In chapter eleven Thielicke seems to show a lack of belief in the depravity of man. This is seen in his reference to God as no “fussy faultfinder” (loc. 339).

CONCLUSION

As stated in the introduction, this work is recommended, but not without reservation, and not for everyone. As long as one remains alert to the subtle interweaving of ideas which are landmines to true faith, there is much to be gleaned. It is short and due to this fact alone, may keep one from falling into those errors.

By | 2018-06-25T23:09:26+00:00 July 1st, 2018|

Name Calling?!

Did Paul do right?

We read in Acts 23:6, “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!””

The context is that Paul is in custody for no good reason, except for the Jews of Asia stirring up the crowds. (Acts 21:27-29) Yet Paul seems to deliberately stir up the Sanhedrin with his statement. In fact, the Scripture plainly states that this was indeed Paul’s intent.

Name Calling

On the face of it the statement is true. Paul’s crime was because of the hope of the resurrection. But is Paul to be blamed for the disturbance in the council?  Did Paul do right?

Let’s examine the events to see. The original dispute was due to Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem and to the Temple to fulfill a Nazarite vow. It was the first time in years he’d been back to Jerusalem. And true, he had been warned repeatedly not to go, by prophets such as Agabus and others within the church. (Acts 21:10-14) But it was God’s will that he go. In fact God had plans for Paul which depended upon this arrest! (Acts 23:11)

So Paul’s trip to Jerusalem was by the will of God, and he obeyed this, even though he knew it meant hardship. As for the original rabble rousing by the Asian Jews, this crowd had no good intent or purpose other than to get Paul in trouble. In fact the Scripture testifies that “…some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.” (Acts 21:34a)

Fast forward to the next day, before the assembled Sanhedrin, Paul’s explanation on being a Jew on trial for the hope of the resurrection of the dead – no matter the motive – was right. The division within the Sanhedrin existed prior to Paul’s statement. Did Paul use the division in the Sanhedrin for his advantage? Absolutely. Was this sin? Not at all.

Public discourse is this way. Men and women may be divided or agree on many things. One man’s comments may reveal those divisions to the world, but that does not place guilt upon Paul for that reason.

I do find it interesting that Paul called himself a Pharisee. It’s been years since he was last in Jerusalem – yet he still takes the party name. This is the question I’d like to tackle. Are denominations right?

Names – such as Calvinist, Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. are not at all sinful in and of themselves. We divide along such lines in order to better reflect the convictions we have and to allow closer fellowship with those we share more with theologically. And I readily admit that no denomination one chooses to affiliate himself with is of necessity a perfect match to his or her personal convictions. But the affiliation helps us to fellowship with one another is a sweeter and closer manner.

There is wisdom in this.

For example, I am by conviction a Baptist. I strongly believe that Paedo-baptists err, and would feel highly uncomfortable with the message that such a baptism sends to those less theologically driven. I cannot help this – it is my conviction. And it’s right to have convictions. So I just could not bring myself to be a member in a Presbyterian church of any type.

But there are Presbyterians I know and love. So how does our denominational affiliation allow us greater and sweeter fellowship? By drawing the line distinctly. I know I cannot be a member there. But what if I am traveling on vacation? Couldn’t I visit then? I could, and would (and hope they aren’t baptizing that Sunday!). I also would feel perfectly comfortable taking breakfast or lunch with a brother from a different denomination.

Think of it another way, if there were no denominational choices – could I be comfortable taking lunch with another, if I knew we disagreed on baptism like we do, but the line was not distinctly drawn? I think not. I might wonder what other aberrant theological beliefs he held. And even if I didn’t think like that, I might suspect he holds me at arm’s length, since my theological stances are aberrant to him.

But what a joy it is to be able to visit my brothers when we both by conviction stand and respect one another’s position, not by holding it, but by realizing the same Lord who has caused me to end up in Baptist territory also led him to another conclusion. Remember how Agabus and the brethren in Caesarea told Paul not to go to Jerusalem? Yet Paul by the same Spirit was compelled to go! Sometimes the paths our Lord compels us to, are not the same as another, but they can be right and good. This is not to say that all paths are equally right…but rightly understood, denominationalism can be very good.

By | 2018-06-25T23:17:30+00:00 June 30th, 2018|

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review

A Call to Spiritual Reformation

by D. A. Carson
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Book Overview

A Call to Spiritual Reformation was formulated by D. A. Carson in 1990 originally as a series of seven sermons preached in New South Wales. Carson was 44 years old, and his mother had passed away only a few weeks before the series was preached. Though he has been a pastor in his younger days, he has spent the greater part of his career as a seminary professor and is a prolific author.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review 1

INTRODUCTION

A Call to Spiritual Reformation was formulated by D. A. Carson in 1990 originally as a series of seven sermons preached in New South Wales. Carson was 44 years old, and his mother had passed away only a few weeks before the series was preached. Though he has been a pastor in his younger days, he has spent the greater part of his career as a seminary professor and is a prolific author.

REVIEW

Carson’s stated aim is “to work through several of Paul’s prayers in such a way that we hear God speak to us today, and to find strength and direction to improve our praying, both for God’s glory and for our good.” (10) How he goes about this is done by expositional travel through eight of Paul’s prayers, and taking several asides, handling matters of unique particularity to the discipline of prayer. The book is not to be considered a comprehensive theology of prayer. (9)

From the very first chapter he offers many practical bits of home spun wisdom gleaned from older saints he has known down through his life. This chapter alone is a gem. Some of the struggles or issues he deals forthrightly with in this chapter are mental drift, discipline via prayer-partnerships, using models for prayer, systematizing prayer lists, having balance in our prayers, and public prayer.

The prayers he deals with are certainly cherry-picked for his purposes, but they are among some of Paul’s most beloved calls to God. The prayer Paul makes for the Ephesians as a response to the first 14 verses is absolutely one of the most memorable requests ever made for the saints.

For this reasonI do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering youthat the God of our Lord Jesus Christmay give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…” (Eph. 1:15-19) He deals with this passage in the chapter entitled, Praying to the Sovereign God.

In his chapter on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 (Worthy Petitions) He writes of the common phrase ‘worthy of his calling’ and says it is more than simply requesting that we be worthy, but “asking that God will so work in their lives, so make them worthy,  that ultimately he will count them worthy.” (54, emphasis added)  

In the chapter titled, A Passion for People he addresses the content of Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3. Specifically commenting on verses 9-10, “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”

(1 Thes 3:9-10) Carson states, “He does not simply pray that the faith of the Thessalonians might be strengthened, leaving the means unstated; rather he prays that he himself might do it. He is like Isaiah after his vision of the Almighty: “Here I am. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8)” We do need to be reminded to be bullseye specific in our prayers!

For this writer, however, the choicest part of the book was chapter 9, A Sovereign and Personal God. Here Carson wrestles with the philosophical question of whether prayer really changes things and how is it that God’s responses to prayer are not an affront to his sovereign eternality and decreed plans?

After laying the groundwork for the argument we are presented with seven Scriptural examples that demonstrate the sovereignty of our God. Then Carson (and you the reader) wrestle through the philosophical. Let me just tease you with these comments by Carson as he closes the chapter, “God expects to be pleaded with; he expects godly believers to intercede with him…The really wonderful truth is that human beings like Moses and you and me can participate in bringing about God’s purposes through God’s own appointed means.” (164)

CONCLUSION

D.A. Carson has an excellent way of taking the reader through some truly remarkable theological thoughts. He is a logical thinker and such is displayed, in easy to grasp words and phrases, though the concepts he tackles are high and lofty like the God he serves. I believe Carson meets his stated goal and I heartily commend this short volume. It will bless your soul.

By | 2018-06-29T10:34:17+00:00 June 29th, 2018|

Why Miracles

What is the point of the many miracles in the Scripture? What is the design of the Lord in the recording of so many, throughout biblical history? OK – perhaps that’s too big a subject for one 800 word blog post, so let’s limit our questions to this account in Acts 19:11-20.

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. (Vs. 11-12)

Why Miracles

My first observation is the word ‘unusual.’ This really is a dramatic statement. By definition miracles are not ordinary. They are extraordinary and unusual acts of God. God suspends the natural laws, and we see a miracle. Yet Luke tells us that these miracles were unusual. This is a significant emphasis.

But also note the source of these miracles. Though Luke tells us that they were by the hands of Paul, he earlier says that “God worked.” So it was Paul who was the means of God’s work in these highly unusual miracles.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

This tells us that when made a believer in Christ, God has work for us to do – His work – but we are to do it. No one else is appointed to these good works but whom God intended.

 

From where did this authority come?

So when the 7 sons of Sceva tried to do Paul’s works – it was the relationship to God which mattered. The demons knew who Paul was, by virtue of his appointed effectual works. And all demons know of the living God, and tremble (James 2:19).

This is reminiscent of Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) who thought it was all a matter of money. In Christ’s upper room discourse we read a bit of the relationship our Lord has with his children, and some of the benefits.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

These charlatans thought that they could call out Paul and Jesus’ names like some magic spell and that they would be all the more powerful.

How often do we claim authority which we have not received? Do we ever think we have permission to act apart from Christ and his specific instruction?

 

The grace of God abounds to his children.

Beloved, our Lord is not evil in any way. He is merciful to all, and with his children he shows himself especially gracious (1 Tim. 4:10) – but let us never presume upon our Lord because he is slow to become angry.

We should with great reverence hold our Lord’s name.  “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Actually what they did was to break the 3rd commandment in taking the name of the Lord in vain. Sometimes God punishes such infractions by the means of another, such as this demon.

Interesting how God uses a demon prevailing over these 7 vagabond priests to bring men and women to repentance. And just why did this demon prevail? It did so because the only one to whom the demon must obey is God, and those whom He designates. And God is not compelled by any to do anything.

Mercy abounds in the hand of the Lord – no doubt some of those punished like this were among those who got their magic books and burned them. When God is exalted like this (Acts 19:18-19), we see that men confess their sin and repent even to the point of financial hurt.

 

So what it the conclusion of the matter?

The unusual miracles God was doing at Paul’s hands, to what purpose were they? All for the great glory of God. In every way let us be careful to not only esteem his name and person, but even to extol him to the highest position before all people, nations and languages! (Dan. 4:1-37)

By | 2018-04-24T09:05:57+00:00 April 23rd, 2018|

A Conservative Christian Declaration Book Review

A Conservative Christian Declaration Book Review

A Conservative Christian Declaration

by David De Bruyn, Kevin T. Bauder, Scott Aniol
Length: To read (98 pages).
TCB Rating:
five-stars
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Book Overview

In our day, we find everyone and their dog making declarations – frequently ecumenical in nature (which is not always bad – many of the aforementioned confessions or creeds were ecumenically driven) the net result is a cheapening of the work.

A Conservative Christian Declaration 1

When I first set out to read this short declaration (it’s only 98 pages), I wasn’t particularly excited about it.  It was for me, a freebie – and who doesn’t love a free book?!  In addition, having heard a number of the authors give messages, I expected a solid message.  So I did expect to agree with it, and thereby enjoy it, to that extent.  However, it was another declaration, and I wasn’t exactly sure that we needed still another declaration on the horizon. Too many have been written in our day, I think.  When men of old took time to formulate such documents it was taken upon with such gravity, and took so much time, literally years, the outcome of such was a solid theological statement – which many could subscribe to.  

In our day, we find everyone and their dog making declarations – frequently ecumenical in nature (which is not always bad – many of the aforementioned confessions or creeds were ecumenically driven), but the net result is a cheapening of the work.   The individual is king in the culture of the day, and few declarations have meaning which the majority could or would be compelled to subscribe to.  So I was not too excited about the exercise.  I took it on, out of a respect for the men who were party to the making.

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I also expected to find some rather difficult to grasp and to ascribe to statements which I would be critiquing.  This I was delighted to find was not the case.  In fact, as I was reading through, I became more excited.  You see the style of the piece is plain, even ordinary, but not flat.  The language, though at times novel to my eyes, was edifying to my soul and lifted my spirit.  It actually began to teach me.  Let me clarify, because one can learn in many ways. What I mean to say is not that I was learning new prescribed doctrinal points (although that is one of the express goals and that did happen with me).  Rather the very use of the language added to the declaration.  It was sweet to my soul.  It communicated eloquently, simply, and at times powerfully ideas which have at times been flitting around my little brain so fast I never quite got them down out of the ether and into words!  A wonderful statement.  And all this to say that it was engaging to the core.  Never overbearing in the point, most articles were only 2 or 3 pages in length.

There is a total of 15 articles, and the theme is to address today’s excesses without creating much which might be construed as new.  Pointedly this is only an addendum to what has already been written creedally and confessionally over the centuries.  So it is not a new catechism as it were.  Just a fine-tuning of what we already know, particularly dealing with what our modern or even post-modern minds have been grappling with over the last 100 years.

I don’t want my own review to end up being more than a page so I will end with a few choice quotes and strongly urge you to get a copy and read it over and over – it’s that good!

In the preamble, “We object to this religious reductionism and desire to reclaim the entire heritage of Christian doctrine, obedience, and adoration.

Speaking of the gospel, “To deny the historicity of the events of the gospel is to deny the gospel.  To deny the biblical interpretation of those events is also to deny the gospel.

Speaking of harmony and variety in ordinate expression, “[T]his delightful variety must not be exploited as a rational for aesthetic agnosticism.  Both ordinate and inordinate expressions exist in great variety. Truth can be communicated in hundreds of languages, but so can lies.”

Speaking of the works of popular culture, “Their ephemeral nature precludes them from reflecting the weighty, the profound, the transcendent, and the enduring. …Immediate gratification cannot cultivate profundity”

Speaking of Christian tradition, “We insist that a Christianity that must change with each wind of fashion is confessing that it has nothing permanent to say.”

five-stars
By | 2018-05-01T21:18:22+00:00 April 22nd, 2018|

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