Dan Phillips is a Pyromaniac. He’s also a pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Texas and the author of two books, The World Tilting Gospel and God’s Wisdom in Proverbs. Although I’ve never met him, I’ve got to know and appreciate him through his lively online presence and these two books.
The World Tilting Gospel is one of the best “popular” presentations of the Bible’s message and theology I’ve come across. By “popular” I mean accessible and enjoyable. Dan has not written just to pass on facts, but to stir our feelings, and prod us into vigorous response. The language is fresh, pacey, gripping, sometimes combative, and often startling.
The book is divided into four sections: (1) Who are we? (2) What has God done for us? (3) How do we get in? (4) How do we get going? Kind of like a “Biblical Theology for the rest of us.” Although it’s quite lengthy (300 pages), that’s like a tabloid compared to most Biblical Theologies. And the style of writing is also much more New York Post than Seminarese.
It’s not a book I would give to someone with no church background as it assumes some biblical literacy, but it’s certainly a book I would give to young believers who need a quick tour de force of biblical doctrine or ballast to prevent them being tossed to and fro by modern falsehoods. And if you know a lethargic Christian who needs
electrocuted electrified, plug this into his life and watch the sparks fly.
My only quibble is I wouldn’t contrast the Old and New Covenant so starkly as Dan does in some places, especially when thinking about the Spirit’s work in Old Testament believers. Maybe a case of good biblical theology needing a shot of good systematic theology.
You’ll find lots more of Dan’s zippy and memorable prose in God’s Wisdom in Proverbs. This isn’t a commentary on Proverbs, going verse by verse from start to finish. It’s more “A Practical Theology of Proverbs,” and at 430 pages it’s one of the most thorough treatments of Proverbs I’ve come across.
Pastors and scholars will be benefit from the significant chunks devoted to issues such as authorship, Hebrew poetry, and the various proverbial forms. However, the more general reader will find a ton of helpful material in the major sections on worship, relationships, marriage, and parenting – the best treatments of these Proverbial themes I’ve encountered. I’ll be re-reading them many times and encouraging my wife to do so too. Dan’s explanation and application of “the fear of the Lord” was the highlight of the book for me. Absolutely outstanding.
I’d go further than Dan in his Christology. He seems to see Proverbs as revealing Christ retrospectively rather than prospectively. He would say that we can see Christ looking back, but there’s little indication that Solomon and his fellow-Israelites had much of a Messianic clue looking forward. More canonical contextualization (Dan would never write that phrase) would have helped. By that, I mean seeing the book as part of the unfolding Messianic momentum of the whole Old Testament. Also, Proverbs 8, and its pivotal Christological role in the book, was left screaming out for attention.
As in The World Tilting Gospel, the writing is clear, snappy, punchy, Solomonic even! As I finished these books I couldn’t but thank and praise God for blessing His church in our day with such gifted, godly, and gracious authors. Gritty too. It takes huge effort, discipline, and perseverance to write books such as these. Thank you, Dan, for the thousands of hours you sacrificed to bless us with these books. Deeply, deeply appreciated.