In Memory of Dr. Bob Cook

W. Robert Cook| November 18, 1928 – October 3, 2015

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. W. Robert (“Bob”) Cook on October 3. Dr. Cook was my theology professor during my student days at Western Seminary. He made a significant impact on my life personally as I wrestled with the subjects of predestination and free will. I will forever be indebted to him for his careful discussion of these weighty theological issues, and for never neglecting the practical and personal implications of these biblical truths.

After graduating from Western in 1974 (Th.M.) I went on to Dallas Theological Seminary. During August of 1976 I was in Portland and decided to stop by Western Seminary. Dr. Cook was in his office and I popped my head in the door to say “hello.” He graciously invited me in for a visit. During our conversation he explained that Western was looking for someone to help Dr. Ellison teach Biblical Literature next year. Then he asked, “Would you be interested in returning to Western as an instructor in Bible?” That query eventually led to my joining the faculty of Western Seminary in the fall of 1977. I have always looked back to that visit in Dr. Cook’s office as a defining moment in my own life and career.

Bob Cook began his academic career at Westmont College. There he met and married his college sweetheart Elaine (1951). This marriage was to last for sixty-four years! After their wedding Bob and Elaine moved to Dallas, TX, where Bob attended Dallas Theological Seminary. After graduating with his Th.M. in 1955, Bob pastored a small church in Galvin, Washington (1955-1958). His first teaching post was at Northwestern Seminary in Minneapolis (1958-1962). Bob completed his Th.D. at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1965, where he wrote his dissertation on the theology of the Apostle John.

In 1965, Dr. Earl Radmacher invited Dr. Cook to join the faculty of Western [Conservative Baptist] Seminary. He taught theology and later served as Vice-President and Academic Dean until his retirement from those positions in 1986. Leaving his administrative responsibilities behind, Bob returned to his first love—teaching systematic theology.

Dr. Cook’s teaching ministry took him beyond the classrooms of Western Seminary. He traveled many times to Europe to teach at Tyndale Seminary in the Netherlands and the Schloss Mittersill (a center for Christian student conferences) in Austria, as well as Poland, other countries in Eastern Europe, and to Lebanon. He ministered and taught in Israel and in Nairobi in 1975. In 1984 he taught at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies University (now Jerusalem University College). His Theology of John was published by Moody Press in 1979. His systematic theology is currently being edited for publication by Western Seminary alumnus Dr. H. Wayne House.

Bob Cook was not only a teacher, he was a churchman. In addition to his pastoral ministry, he was a faithful attender at Hinson Church during his years in Portland. During the last segment of his life he attended Eastmont Church in Bend, served as chair of the board of deacons, and taught the men’s Bible study.

Dr. Cook’s former students and colleagues have expressed their heartfelt appreciation for his ministry.

Dr. John Johnson, Western Seminary Professor of Pastoral Theology and pastor at Village Baptist Church, writes:

Dr. Cook was a mentor. He was the first professor to introduce theology to me, and he did it with precision. I have always held him in the highest regard. Dr. Cook was a theologian with a pastor’s heart, a formidable model to me in my early days of ministry preparation.

Dr. Bob Krupp, Western’s Library Director and Professor of Church History writes:

Dr. Cook was my first Dean. He provided stability in a time of challenges, creativity, and change. He was an example of good teaching, clear thinking, and focused leadership. Dr. Cook was a good mentor during my first years on Western’s faculty.

Dr. Rob Wiggins, Western’s Academic Dean, writes:

Dr. Bob Cook was a master teacher, knowing well both the text of Scripture and the Author of Scripture. He continually sought to lead us into a deeper love for our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dr. Gerry Breshears, Professor of Systematic Theology, writes:

Bob Cook was a man who was a faithful servant. Though a strong leader, he shunned the spotlight, preferring to work behind the scenes to empower others for their work. His calm wisdom made him a vital presence when the seas became stormy. His Christian character was always a powerful model for those younger men, like me, who were trying to grow to be like him. Our gratitude to him lead us to love the Lord he served more deeply.

Our mentor, teacher and colleague, Dr. Bob Cook, will always be remembered as a faithful teacher of the Word. I am confident that he was welcomed into heaven by His Lord and Savior with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

About J. Carl Laney

J. Carl Laney teaches Biblical Literature at Western Seminary and is an instructor for Western's Israel Study Program. Carl has authored numerous books, including most recently, “Discipleship: Training from the Master Disciple Maker” (2018).