Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Boyce is back

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The Boyce is back in town. James P. Boyce, that is, the principal founder of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and for 8 years, President of the Southern Baptist Convention. A new edition of his Abstract of Systematic Theology will is being released this month. This book, along with Tom Nettles' By His Grace and For His Glory, has been greatly used by God over the last 25 years to promote the rediscovery of our Southern Baptist theological heritage.

Founders Press is pleased to announce this new edition that has a new dust jacket (with a new portrait of Boyce by Robert Nettles), a new publisher's introduction (see below) as well as a Scripture index in 534 pages. For a limited time, Founders Press is offering an incredible "pre-publication" discount on this book. It retails for $29.95. Until November 30, 2006 it is available for only $12.50 (prepaid) plus $3.50 for postage and handling. You may order it by sending your payment (check or money orders only) to:
Founders Press
PO Box 150931
Cape Coral, FL 33915
You may also order it online at the Founders Press site.

Publisher's Introduction

In 1980 I was completing my first year of theological studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. That Spring, a man set up table outside the Student Center and was giving away copies of a theology book. About the only thing that most students (and some professors) knew about the author was that the street behind the seminary was named after him.

The book was the one you are holding in your hands, Abstract of Systematic Theology by James P. Boyce. The man giving it away to graduating students to was Ernest C. Reisinger. Ernie, as he was known to his friends, had been serving as pastor of a Southern Baptist church in south Florida for several years. His Associate Pastor was Fred Malone. Together they led their church to fund the reprinting and distribution of Boyce's long-forgotten book.

Behind this effort was a vision for the reformation of churches across the Southern Baptist Convention. The theology that Boyce believed and taught, was precisely what Ernie and Fred believed and taught. In fact, it represents the theological consensus that existed among the churches that founded the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845. By the late twentieth century not only were Boyce and most of the founders of the convention forgotten but, more importantly, so were their theological convictions.

In 1977 Ernie began to take copies of Boyce's book to each of the six Southern Baptist seminary campuses and give them away to graduating students (and any other student who showed an interest). He included a one-page questionnaire about some of Boyce's views on the doctrines of grace as they are spelled out in the book, and he asked that those receiving the book mail their answers to him.

As more and more students and young pastors began to read Boyce's book and find his biblical arguments convincing, the seminaries became less and less welcoming of Ernie's presence and gift. By the early 1980s, he was no longer allowed to give the books away on any of the seminary campuses. They continued to be distributed, however, by pastors, churches and students who, because of the generous donations of a few people, were able to give them away freely.

In a significant sense this "Boyce Project" (as Ernie called it) was the forerunner of Founders Ministries. Founders began officially with the first conference in 1983. Most of those who attended had been encouraged in their theological growth by Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology. It is very fitting, then, that Founders Ministries is able to publish this edition of the Abstract for a new generation of pastors, students and serious Christians. One feature that has been added to Boyce's original text is a Scripture index at the back.

The doctrinal stream in which Boyce's views are found can rightly be called Calvinistic or Reformed. He, like most early Southern Baptist leaders, was clearly convinced of the doctrines of sovereign grace. John Broadus, Boyce's friend and colleague, made this observation about what he called "that exalted system of Pauline truth" expounded in Boyce's Abstract:
The people who sneer at what is called Calvinism, might as well sneer at Mont Blanc. We are not bound in the least to defend all of Calvin's opinions or actions, but I do not see how any one who really understands the Greek of the Apostle Paul or the Latin of Calvin or Turretin can fail to see that these latter did but interpret and formulate substantially what the former teaches.
May the Lord use this book from the pen of one of the greatest Southern Baptists ever to live to promote reformation and revival throughout churches everywhere.


GUNNY said...


I'll be ordering multiple copies at that price for sure to spread the love!

Tom Bryant said...

For a second I thought you were talking about my former pastor James Boice. :)

I'll be getting this.

Kenny Wells said...

What a great opportunity for students who don't have big budgets, like myself, to get their hands on a great resource!

Thanks so much!

Forest A said...

I can imagine the smile on Ernie's face :)

DataLore said...

This is good news..We can always use more good books.

chadwick said...

LAST MONTH I combed the internet for the Abstracts. I finally purchased a "used" copy of the Abstracts from Amazon for a gift to a newly elected deacon in my church. . . . I had to cough up $30.00. . . .for a "used" copy (yet it was still worth every penny)! For 16 bucks, I might even be able to afford to buy my Director of Missions a copy!!!! WHOOOO HOOOOO!!!

Caddiechaplain said...

I am so glad that this great and significant work is back in print. I was given a copy of this book by some reformed brothers at SWBTS (Ben Mitchell and Dale Cruz). When my son decided to go to Southern, I gave him my only copy.
Thanks for the heads-up!


GeneMBridges said...

Woohoo! Look, Santa Claus is real! I KNEW it! :D

Jim Shaver said...

Where can we send donations so that you can mail the Caner brothers free copies?

scripturesearcher said...

Boyce and Nettles are two authors that should be read and studied by all serious Bible students ....

C.T. Lillies said...

I ordered one for me and one for my pastor.


bjaurelio said...

i know what i'm getting for christmas. (no money for books that aren't for class. the problem with being 100,000 in debt and still one more year to go)

Jim Crigler said...

Ordered one. I'm just a layman, but I have two (out of four) kids in college, and my budget it tight ...

art rogers said...

That's a great deal, but I am afraid I won't be ordering one. At least not for myself.

My copy is one that Ernie passed out at SWBTS, but not to me. I graduated in '95, long after Ernie was no longer welcome. Instead he gave it to a pastor under which I served as a minister to youth. That pastor gave me one of two Abstracts that he had. He also gave me some much needed direction in my leanings toward a Sovereign God, much of which had come from Ernie and his ministry. He recounted a similar story as to his reception of this book.

My book has a great Publishers introduction with a hand stamp at the end, that reads:

Ernest C. Reisenger
Fred A. Malone
Christian Gospel Foundation

Thanks for carrying on this ministry. I pray many, many more will be blessed as a result.

art rogers said...

Sorry, "much of which had come from Ernie and his ministry," refers to the direction that I received and not my leanings toward God's Sovereignty. Just for clarity. ;)

Irenaeus II said...

I have enjoyed the writings of Boyce very much. I have his systematic theology. It is an excellent work as long as you can overlook the covenantalism in it.

DOGpreacher said...


Thank you very much. I know what gifts the Elders @ Elm Baptist Church (A.K.A. The D.O.G. House) will be getting for Thanksgiving!

Grateful for grace,
The D.O.G.preacher

Forest A said...

For my fellow SBTS blog readers:

Sorry for the delayed heads up, but the above mentioned Fred Malone is the same one speaking on campus next week on "A Grace-Saturated Marriage"

GeneMBridges said...

Oh, this volume is sweet! I just got mine today. :D

stilldesiringGod said...

Irenaeus ii, when you say to overlook Boyce’s covenantalism, I am not very familiar with his work and do not have the time right now to page through a few hundred pages. But for future reference, how far would you say Boyce took his covenantal theology? I always thought a balance was healthy, not falling to chopping up history or the other extreme marrying Old Testament rituals to New Covenant ordinances. Where are you saying Boyce falls? Thank you, sir.

Greg Welty said...

I have his systematic theology. It is an excellent work as long as you can overlook the covenantalism in it.

Actually, I thought this was one of Boyce's strong points. But that's just me :-)

stilldesiringGod said...

And thank you Mr. Welty. I would love as much feedback as possible on Boyce's view of Covenant theology. If anyone would be able to point me in the right direction to study his views as well I would much appreciate that too. Thank you so much!

Greg Welty said...

stilldesiringgod wrote:

If anyone would be able to point me in the right direction to study his views as well I would much appreciate that too.

Boyce on the covenant of works, including an extended defense from objections. He also defends the notion of a covenant of grace. Of course, he refers the reader to Hodge's _Outlines of Theology_, so the source of Boyce's corruption is plain for all to see ;-)

In the beginning of chapter XXIV, on the headship of Adam, there is additional material on the covenant of works.

Interestingly enough, when Boyce gets to ch. XXXVII on sanctification, he explicitly notes the Westminster Presbyterian view of the sacraments as "sacred signs and seals of the covenant of grace." It's not as if Boyce is unaware that this is where Presbyterians take covenant theology. But as a Baptist he goes on to argue against this use of the word "sacrament" and "seal" in the Presbyterian confessions. In particular, he contrasts advocacy of infant baptism (in Hodge's _Systematic Theology_) with the biblical view of the matter.

So Boyce's appropriation of the covenant theology tradition is qualified at best. He wants to avail himself of the insights of his predecessors, while subjecting them all to the norm of Scripture.

In ch. XXXVII on the final perseverance of the saints, Boyce takes pains to delineate the difference between the old and new covenants. He notes that the new covenant ensures the perseverance of its members. Cf. the section which begins with "1. One of the most plausible of these is based upon the apostasy of the nation of Israel..." He devotes several paragraphs to this point, which is remarkable when you consider that he thought it important enough to include in an *abstract* of theology.

jim said...


I was amazed at how fast my copy of Abstract of Systematic Theology arrived. Thanks for your prompt attention to my order. I have enjoyed the biography of Dr. Boyce, and the first two chapters, and am looking forward to spending many hours in the future, reading the book. I am a layman having never been to seminary, but have loved the doctrines of Grace since my conversion, even though not knowing much about them. I always knew that, "Salvation is of The Lord". Keep up the good work of informing people. I pray for your ministry every morning.

May God continue to bless.


Tom said...


I am glad Boyce made it to you in a timely fashion. Thanks for the encouragement, and espeically for your prayers!

Press on,

Mike Woodward said...

Average laymen question...

My wife want's to know whether I want Gruden's Systematic Theology or Boyce's for Christmas. ;)

If it helps, I admit to some comprehension difficulties when reading 19th century sermons.

Tom said...


Of course, you want Boyce, and that for the following reasons:

1. Boyce was the principle founder of SBTS
2. This new edition looks really sharp.
3. We don't sell Grudem. :-)

Actually, Grudem's ST is excellent and very readable, with the kind of helps at the end of each chapter that make it useful for devotional and meditative study. I highly recommend it. Boyce is not nearly so readable--it is written mostly in extended outline fashion and is decidedly polemical at points. I appreciate them both. Why don't you make your wife a deal: Tell her she can get you Grudem for Christmmas and you can get her Boyce! :-)

GeneMBridges said...

I would add that, in comparison to other 19th century writers of his day, Boyce's work is quite readable. His extended outline form make it, in my opinion, that much more readable.

Compare this to Charles Hodge, whose magnum opus is written partially in Latin. You get the sense that Dr. Boyce is writing a distinctly Baptist theology text, that is to say, following the Baptist tradition of making such things understandable for the average readers of his day. Of course, if you ask me, the average reader of his day was more well read and, how shall I say, astute, than those today, but I really think that if he or she applies himself to Dr. Boyce's work, s/he can understand it well. This is what you give folks if you want to strike a medium between "readable" (by today's standard) and "challenging."