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:
PO Box 150931
Cape Coral, FL 33915
You may also order it online at the Founders Press site.
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.