GST 510 B1 OL – Systematic Theology Prolegomena
Dr. Larry R. Oates
August 22, 2018
Summary James Montgomery Boice Prolegomena
As part of this review I will discuss all four books that were incorporated into this one volume. In the Preface I thought what Boice wrote was interesting where he states that he could not find a book that he could give to a person particularly a new Christian that was comprehensive enough to answer questions and help them learn. He also lets the reader know that the theology used in this book is Calvinistic in nature but he takes it a little further in that he talks about themes that Calvin did not talk but needed discussed in today’s society and relates them to contemporary views versus ancient ones. The title to Book 1 is The Sovereign God and the four sections or parts and the titles are: The Knowledge of God, The Word of God, The Attributes of God, and God’s Creation. The title Book 2 is God the Redeemer and the four sections or parts and the titles are: The Fall of the Race, Law and Grace, The Person of Christ, and The Work of Christ. The title Book 3 is Awakening to God and the four sections or parts and the titles are: The Spirit of God, How God Saves Sinners, The Life of the Christian, and The Work of God. The title Book 4 is God and History and the four sections or parts and the titles are: Time and History, The Church of God, A Tale of Two Cities, and The End of History.
The basic doctrine throughout Book 1 is about God, as the section titles support, and concentrates on God the Father. In section I the Knowledge of God, explains meaning of knowing God. What are the primary means by which we may grow in our knowledge of God? These are, simple questions that are important to our Christian faith and are answered throughout this section. Boice explains that knowing God “means being made alive by God”, and that this “takes place only where there is also knowledge of ourselves in our deep spiritual need and where there is an accompanying acceptance of God’s gracious provision for our need through the work of Christ”. In section II the objective is knowing God through the Word of God in the Bible. In this section he states “the importance of the Bible lies in its being the Word of God written.” What teaches us is that our personal experiences must be in accordance with, and corrected by, what is taught in the Bible. Throughout this section Boice discusses the authority of the Scripture, how we ought to interpret and read the Bible, and how we ought to be confident in the authority. Section III covers The Attributes of God and talks about if the Bible is alone Word of God, is His revelation of Himself, and is the objective means of knowing God, then, of course, we turn to the Bible to discover who God is and what His attributes are. For it’s through reading the Bible, which we understand, God’s self-existence, God’s self-sufficiency, God’s eternality, God’s sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, and so on. Section IV discusses the relationship between God and His creation. God is the creator of man, the natural world, and the spiritual world. Additionally, He exercises His providence over it all and is actively involved in His creation. This derived and taught from the Bible and has great effects on our understanding of God.
Book 2 God the Redeemer, covers basic doctrine of the Fall and Redemption, as the four section titles suggest it focuses on God the Son. Section I discusses the fall of the race (human). This section opens with the Fall, which talks about man. It goes into the nature of man in this section. Man’s nature is perceived with wide variety dependent on individual’s philosophy or faith/religion. Christianity teaches that while man is created in God’s image, the most important aspect beyond creation is that man is a sinner or as mention in Book 1. Section II teaches the Law and Grace, which presents and discusses the good and bad news and how to deal with it. Before we can learn about the good news, we must first know about the bad news. Well as I’m sure you can know what the bad news, we are fallen sinners which was mentioned in section I, which was the fact that God is righteous as revealed in His Law and we’re not that way, and because of our fallen nature we can’t on our own be worth anything in the view of God. The majority of this section concentrates on the Law of God and the Wrath of God, with a distinct emphasis on the Ten Commandments. Although in the final chapter of this section, Boice briefly discusses how God’s Grace saved Old Testament believers just as we are today. In section III the person of Christ presents and discusses the development of the deity of Jesus Christ, in which He is entirely God. Additionally, it talks about the full humanity of Jesus Christ, that He was totally man. Debates about our Risen Savior Jesus Christ came up early on in the Christian Church. It is vital that we fully comprehend that Jesus was God and man and why this is significant which was discussed in this section. Section IV talks about the work of Christ. This may be the most challenging section in this volume to comprehend but is it at the center of Christianity. From a perspective of revealing these truth to us God took a lot of time developing these truths.
Book 3 covers basic doctrine about our responses to the idea of redemption, and emphasizes God the Holy Spirit. Section I discusses the Spirit of God, which is an introduction to the Holy Spirit, and the importance He has on our relationship to God. Boice explains the Holy Spirits clear personality within the Trinity, His work, and how His involvement in bringing us to Jesus Christ. In section II he talks about the means by which God saves us from our sins. Boice gives the synopsis: “In the final pattern we have God’s foreknowledge, predestination, then his effectual call of us, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, sanctification and glorification.” Section III discusses actually living the Christian life, and includes self denial, the discipline of prayer, knowing the will of God and the discipline that that requires, the hard work of Bible study, and the difficult tasks of serving God and others. However, this Part also includes a discussion of the wonderful freedom to be found in Jesus Christ. Section IV discusses the doctrines of predestination and perseverance: that justification and sanctification are the work of God within us. These doctrines are not universally held by all Christians, but they are Biblical and assurance of salvation can likely not be had without them. It is clear that we are individually responsible for our actions, but it is also clear that to be rightly related to God through Jesus Christ is something so wonderful that it is truly beyond our ability to accomplish and must be initiated and accomplished by God Himself.
Book 4 covers how these doctrines are carried out in time, in history, how these things are practically operating now in the present, and what is to come? In section I he discusses the big picture of time and history. History is gradually advancing according to God’s plan with His purpose, and most importantly God is carrying out His plan of redemption. In section II he discusses the Church is presented and discussed in some detail. Some of the important teachings in this section include the Church of Jesus Christ is one Church, the Church is not an organization, God’s people need one another, and we should demonstrate love-unity within the Church. In section III he talks about the culture of the world and the culture of the Church are compared and contrasted. Ultimately, this leads to a study of what we call in America “church and state.” In section IV Boice comes to the end of his volume and presents a discussion of the end of history. In the final chapter, Boice spells out the ultimate hope of all Christians when we will be home at last, forever present with the
In summary I found this book very interesting to say the least and it is my belief that there’s not many books that are comparable. As Boice wrote in the Preface: “Not often do I, as an author, sense an area in which no book seems to exist and for which one should be written. But the area covered by this volume is an exception, in my judgment. For years I had looked for a work that could be given to a person (particularly a new Christian) who is alert and questioning and who could profit from a comprehensive but readable overview of the Christian faith, a basic theology from A to Z. But I could not find anything that was quite what I had in mind and, thus, determined that I should attempt to write it myself.” I believe that this is a great starting point for new Christians to give them some of the basics for the walk with God. It delivers a map of the environment that assists in keeping things into perspective. God will use this book to turn shaky faith into strong, rock-solid faith.
Boice, James Montgomery. Foundations of the Christian Faith. Revised one-volume edition.
Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986.