Dear MPC Friends,
This month continues our series of brief-bios on those who are quoted by the pastor in various and sundry forms. Dr. James Montgomery Boice was a PCA pastor known as a champion of the Reformed Faith, particularly in the areas of Biblical authority and inerrancy. He pastored the inner-city church, Tenth Presbyterian Church, in Philadelphia, PA from 1968 until his death in 2000. Monergism.com describes some of the fruit of Boice’s labors:
When [Boice] assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5…, a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless.[i]
In addition to his duties at Tenth, Boice was busy with various organizations and ministries. He was the Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy from 1977 until 1988. He served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship. He also founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994. Boice further “taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia.”[ii]
Boice is the author of dozens of books, and you may recall me quoting him on quite a few occasions. A particular book of his, that I’ve enjoyed and recommend you add to your reading rucksack, is called Christ’s Call to Discipleship.
There’s a story about my copy of that book. While we were in St. Louis for seminary (the first time), a church we attended was Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church (PCA). Rev. Rodney D. Stortz, who had planted the church in 1990, was the pastor. We visited this very large church when we first got to the city, but we ended up over at another church for my internship. After completing my internship, we went back over to Twin Oaks and found that, sadly, in the interim, Rev. Stortz had passed away (2003). Rev. Stortz was a highly respected pastor, very much loved, and a remarkable man. You can check out his commentary on Daniel based on his sermons in The Preaching of the Word Series.
Now, skip forward to 2013. I was working on my doctoral dissertation, focusing on discipleship and preaching. Searching the internet, I found a used copy of Boice’s book, Christ’s Call to Discipleship. When it arrived, I was delighted to see “Rodney D. Stortz” written inside the front cover. Providentially, I had acquired this great book, complete with Rev. Stortz’s margin notes. Also, there was a sheet of paper tucked in the pages with various notes scribbled on it. One note was for to copy pages 13-16 and mail it to a certain individual. On pages 13-14 of Boice’s book, Rev. Stortz underlined the below in red and black ink:
Most Westerners live in a tragically mindless environment. Life is too fast, and our contact with other persons too impersonal for any real thought or reflection. Even in the church we are far more often encouraged to join this committee, back this project, or serve on this board than we are counseled to examine our relationship to God and His Son Jesus Christ. So long as we are performing for the church, few question whether our profession is genuine or spurious. But sermons should suggest that members of a church may not actually be saved, although they are members. Teachers should stress that a personal, self-denying, costly, and persistent following of Christ is necessary if a person is to be acknowledged by Jesus at the final day.[iii]
“Discipleship is not a supposed second step in Christianity, as if one first becomes a believer in Jesus and then, if he chooses, a disciple. From the beginning, discipleship is involved in what it means to be a Christian…. the start of this area of Christian doctrine is Christ’s command ‘Follow me.’”[iv]
You’ve probably noticed that I repeatedly work the theme of discipleship into sermons, lessons, and prayers in some form or another (Mark 8:34). What Rev. Stortz underlined is why.
Boice has various articles and audio sermons posted online. Monergism.com has a pretty good list of them, along with various books he wrote, if you are interested. The Boice Expositional Commentary Series is a particularly helpful tool for personal Bible study, written for a lay level understanding. It includes Genesis, Joshua, Nehemiah, Psalms, Daniel, the twelve minor prophets (Hosea-Malachi), Matthew, a separate volume on the Sermon on the Mount, John, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and the Epistles of John.
May your studies of God’s Word be excessive, exhaustive, and full of sleep deprivation!
[i] Monergism.com, accessed 5 Feb 2020: https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/jamesmboice.html.
[iii] James M. Boice, The Call to Discipleship (Moody Bible Institute: Chicago, 1986), 15-16.
[iv] Ibid., 16.