|James M. Boice
Tony Bartolucci, Preaching
The church of Jesus Christ lost one of her true heroes last month. I am speaking of Dr. Jamess Montgomery Boice. While I have never met Dr. Boice, I felt as if I knew him personally. I did have the privilege of hearing him preach, once at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where John MacArthur is Pastor-Teacher, and once at Dr. John Piper's Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Upon hearing of Dr. Boice's passing, I wept, feeling as if I had lost a close friend.
For those unfamiliar with him, Dr. Boice was Pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for more than 30 years, having followed the pastorate of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse (no easy task!). e was a true pastor-scholar in an age doctrinal ambivalence.
Dr. Boice died in his sleep on Thursday, June 15, 2000, only eight weeks after learning that he had terminal liver cancer. Still in his prime at 61, Boice received the news of his condition on Good Friday, only two hours before stepping into the pulpit to deliver a sermon on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Two weeks later, on May 7, he stood before his congregation, informed them of his condition, and asked the question, "If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you'd change it, you'd make it worse. It wouldn't be as good." Ponder that statement for a moment. Read it once again and pause. Would that we are so faithful, so full of faith, when our race is finished! (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:7).
In addition to his pastorate of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Dr. Boice's accomplishments were many. To name just a few, since 1969 he served as teacher of The Bible Study Hour broadcast. In 1985, he assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of The Bible Study Hour, the Philadelphia Conferences on Reformation Theology, and God's Word Today magazine. In 1996, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation (CURE) and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE). The new organization assumed the name of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, with Dr. Boice acting as president. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 to its completion in 1988. Dr. Boice was a prolific writer, having written or contributed to more than sixty books covering a wide range of biblical and theological interests.
Tenth Presbyterian Church prospered under Boice's leadership. Numerically, yes, financially, yes, but, more importantly, the church prospered spiritually (numbers, finances, and spiritual health are not always related). Among their many ministries, the church established a college prep school for inner-city youth (City Center Academy) and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women in the midst of crisis pregnancies, the homeless, and those afflicted with HIV and AIDS.
James Montgomery Boice was a man of theological acumen, a man of grace, and a master in the pulpit--a rare feat in these days of mega-muffin ministries. Dr. Boice was the kind of godly man I hope to be when I grow up.
A few days ago, while contemplating the loss of this great man, I asked my wife, "If we have a son, can we name him 'Boice?'" "Boice Bartolucci?" she replied with a puzzled grin.
She thought I was joking. I wasn't.
Soli Deo Gloria.