The Boyce Is Back In Town!

James P. Boyce’s Abstract of Theology is now back in print! The pre-order price is just $12.50! That’s cheap for a 500+ page volume! So, if you want to read some real Baptistfire, well, there you go. This is a must have for any student of Southern Baptist history and theology.

See here for more information.

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7 Comments on “The Boyce Is Back In Town!”

  1. Nathan White Says:

    Let me just say, I have the original version of Boyce’s Abstract of Theology, and I have enjoyed it. It’s clear, succinct, and an excellent resource to have.

  2. Gene Says:

    I’ve been asked to give Boyce’s position on Covenant Theology in this volume, so below is my response to the inquiry verbatim for those who want to know:

    Good question. He was a standard Baptist Covenant Theologian. Boyce was also one of Charles Hodge’s students, so he stands in the Princeton tradition. Also, all the churches that formed the SBC in 1845 affirmed the Philadelphia Confession. If I recall, he doesn’t discuss the covenants much in this work…it is an Abstract after all and is written not just for the seminarian, but for the Average Joe of his day (who had considerably more aptitude than they do today, but I digress). That said, he was a Sabbatarian, and he was not a dispensationalist, and he does speak about the Covenant of Works in Chapter 22 on the Fall. For a more detailed discussion, he points his readers to A.A. Hodge’s Outlines of Theology.

    RBC Howell articulates the standard position at this time here:

    The position of the SBC’s founders (including Boyce) is outlined in detail here:

    Also, you can preview Boyce’s book en toto here:

  3. Nathan White Says:

    Gene, that is a good question. You are right in affirming that Boyce does not deal with the subject in any real detail in his Abstract.

    I am curious, however, as to juxtapose Boyce’s position not with Dispensationalism, but rather with New Covenant Theology. You stated that he was a Sabbatarian, so I would take that to mean that he would affirm the 10 commandments as still applicable to the NT Christian and that they have not been replaced by a new ‘law of Christ’. Correct? Any thoughts on that?


  4. Gene Says:

    Sabbatarianism is typically a product of Covenant Theology of that period as a whole, and non-Sabbatarianism is typically associated with NCT. However, there is more to NCT than non-Sabbatarianism, because there are some issues with the continuity between the covenants or lack thereof that lie behind those two issues. NCT is prone, for example, to affirm that only what is repeated in the NT is legitmitately transferred. This is what they call “the New Law of Christ.” However, the CT position is that what is not abrogated specifically continues, and that when Paul, for example, quotes Scripture, the authority behind it is not Christ’s through him, but because Scripture was already considered authoritative on its own and Christ’s authority lays behind them both. NCT typically responds that if that is so, then we should do things like not trim beards. CT responds, and I think rightly, that is a non-sequitur, because the paradigm that is set up between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is indexed to the relationship between the wilderness generation and the generation under Moses and the one that entered the land. Ergo, the relationship between the actual content of the covenants in terms of the law is analogous to that between the law given at Sinai and the law given in Deuteronomy. The Law is the same, but the concrete insantiations of the Law is adapted to the new generation and their new living situation. Likewise, there is another analogy between the Tabernacle and the Temple. The essence of the former is in the latter, but there is a substantiatial amount of reorganization of the concrete working out of the worship and sacrificial system between them. Nothing is lost, rather there is an expansion. This carries over to the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New. CT by far has the upper hand in the debate between NCT and CT on those issues.

    It’s also possible to affirm the Lord’s Day, which is functional Sabbatarianism, but not be a “Sabbatarian.” Some “Sabbatarians” like Vos were very careful to point out that the danger of strict Sabbatarianism is that the Lord’s Day becomes a day wholly given to nothing but religious propaganda, which is just a supeficial exercise after a time. Vos, because he was embroiled in the PCUSA internal theological conflict of his time, rarely if ever went to church on Sunday, because he could not find a church that suited him. Likewise, it is possible, contrary to strict Sabbatarian propaganda, to hold a Lord’s Day position which allows for both worship and work for a number of reasons. First, there is no priestly class, and in the NC, we are all priests. In the OC, the priests were, according to Christ, under exemption from the Sabbath laws, because they had to do their work that day in particular. Thus, we are exempted from strict Sabbatarianism as a kingdom of priests today. However, this does not abrogate the obligation to worship; rather it removes the barrier between work and worship, so that every day is a Sabbath Day; the distinctions between work and worship are torn down and the two are one, so that every day is day of worship. What we do outwardly matters, but not the way it did under the OC. We still worship on the Lord’s Day, and this comes by good and necessary inference based on biblical example and church tradition, but not by a definite mandate. This isn’t because, as NCT asserts the Sabbath is abolished, rather it is taken up and stretched for all seven days, with one day of worship. Any work should be left to the conscience of the individual, and, if s/he chooses to work that day, then it should be done in the right spirit of worship to God and witness to the world.

  5. Nathan White Says:


    Great response. Thanks for explaining this.

    I do recognize the small diversity of views on the Sabbath even within CT itself. However, I have never heard the view of priesthood elaborated on –so I will have to spend some more time with Vos.

    I also disagree with NCT in that the Sabbath was abolished, specifically since it was given before sin entered the world (from creation). Jesus said He was Lord of the Sabbath, and if it was abolished, then that statement doesn’t make much sense. However, to say that we are fulfilling the Sabbath by being in Christ (much like how we are fulfilling the Passover by being in Christ), seems to be just another way to say that it has been abolished.

    Anyway, thanks for the info. I will have to look into these things further.


  6. Gene Says:

    There are a couple of issues here. It’s true that the Sabbath was instituted before the Fall. On the other hand, in terms of the trajectory of the narrative, the Fall itself occurred on the Sabbath. What we have in Genesis is a case of Sabbath breaking. Indeed the Second London Confession says the same Law of Moses (in reference to the Decalogue) was broken in the Garden. That’s not just one act, rather the one act violated all Ten Commandments.

    Now, a “Lord’s Day” position explcitly denies that the Christian Sabbath is Sunday, if by that, all that is involved in the Jewish Sabbath is imported into it. On the other hand, it recognizes that we are mandated to set aside a day, by example and tradition the First Day not the Sixth Day, to worship. However, there is, in the New Covenant, a reversal of the distinctions between work and worship, for work, while also given prior to the Fall is itself cursed. The point is that the Fall resulted in unnatural disjunctions, perversions of the created order.

    For example: Man was first in creation and thus the woman’s head; in the Fall, he remains the woman’s head, but her desire is for him, meaning she longs to be free of him in some manner, and man responds by “ruling” her, a perversion of the headship of man. The New Covenant (indeed the whole of the Covenant of Grace) is designed to reverse this. In the New, the Law is written on the heart, so this takes on a new dimension. Let’s take work. Before the Fall man is commanded to work. In the Fall, the curse is given to make it burdensome and difficult. The Noahic Covenant alleviates this to a certain degree. The command to do all to the glory of God in the New Covenant in particular is meant to make work, whatever it may be, joyful. The Sabbath is instituted before the Fall by God’s rest. But notice, there is no corresponding command to rest for man. God is the one who rests, and in so doing He removes His constraining grace. Man then falls. In the Old Covenant, we have a clear disjunction between work and rest, and man rests on the day God rested, but it’s also the day man fell. Now, you can argue that Sunday is symbolically redeemed by the Resurrection, and the non-Sabbatarian agrees. On the other hand, all work has been sanctified by the New Covenant; the disjunction is gone, because the curse is gone. In short, we’re back to the Garden, the curse has been reversed. Ergo, the Sabbath is not a day; rather it is perpetual. There is a day of corporate worship, but then all else is to be done in a genuine spirit of worship that day and every other day.

  7. Marty Duren Says:

    Great title to the post, guys.

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