James Montgomery Boice was born in Pittsburgh, PA on July 7, 1938. He studied at Harvard University, Princeton University, and the University of Basel in Switzerland, where he received his doctorate of theology.
Boice was senior Pastor Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. He took the position in 1968 and served until 2000. Boice also served in a number of Christian organizations; as chair of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Boice served as president of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., which became the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals in 1997. He was also a member of the board of trustees for organizations such as Bible Study Fellowship and The Huguenot Fellowship. Boice was editor of Eternity magazine and also spoke on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast.
Boice’s theology was Reformed, and he wrote prolifically. His sermons produced a number of commentaries, including a four volume treatment of Romans. In addition to commentaries Boice wrote a number of tracts, as well as apologies for Biblical inerrancy, hymnals, a series examining the life and claims of Jesus Christ, and was a contributor to a number of books dealing with Reformed theology, and preaching.
One of the things Boice is remembered and celebrated for (aside from his writing and ministry) was the way in which he dealt with his diagnosis of having terminal cancer of the liver. Boice’s address to his congregation addressed a number of relevant issues…
On praying for miracles for the sick… “A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is, pray for what? Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition. A miracle has to be an unusual thing.”
On glorifying God through illness... “Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. If you think of God glorifying himself in history and you say, where in all of history has God most glorified himself? He did it at the cross of Jesus Christ, and it wasn’t by delivering Jesus from the cross, though he could have. Jesus said, “Don’ t you think I could call down from my Father ten legions of angels for my defense?” But he didn’t do that. And yet that’s where God is most glorified.”
On providence… “If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things I would stress. One is the sovereignty of God. That’s not novel. We have talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by. It’s not the answer that Harold Kushner gave in his book, Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. God does everything according to his will. We’ve always said that. But what I’ve been impressed with mostly is something in addition to that. It’s possible, isn’t it, to conceive of God as sovereign and yet indifferent? God’s in charge, but he doesn’t care. But it’s not that. God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything he does is good. And what Romans 12, verses1 and 2, says is that we have the opportunity by the renewal of our minds—that is, how we think about these things— actually to prove what God’s will is. And then it says, “His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Is that good, pleasing, and perfect to God? Yes, of course, but the point of it is that it’s good, pleasing, and perfect to us. 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.”
The quotations above were given to his congregation on May 7, 2000. Boice died from cancer on June 15, 2000.