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Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World Paperback – April 1, 2009
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"Boice was right to point out that to mischaracterize worldliness 'is to trivialize what is a far more serious and far more subtle problem.'"
—Burnside Writer's CollectiveBurnside Writer's Collective
"Boice explains how the five doctrinal truths that transformed the world during the Reformation not only offer the solution but can shape a renewal today among God's people."
—WRGN NetworkWRGN Network
About the Author
JAMES MONTGOMERY BOICE was senior minister of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for thirty years and a leading spokesman for the Reformed faith until his death in June 2000.
Lane T. Dennis is president and publisher of Crossway Books and Good News Tracts. Dr. Dennis earned his BS in business from Northern Illinois University, an MDiv from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a PhD in religion from Northwestern University. Before joining Good News Publishers in 1974, he served as a pastor in campus ministry at the University of Michigan (Sault Ste. Marie) and as the Managing Director of Verlag Grosse Freude in Switzerland. He is the author and/or editor of three books, including the Gold Medallion-award-winning book Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer, and he is the former Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Dr. Dennis serves as the Chairman of the ESV (English Standard Version) Bible Translation Oversight Committee and as the Executive Editor of the ESV Study Bible. Lane and his wife, Ebeth, live in Wheaton, Illinois.
Eric J. Alexander is the retired Senior Minister at St. George's-Tron Parish Church in Glasgow, Scotland.
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Top Customer Reviews
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"No people ever rise higher than their idea of God. Conversely, the loss of the sense of God's high and awesome character always leads to the loss of a people's highest ideals, moral values, and even what we commonly call humanity, not to mention the loss of understanding and appreciation for the most essential Bible doctrines...We deplore the breakdown of moral standards in the church, even among its most visible leaders. But what do we think should happen when we have focused on ourselves and our own, often trivial needs rather than on God, ignoring his holiness and excusing our most blatant sins? To listen to many contemporary sermons one would think man's chief end is to glorify himself and cruise the malls." (pp. 151-152).
Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? is a much-needed reminder of what we should again believe, and why it matters.
The book begins with a critical examination of the modern evangelical church. The author shows that where the evangelical church was once known for and defined by what it believed, today it is increasingly defined by its style. He is especially critical of the church growth movement, saying that this movement adjusts Christianity to the desires of our culture. The modern church does not understand that Christianity can only thrive by offering people not what "they already have, but what they so desperately lack - namely, the Word of God and salvation through Jesus Christ." His thesis (found on page 36) is that "the chief problem [with the church] is that we have forgotten God and are not really living for His glory...the reason we do not think about Him is that we have forgotten the meaning and importance of these essential doctrines." The doctrines he refers to are, of course, the five solas.
He turns to an examination of the pattern of this age. He shows how the world's patterns of secularism, humanism, relativism, materialism and pragmatism have infiltrated the church. Perhaps even worse is the onset of mindlessness where people in the world and in the church no longer use their minds, deliberately choosing ignorance as a way of life. Set against these principles are the absolutes of the Reformation which need to be related to our culture in a new and relevant way.
The bulk of the book is dedicated to an examination of each of the five principles. Each section is a fascinating, Scriptural study. Though he is a theologian, Boice was primarily a pastor and thus a great communicator. He relates difficult principles in a way that the laity can understand and not become overwhelmed.
Having related the principles, Boice spends the final section discussing their application to our worship and to our lives. I found this section disappointing and for a time was almost convinced that it had been written by a different author. Where the first part of the book praised the Reformers, this section lauded the pope and Brother Lawrence. It also seemed to end very suddenly without tying the ideas together and providing a satisfactory conclusion.
Regardless of my annoyances with final section I highly recommend this book. Boice left behind a thought-provoking study of the principles upon which the Protestant church was founded. He provides a respectful but at times necessarily harsh call for churches to re-examine their principles and determine if they truly are living for God's glory alone.
Just like an epistle, after carefully pointing out the problems in the modern church, he moves into Parts Two and Three describing the practical remedy to a lost and wandering church. Part Two (Doctrines that Shook the World) covers the five "solas" of the Reformation (Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Glory to God Alone). Boice was at his best in this section section, providing one of the clearest, most concise and biblically supported study of this area of theology I have read. He dedicates a chapter to each of the solas. I especially appreciate his use of the relevant texts, focused explanations, and very effective applications of each principle.
After completing an excellent doctrinal section, Boice moves into Part Three (The Shape of Renewal)which is his application of the first two sections. I enjoyed parts of this last section, but not as much as the first two. Boice allows his personal preferences to really come to the forefront and this section will probably draw most of the criticism of the book. This section has a number of worthwhile parts and takes on more of an outline format, especially Chapter Nine, which I found to be the most helpful area of Part Three. For whatever reason, I felt Boice lost his focus in Chapter Eight and wandered around a little in his presentation of different aspects of true worship, which will be what I think is the most controversial part of the book. I have already noticed one reviewer really took exception to the information in this chapter.
Overall, this was an excellent book and a worthwhile read and addition to any library. It's not written beyond the younger Christian, nor too shallow for the more mature Christian, either. I recommend this book. Part Two alone is worth the price of admission.