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Christian Foundations

The foundational document of the Christian faith is the Bible. This is true for both doctrine and practice. This seems to be, as simple as it seems, to be of crucial importance to the Christian. Not all who claim to be Christians hold to this, but it is the position taken here. Of course, it is important to refer to tradition, to confessions of faith, to the writings of well-recognized authorities in the Church such as commentaries, systematic theologies, etc., for the primary purpose of correcting ourselves if our interpretations of Scripture are in error. But, if we are convinced that we understand a teaching of the Bible then we are morally bound to hold to that position, even if it is not popular among fellow Christians. As may well be judged from this web site, I very much value extra-Biblical writings. They are of great value in coming to a proper understanding of Christian doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, it needs to always be before us that it is the Bible that is the Christian's ultimate authority.

There are several reasons why guidance is helpful, perhaps even needed, in properly understanding the Christian message. One reason is that the Bible is a large book, really a library of books, written over several centuries as God revealed Himself and His salvation plan which He is carrying out in history. Some assistance in properly reading and understanding such a large and fundamentally important book seems reasonable. Another important reason why guidance is helpful is because there are so many competing voices as to just what the message of Christianity is. Another reason is that the Christian Church is a community, and that it was never part of God's plan, according to the Bible, that we walk this path alone, Bible in hand, but listening to no one!

The purpose of this section, Christian Foundations, is to suggest a specific book, given below, that provides a big picture overview of the Christian faith. While it is important to study specific doctrines of the faith in detail, in my opinion it is very easy to lose sight of the big picture while we perform our detailed studies. The book recommended below, Foundations of the Christain Faith, covers most areas of Christian doctrine and practice, and provides a context from which details may then be pursued. Other books may well also be suggested, such as Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, or perhaps The Westminster Confession of Faith along with the Catechisms. However, it is remarkable how few publications even attempt what Dr. Boice has done. Dr. Boice writes in his Preface that "no book seems to exist" for the purposes he had in mind. While Dr. Boice has written many books, and some, such as his commentaries, are much longer, in my opinion this book may well be his magnum opus. I highly recommend this book, not only for those new to the faith, but also to those who are more mature. The details of the reference are as follows:

James Montgomery Boice,
Foundations of the Christian Faith,
InterVarsity Press, 1986.

Boice's book is divided into four "books": The Sovereign God, God the Redeemer, Awakening to God, and God and History. The book includes information on the Bible, the attributes of God, law and grace, the person and work of Christ, human nature, the Church, Church and state, and the consummation of history. For a review of this book, click on Dr. Boice's last name in the reference above.

Although published in 1986, Boice's book Foundations of the Christian Faith is in print and readily available. For example, it is available on

Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is available from a number of sources. The two most popular translations are the one by Ford Lewis Battles, and the older one by Henry Beveridge. Both are available from Electronic texts of Calvin's Institutes are also available, some free. For example, it is available free from e-Sword.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Confession plus the shorter and larger catechisms which is referred to as The Westminster Standards is readily available. For example, The Westminster Confession of Faith, Including the Larger Catechism and Shorter Catechism with Scripture Proofs, CEP, 2007, is available from the Bookstore of the Presbyterian Church in America. The Confession, as well as the Catechisms, are available free in electronic form from the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.