“Our business is to present the Christian faith
clothed in modern terms, not to propagate
modern thought clothed in Christian terms.
Confusion here is fatal ” – j.i. packer

from the faculty page of regent college:

What do J. I. Packer, Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus have in common?

Each was recently named by TIME magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

Dr. Packer, the Board of Governors’ Professor
of Theology at Regent College, was hailed by TIME as “a doctrinal Solomon” among Protestants. “Mediating debates on everything from a particular Bible translation to the acceptability of free-flowing Pentecostal spirituality, Packer helps unify a community [evangelicalism] that could easily fall victim to its internal tensions.”

Knowing God, Dr. Packer’s seminal 1973 work, was
lauded as a book which articulated shared beliefs for members of diverse
denominations; the TIME profile quotes Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington as saying, “conservative Methodists and Presbyterians and Baptists could all look to [Knowing God] and say, ‘This sums it all up for us.’”

In a similar tribute to Dr. Packer almost ten years
ago, American theologian Mark Noll wrote in Christianity Today that, “Packer’s ability to address immensely important subjects in crisp, succinct sentences is one of the reasons why, both as an author and speaker, he has played such an important role among American evangelicals for four decades.”

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i first remember hearing about j.i. packer while browsing through some books at (yet another) conference while in college. i saw a copy of knowing god and saw the many endorsements by a lot of people whose names i recognized. a while later, i was able to get a copy for free and started reading through it.

i was impressed by the simplicity of the writing, yet moved by the profundity of the content. Since that time i have taught through many sections of this book, and i have given away many copies. besides the bible, i would probably go so far as to say this book is the one “must have” for any christian. i say must “have” because it is not enough to read it once. you will want it at your disposal to refer back to time and time again.

my second year of seminary i was required to read packer’s book a quest for godliness for my “spiritual disciplines” class. i think i may have underlined three fourths of the entire book. page after page was filled with golden nuggets. i strained to retain all that i was reading, worried that i wouldn’t remember it all. i have never read a book, other than scripture, that i so immediately wanted to change my life, attitude, and actions.

again, i will state my disclaimer that there are some things that packer has said, written or taught that i disagree with, but on the whole, the lord has used him in a mighty way in the lives of many to articulate the truth of scripture in a way that is understandable and motivating.

i recommend the following books from j.i. packer: (click titles for links)

  • knowing god
    as stated above, one of the best books you could ever read. written in a very accesible manner, packer walks his readers through basic christian doctrine in a manner that is warm and welcoming, without sacrificing content or quality.
  • a quest for godliness
    “Dr. Packer has blended theology, biography, history, and practical exhortation in a book that is a delight to read. But even more, the book speaks to our contemporary church situation and causes us to search our hearts and examine our ministries. Whether you are just getting acquainted with the Puritans or are a long-time friend, A Quest for Godliness will instruct and inspire you. Here is solid spiritual food that contributes to maturity.” —Warren W. Wiersbe
  • evangelism and the sovereignty of god
    putting another nail in the coffin of the argument that belief in the sovereignty of god in salvation is incompatible with a drive and desire for evangelism, dr. packer unpacks in this very small paperback book how god’s sovereignty and our responsibility to evangelize are not at odds, and go hand in hand.

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