J. I. Packer

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J. I. Packer
Born
James Innell Packer

(1926-07-22) 22 July 1926 (age 92)
Gloucester, England
NationalityBritish-Canadian
OccupationProfessor of Theology at Regent College
Academic background
Alma materCorpus Christi College
InfluencesC. S. Lewis, John Owen
Academic work
Main interestsEvangelical theology, evangelical ecumenism
Notable worksKnowing God (1973)

James Innell Packer (born 22 July 1926), usually cited as J. I. Packer, is a British-born Canadian Christian theologian in the low-church Anglican and Calvinist traditions. He currently serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is considered one of the most influential evangelicals in North America.[1] He has been the theologian emeritus of the Anglican Church in North America since its inception in 2009.

Biography[edit]

Born in Gloucester, England, the son of a clerk for the Great Western Railway, Packer won a scholarship to Oxford University. He was educated at Corpus Christi College, obtaining the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (1948), Master of Arts (1954), and Doctor of Philosophy (1954).

It was as a student at Oxford that he first heard lectures from C. S. Lewis, whose teachings would (though he never knew Lewis personally) become a major influence in his life. In a meeting of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, Packer committed his life to Christian service.

He spent a brief time teaching Greek at Oak Hill College in London, and in 1949 entered Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to study theology. He was ordained a deacon (1952) and priest (1953) in the Church of England, within which he was associated with the evangelical movement. He was Assistant Curate of Harborne Heath in Birmingham 1952–54 and Lecturer at Tyndale Hall, Bristol 1955–61. He was Librarian of Latimer House, Oxford 1961–62 and Principal 1962–69. In 1970 he became Principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol, and from 1971 until 1979 he was Associate Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, which had been formed from the amalgamation of Tyndale Hall with Clifton College and Dalton House-St Michael's.

In 1979, Packer moved to Vancouver to take up a position at Regent College, eventually being named the first Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, a title he held until he was named a Regent College Board of Governors' Professor of Theology in 1996. He is a prolific writer and frequent lecturer, but he is best known for his book Knowing God. He is a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today.

Packer served as general editor of the English Standard Version, an evangelical revision of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and theological editor of the study bible version.

Packer is associated with St. John's Vancouver Anglican Church, which in February 2008 voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue of same-sex blessings. St. John's joined the Anglican Network in Canada.[2] Packer, on 23 April, handed in his licence from the Bishop of New Westminster.[3] In December 2008, Packer was appointed an honorary Clerical Canon of St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney in recognition of his long and distinguished ministry as a faithful teacher of biblical theology.[4]

J. I. Packer has been the theologian emeritus of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) since its creation in 2009, being one of the nine members of the Task Force who authored on a trial base Texts for Common Prayer, released in 2013, and general editor of the Task Force who wrote for trial use To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, approved on 8 January 2014 by the College of Bishops of the church.[5][6] He was awarded with the St. Cuthbert's Cross at the Provincial Assembly of ACNA on 27 June 2014 by retiring Archbishop Robert Duncan for his "unparalleled contribution to Anglican and global Christianity".[7]

Theological views[edit]

Inerrancy[edit]

In 1978, he signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed a conservative position on biblical inerrancy.

Gender roles[edit]

Packer is a complementarian and serves on the advisory board of Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He thus subscribes to a traditional view of gender roles – that a husband should lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and that a wife should joyfully affirm and submit to her husband's leadership. Complementarians also believe the Bible teaches that men are to bear primary responsibility to lead in the church and that as such only men should be elders.[8][9] In 1991 Packer set forth his reasons for this in an influential yet controversial article called "Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters".[10]

Calvinism[edit]

Packer holds to Reformed theology, also known as Calvinism.[11]

Evolution[edit]

In 2008 Packer wrote an endorsement for a book called Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? by Denis Alexander. The book advocates theistic evolution and is critical of intelligent design. Packer said of the book: "Surely the best informed, clearest and most judicious treatment of the question in its title that you can find anywhere today"[12]. This perhaps reveals Packer's current position in the evolution/intelligent design debate.

However, he has also expressed caution as to whether the theory of evolution is actually true, "it's only a hypothesis… it's only a guess… so as science, in terms of philosophy of science… evolution is by no means proven and as a guess it is very strange and contrary to all analogies…" He also said, "the biblical narratives of creation… don't obviously say anything that bears one way or another on the question of whether the evolutionary hypothesis might be true or not…"[13]

The most recent information on Packer's position on evolution comes from his foreword to Reclaiming Genesis by Melvin Tinker.[14] Reclaiming Genesis is a 'pro-evolution' book, with the subtitle "The Theatre of God's Glory – Or a Scientific Story?", in which Packer writes, "Melvin Tinker is fully on wavelength in this lively and enlivening series of expositions. His book is wise, popular, and powerful. I heartily commend it."

Ecumenism[edit]

In recent years, he has supported the ecumenical movement but believes that unity should not come at the expense of abandoning orthodox Protestant doctrine. Nonetheless, his advocacy of ecumenicism has brought sharp criticism from some conservatives, particularly after the publication of the book Evangelicals and Catholics Together – ECT: Toward a Common Mission (ed. Charles Colson, Richard J. Neuhaus) in which Packer was one of the contributors. Packer has defended his support of ECT by noting that believers on the mission field should be primarily concerned with evangelism, setting aside denominational differences for the sake of winning converts to Christianity.

Packer took the side of evangelical ecumenism in opposition to Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1966, then co-authored a work with two Anglo-Catholics in 1970 (Growing into Union) that many evangelicals felt conceded too much biblical ground on critical doctrinal issues. The publication of that work led to the formal break between Lloyd-Jones and Packer, bringing an end to the Puritan Conferences.

Works[edit]

  • Fundamentalism and the Word of God (1958; reprinted 1984) ISBN 0-8028-1147-7
  • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (1961 by Inter-Varsity Fellowship) (reprinted 1991) ISBN 0-8308-1339-X
  • Our Lord's Understanding of the Law of God (1962)
  • The Church of England and the Methodist Church: Ten Essays (1963)
  • God Speaks To Man: Revelation and the Bible (1965)
  • Tomorrow's Worship (1966)
  • Guidelines: Anglican Evangelicals Face the Future (1967)
  • What did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution (1973)
  • Knowing God (1973, reprinted 1993) ISBN 0-8308-1650-X
  • I Want To Be A Christian (1977) ISBN 978-0-8423-1842-6
  • The Ten Commandments (1977) ISBN 978-0-8423-7004-2
  • The Evangelical Anglican Identity Problem: An Analysis (1978) ISBN 978-0-946307-00-5
  • The New Man (1978) ISBN 978-0-8028-1768-6
  • For Man's Sake! (1978) ISBN 978-0-85364-217-6
  • Knowing Man (1979)
  • God Has Spoken (1979) ISBN 978-0-87784-656-7
  • Beyond the Battle for the Bible (1980) ISBN 978-0-89107-195-2
  • Freedom and Authority (1981: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy)
  • A Kind of Noah's Ark? : The Anglican Commitment to Comprehensiveness (1981) ISBN 978-0-946307-09-8
  • God's Words: Studies of Key Bible Themes (1981) ISBN 978-0-87784-367-2
  • Freedom, Authority and Scripture (1982) ISBN 978-0-85110-445-4
  • Keep In Step With The Spirit: Finding Fullness In Our Walk With God (1984, reprinted 2005) ISBN 0-8010-6558-5
  • The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today (1984)
  • Through the Year with J. I. Packer (1986) ISBN 978-0-340-40141-5
  • Hot Tub Religion (1987) ISBN 978-0-8423-1854-9
  • Among God's Giants: Aspects of Puritan Christianity (1991) ISBN 978-0-86065-452-0
  • A Passion for Holiness (1992) ISBN 1-85684-043-3
  • Rediscovering Holiness (1992) ISBN 0-89283-734-9
  • Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (1993) ISBN 0-8423-3960-4
  • A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (1994) ISBN 0-89107-819-3
  • Knowing Christianity (1995) ISBN 978-0-87788-058-5
  • A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah (1995) ISBN 978-0-89107-733-6
  • Decisions – Finding God's Will: 6 Studies for Individuals or Groups (1996) ISBN 978-0-85111-376-0
  • Truth & Power: The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life (1996) ISBN 978-0-87788-815-4
  • Life in the Spirit (1996) ISBN 978-0-340-64174-3
  • Meeting God (2001) ISBN 978-1-85999-480-1
  • God's Plans for You (2001) ISBN 978-1-58134-290-1
  • Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (2002)
  • Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J. C. Ryle (2002) ISBN 978-1-58134-358-8
  • The Redemption and Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter (2003, based on his 1954 Oxford dissertation) ISBN 1-57383-174-3
  • Knowing God Through The Year (2004) ISBN 978-0-8308-3292-7
  • 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know (2007)
  • Praying the Lord's Prayer (2007) ISBN 978-1-58134-963-4
  • Affirming the Apostles' Creed (2008) ISBN 978-1-4335-0210-1
  • Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength (2013)
  • Collected Shorter Writings in four volumes

In the Anglican Agenda series[edit]

Collections[edit]

Co-authored[edit]

Works about[edit]

  • Alister E McGrath, To Know and Serve God: A Life of James I. Packer (1997) ISBN 978-0-340-56571-1
  • Alister E McGrath, J. I. Packer: A Biography (1997) ISBN 978-0-8010-1157-3
  • Roger Steer, Guarding the Holy Fire: The Evangelicalism of John R. W. Stott, J. I. Packer and Alister McGrath (1999) ISBN 978-0-8010-5846-2
  • Don J Payne, The Theology of the Christian Life in J. I. Packer's Thought: Theological Anthropology, Theological Method, and the Doctrine of Sanctification (2006) ISBN 978-1-84227-397-5
  • Timothy F George, J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of His Life and Thought (2009) ISBN 978-0-8010-3387-2
  • Leland Ryken, J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life (2015) ISBN 978-1-4335-4252-7

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America". Time. 7 February 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  2. ^ Eustace, Chantal (14 February 2008). "Anglican congregation votes to split over same-sex blessings". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008.
  3. ^ Nine priests, two deacons, hand in their licences from the Bishop, Anglican, archived from the original on 26 July 2011
  4. ^ Packer and Short honoured by Archbishop, Sydney Anglicans.
  5. ^ "Texts for common prayer". Anglican Church in North America.
  6. ^ "Catechism". Anglican Church in North America.
  7. ^ "Anglican Church in North America".
  8. ^ "A vision of biblical complementarity". CBMW. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  9. ^ Fifty crucial questions (book) (online ed.), CBMW.
  10. ^ Christianity Today, 11 February 1991.
  11. ^ Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (book).
  12. ^ Creation or Evolution, front cover.
  13. ^ Packer, Evolution and creation problems (talk), Sydney Anglicans, 19 min.
  14. ^ Hudson, Lion, Reclaiming Genesis, archived from the original on 23 August 2010

External links[edit]