Review of “Packer on the Christian Life”

Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit (Theologians on the Christian Life) by Sam Storms411ODgemlWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

This is the fifth book I’ve read from this series and the first one which features a figure who is still living.

One can’t peruse a well stocked Reformed/Evangelical library for long without being confronted with the profound influence of the Anglican theologian J. I. Packer. Through his books, such as Knowing God, and his endorsements and forewords, Packer has left a mark on nineteenth century Christian publishing. His influence extends far beyond the publishing world.–evidenced in his role at Regent college, his work on the ESV, his involvement in the inerrancy controversy, his leadership in the Anglican church, and his membership in the  Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

There is no question that Packer’s written corpus, massive as it is, provides rich fodder for gleaning a distinct view of the Christian life. And there is no escaping his massive influence and role in shaping where the church is at today. It is therefore fitting that this series would include J. I. Packer, even though unlike most of the other people, he is not a deceased luminary.

Storms does a fine job of conveying the main emphasis of Packer’s life work, straightforwardly acknowledging his debt to the “Puritan, Theological Exegete, and Later-Day Catechist.”. The book is loaded with substantial quotations from Packer’s pen (or typewriter?), establishing a careful presentation of how he interacted with the Scriptures and the ideas of his day. Packer’s piety (or spirituality) seeps through Storms’ work. There are brilliant sections on suffering, the role of the atonement, Romans 7, prayer, and theocentricity.

This is unlikely to be the “bestseller” in this series. Neither will it generate as much excitement as some of the other titles. Nevertheless, there is almost no aspect in which it is inferior to the others, and it exceeds most of the ones I’ve read so far. This is a solid resource and certainly one of the best ones in this series. It is well worth reading, and I hope many more do so!

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William Cowper Against Colonialism and Imperialism

In his book on William Cowper, William Cowper: The man of God’s stamp, George Ella writes that Cowper” was scathingly severe with any politicians or friends who dared to presume that the chaining of India to Britain was a noble act. Whenever a newspaper fell into [his] hands, he would turn to the foreign section and ask himself ‘is India free or do we grind her still?'”

In one of William Cowper’s letters,he wrote of his countrymen: “they..have possessed themselves of an immense territory, which they have ruled with a rod of Iron… The Potentates of this Country they dash in pieces like a potter’s vessel as often as they please, making the happiness of 30 millions of mankind a consideration subordinate to that of their own”.

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John Calvin and Immigrants

In 16th century Geneva, the majority of people were getting sick and tired of immigrants pouring in. They were angry that they were “stealing jobs”, spreading diseases, and freeloading off of society’s resources. They tried to pass anti immigration laws.

John Calvin responded quite differently. He directed elected officers of the church (deacons) to take care of their needs and give them jobs. He taught people to take care of the refugees even if they are “worthless, contemptible, and undeserving”… simply because they were made in the image of God. He challenged people to “not consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.” Calvin, like all other figures in church history had his own blind spots, but this little known aspect of his legacy speaks to us today.

There is room for differences of opinion when it comes to logistics or how to accomplish things or who should do what, but any ideology which thrives on antagonizing refugees and immigrants is, wrote frankly, sub-Christian.

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Books Finished in August

(1 paper book, 1 ebook, 3 audio books)

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Insufficiency of the Secular-Humanist Reaction to Evil

“[The] secular-humanist reaction to phenomena such as the Holocaust or the Gulag (and others) is experienced as insufficient: in order to attain the same level as such phenomena, something much stronger is needed, something akin to the old religious trope of a cosmic perversion or catastrophe in which the world itself is ‘out of joint’. Therein lies the paradox of the theological significance of the Holocaust: although it is usually conceived of as the ultimate challenge to theology (if there is a God, and if He is good, how could He have allowed such a horror to take place?), it is at the same time only theology that can provide the framework which enables us somehow to approach the scope of this catastrophe.” – Slavoj Zizek in Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

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August 4, 2015 | Posted in: Philosophy Comments Closed

Books Finished in July

(1 paper book, 1 ebook, 4 audio books)

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The Bourbon Baptist: A Look at Elijah Craig’s Life

Today The Decablog has featured my brief historical sketch of the early Virginia/Kentucky Baptist leader, Elijah Craig: The Bourbon Baptist: A Look at Elijah Craig’s Life.

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Two Poems in Bunbury Magazine

Bunbury Magazine has featured two of my poems, Preparation for the Night Firefly and Still is the Night, in their most recent issue.

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July 13, 2015 | Posted in: Poetry Comments Closed

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