J.I. Packer’s Systematic Theology: A (Bold) Proposal

J.I. Packer’s long-planned magnum opus Systematic Theology (hereafter ST) is apparently still slated for publication.

Last week I spoke with a representative at Tyndale, who are under contract to publish it (and have been for decades). I then spoke with Dr. Packer to seek further clarification. He said it is still in the works, although he couldn’t give me a timetable. He then asked for prayers for his health.

I hope ST is published before Packer is called home to glory. Let’s pray that God grants Dr. Packer strength to finish it, and for Tyndale to publish it.

But…

Let’s take the discussion one step further.

It’s one thing to hope and pray it will be completed, and another to try to do something about it. After all, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Here’s a bold proposal: That Packer’s ST is published by his 90th birthday, i.e. July 22, 2016.

This work is simply too important for today’s church for it not to materialize. And, hoping that Packer lives till 90 years old (and only the Lord knows), it would be a sweet gift to him and his family to see this work finally come to fruition.

So, what can you do to help Packer’s ST become a reality? Five critical things:

  1. Pray for Packer, that God will sustain him during these final years of ministry. (Please, before you read any further, take a moment and pray for him.)
  2. Encourage Tyndale to kick things into high gear. (Please take a quick moment to contact them here. They must hear from you. If they see that demand is high for it, they will respond. Please encourage, not berate, them.)
  3. Pray that whoever else is involved with the project will, in collaboration with Packer and Tyndale, push this through.
  4. Spread the word. May thousands of saints pray for Dr. Packer’s health and the completion of this work.
  5. Pray that God will be glorified in the process.

Thank you.

Update: I just received this response from a representative at Tyndale:

Greetings-

Thank you for your interest in Tyndale House and J.I. Packer. We are working towards publication of Packer’s Systematic Theology, which we do feel would be a work of great significance in today’s Christian community. However, it is not ready for publication and we do not have a timeline for its release; we will wait until the work is complete and meets the high standards set by J.I. Packer and Tyndale House Publishers. Please pray for health and discernment of all parties involved.

 Have a nice day.

Stay tuned for further updates. And please, if you haven’t yet contacted Tyndale, do so here.

November 21, 2013

When I spoke with Dr. Packer about his forthcoming Systematic Theology, I did so without the intent of blogging about it. Initially, I didn’t speak with him as a blogger but as someone with a profound and deep appreciation for his work. However, eventually I wrote the above post. In hindsight, I should have sought Dr. Packer’s approval to go public with what was thought to be a private conversation. 

The above post was in no way intended to be intrusive into his private affairs. I publicly apologize to Dr. Packer for any undue attention or embarrassment this post may have caused him and his family. My aim was simply to rally fellow brothers and sisters to pray for him and encourage Tyndale to help his ST come to fruition.

God forbid the day this blog ever smells like a scandalous Christian version of TMZ, exploiting famous or up and coming Reformed personalities in sensational ways to elicit cheap voyeuristic thrills and acquire blog hits.

In the future, when corresponding with anyone for the purposes of this blog (supposedly famous or otherwise), I will explicitly state that I write for this blog, clearly securing permission to use the contents of our correspondence for public purposes.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Michael

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6 thoughts on “J.I. Packer’s Systematic Theology: A (Bold) Proposal

  1. Pingback: FRC Blog » The Social Conservative Review: October 17, 2013

  2. Done and done.

    (What I wrote: I’m a theological student (Pastor-to-be) that took a systematic theology course using an incomplete manuscript from a Lutheran theologian (Yeago). Because it wasn’t edited, I found it very difficult to get through, even though it was ultimately a very edifying topic to study. I’ve heard that contacting you might be able to contribute to the publication of Packer’s Syst. Theo. book, and wanted to further encourage you in the discernment process. In seminary, I’ve been told some students lean more to the academic courses (like Systematic Theology) and others more to the “pastoral”. I am a pastorally-inclined student, but was so incredibly challenged and moved and developed theologically (spiritually) by taking Systematics… an easier, more accessible text would have made a great difference (my prof knows this, too, and agrees). So I pray indeed for Packer and those involved in getting it published. Blessings!)

  3. Is he still working on writing it, or is it in the hands of the publisher just waiting to be edited, polished, and printed? If it’s in the hands of the publisher, is it really likely to take nearly 3 more years to go to print? And if he is still writing it, is writing to the publisher really going to impact anything?

    Will pray for his health and the progress of the project either way, but I would like to better understand exactly where things are right now.

    • Hi John. I’m seeking clarification on your questions. But as far as I understand it, it’s not yet in Tyndale’s hands.

      I followed up on my discussion with Dr. Packer and sent a letter to him last week proposing some concrete steps to push it forward. But Packer’s literary agent is also involved, so it’s not as clear cut as one might think. However, I’m hopeful for a response.

      Will writing to Tyndale impact anything? I really don’t know. But the interest for Packer’s Systematic Theology is high and widespread. And if Dr. Packer (and his agent) demonstrably see significant interest, I can’t help but think it will encourage them to publish it sooner rather than later. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I remain hopeful (and doggedly persistent!).

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