“J.I. Packer: In His Own Words” Extended Trailer

In honor of the Homer G. Lindsay Lifetime of Ministry Award for 2015  on  a 90 minute video was made about the renowned Reformed theologian J.I. Packer, called J.I. Packer: In His Own Words. Crossway (who obtained the rights to the video) will be releasing it November 3. Crossway even created jipacker.com in conjunction with the video’s release. Is this a sign of a dedicated Packer website (even outside of anything Crossway related)? One can only hope.

You can watch an extended trailer here.

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Not coming to a theater near you! (Screenshot of “J.I. Packer: In His Own Words.”)

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J.I. Packer Isn’t a Christian Hedonist. Here’s Why.

Why isn’t J.I. Packer a Christian hedonist?

Packer explains:

Recently the phrase ‘Christian hedonism’ has gained prominence as a tag for the truth that the God who promises his people joy and delight in their relationship with him, both here and hereafter, does in fact fulfill his promise here and now. [Here Packer footnotes John Piper’s watershed book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist]


…’Christian hedonism’ is not a good phrase for its purpose; for it seems to say that rating pleasure as life’s supreme value is something that Christianity itself teaches us to do, and that is not so. Biblical Christianity does not teach that any pleasure or good feelings, or any form of present ease and contentment, should be sought as life’s highest good.

What it teaches, rather, is that glorifying God by our worship and service is the true human goal, that rejoicing and delighting in God is central to worship, and that the firstfruits of our heritage of pleasures forevermore will be given us as we set ourselves to do this. But should we start to seek pleasure rather than God, we would be in danger in losing both.

It is apparent that this is what the exponents of Christian hedonism do themselves think; so my difficulty is limited to their choice of words.

J.I. PackerGod’s Plans for You, pp. 76-77. Reformatted for readability.

Help for a Grieving Spouse

Recently, a friend of mine who’s a pastor in New England lost his wife after a long battle with cancer. Now a widower with two small children under age seven, I wanted to give him something to help him process his grief. I sent him A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope by J.I. Packer.

9781581344400Here’s the publisher’s description:

Their love story is not one of fairy tales. It is one of faithfulness from the beginning through to its tragic ending.

Richard and Margaret Baxter had been married only nineteen years before she died at age forty-five. A prominent pastor and prolific author, Baxter sought consolation and relief the only true way he knew- in Scripture with his discipline of writing. Within days he produced a lover’s tribute to his mate and a pastor’s celebration of God’s grace. It is spiritual storytelling at its best, made all the more poignant by the author’s unveiling of his grief.

J. I. Packer has added his own astute reflections along with his edited version of this exquisite memoir that considers six of life’s realities-love, faith, death, grief, hope, and patience. He guides you in comparing and contrasting the world’s and the Bible’s ideals on coping with these tides of life. The powerful combination of Packer’s insights and Baxter’s grief gives you a beacon if you are searching for God, a pathfinder for your relationships, and a lifeline if you are grieving.

Whatever the circumstances of the reader, the book is a beautiful love story.

Learn more about Packer’s A Grief Sanctified here.

The Benefits of Christian Meditation

J.I. Packer—

Richard Baxter lived a century after Calvin. He was a chronically sick Puritan, tubercular from his teens and suffering constantly from dyspepsia, kidney stones, headaches, toothaches, swollen limbs, intermittent bleeding at his extremities, and other troubles—all before the days of pain-killing drugs. Yet he was always energetic, outgoing, uncomplaining, and utterly healthy-minded, even though sometimes (and who can wonder?) a trifle short-tempered….

What kept this frail invalid going so single-mindedly and even spectacularly through the years? In The Saints’ Everlasting Rest Baxter tells the secret. From his thirtieth year he practiced a habit that he first formed when he thought he was on his deathbed: for something like half an hour each day he would meditate on the life to come, thereby escalating his sense of the glory that awaited him and reinforcing his motivation to use every ounce of energy and zeal that he found within himself to hasten up the path of worship, service, and holiness toward his goal. This cultivation of hope gave him daily doggedness in hard work for God, despite his debilitating effect of his sick body.

God’s Plans for You, pp. 69-70.

A Catechesis Manifesto: Five Reasons Why It’s Imperative

The Catechesis Task Force (CTF) of the Anglican Church in North America recently published To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechismwith J.I. Packer serving as the General Editor.

In the catechism’s vision paper, the CTF mentions a “catechesis manifesto” they wrote called “The Time for Catechesis Is Now!”

The manifesto centers around five key points:

  1. People are yearning for a compelling faith;
  2. Bible studies alone aren’t enough;
  3. You can’t have evangelism without catechesis;
  4. The status quo isn’t working, and our churches are dying;
  5. The time has come for families to embrace their God-given catechetical vocation.

The manifesto is currently unpublished, but the Task Force is allowing me to post it on my blog while they work on a final copy.

Read “The Time for Catechesis Is Now!” here.

“A Catechetical Revolution of the 21st Century”? J.I. Packer Explains

In this live-streamed video from an Anglican conference held June 2014, J.I. Packer practically explains the why and how of modern catechesis, including in a church planting context.

In a Packer-packed ten minutes (from the 27th thru 37th minute), Packer issues a call to both clergy and laity (i.e. pastors and congregations) to embrace “a catechetical revolution of the 21st century.”

Watch, think and prayerfully dream how such a revolution might begin in your life and church:

 

Let’s Prove J.I. Packer Wrong

J.I. Packer, in a rare extended lost-and-found interview from 2008:

I produced a catechism book of a different sort titled Growing in Christ, published by Crossway. Once it was called I Want to Be a Christian and was published by Tyndale, but Tyndale couldn’t sell it because the title—so they assured me—misled people about what sort of book it was.

It’s actually a catechism book and gives 800 words on each clause of the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ imgres-10Creed, and each of the Ten Commandments, and general stuff about Christian obedience and on the baptismal covenant. I go over all the New Testament teachings on that standard. There are biblical passages to study and questions with which to work. It would be very straightforward for clergy to use it as a course for people who want to join the church.

And it’s still available? Yes, it’s still available from Crossway and it’s not sold very well, because this type of instruction doesn’t ring bells with the majority.

“…it’s not sold very well, because this type of instruction doesn’t ring bells with the majority”??

Let’s prove Packer wrong.

Through tomorrow, Growing In Christ is available (e-reader only) for $1.99.

Don’t own a Kindle?

You could still get the app. on your smart phone for free, as well as read it on your computer.

It’ll be among the best $1.99 you’ve ever spent.

 

 

New J.I. Packer-Led Catechism

 

There’s a promising new contemporary Catechism now available.

From the Anglican Church in North America:

Led by the Rev. Dr J.I. Packer, the Task Force has developed a unique and powerful resource for helping inquirerscatechism-sidebar3-2 come to an understanding of the Christian faith, and for helping disciples deepen their relationship with God. Written in a “Question and Answer” format, this Catechism, in the words of Packer, “is designed as a resource manual for the renewal of Anglican catechetical practice. It presents the essential building blocks of classic catechetical instruction: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue). To these is added an initial section especially intended for those with no prior knowledge of the Gospel; as such, this catechism attempts to be a missional means by which God may bring about both conversion to Christ and formation in Christ.

For non-Anglicans (such as myself), this new Catechism could be a great template for other church and denominational settings to create their own catechism, or simply modify it, easily omitting the distinctly Anglican aspects (which comprises a small part of the Catechism).

Also, the new Catechism should be a wonderful tool in church planting contexts, effectively addressing spiritual nurture and formation (church) and mission (evangelism) from the plant’s very beginnings.

Download the Vision Statement explaining why the contemporary Catechism was created, and download the Catechism here.

The Movie “Son of God” and the Second Commandment

Joel Osteen is plugging the upcoming movie Son of God, so it’s destined to be a blockbuster. I’ve yet to research the film for biblical, theological or historical accuracy, or its artistic merits, so I can’t provide reliable commentary. But Son of God will likely join Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as a bona-fide Hollywood film about Jesus’ life and death.

The hoopla surrounding Son of God conjures a visit I made in 2004 to Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. just before The Passion’s release. I asked pastor Mark Dever if he planned on seeing the movie. Because Jesus was being depicted on the big screen in human form he replied no, in deference to obeying the second commandment, i.e. Exodus 20:4-6,

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

In addition, when J.I. Packer’s Knowing God was released as a 20th anniversary edition in 1993, along with a new Preface, Packer commented on chapter 4, “The Only True God,” where he unpacks what it means to adhere to the second commandment in contemporary society. He wrote,

…as soon as the images [of Jesus] are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger. Since it is hard for us humans to avoid this pitfall, wisdom counsels once more that the better, safer way is to learn to do without them. Some risks aren’t worth taking” (p. 56).

The Heidelberg Catechism’s take on the second commandment:

Q & A 96

Q. What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?

A. That we in no way make any image of God, nor worship him in any other way than has been commanded in God’s Word.

Q & A 97

Q. May we then not make any image at all?

A. God can not and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.

So should you see the movie? Consider the above counsel, pray about it, and draw your own conclusions. As for me, Osteen’s glowing endorsement of Son of God notwithstanding (or perhaps because of it?), and in spite of my cultural curiosity, I don’t plan on seeing the film.

Packer’s right: some risks aren’t worth taking.

Packer’s Knowing God for $2.99

A book that begins, “As clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a treatise on God. This book, however, is not it” deserves at least a glance. That it would be truly great is rare.

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, first published in 1973, is rightly regarded as a modern-day Christian41uwikf6n4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_ classic, usually taking a close back seat to C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. It’s easily in my top five Christian books by a living author, probably even number one.

For a limited time, Knowing God (e-book) is available for a paltry $2.99. Considering I’ve never seen it selling below $10 since it first became available as an e-book, this is quite a deal.

Here are the Table of Contents:

  • Part I: Know the Lord
  1. “The Study of God”
  2. “The People who Know their God”
  3. “Knowing and Being Known”
  4. “The Only True God”
  5. “God Incarnate”
  6. “He Shall Testify”
    • Part II: Behold Your God!
  7. “God Unchanging”
  8. “The Majesty of God”
  9. “God Only Wise”
  10. “God’s Wisdom and Ours”
  11. “The Word is Truth”
  12. “The Love of God”
  13. “The Grace of God”
  14. “God the Judge”
  15. “The Wrath of God”
  16. “Goodness and Severity”
  17. “The Jealous God”
    • Part III: If God Be For Us –
  18. “The Heart of the Gospel”
  19. “Sons of God”
  20. “Thou our Guide”
  21. “These Inward Trials”
  22. “The Adequacy of God”

Read the first three chapters for free.

**International readers: Are you able to purchase e-books  during these special sales or is it for the U.S. only?