J. I. Packer
James Innell Packer
22 July 1926
|Died||17 July 2020 93) (aged|
|Children||Ruth Packer, Naomi Packer, Martin Packer|
|Parent(s)||James Packer, Dorothy Packer|
|Alma mater||Corpus Christi College, Oxford Wycliffe Hall, Oxford|
|Thesis||The Redemption and Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter (1954)|
|Doctoral advisor||Geoffrey Nuttall|
|School or tradition|
|Notable works||Knowing God (1973)|
James Innell Packer (22 July 1926 –17 July 2020) was an English-born Canadian evangelical theologian, cleric and writer in the low-church Anglican and Calvinist traditions. He was considered one of the most influential evangelicals in North America, known for his best-selling book, Knowing God , written in 1973, as well as his work as an editor for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He was one of the high-profile signers on the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a member on the advisory board of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and also was involved in the ecumenical book Evangelicals and Catholics Together in 1994. His last teaching position was as the board of governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, in which he served from 1996 until his retirement in 2016 due to failing eyesight.
Packer was born on 22 July 1926 in Twyning, Gloucestershire, England to James and Dorothy Packer.His sister, Margaret, was born in 1929. His father was a clerk for the Great Western Railway and his lower-middle-class family was only nominally Anglican, attending the local St. Catherine's Church. When he was seven, Packer suffered from a severe head injury in a collision with a bread van, which caused him to not be able to play sports, so he became interested in reading and writing. At 11 years of age, Packer was gifted with an old Oliver typewriter. He went on to cherish typewriters for the rest of his life. In 1937, Packer went to The Crypt School, where he specialized in the classics. At age 14 he was confirmed at St. Catherine's church.
He won a scholarship to the University of Oxford, where he was educated at Corpus Christi College, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. In a 1944 meeting of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU), Packer committed his life to Christian service.It was during this time that Packer became exposed to the Puritans through OICCU's library, which were an influence he carried for the rest of his life. He also first heard lectures from C. S. Lewis at Oxford, whose teachings would (though he never knew Lewis personally) become a major influence in his life.
After college, he spent a brief time teaching Greek and Latin at Oak Hill College in London.During this 1949–1950 school year, he sat under the teaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel, who also would have a great influence on his thinking, and who he would know and interact with later. In 1949, Packer went back to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford in 1949 to study theology. He obtained his Master of Arts degree in 1954, and Doctor of Philosophy in 1954. He wrote his dissertation under Geoffrey Nuttall on the soteriology of the Puritan theologian Richard Baxter. He was ordained a deacon in 1952 and priest in 1953 in the Church of England, within which he was associated with the evangelical movement. He served as assistant curate of Harborne Heath in Birmingham from 1952 to 1954. In 1954, Packer married Kit Mullet, and they had three children, Ruth, Naomi, and Martin.
In 1955, his family moved to Bristol and Packer taught at Tyndale Hall, Bristol, from 1955 to 1961. He wrote an article denouncing Keswick theology as Pelagian in the Evangelical Quarterly . million copies. In 1977, he signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.According to biographer Alister McGrath, it is widely agreed that his critique "marked the end of the dominance of the Keswick approach among younger evangelicals". It was also during this time that he published his first book, Fundamentalism and the Word of God (1958), a defense of the authority of the Bible, which sold 20,000 in that year and has been in print since. Packer moved back to Oxford in 1961, where he served as librarian of Latimer House in Oxford from 1961–1962 and warden from 1962–1969, an evangelical research centre he founded with John Stott. In 1970, he became principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol, and from 1971 until 1979 he was associate principal of the newly formed Trinity College, Bristol, which had been formed from the amalgamation of Tyndale Hall with Clifton College and Dalton House-St Michael's. He became editor of the Evangelical Quarterly in the 1960s, and eventually published a series of articles he wrote in the journal into a book, Knowing God . The book, published by Hodder & Stoughton in Britain and InterVarsity Press in the United States in 1973, became a bestseller of international fame and sold over 1.5
In 1979, one of Packer's Oxford friends persuaded him to teach at Regent College in Vancouver, 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.At Regent he taught many classes, including systematic theology and the Puritans.
He was a prolific writer and frequent lecturer,and a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today . Packer served as general editor of the English Standard Version (ESV), an evangelical translation based upon the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and theological editor of the ESV Study Bible .
Packer was associated with St. John's Vancouver Anglican Church, which in February 2008 voted to schism from the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue of same-sex blessings. St. John's joined the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).Packer, on 23 April, handed in his licence from the Bishop of New Westminster. (ANiC eventually co-founded and joined the Anglican Church in North America in 2009.) 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.
Packer had 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 wrote on a trial basis 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.He was awarded 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".
In 2016, Packer's eyesight deteriorated due to macular degeneration to a point where he could no longer read or write, consequently concluding his public ministry.
Packer died on 17 July 2020, five days before his 94th birthday.
He signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy , affirming the conservative evangelical position on biblical inerrancy.
Packer was a complementarian and served on the advisory board of Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He thus subscribed to a view of gender roles such 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.In 1991 Packer set forth his reasons for this in an influential yet controversial article called "Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters".
Packer held to the soteriological position known as Calvinism.
Packer endorsed and supported books that have advocated for theistic evolution,but has also expressed caution towards the validity of evolution.
In recent years, he had supported the ecumenical movement, which drew criticism from other evangelicals. Specifically, Packer's involvement in the book Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission (ECT) was sharply criticised.He defended ECT by arguing that believers should set 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.
Open theism, also known as openness theology and free will theism, is a theological movement that has developed within Christianity as a rejection to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. Open theism is typically advanced as a biblically motivated and philosophically consistent theology of human and divine freedom, with an emphasis on what this means for the content of God's foreknowledge and exercise of God's power.
Biblical inerrancy is the belief that the Bible "is without error or fault in all its teaching"; or, at least, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact". Some equate inerrancy with biblical infallibility; others do not. The belief is of particular significance within parts of evangelicalism, where it is formulated in the "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy".
James Montgomery Boice was an American Reformed Christian theologian, Bible teacher, author, and speaker known for his writing on the authority of Scripture and the defence of Biblical inerrancy. He was also the Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death.
John Robert Walmsley Stott was an English Anglican presbyter and theologian who was noted as a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement. He was one of the principal authors of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974. In 2005, Time magazine ranked Stott among the 100 most influential people in the world.
Systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. It addresses issues such as what the Bible teaches about certain topics or what is true about God and his universe. It also builds on biblical disciplines, church history, as well as biblical and historical theology. Systematic theology shares its systematic tasks with other disciplines such as constructive theology, dogmatics, ethics, apologetics, and philosophy of religion.
Robert Charles Sproul was an American Reformed theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and could be heard daily on the Renewing Your Mind radio broadcast in the United States and internationally. Under Sproul's direction, Ligonier Ministries produced the Ligonier Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which would eventually grow into the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, of which Sproul, alongside Norman Geisler, was one of the chief architects. Sproul has been described as "the greatest and most influential proponent of the recovery of Reformed theology in the last century."
Stanley James Grenz (1950–2005) was an American Christian theologian and ethicist in the Baptist tradition.
Biblical literalism or biblicism is a term used differently by different authors concerning biblical interpretation. It can equate to the dictionary definition of literalism: "adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense", where literal means "in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical".
Donald Arthur Carson is Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition. He is a prominent evangelical scholar and author.
Darrell L. Bock is an American evangelical Christian New Testament scholar. He is Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at The Hendricks Center and Senior Research Professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in Dallas, Texas, United States. Bock received his PhD from Scotland's University of Aberdeen. His supervisor was I. Howard Marshall. Harold Hoehner was an influence in his NT development, as were Martin Hengel and Otto Betz as he was a Humboldt scholar at Tübingen University multiple years.
Christian apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that defends Christianity against objections.
Graeme Goldsworthy is an Australian evangelical Anglican theologian specialising in the Old Testament and biblical theology. His most significant work is a trilogy: Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, and The Gospel in Revelation. Goldsworthy has authored several other books including According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible, and Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge in England, and Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia.
Kevin Jon Vanhoozer is an American theologian and current Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Illinois. Much of Vanhoozer's work focuses on systematic theology, hermeneutics, and postmodernism.
James Barr (1924–2006) was a liberal Scottish Old Testament scholar, known for his contribution on how vocabulary and structure of the Hebrew language may reflect a particular theological mindset. At the University of Oxford, he was the Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture from 1976 to 1978, and the Regius Professor of Hebrew from 1978 to 1989.
Bibliolatry is the worship of a book, idolatrous homage to a book, or the deifying of a book. It is a form of idolatry. The sacred texts of some religions disallow icon worship, but over time the texts themselves are treated as sacred the way idols are, and believers may end up effectively worshipping the book. Bibliolatry extends claims of inerrancy–hence perfection–to the texts, precluding theological innovation, evolving development, or progress. Bibliolatry can lead to revivalism, disallows re-probation, and can lead to persecution of unpopular doctrines.
Bruce K. Waltke is an American Reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. He has held professorships in the Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Roger R. Nicole was a native Swiss Reformed Baptist theologian and proponent of Christian egalitarianism and biblical inerrancy. He was an associate editor for the New Geneva Study Bible, assisted in the translation of the New International Version, and was a founding member of both the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and the Evangelical Theological Society, serving as president of the latter in 1956.
Michael R. Licona is an American New Testament scholar and author. He is Associate Professor in Theology at Houston Baptist University and the director of Risen Jesus, Inc. Licona specializes in the Resurrection of Jesus, and in the literary analysis of the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies.
Peter Eric Enns is an American Biblical scholar and theologian. He has written widely on hermeneutics, Christianity and science, historicity of the Bible, and Old Testament interpretation. Outside of his academic work Enns is a contributor to HuffPost and Patheos. He has also worked with Francis Collins' The BioLogos Foundation. His book Inspiration and Incarnation challenged conservative/mainstream Evangelical methods of biblical interpretation. His book The Evolution of Adam questions the belief that Adam was a historical figure. He also wrote The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It and The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More than Our 'Correct' Beliefs.
John Edgar Goldingay is a British Old Testament scholar and translator and Anglican clergyman. He is the David Allan Hubbard Professor Emeritus of Old Testament in the School of Theology of Fuller Theological Seminary in California.