J.I. Packer is widely recognized as a leading theologian of 20th century evangelicalism. In the series Theologians on the Christian Life Sam Storms wrote the volume Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit. The subtitle is aptly chosen and summarizes the two focuses of Packer’s writings. Actually, it makes clear that for Packer Christian life is always life to the honor and glory of the Triune God, who is himself the Source and Author of spiritual life.
One of the great merits of Packer is that he has written in a very accessible way. He can be describes as a kind of 20th century puritan. Packer himself has again and again testified of his great debt to the puritans. I myself consider the synthetic attitude of Packer towards Anglo-Catholics and Roman-Catho-lics as a serious demerit. But because Storms draws attention of what Packer himself thinks the Bible teaches about Christian life, this demerit has not a real place in the volume Storms has written.
Already as a young theologian the importance to uphold the Bible as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. The central reference point of the message of the Bible is for Packer the atonement. This accent gives his writings both an Christ-centered and experimental emphasis.
For Packer it is very important for the Christian life that we realize that we have a struggle with indwelling sin until death. This was one of the important things Packer himself learned from the puritans. Very valuable is that Storms added an appendix in which he gives exegetical and theological evidence for seeing the man of Romans 7 as a Christian; and then not an immature but mature Christian.
Packer again and again attends us to the fact that the main work of the person of the Holy Spirit is that he unites is to Christ and that Christians have communion with Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In this way Packer makes clear that asking attention for the person and work of the Holy Spirit never diminishes our focus on Christ.
I finish this review with the concluding words of Sam Storm’s study on Packer: ‘So, whether you are yeas in years and new to the Christian faith, or, like James Innell Packer, older and spiritual ripe, the call to everyone who knows Christ, at every age, is the same: energetically engage, breathlessly run, relentlessly repent, passionate believe, fervently worship, and zealously seek after God and his holiness.’
Sam Storms, Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit, Theologians on the Christian Life, Stephen J. Nichols and Justin Taylor (ed.), (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), paperback 224 pp., $18,99 (ISBN 9781433539527)