Volume 47 - Issue 3

The Explicit and Implicit Theological Method of J. I. Packer

By Don J. Payne


J. I. Packer’s theological works have wielded remarkable influence on the landscape of North American evangelicalism. His hallmark theological emphases reflect both explicit methodological commitments and implicit methodological traits. Packer’s theological method is marked by a commitment to the inerrancy and authority of the biblical text, as interpreted within a covenantal, canonical, and Christo-centric framework. His method also reflects assumptions about the nature of divine and human rationality, the capacity of human rationality to access the formal meaning of the text, the nature of meaning in the text, and the role of the Holy Spirit in the hermeneutical process.

I’ll take my place in the line of those who have been gratefully impacted by J. I. Packer, beginning in my life with his monumental work Knowing God.1 Though published relatively early in his writing career, that work strikes me as somewhat paradigmatic of his overall theological method. The impact of that book can be assessed from numerous angles, but it brings to mind Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the medium is the message. Similarly, the method is the message.

Only in recent years has theological method become a prominent point of research and conversation amongst evangelical theologians. Roman Catholic and some mainline Protestant theologians had quite a head start on the subject. Evangelical scholars have for a long time attended to hermeneutics but it appears that hermeneutics has often been generally treated as synonymous with exegesis. Many evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries have required courses in biblical hermeneutics which center on the practice of biblical exegesis, but which do not attend to the layers of interpretive questions and issues underlying the canons and practice of historical, grammatical exegesis.

J. I. Packer was arguably in the vanguard of evangelicals who began to pay attention to the field of hermeneutics in that broader sense. Over time he saw the connection between that hermeneutical conversation and theological method. Packer considered all theology to be spiritual theology and refused to let the work of theology be divorced from the life of faithful obedience. Thus, he sought to bring his reflections on theological method into the service of that enterprise.

In 1991 Packer published the book entitled Among God’s Giants: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.2 He can now be placed among those giants and in an effort to expand and inform our appreciation of his contributions, this article will provide an overview and summary of his theological method, that is, how he understood theological method; his explicit methodological commitments; and his actual practice of theological method, both explicit and implicit. These observations will be deeply appreciative, even as I seek to point out some places where, in the style of critical realism, we can stand on Packer’s broad theological shoulders and maybe stretch just a bit further toward apprehension of God’s truth.

1. Packer’s Definition and Understanding of Theological Method

Packer’s own definition of theological method was straightforward. It is, he said, the procedures by which theology is done and the justification for those procedures.3 He observed that theological method generally functions on one of two sets of premises. One set prioritizes the Bible as “the revealed Word of God” that functions authoritatively and may be illuminated through research and the Holy Spirit’s illumination. The other set prioritizes “the historical institutional church” as the infallible guide for interpreting the Bible.4 Obviously, even though Packer had a high ecclesiology and regard for the historic Creeds, he contended for the methodological priority of the first set, both in his commitment to the Word of God as the source of authority and the Holy Spirit as the adjudicator of that authority.

I must add that a diagnostic of any theological method must include attention to the substructure of one’s theology, for example, starting points, the ordering and internal relations posited between theological loci, how assumptions about some loci function in relation to other loci, and how other factors such as those in Outler’s familiar Quadrilateral affect our theological conclusions.

In Packer’s overall understanding of the nature and task of theology, his approach to theological method was intricately connected to his understanding of hermeneutics. So, we can gain insight into his theological method through his approach to hermeneutics. I asked him once whether his theology had changed over the years and he told me it had not. He was probably thinking specifically of the explicit content of his theology and of his primary commitments. However, his methodological commitments did indeed change or at least mature over time, as evidenced in the shifts of his thinking about hermeneutics.

Early on he was quite suspicious about this “new” emphasis on hermeneutics. When Anthony Thiselton addressed the National Evangelical Anglican Congress on the subject in 1977, Packer left disappointed by the lack of clear biblical answers to the questions that were raised. Alister McGrath recounts that while Packer “never discounted the importance of hermeneutical questions,” he feared that Thiselton’s approach was risky and bordered on relativism.5 Since then, however, he wrote appreciatively of Thiselton’s contributions as well as those by other contributors such as Hans-Georg Gadamer.6 Of course this shift may well have reflected Packer’s sense that Thiselton’s views had matured, or it may simply have reflected Packer’s deepened grasp of what Thiselton and others were saying. At any rate it suggested movement in his understanding of and engagement with the field, which showed up in his later attempts to integrate some of those hermeneutical insights into his model for reading, interpreting, and responding to God’s authoritative Word.

2. Assumptions of Packer’s Theological Method

From his 1953 essay on “Revelation and Inspiration”7 through to his mature writings of the ensuing decades, the inerrancy and authority of Scripture were crucial assumptions that shaped Packer’s theological practice. Further light is shed on his theological method by examining how he understood inerrancy, its relationship to the Incarnation, and the ways in which inerrancy constitutes an epistemological link between divine and human rationality.

2.1. Inerrancy

Packer considered biblical inerrancy the cornerstone of his theological method.8 As a Brit, he was comfortable using the word “infallible,” but he actually preferred “inerrant” because he felt it had more clarity and force.9 Inerrancy was, for Packer, “a methodological commitment that is perceived as part of a Christian’s discipleship.”10 It underpinned Christian discipleship because in order for the human will to be renewed and the image of God restored, God’s mind must be accurately conveyed to the human mind. Here we can see the Augustinian contours of his anthropology. Biblical inerrancy was for Packer coextensive with biblical authority, which he considered “as methodologically the most basic of theological issues.”11

Yet Packer was admirably careful not to over-define the notion of inerrancy in overly rigid or technical ways even if he felt, as we’ll see in a bit, that the function of inerrancy was quite precise. Rather, he qualified the notion to affirm, first, underlying consistency of and not conflict between all that the biblical writers affirm even though that consistency was not always immediately evident and demanded ongoing study to unearth it, and second, his commitment to give Scripture the benefit of the doubt when there appears to be material internal contradiction.12

For Packer, the possibility of divine and sinless human nature coexisting fully and without compromise in Jesus Christ made possible a fully human yet inerrant communication from God in Scripture as God’s written Word.13 Moreover, since biblical authority derives from the mind of God and is validated by the divine/human nature of Jesus Christ, Jesus constitutes both the plausibility of inerrancy and the content of inerrancy as the supreme expression of God’s verbal revelation. This linkage of authoritative divine content with the mind of God through Jesus, expressed propositionally in Jesus’ teachings, displays the rational orientation of Packer’s hermeneutics and theological method.

Here we can see a bit deeper into the substructure of Packer’s theological method as it relies on his assumptions about the nature of the rationality shared by God and human beings. Human rationality is analogically related to divine relationality by being made in God’s image. Packer did not explicitly define the imago Dei in rationalistic terms as did so many in the history of theological anthropology, but in his view rationality still occupied a space shared by God and humans (or shared by God with humans) and is essential to the realization of the imago Dei.

That raises the crucial question of what Packer meant by rationality and how that rationality functions methodologically in revelation’s divinely intended purpose. Packer advocated a theological method that was rational without being rationalistic. He advocated a more wholistic understanding of rationality that involves commitment/obedience. One can hear notes of Michael Polanyi in the type of rationality found in Packer’s epistemology. It could be described as an epistemology of engagement that makes commitment to and experience of the object of one’s knowledge prerequisite to the possibility of genuine knowledge. He acknowledged a tension between a rationality that insists on unprejudiced scientific inquiry, on one hand, and “the churchly requirements that method be faithful and obedient, confessional and doxological.”14

2.2. Authority

The connection Packer made between inerrancy and authority has already been mentioned. Yet it’s far easier to assert biblical authority in principle than it is to discern how the variegated modalities or literary genres of the biblical text function to mediate God’s authority. Packer was keenly aware that proper biblical interpretation must take literary genre into account and that, for example, we cannot assume that the OT historical books or every statement in the Psalter offers straightforward instruction, either didactic or hortatory. He readily acknowledged the challenges of discerning God’s mind and will as revealed through Scripture.

Yet drawing upon the example of select Puritans, Packer argued that God’s will is communicated to the human conscience with precision and can be discerned with the aid of the Holy Spirit. He stated,

Certainly, seeing the relevant principles and applying them correctly in each case is in practice an arduous task; ignorance of Scripture, and misjudgment of situations, constantly lead us astray, and to be patient and humble enough to receive the Spirit’s help is not easy either. But it remains true nonetheless that in principle Scripture provides clear and exact guidance for every detail and department of life, and if we come to Scripture teachably and expectantly God Himself will seal on our minds and hearts a clear certainty as to how we should behave in each situation that faces us.15

A precise God—a God, that is, who has made a precise disclosure of his mind and will in Scripture, and who expects from His servants a corresponding preciseness of belief and behaviour—it was this view of God that created and controlled the historic Puritan outlook. The Bible itself led them to it. And we who share the Puritan estimate of Holy Scripture cannot excuse ourselves if we fail to show a diligence and conscientiousness equal to theirs in ordering our going according to God’s written Word.16

In his understanding of divine/biblical authority we also see something of how his views of human personhood and piety converge. He refers to “the biblical position that God’s speaking and God’s image in man imply a human capacity to grasp and respond to his verbal address.”17 The rational faculties necessary for recognition and response to that message are essential to the realization of the restored image. Thus, holiness, for Packer, depends upon an inerrant Scripture communicating God’s Law with precision to the rational faculties. Precise knowledge of God’s will and obedience to God’s will is possible, and only possible, through this precise, rational formula.

3. Structure of Packer’s Theological Method

Packer’s theological method was explicitly covenantal, canonical, and Christo-centric. These commitments provided Packer with an overarching framework, the assumption of internal coherence, and a controlling focal point for how he interpreted the biblical text in the work of theology.

3.1. Covenantal

It’s no surprise that Packer adopted an overtly covenantal framework for interpreting Scripture and doing theology. He described covenant theology as a hermeneutic—a framework for reading the entire Bible.18 He claimed that the gospel, God’s Word as a whole, and even the reality of God cannot be “properly understood” unless “viewed within a covenantal frame.”19

Two specific features of his covenantal theology help illuminate his theological method. First, he argued that “the Old Testament should be read through the hermeneutical spectacles that Paul (Romans and Galatians), Luke (Gospel and Acts), Matthew, and the writer to the Hebrews provide.”20 Second, he followed the expression of covenant theology laid out in the Westminster Confession, despite stating some misgivings about later developments in Calvinism that modified Calvin’s own structure and were codified in the Westminster Confession.21 His most notable misgiving affords a glimpse into the substructure of his theological method, though he never overtly connected this feature with his own theological method. That feature was Theodore Beza’s shift of the doctrine of predestination from where Calvin had it in the Institutes. He notes that Beza

removed predestination back from where Calvin put it in his final (1559) revision of the Institutes—in book III, after the gospel and the Christian life, so that it appears as undergirding a known salvation, as in Romans 8:29–38—and subsumed it once more under the doctrine of God and providence, as the medievals had done: which was an invitation to study the gospel promises in the light of predestination, rather than vice versa (an invitation also given—regrettably, it may be thought—by the Westminster Confession).22

3.2. Canonical

Packer also embraced a canonical approach to hermeneutics and reflected on the task of systematic theology from this perspective. “Canonical,” to Packer, denoted the nature of the theological task as it articulates God’s message through the ages so as to evoke obedient response. To Packer, a canonical approach shared with a covenantal framework the assumption of biblical coherence, but moved a step further in fulfilling the purpose of God’s revelation by making that coherence more evident.

3.3. Christo-centric

Jesus Christ, for Packer, was the innermost principle of Scripture’s internal coherence. Jesus Christ is the focal point and the interpretive criterion for Scripture. He stated,

The person and place of the Christ of space-time history is the interpretative key to all Scripture; the Old Testament is to be read in the light of its New Testament fulfillment in and by him, just as the New Testament is to be read in the light of its Old Testament foundations on which that fulfillment rested.23

A specific focus on the redemption provided by Jesus Christ on the cross was Packer’s way of presenting Jesus Christ as the comprehensive criterion for interpreting and applying Scripture. Packer enjoined the preacher to “never let his exposition of anything in Scripture get detached from, and so appear unrelated to, Calvary’s cross and the redemption that was wrought there.”24

4. Function of Packer’s Theological Method

All who are reasonably acquainted with Packer’s work will know of his commitment to the Church and to the lived Christian experience. Thus, he aimed to serve those concerns in his treatment of theological method just as he did in all other theological concerns. The pastoral function of theology would also have served as a methodological criterion, or at least an aim, for Packer.

In the year 2000 he put forward “five principles that should guide our practice of theology in the twenty-first century.”25 The first is to “maintain the trajectories,” that is, keep a central focus on the pietistic concerns of godliness. Second, resist the tendency of specialization to fragment the focus of theology and thus create an imbalanced spirituality. Third, remain anchored in the Bible as God’s Word. Fourth, stay in dialogue with the culture for the sake of meaningful, persuasive encounter. Fifth, continue to dialogue with nonevangelical traditions in order to learn from all who belong to Jesus Christ.26 Parenthetically, this fifth exhortation exhibits Packer’s longstanding theological generosity even within his unapologetic and thoroughgoing Calvinism.

Packer’s theological method had a decidedly pastoral orientation. One of Packer’s most well-known commitments was his love for the Puritans. Though they did not use the nomenclature that we use these days for theological method, Packer found methodological insights in how they wove together theology, pastoral ministry, and Christian ethics, particularly through their commitment to how preaching is a theological act and how theological preaching should function pastorally. Alongside John Calvin, he gives particular credit to John Owen as “models for my kind of Bible-based theologising.”27 Packer specifically credits the Puritans with influencing his theological method. For the Puritans, he contends,

The key is justification by faith, and the door (as we should expect) is the Epistle to the Romans…. These principles of exegesis were handed on to the Puritan brotherhood by Perkins, who laid it down that if one began one’s study with Romans, and followed it with John’s Gospel, one had the key to the entire Bible; analysis shows that these principles have virtually axiomatic status in all Puritan exegesis.28

So, for Packer as for the Puritans “justification by faith” functions in his theological method as the definitive, controlling hermeneutical motif for Scripture. 29

5. Features, Tensions, and Curiosities within Packer’s Theological Method

No theological method can perfectly represent the exhaustive nature of God’s revelation. Like all methods, Packer’s method reflects features and invites questions that can lead to greater methodological faithfulness in the overall field of theological method.

5.1. Christological

Did Packer’s Christocentric method go far enough? He went to great lengths to show Jesus Christ and his redemptive work as the telos of the whole Bible. Yet, his canonical approach animates the theological task with more general references to theism or the person and nature of God, without specific reference to Jesus Christ in the framework of theology itself. Stephen Neill observed about Packer’s methodological approach in Knowing God, “To be fair to Dr. Packer, Jesus Christ always does come in somewhere in his presentation of each theme, but sometimes at the end of an argument, where we would bring him in at the beginning.”30 Admittedly, Christocentrism is a highly debated subject, and Packer had a right to his own approach to the subject. This does at least resurface that question so we can ask what it means to be properly Christological in our theological method. Packer’s Christocentrism was of a particular sort, which some would consider not as thoroughgoing as he thought it was.

5.2. Pneumatological

The methodological relevance of experience moves a bit further into the spotlight for Packer with respect to how his own experience with the Keswick movement played some role in the formation of his doctrine of sanctification. To be fair, this is intended neither to overestimate nor underestimate the role of experience in theological formation; only to admit that it does play a role (as Albert Outler famously insisted,31 though Packer was certainly no Wesleyan), whether or not we recognize it. What drew my attention to this feature originally was the rather jarring and curious contrast between Packer’s experience moving away from the Keswick spirituality in which he had been discipled as a young Oxford undergrad to a Reformed Puritan model for the Christian life as he found articulated in John Owen, and Hannah Whitall Smith’s move in the opposite direction from her experience of some emphases found in Reformed spirituality to a more lifegiving experience in the Spirit as she helped popularize in the Keswick conferences.32 This particular case study suggests that each may have picked up on particular biblical motifs related to spiritual experience and transformation, while experiencing other motifs of emphasis through the grid of their own personalities, backgrounds, tacit assumptions, and who knows how many other inscrutable variables. All these came together to form in each an experiential hermeneutical template that was lifegiving, though in quite contrasting directions.

It is intriguing and commendable how over time he contributed to a Festschrift for his Pentecostal colleague Gordon Fee (though arguing against Fee for an Augustinian interpretation of indwelling sin from Romans 7)33 and also endorsed Craig Keener’s book on the Holy Spirit.34 This may signal a shift of some sorts, or at least a broadening or balancing of his pneumatology over time. He was always reticent about allowing experience to dictate theology—a familiar and wise safeguard. At the same time, it seems that he reflected in his own theological thinking, if not tacitly acknowledged that while experience is never a stand-alone criterion for theology, it most definitely factors into our theological understanding as one influential hermeneutical lens through which we read and understand God’s Word. As Packer engaged with both the thoughtful work of Charismatic/Pentecostal scholars and developed in his own life in the Spirit, his views on the gifts of the Spirit acquired nuance without overall shifts.

This clearly interlocks with his insistence on an “epistemology of engagement.” Yet his hermeneutical method seems ambiguous at best in how the concept of understanding is understood. In upholding the notion that Scripture can be understood through normal practices of human rationality, he does not clearly distinguish between reading and understanding, thus his emphasis that the interpretation of Scripture rests on nothing more than proper mastery of grammatical, historical exegetical principles. Assuming that such reading constitutes understanding then allows him to adopt and to need a second conventional step known as application, which is where he says the Holy Spirit is involved. When reading/understanding is so cleanly distinguished from application, the impression is given and as much as admitted that the Holy Spirit is not necessary in that first essential step of biblical interpretation. The Holy Spirit’s role is focused on, if not restricted to, the application step. John 5:39 is hermeneutically instructive in this regard. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders who challenged him, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (NIV). This statement would seem to question whether the reading of Scripture should be characterized as interpretation when it is so easy to read it and not understand and when understanding is somehow linked to willfulness rather than simple or formal cognition.

In Packer’s hermeneutical schema the act of biblical interpretation is not complete without personal application, yet his division of the process into two distinct steps in this manner reflects a more rationalistic epistemology in which understanding can exist without response; the Holy Spirit’s role being necessary to illumine the response step. Thus, Packer refers to what Scripture “meant,” which can be discerned through proper exegetical technique, and what Scripture “means” for the individual believer.

Understanding of what Scripture means when applied to us—that is, of what God in Scripture is saying to and about us—comes only through the work of the sovereign Holy Spirit, who alone enables us to apprehend what God is and see what we are in His eyes…. (The empathy of which I spoke enables us to grasp what Scripture meant, but it takes the Spirit’s enlightenment to show us what it means.)35

To be fair, Packer intends his emphasis on the Spirit’s role in hermeneutics as defense against accusations of overly rationalistic hermeneutics. He refers to “the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, who enables our sin-darkened minds to draw and accept these correct conclusions as from God.”36 In this regard Packer disagrees with the assumption found in Common Sense Realism and iterated in the Old Princeton theology that truth is discernable from an epistemologically neutral posture.37 He sees “the witness of the Spirit to the divine authority of Scripture” and “the illumination of the Spirit whereby the theological contents of Scripture are understood” as joined together.38

5.3. Anthropological

Theological anthropology may not be generally recognized as one of Packer’s dominant theological focal points, but he actually devoted considerable attention to it. He defined the image of God in terms of “relational righteousness,” developing and building on that notion in multiple places over the years. Insisting that considerations of the image of God must begin with and be ever oriented toward God, he sought to de-anthropocentrize theological anthropology.

At this point it is at least worth raising the question whether the anthropological assumptions he makes about human rational capacity, combined with his placement of the Spirit’s role in his hermeneutical model, assume more about our capacity to apprehend divine revelation than can be substantiated in light of the noetic effects of the Fall.

5.4. Starting Points

Curiously, in the closest Packer ever came to a systematic theology, Concise Theology, the organization and sequence of his themes (one key indicator of theological method) is in some of the very ways he criticizes.39 Predestination, for example, is treated under the divine attributes and prior to the Trinity.

6. Conclusion

I forget whether Packer himself said this, but it has been observed about him that if he had been an American he would have been a Presbyterian. His Reformed theology in the primary mold of the 17th century English Puritans increasingly distanced him from younger Anglicans, contributing to his move to North America. Yet the rigor of his Calvinism ran along the rails not only of the doctrine of God’s grace but on rails of graciousness of spirit. As he insisted in a brief 1982 article entitled “Knowing Notions or Knowing God?,” what justifies us before God is Jesus Christ, not the accuracy of our notions about that justification.40 Only rarely have we in the evangelical world had modeled for us such commitment to clarity and precision when talking about God and God’s ways, wrapped in such pastoral commitment, and delivered with such humility, groundedness, and practicality.

In his theological method, Packer tenaciously sought to let the reality of God and God’s way, as mediated to us through Holy Scripture, drive our epistemology. Many of us could afford to ingest a huge dose of that epistemological medicine, in my view. That lesson has benefited me immeasurably as I hope for even a fraction of the type of progress Packer made. I have in my library a cassette recording of a course he taught at Regent College entitled “Thinking Clearly About God.” That sums up a lot about the trajectory of his theological legacy. Whatever curiosities may be spotted in Packer’s theological method, he at least thought about his method and sought to embody his methodological commitments. In addition to all the other theological virtues and contributions that may receive more attention, he was methodologically self-aware, which only added to his integrity. He not only helped countless numbers of us think more clearly about God, but he helped us know how to think clearly about God. That’s method at its simplest and amidst all that we grateful celebrate about what he taught us, I hope we don’t overlook his methodological model, because it was a captivating model of embodied theology.

[1] J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973).

[2] J. I. Packer, Among God’s Giants: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1991), 86–87.

[3] J. I. Packer, “Method, Theological,” in New Dictionary of Theology, ed. Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, and J. I. Packer (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 425.

[4] Packer, “Method, Theological,” 425.

[5] Alister McGrath, To Know and Serve God: A Life of James I. Packer (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997), 218.

[6] J. I. Packer, “Infallible Scripture and the Role of Hermeneutics,” in Scripture and Truth, ed. D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), 346. See also J. I. Packer, “Understanding the Bible: Evangelical Hermeneutics,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 158.

[7] J. I. Packer, “Revelation and Inspiration,” in New Bible Commentary, ed. Ernest Kevan and Alan Stibbs, revised ed. (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1954), 24–30.

[8] J. I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 141.

[9] J. I. Packer, “Infallible Scripture,” 349–50. See also J. I. Packer, “Encountering Present Day Views of Scripture,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 21–22.

[10] J. I. Packer, “Inerrancy and the Divinity and Humanity of the Bible,” in The Proceedings of the Conference on Biblical Inerrancy 1987, ed. J. Gregory (Nashville: Broadman, 1987), 138.

[11] J. I. Packer, Truth and Power: The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Shaw, 1996), 98.

[12] Packer, Truth and Power, 52.

[13] Packer, Truth and Power, 121.

[14] Packer, “Method, Theological,” 424–25.

[15] J. I. Packer, “The Puritan Conscience,” in Faith and a Good Conscience (London: The Puritan and Reformed Studies Conference), 23.

[16] Packer, “The Puritan Conscience,” 24.

[17] J. I. Packer, “The Adequacy of Human Language,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 27.

[18] J. I. Packer, “On Covenant Theology,” in Celebrating the Saving Work of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 1 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 9.

[19] Packer, “On Covenant Theology,” 12, 13, 15.

[20] J. I. Packer, “In Quest of Canonical Interpretation,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1998), 217.

[21] J. I. Packer, “Arminianisms,” in Honouring the People of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 4 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 305.

[22] Packer, “Arminianisms,” vol. 4, 305.

[23] Packer, Truth and Power, 192.

[24] J. I. Packer, “Why Preach?,” in in Honouring the Written Word of God, Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer 3 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999), 252–53.

[25] J. I. Packer, “Maintaining Evangelical Theology,” in Evangelical Futures: A Conversation on Theological Method, ed. John G. Stackhouse Jr. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000), 186.

[26] Packer, “Maintaining Evangelical Theology,” 186–88.

[27] Packer, “In Quest of Canonical Interpretation,” 221.

[28] Packer, Among God’s Giants, 86–87.

[29] Packer, Among God’s Giants, 86–87.

[30] Stephen Neill, Review of Knowing God, by J. I. Packer, Churchman 88.1 (1974): 77.

[31] Albert C. Outler, “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral in Wesley,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 20.1 (1985): 7–18.

[32] Steven Barabas, So Great Salvation: The History and Message of the Keswick Convention (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1952).

[33] J. I. Packer, “The ‘Wretched Man’ Revisited: Another Look at Romans 7:13–25,” in Romans and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Fee on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, ed. S. K. Soderlund and N. T. Wright (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 81.

[34] Craig S. Keener, 3 Crucial Questions about the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996). Packer commends Keener’s work by saying, “The level-headed, anecdotally enriched exegesis that Craig Keener offers in this book broadens the categories of Spirit-baptism, ongoing charismata, and current manifestations of the Spirit in a way that is pacifying, unifying, and edifying, and neatly rounds off a good deal of recent debate. Disciplined scholarship and pastoral concern blend here most fruitfully, in lines of argument that have real importance for church life today and tomorrow.”

[35] Packer, “Infallible Scripture and the Role of Hermeneutics,” 337 (emphasis original).

[36] Packer, “Infallible Scripture and the Role of Hermeneutics,” 347.

[37] Packer stated this to the author in a personal conversation.

[38] Packer, “Maintaining Evangelical Theology,” 187.

[39] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).

[40] J. I. Packer, “Knowing Notions or Knowing God?,” Pastoral Renewal 6.9 (1982): 65–68.

Don J. Payne

Don Payne is Vice President of academic affairs and professor of theology at Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado.

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