- J.I. Packer has authored many books, is a professor at the
neo-evangelical Regent College located in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a
senior editor, Visiting Scholar, and Institute Fellow for the neo-evangelical
magazine Christianity Today. Over the years, Dr. Packer has become
increasingly neo-evangelical and ecumenical in his writings, his endorsements,
and his associations. Nevertheless, his reputation among the undiscerning
remains unscathed. Who among us has not heard at one time or another the retort,
"J.I. Packer endorsed that book; it must be okay"? As demonstrated in
this report, however, Packer will apparently endorse anyone, or speak in any
forum, as long as they or it claim(s) to be Christian.
- Even though much of what Packer has personally authored is well-written and theologically sound (perhaps he is best known for Knowing God, his classic on the attributes of God), he nevertheless interjects into many of his later writings much of the "pop psychology" gospel permeating evangelicalism today; e.g., Packer has evidently bought-into the self-love gospel (self-esteem, self-image, self-worth, self-forgiveness, self-etc.):
"However unloved and worthless we once felt, and however much self-hate and condemnation we once nursed, we must now see that by loving us enough to redeem us God gave us value, and by forgiving us completely He obligated us to forgive ourselves and made it sin for us not to" (Eternity, April 1988). (Emphases added.)
By definition, sin is the failure to obey a command of God, by not doing what
He requires or by doing what He forbids. Where in the Bible, then, are we
commanded to forgive ourselves? Nowhere! It is a dangerous thing, indeed, to
extrapolate a command to forgive ourselves from the fact that God forgives us --
it is putting commands in God's mouth and putting burdens on men's backs that
they need not bear. (From Jay E. Adams, From Forgiven To Forgiving,
pp. 66-69.) [Packer also evidently believes the blasphemy that we should forgive
God! This is evidenced by his endorsement of the James
Dobson' book that teaches this psychological concept (When God Doesn't
Make Sense). The very fact that we would have anger towards God, the One
Who can do no wrong and is perfect in every way, and that we would feel like we
need to forgive Him, is wickedness and a total affront to His holy, righteous
- Packer was the keynote speaker at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School's [now Trinity International University (TIU) -- an Evangelical Free Church-affiliated school] "Repentance, Holiness, and Power" conference held 5/29/91-6/1/91. Other speakers at the conference were Catholic charismatics Michael Scanlan and Ann Shields. In the 6/22/92 Christianity Today, Packer analyzes and praises the Catholic charismatic movement. He calls it, "God's witness," "God's therapy," "God's cure," and "God's summons." He says: "Protestant and Catholic charismatic teaching on the Christian life is to all intents and purposes identical." Packer also seemed to defend Gordon College professor Thomas Howard's 1985 conversion to Catholicism by saying it is nothing like the tragedy of becoming a liberal (5/17/85, Christianity Today). Packer has also stated that the charismatic movement "must be adjudged a work of God" (7/15/89, Calvary Contender), and that "Catholics are among the most loyal and [spiritually] virile brothers evangelicals can find these days" (7/15/85, Christianity Today).
- In the early-1990s, TIU' faculty member Murray J. Harris, Professor of NT Exegesis and Theology, denied the Biblical teaching of the physical, material nature of the resurrection body. This was specifically taught in Professor Harris's 1987 book, Raised Immortal, and in his 1990 book, From Grave to Glory. Harris taught that Christ did not rise immortal in the same essentially physical body in which He died, and that Jesus does not now have a body of physical "flesh and bones." This is nearly the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses. The key concern about Dr. Harris's 1990 book is that, in effect, it teaches the annihilation, not the resurrection of the essentially physical body of Jesus, and that it, therefore, serves to undermine the Biblical doctrine of the present "incarnate" Christ. Like the JWs, Harris also claims the Lord's appearances after His "resurrection" were "materializations" and that the heavenly body is "immaterial." [It appears not to concern Harris that historic, orthodox Christianity has always held that Scripture teaches the necessity of belief in the resurrection of Christ's body of "flesh" for salvation (Jn. 2:18-22; Lk. 24:36-39; Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:1-3,14, 17).] Also like the JWs, Harris denies the resurrection of the believer's body from the grave; Harris holds that the believer's resurrection body is by nature "invisible," "immaterial," and "spiritual," and that believers get it (in this "immaterial" form, "qualitatively and numerically distinct from the old body") at the moment of death, even though the real physical body is still in the grave! [Harris apparently abandoned this latter view, but the EFCA still holds it to be "orthodox."]
In a press release dated 9/24/92, Witness Inc., a major countercult ministry in Clayton, CA, announced that it and 34 other leading countercult organizations had taken a united stand against the doctrine of the resurrection as taught by Harris (the number in the coalition had increased to 156 as of 1/96), saying that it is not "orthodox" but "akin to the doctrine of the JW cult." Nevertheless, Dr. Kenneth Meyer, president of Trinity at the time, along with Dr. Harris in a 13-page letter, asked all E-Free Churches "to respect and support" Trinity's judgment on Harris. Apparently, EFCA leadership wanted their people to believe it is "orthodox" to hold that Jesus does not now have a body of physical "flesh and bones"; that at the time of each person's death, the believer's physical body will be "replaced" by a form that is not essentially material; and that it is "orthodox" to hold that the body that dies remains forever in the grave, having been "replaced" by an immaterial/invisible "spiritual" form. And, apparently, so does J.I. Packer! He writes:
"The whole church benefits from the necessity laid on Professor Harris to prove his orthodoxy in the matter of resurrection -- Christ's and ours. This is a clear, warm-hearted book [From Grave to Glory], impeccable in scholarship and inspiring to read. Resurrection questions are not easy, and not all readers will agree with Professor Harris on every detail, but Harris is undoubtedly in the main stream of resurrection faith, and there is no more thorough treatment of the questions currently in print" (11/30/92, Christian News -- from the back jacket of From Grave to Glory). (Emphases added.)
Packer, in a 4/5/93 Christianity Today article (pp. 64-65), also
mentions the teachings of Origen as support for Harris. What Packer doesn't say
is that Origen's view of the resurrection was condemned by Church Councils as
deviations from Biblical truth. (In fact, with the exception of Origen, there
was not a single major church father that denied that Jesus was raised in His
same material body of flesh!) Yet Packer maintains, "The nature of the
resurrection bodies is so mysterious, being right outside our present
experience, that any theories about it must be tentative at best" (p. 64).
For J.I. Packer then, the belief in a resurrected Jesus of "flesh and
bones" is merely belief in a "tentative" theory! [The 6/17/93
issue of Christianity Today, after receiving much mail in protest
over Packer's statement, claimed that two of the most controversial paragraphs
in the 4/5/93 Packer article were written by a mystery writer, and that, by a
"straightforward clerical error," must have become "accidentally
snagged by a paper clip" and, thusly, drug into Packer's piece!
In an article in the same 4/5/93 Christianity Today, "Why I Left," Packer explains how (though not why) it took him 29 years (from 1944-1973) to see unbelief at the core of the ecumenism of the World Council of Churches. Will it take him another 29 years to discern Harris's errors?
- Packer endorsed so-called Christian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb's book, Men & Women: Enjoying the Difference [Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs motivating behavior, which is derived from Freudian (the unconscious being a hidden reservoir of the mind with drives and impulses which govern a person's thinking and behavior) and humanistic psychology (with its hierarchy of needs, with great emphasis on so-called emotional needs).]:
"Larry Crabb's insight into human nature, divine grace and Christian life yields a better blueprint for marriage than the self-absorbed, rule-ridden role-play with which too many stop short. This is a wise and liberating book for struggling couples -- and many others too."
- Packer also endorsed Gary
Collins' 1992 psychobabble book, You Can Make a Difference --
"Gary Collins digs us heavily into the ribs to make us ask ourselves
whether we count for God as we might, and if not, what are we going to do about
it. Here is therapy, spiritual and commonsensical, that will do a lot of us a
lot of good."
- Sometimes one wonders if J.I. Packer even knows how to identify heresy anymore. Tony Campolo is a theological liberal and a radical political socialist whose teachings are heretical at best and blasphemous at worst. In 1983, he wrote a book titled A Reasonable Faith, in which he contends that Jesus Christ is mystically incarnate in every human being, not just those born again. Nevertheless, a four-member panel, headed by J.I. Packer, cleared Campolo of any heresy, merely labeling the book "methodologically naive and verbally incautious" containing "some involuntary unorthodoxies of substance as well as some calculated unconventionalities in presentation" (9/20/85, Christianity Today, pp. 30-38; and 12/13/85, Christianity Today, p. 52). (Packer also endorsed Campolo's Wake Up America! by Zondervan.)
- Tony Campolo has said that the people who
make up the Christian Coalition represent only a minority of the Christian
community. To counter the perception that the coalition is the sole voice for
the believing community in the political arena, Campolo, along with other
colleagues who do not identify themselves as part of the so-called Religious
Right, launched a group called "Call for Renewal." On 5/23/95, Campolo
and his group of self-proclaimed evangelicals called a news conference. They
said they had had enough of politics as usual and stepped forward claiming to
have a new vision for transcending Left and Right. Over one hundred
"Christian leaders" from "a diversity of traditions" signed
a document called the Cry for Renewal. The Call mounted its campaign both to
dissent publicly from the Coalition's policies and perceived allegiances and to
develop "a new way" for Christians to engage in politics (10/7/96, Christianity Today; and Renegade
A Look at the Teachings of Tony Campolo). In actuality, Campolo's
organization is nothing but a front for liberal theology.
- Packer is on Renovaré's "Board of Reference" -- Renovaré is an international, New Age, ecumenical organization that emanates from the religious traditions of Quakerism, whose message is that today's Church is missing out on some wonderful spiritual experiences that can only be found by studying and practicing the "meditative" and "contemplative" lifestyle "of early Christianity." In actuality, Renovaré espouses the use of the early pagan traditions of guided imagery and visualization, astral projection, "Zen" prayer techniques for meditation (i.e., Buddhism), and Jungian psychology (i.e., a blend of Eastern mysticism and Roman Catholic mystical spiritual tradition, which nicely fits the New Age model), all as means of obtaining "personal spiritual renewal" in the lives of believers. (For a more detailed analysis of Renovaré and the teachings of its co-directors, psychologist Richard Foster and William Vaswig, see Media Spotlight's Special Report of March, 1992: "Renovaré: Taking Leave of One's Senses.")
- Packer allows for women's ordination, and thereby, women preachers, as long as they are "properly supervised" by men! He states that, "Since authority rests in the Word of God rather than in preachers and teachers of either sex, it is my opinion that a woman's preaching and teaching gifts may be used to the full in situations where a male minister of the Word has the effect of supplementing and supporting his own preaching and teaching." He then justifies this effective nullification of the Word of God with the somewhat flippant statement that, "We in the West are no longer in the Bibleless situation to which I Tim. 2:12 was directed" (2/11/91, Christianity Today). (Emphases added.)
- More than 100 so-called evangelical leaders and academics, having declared Biblical faith is essential to solving environmental problems, called on Christians to make their lives and churches "centers of creation's care and renewal." The statement, "An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation," had been in preparation for more than a year. It is the joint effort of the Evangelical Environmental Network's World Vision (the neo-evangelical/ecumenical relief and humanitarian agency) and radical social action group Evangelicals for Social Action (a network of professing Christians involved in a broad range of public policy issues). (The Evangelical Environmental Network is also part of the National Religious Partnership, which includes the National Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, and the Consultation on Jewish Life and the Environment.) Though the statement carefully distances evangelical views of the environment from aspects of ecological spirituality characterized as "pantheistic" and New Age, it, nevertheless, says there is a Biblical responsibility for each person to care for the Earth. The document was drafted by a number of neo-evangelical leaders, including World Vision President Robert Seiple, Evangelicals for Social Action President Ron Sider, and Susan Drake, an organizer of the 1993 U.N. Earth Summit in Rio. Signers of the statement included J.I. Packer. (Reported in the 4/4/94, Christian News.)
- Eugene Peterson's The Message has swept into Christian bookstores, homes, and churches from coast to coast. In the first four months after its mid-July, 1993 release, 100,000 copies of this "New Testament in contemporary English" were printed by NavPress and 70,000 books were sold. Apparently, most readers were delighted: "The Message is so good it leaves me breathless," wrote popular New Age author Madeleine L'Engle in her endorsement. J.I. Packer has also endorsed The Message: "In this crowded world of Bible versions, Eugene Peterson's blend of accurate scholarship and vivid idiom make this rendering both distinctive and distinguished. The Message catches the logical flow, personal energy, and imaginative overtones of the original very well indeed."
But The Message teaches a different gospel and a different morality than the Bible (as well as a worldly/warm fuzzy view of life). For example, The Message translates Jesus' statement in John 14:28, "The Father is the goal and purpose of my life," versus the Bible's "...The Father is greater than I." In l Cor. 6:18-20, the words "sexual immorality" are deleted and the words "avoids commitment and intimacy" are added. (One could conclude that "commitment and intimacy," not marriage, set the boundaries for acceptable sex.) In Rom. 1:26-27, the words "God gave them over ..." are deleted and words that qualify homosexuality are added (providing a loophole for committed homosexuals who "love" each other; thus lust becomes the sin, not the choice of a same-sex partner). There are hundreds of examples like these in The Message.
Peterson himself, in his introduction to The Message, says, "This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of The Message current and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners ..." This all sounds like an excuse for "dumbing-down" Scripture to match our culture's downward trends. Should we then rewrite God's holy Scriptures to fit our more shallow and worldly communications? And what does it say about a man like J.I. Packer when he endorses it as an authentic translation of the Bible rather than as Peterson's personal, politically correct interpretation. (Also endorsing The Message were Warren Wiersbe and Jack Hayford.) [Adapted from "What Kind of Message is THE MESSAGE?" an article by Berit Kjos.]
- The 2/88 issue of the Catholic charismatic magazine New Covenant carried a series of interviews with leaders from various parts of Christendom. The same question was asked of each of these leaders: "Where is renewal happening in the Catholic Church?" J.I. Packer was among those interviewed and his reply was significant:
"I see two streams of renewal flowing. ... One is a renewal of true godliness. This stream runs mainly, though not exclusively, in charismatic channels. ... The second stream is a renewal of authentic supernaturalism... Though I do not enthuse about the papacy and the Curia as institutions, pronouncements from both sources since John Paul II took over have seemed to me, not indeed infallible, but bracing expressions of this convictional renewal. ... It is as these two streams of renewal continue to flow, and hopefully converge, that the Catholic Church will give most to the rest of Christendom and to the benighted pagan world of our time."
How Packer can see signs of renewal in a totally apostate entity like the Roman Catholic Church is beyond the logic of any discerning Bible-believer (Flirting With Rome, Vol. 2, p. 35).
- Inclusivism teaches that
adult adherents of other religions can be saved by being good adherents of their
own religions. This is the natural conclusion of pluralism. If no one is right,
then everyone is right. Who are evangelical Christians to make the absurd claim
that only they have found the key to eternal life? Such an attitude we expect
from the unbeliever, but as postmodernism invades the church, inclusivism is
rapidly being accepted there as well. J.I. Packer writes, "We can
safely say (i) if any good pagan reached the point of throwing himself on His
Maker's mercy for pardon, it was grace that brought him there; (ii) God will
surely save anyone he brings thus far; (iii) anyone thus saved would learn in
the next world that he was saved through Christ" (God’s Words, p.
210). [This is identical to the heretical teaching of C.S. Lewis—he says some
pagans may "belong to Christ without knowing it" (Mere
Christianity, pp. 176-177), and "Christ fulfils both Paganism and
Judaism ..." (Reflections on the Psalms, p.129).] (Reported in Think on These
Things – Postmodernism, Pt. IV, January 2003.)
- Announced at a press conference on 3/29/94 was an ecumenical declaration titled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (ECT). The negotiations toward the declaration were initiated in 9/92 by Chuck Colson and Richard Neuhaus (former liberal Lutheran clergyman [ELCA] turned Catholic priest) under the auspices of the ecumenical and theologically liberal Institute on Religion and Public Life (headed by Neuhaus). The declaration starts with, "We are Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who have been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about Christian faith and mission." It goes down-hill from there. The coalition specifically called for an end to aggressive proselytizing of each other's flocks (in effect, a mutual non-aggression pact). The signers of the Accord also confessed their past sins against Catholic/Protestant unity.
The declaration said: "All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ." This conveniently ignores the fact that Catholics espouse a works-salvation false gospel! In a revealing admission of what brought these groups together, some signers said it was the experiences of worshiping together in the charismatic movement and working together in political causes such as anti-abortion [Moral Majority for example]. In fact, one writer correctly assessed that the declaration "amounts to a truce on theological issues so that the parties can continue to cooperate on political issues."
Forty people signed or endorsed the document (20 Catholics and 20 so-called evangelicals), including Protestants J.I. Packer, Pat Robertson, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, and Mark Noll (a historian at Wheaton College who said, "Evangelicals can no longer consider Catholics as ogres or anti-Christs"). Catholic endorsers included six priests, three bishops, one Archbishop, and one Cardinal. By joint declaration, then, J.I. Packer and friends have, in effect, declared the Protestant Reformation a tragic mistake!
In an article in the 12/12/94 Christianity Today ("Why I Signed It," pp. 34-37), Packer says he endorsed the accord because "it affirms positions and expresses attitudes" that have been his "for half a lifetime"! Packer also said that he has "... long thought that informal grassroots collaboration with Roman Catholics in ministry is the most fruitful sort of ecumenism that one can practice nowadays," and that "evangelicals and Catholics who actively believe are Christians together ... united in the one Body of Christ, joint-heirs not only with Him but with each other. ... ecclesiastically divided Christians should not settle for doing separately anything that their consciences allow them to do together." Packer knows that Catholics do not preach the gospel, but since they focus on many of the same things that evangelicals do, Packer claims, "This constitutes a sufficient account of the gospel of salvation for shared evangelistic ministry." Just how far Packer is willing to compromise is evident when he states, "We need to put sola fide in small print because it is no longer one of the large-print issues that ought to divide us, nor should it divide us in common mission." According to Packer, then, ecumenicity before truth!
Moreover, according to Packer, those refusing to join in this ecumenical spirit are in sin!: "Where there is fellowship in faith, fellowship in service should follow, and the cherishing of standoffishness and isolationism becomes sin." Bottom line for Packer: "... present needs of both church and community in North America ... cry out for an alliance of good evangelical Protestants with good Roman Catholics (and good Eastern Orthodox, too)." To J.I. Packer, it matters not that Catholics deny the heart of the gospel of Christ (i.e., the Catholic belief in baptismal regeneration alone should be enough for evangelicals to separate from Catholics), as long as Catholics are active participants in their church, that makes them Christian! And to Packer, for true Christians to obey God's commands to separate from error, that is sin! How ludicrous! What insanity!
The ECT Accord generated so much heat in Protestant ranks, that Colson found it necessary to call a meeting in January, 1995 to try "to achieve a measure of understanding, clarification, and harmony around the truth recognized by historic orthodoxy" (1/25/95, Prison Fellowship News Release -- "Evangelical Leaders Resolve Differences On Evangelical-Catholic Paper"). Attending the 1/19/95 peace meeting (held at Catholic-sympathizer D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) were ECT signers Colson, Packer, Bright, and Kent Hill, along with a group of so-called evangelicals critical of the ECT (i.e., the "anti-ECT group") -- John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, D. James Kennedy, Joseph Stowell, Michael Horton, and John Woodbridge.
After the meeting, Colson, Bright, Packer, and Hill issued a joint doctrinal statement supposedly clarifying their position on the ECT. However, no changes to the ECT were recommended, nor would any of the original signators remove their names from it. In fact, in June of 1995, Packer co-authored a document with Michael Horton titled, "Resolutions for Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialogue." The document encourages Catholics and Evangelicals to join together when "Christian values and behavioral patterns are at stake," but this union is not to be regarded as agreement in doctrine! It also accepts as fact that the Roman Catholic Church contains many believers.
Then in late-1995, Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, edited by Colson and Neuhaus, was published. The book is a collection of essays defending the ECT, including one essay by J.I. Packer. The overall thesis of the book is that evangelicals and Catholics need each other to reform decaying culture obsessed with destructive individualism and materialism, and that the Christian gospels compel a unity between sincere Christians regardless of different, even irreconcilable theologies. (Reported in the 12/23/95, Houston Chronicle.) [Signers of ECT I also signed the second ECT manifesto on 11/12/97, titled "The Gift of Salvation."]
- Dr. Bill Jackson, president of the Association of
Fundamentalists Evangelizing Catholics (AFEC), prepared a 6/18/99 statement on
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ—An Evangelical Celebration" (EC) (see
the 6/14/99 Christianity Today for the
full text of the EC). This document has been endorsed by Charles Colson, Bill
Bright, and J.I. Packer, all of whom also signed the controversial ECT
documents of 1994 and 1997; as well as endorsed by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur,
and D. James Kennedy, all of whom publicly [albeit weakly] challenged and
criticized them for signing the ECT documents. There are a number of helpful
statements in this latest document which deal with areas which were not fully
dealt with in the ECT documents (e.g., imputation is now dealt with favorably,
but has been consistently opposed by Roman Catholic Councils and Catechisms). EC
says, "We cannot embrace any form of doctrinal indifferentism by which
God's truth is sacrificed for a false peace." But there is certainly no
better example of "doctrinal indifferentism" than the ECT documents
themselves (James 1:8)! Because ECT I stated that "Evangelicals and
Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ," in order to be relevant the
new EC document should be submitted to the Roman Catholics who signed ECT I and
II. It is difficult to see how a person could subscribe to both ECT and EC. The
only logical conclusion is for all who signed EC to remove their names from ECT.
It also appears that the so-called "evangelical" ECT endorsers have
been "let off the hook" by former critics. We believe EC will be used
to rehabilitate those who erred in 1994 and 1997, without their having to admit
or ask forgiveness for their error. (Source: 7/15/99, Calvary Contender.) [Other "evangelical" endorsers of EC
among the 15 members of the Drafting Committee and 114 members of the Endorsing
Committee include John Ankerberg, Kay Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry
James Kennedy, Max
& Beverly LaHaye, Erwin
Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles
Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck
Wilkinson, and Ravi Zacharias; also endorsing EC were hyper-charismatics Jack
Hayford and Steven Strang.]
However ignorant J.I. Packer and fellow endorsers may be of all this, his participation in EC makes him a party to its consequences. It is also important to note that the EC document (which is supposed to be a definitive and comprehensive statement of the true saving Gospel of Christ), never mentions repentance for salvation, and never mentions the total depravity of man (thereby leaning towards a decisional regeneration). Moreover, the EC promotes an ecumenical unity (via "trans-denominational cooperative enterprises") with all professing believers who attest to the EC's "essentials" of the faith. But this is not the unity of the faith taught in Ephesians. While we are instructed by Scripture to be of one mind, the evangelical today scoffs at the idea of true Biblical unity based on complete agreement with, and submission to, God's holy Word. The only use of the word "unity" in the New Testament is found in Ephesians chapter four. It is a "unity of the Spirit" (v. 3), not of men. It is a "unity of faith" (v. 13) based on sound doctrine for which believers are to contend, not water down nor reclassify into essentials and non-essentials (Jude 3). No real spiritual unity can exist apart from doctrinal unity, and we are to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Rom. 16:17).
- The 7/02 TBC detailed Packer's latest comments concerning Catholicism -- "Catholics and Evangelicals in Conversation" was a conference recently presented at Wheaton College and sponsored by its Department of Bible and Theology and InterVarsity Press. It was a further development, and the first public endeavor of the ECT. At the Wheaton conference, J.I. Packer shared the following: "What I dream of and long to see is evangelicals and Roman Catholics standing together on the same platform to tell the world that Jesus Christ is the Savior whom everybody needs." He then amplified his vision:
"I dream of those who respond to that good gospel word being taken through what would be a revived catechumenate [a basic instructional program in the faith], a matter, incidentally, on which Roman Catholics, I think, have got further in these last few years than evangelicals have. A revived catechumenate that is a grounding for new converts in which they are told that for the first year or two years they should postpone the question of which church they are going to identify with, and simply concentrate on getting the benefit of ministry of the Word and Christian fellowship in whatever churches in their part of the world provide these. Catholic or Protestant. And it might be either."
Packer also left no doubt as to his commitment to the Evangelicals and Catholics Together dialogues:
"If through ECT there was for the future less evangelical apartheid in relation to Roman Catholics than there has been in the past, and less Roman Catholic triumphalism...and more of Roman Catholic and evangelical together[ness] in the re-Christianizing of society and the re-evangelizing and discipling of the world community which is so largely drifting away from Christianity, then I should feel that we have not failed. That's what I hope for and pray for, and it's to that effort that I for one hope that God in this whole project will prosper what we're doing, keep us from folly, and enable us to be as influential in these ways as [best] we can be."
incredible statement considering the Catholic Church teaches that salvation is
only through the Sacrament of Baptism. Catholic teachings on salvation cannot be
reconciled to the Bible. What we have here are two gospels: the Biblical gospel,
and, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "another gospel" (Gal 1:6,7)
that can save no one. Emphasizing that point, Paul twice calls the
preachers of such a gospel "accursed" (Gal 1:8,9). How then could any
true evangelical advocate the partnership in winning souls to Christ proposed
in Evangelicals and Catholics Together? He could not. But that fact has neither
deterred the participants of the ECT dialogue nor dampened their enthusiasm.
- Packer wrote the Foreword to Chuck Colson's book Who Speaks for God? He describes Colson as Richard Nixon's "fixer and hatchet man," as "remarkable" and "gruesomely brilliant." Packer also says that Colson:
"... seeks to confront secular America with Christian truth ... to challenge the church to biblical fidelity and obedience. ... He diagnoses our spiritual malaise in clear and stark terms. Thank God for his clarity and vision!"
John Robbins (editor of The
Trinity Review) says this about Packer: "The last good Foreword
J.I. Packer wrote was to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of
Christ. Since then he has been praising -- and presumably being well paid
for his praise -- books he hasn't read. (And that is a charitable
judgment.)" [Packer has also endorsed Colson's book The Body,
a book that calls for unity between Catholics and Protestants.]
- Packer says he does not believe that "the essence of hell is grotesque bodily discomfort ... [that idea, he conceives] misses the deeper point of the lurid word-pictures drawn by Dante and Jesus, and the New Testament writers ... The essence of hell is [rather] self-hatred and God-hatred ..." (Reported in the 12/15/9,1 Calvary Contender.) This is a Scripturally deficient concept of hell, and sounds much like the writings of C.S. Lewis, and more recently, Clark Pinnock and John Stott.
- Packer is a member of COR (Coalition on Revival), a Reconstructionist/Dominionist organization dedicated to a social gospel/activism agenda that proposes to impose Biblical standards (e.g., Old Testament law) on unbelieving peoples and institutions. Though Packer is no longer a Steering Committee member of COR, he has signed its Manifesto. As an indication of what the people affiliated with COR believe, the following is from a brochure announcing the 12th Annual Northwest Conference for Christian Reconstruction. Does this not sound like a different gospel? (All emphases added):
"The Christian Reconstruction movement believes that the Bible contains not only a message of personal salvation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, but also a comprehensive law structure which is alone able to provide a just basis for society. It is committed to the view that sovereignty and thus government belong to God, and that all delegated government, whether to family, church or state (civil government), is to be exercised in obedience to the law of God's covenant. Furthermore, salvation involves every aspect of man's life and thus also the relationship she sustains to the world around him. The exercise of dominion in accordance with the terms of God's covenant is therefore basic and vital to the Christian faith. To neglect this is to deprecate the extent of Christ's victory at Calvary."
That Packer has no problem identifying with this movement is a bit disconcerting to say the least. (For details of COR's unbiblical strategy for "taking the world for Christ," see COR' documents titled A Manifesto for the Christian Church, Forty-two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian World View, and Twenty-five Articles of Affirmation and Denial on the Kingdom of God. These three documents, along with COR's 17 Sphere/World View Documents, make up what COR calls its "20 COR World View Documents.")
J.I. Packer is an endorser of the
highly controversial and dangerous Alpha Course. It was devised by Holy Trinity
Brompton, London, a large charismatic Anglican church. Anglican priest Nicky
Gumbel began teaching it in 1990. It is now the largest evangelistic effort in
Britain and has been taken up by the main denominations and spread to the U.S.
Its philosophy is clearly New Age, leading one to experiences rooted in the
occult. The Alpha Course, originally intended for new Christians, is now aimed
at the unchurched. But at its core is a "watered down" gospel at best.
It is geared less to conversion than to seeking the spurious Toronto
Blessing experience (12/15/98, Calvary Contender).
- Based on all of the above, it is little wonder that J. I. Packer has now seen fit to blast fundamentalism as "contentious orthodoxy." During a speech at "Not of This World: an Ecumenical Conference for Traditional Christians," Packer declared, "I hope we are, none of us, fundamentalists." He said twice that fundamentalism is near to being a "cultic heresy." During a question period after his speech, he said that Christians should be open to different interpretations of Genesis 1-11 and that they should have "mental elbow room" in testing the historic creeds. (Reported in the 6/12/95, Christian News.)