- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (February 4, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433533278
Many thanks to Crossway Books for this review copy of J.I. Packer’s Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know.
The book contains eight chapters, the contents of which “ventures in adult catechesis,” separately, and at four-month intervals. Packer is burdened: “As the years go by, I am increasingly burdened by the sense that the more conservative church people in the West, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, are, if not starving, at least grievously undernourished for lack of a particular pastoral ministry that was a staple item in the church life of the first Christian centuries and also of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation era in Western Europe, but has largely fallen out of use in recent days” (p. 10). In addition, at the end of each chapter, the reader will find a set of questions with something of an Anglican slant, but despite denominational roots, the committed believer will find them fruitful for “meditation and discussion.”
It is also with a sense of urgency that Packer writes, as an Anglican, first to his own Anglican Communion in response to recent trends in his own denomination’s context. “I offer examples from my Anglican experience, but before I am an Anglican I am an evangelical, and I have tried to write in such a way that all evangelicals–and would-be and should-be evangelicals–will benefit” (p. 15).
The “recent trends” Packer tackles are those that deal with same-sex marriage in the Anglican Communion, especially with the Anglican Church of Canada, where he was a professor of theology at Regent College. Through the book the reader finds Packer very critical about same-sex marriage, but he comes at it not academically but pastorally, bringing that traditional understanding of marriage to bear, from a biblical perspective (pp. 47-48, 51-52).
The reader will also find the elder Packer quite generous in his orthodoxy. For example, in his chapter “Taking the Holy Spirit Seriously,” under the subheading “The Unity of the Church,” in which he is dealing with Ephesians 4:3-6, we find: “This means that the unity of the church embraces all believers–Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox–” (p. 122).
Despite the obvious Anglicanism throughout, as a Baptist I do appreciate what Packer has to say, his burden and the urgency with which he writes. They are no small matter. The global church needs to take heed, despite denominational roots and affiliations. The chapters– (1) Taking Faith Seriously, (2) Taking Doctrine Seriously, (3) Taking Christian Unity Seriously, (4) Taking Repentance Seriously, (5) Taking the Church Seriously–all make this clear.
One more thing, as a non-Anglican, Packer has helped me to understand a great deal more about the Anglican Communion, which he truly loves and desires greatly to rescue from secularism and worldliness.
So I heartily commend Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know.