Saturday, May 10, 2008

J. I. Packer stands for the Gospel

The Lord builds His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I recently read a biography of J. I. Packer, along with a biography of Martyn Lloyd Jones and I saw all the terrible things that J. I. Packer put up with within the Anglican denomination. I finished reading about him and I was longing for him to follow the Bible's clear command not to associate with those teach a different doctrine and those who preach a different Gospel and those who are unbelievers.

Come out from them! Purify yourselves and be separate, you who bear the vessels of the Lord!

And then I read this story recently of how the Lord has finally brought J. I. Packer out of the midst of those who are compromising and perverting the glorious Gospel of our Lord. Read it and be glad, the Lord does not forsake His servants.


Famed Theologian Quits Anglican Church of Canada

J.I. Packer, one of the world's most renowned evangelical theologians, left the Anglican Church of Canada, citing 'poisonous liberalism' in the church body.

Mon, Apr. 28, 2008 Posted: 11:38:02 AM EST

J.I. Packer, one of the world's most renowned evangelical theologians, left the Anglican Church of Canada, citing "poisonous liberalism" in the church body.

Packer, 81, who was named one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in the world by Time magazine in 2005, quit the Canadian arm of the global Anglican Communion with 10 other B.C. Anglican clergy last week, he said, according to The Vancouver Sun. They joined the more conservative and orthodox Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

The Oxford-trained theologian said he can no longer serve under Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham, arguing that he "appears heretical." Ingham had sanctioned in 2002 same-sex blessings in the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster, sparking international uproar.

In recent years, 28 parishes have voted to split from the Anglican Church of Canada, citing the denomination's departure from Christian orthodox values and Anglican tradition. They have realigned with overseas Anglican provinces.

St. John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church in Vancouver, which Packer is a long-time member of, left the denomination in February, placing itself under the authority of the Southern Cone province.

John Stackhouse, a professor of theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver, sees two different bodes forming in Canada with the continual departure of parishes.

"Frankly, we have not seen this sort of thing in Canadian history, and I'm not sure we've seen it in Anglican history," he said, according to The Canadian Press.

"With the significant size of these dissenting groups, and the international support for them ... we may see two different bodies in one geographical territory," he said, noting that Anglican churches traditionally have been determined through geographic, and not ideological, boundaries.

While the controversy has focused on homosexuality, Stackhouse says the issue is about more than sex.

"This is about the fundamental question of how we derive any kind of Christian truth," he said, according to The Canadian Press.

Packer, who has outlined a conservative Christian theology in his 1973 bestseller Knowing God, described the Bible as "absolute" authority on divine truth and that it clearly describes homosexuality as a grave sin, as reported by The Vancouver Sun.

The Rev. Kevin Dixon, priest at St. Mary's Anglican Church in Kerrisdale, meanwhile believes Packer is adopting a "literalistic" reading of the Bible.

"It's important for people to understand that the holy scriptures is a very nuanced document. I think we need to allow people room to come to a new understanding," said Dixon, the local newspaper reported.

"I have not always held the view that same-sex relationships are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but now I do."

Packer argued that top leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada have changed their interpretation of Christianity while he and other conservative Anglicans have remained committed to traditional Anglicanism.

"I'm simply being an old-fashioned mainstream Anglican," Packer said.

As conservative Anglicans believe the core beliefs of Christianity are being called into question by the Anglican Church of Canada, the small group of parishes that have left may just the first wave, some predict.

"Every diocese in which this (approval of same-sex blessings) has happened – or something like it has happened – churches have split off," said Stackhouse. "This [issue] is very much in play now; this is not the end game at all."

Over the weekend the Anglican Network in Canada, a splinter group comprised of parishes now under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone in South America, held a conference where they welcomed Archbishop Gregory Venables, leader of that southern province. His arrival at the conference stirred controversy as the Anglican Church of Canada told him not to intervene in the country's affairs. He refused, however, saying the conservative group of Anglicans wanted him there.

Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter


I am glad that Packer made it clear that the "same-sex issue" is not the main issue here. The main issue is where that comes from and how that could ever possibly be allowed with the bride of Christ. Christ will not allow it because is washing His bride clean and will cleanse her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27)

Notice that the washing is by the word. And this is possibly one of the biggest attacks on the church. Many Evangelical denomations now firmly take a stand on the inerrancy of the Scripture, and without that, liberalism and poison and apostasy and idolatry can certainly take root. But even further, what is necessary now is holding firmly to the sufficiency of the Scripture. Without this, it matters little whether a church holds to the inerrancy of Scripture.

Further, without this stand for the sufficiency of a grammatical-historical interpretation of the Scripture, whereby it is sufficient in itself to interpret itself, everyone when confronted with the word of God will simply cry "Interpretation!" instead of trembling at His word. God only looks to those who tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2).

The clearest illustration of the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture is in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Here the sufficiency of the word of God is repeated in various comprehensive words to remove any doubt from the humble and to remove any excuse from the proud.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

And the clearest passage I can think of that teaches the importance of the recognising the sufficiency of Scripture in interpreting itself is the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4). Satan twisted the Scripture to tempt Jesus, but Jesus resisted the temptation with Scripture. Peter says that there are those who interpret scripture wrongly, but he also explains why they do. It is a result of not humbly trembling at the word of God, and not accepting that Scripture interprets Scripture.

There are some things in them [the letters of Paul] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do in the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:16-18).

Don't fall into their error. Tremble at God's word. Trust in the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scripture, and trust that it is sufficient to interpret itself, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells within you. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, it is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. Our sanctification and cleansing is by the word of God. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word. Hold it fast.

Scripture interprets Scripture. Praise God that J. I. Packer is holding firm to the word. Liberalism is a poison, a bitter root, which defiles those around it. Be wary then to make sure that root of bitterness does not grow up among you (Hebrews 12:15).

May God be glorified in His church. Amen.

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