One of my earliest Anglican Theological heroes was JI. Packer (b. 22/07/26). While I might now on a few things differ with Packer. I’m still so very grateful for his formative influence. His Knowing God remains a classic and thoughtful introduction to Christian belief and thinking. While other books from those years may have been sold over the years, Packer’s have remained on my shelves.
Earlier this month Regent College published a short written interview with him. You’ll find it here. Excerpt, talking about the Anglican studies programme he’s teaching:
“…To start with, I’m heavily committed to Anglicanism. I really do think that the Anglican heritage is the richest in Christendom. And I hope in this course to persuade others that that is so. It’s a very great pleasure to be sharing the wealth of that heritage with others.
The Anglican Heritage course generally has a small number of students, between 10 and 15, which allows for a higher degree of real conversation and discussion in the classroom. I’ve taught it a few times before, and I always tell the students that what I’m trying to do is to give them the feel of Anglicanism as a heritage. That’s important, because Anglicans are very heritage-conscious: much more so than some of the other denominational traditions.
The Anglican heritage is complicated, because various theologians have exerted pulls in different directions, and that sometimes bewilders folk. So I try to sort them out. And because I hold such a high estimate of the Anglican heritage, I expect to enjoy myself explaining it. It’s always fun to explain something that you think is very valuable and that you want to share…”
I was also recently looking through this book: Anglican Evangelical Identity: Yesterday and Today (Regent College publishing, 2009). It comprises two separate publications brought together in one edition. Packer writes one half of the book, while NT. Wright writes the other. And, again, while I might differ from both on a number of points, especially around the interface between gospel in culture; how we live into and out of the biblical text; how we engage with other religious, psychological / ethical, and philosophical traditions; and the need for not just orthodoxy (right belief), but also orthopathy and orthopraxy.
“…What does it mean to be an Anglican? And Evangelical? Can these two identities be held together with integrity? Where the church seems to be fragmenting, how should we relate to the rest of the Anglican Church?
Thirty years ago two influential Anglican thinkers, J.I. Packer and N.T. Wright, addressed these questions in short and provocative Latimer Studies. Their work remains stimulating and important, and is republished here for a new generation, with fresh prefaces from each author reflecting on recent developments.
"The Evangelical Anglican Identity Problem" (Packer, 1978) addressed Anglican evangelicals who were unsure whether it was warrantable to continue as Anglicans.
"Evangelical Anglican Identity: The Connection Between Bible, Gospel & Church"(Wright, 1980) builds upon Packer's study, addressing Evangelical attitudes to the church.
"A Kind of Noah's Ark?" (Packer, 1981) had in view clergy and laity who were baffled and discouraged by the continually broadening spectrum of tolerated unorthodoxies within the Church of England, and in particular the hesitations felt by young men called to be pastors who were unsure whether it made sense to pursue their vocation as Anglicans.
All three pieces were thus tracts for the times, but are astonishingly relevant today…”