This year (1996) the Rev. Dr. James I. Packer, probably best known as the author of the classic Knowing God, celebrated his 70th birthday. 1996 was also the year in which he retired from full-time teaching as Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. — though not from active ministry among the people of God. It is in honor of this godly man, whose faithfulness as a teacher and theologian has helped so many to love God with heart and mind, that this Festschrift is dedicated.
I read Knowing God soon after it first appeared in print in 1973. I don’t remember who recommended it to me at the time, but I wish I knew who it was because I owe them a profound debt of thanks. To say it transformed my thinking about God is an understatement; it transformed me; it is an invitation to know God written by a man who is known of God. “He is a scholar who found his vocation in popular communication,” historian Mark Noll writes affectionately of Packer, “a popular communicator who never abandoned scholarship… Packer has had a considerable influence because he has written and said what American evangelicals have needed to hear, not least about the holiness, goodness, mercy, and love of God.”
By the way, while I’m on the topic, if you have not yet read Knowing God, read it now. And if you haven’t reread it in several years, same advice.
It is also worth noting that a new book by Dr. Packer was published in 1996, too. Life in the Spirit: A 30-day Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books; 1996) 139 pp. Each daily section comes in three parts. A reading from the Scriptures, a brief commentary by Dr. Packer, and a few questions for reflection and meditation.
But back to Doing Theology for the People of God. Those who care about evangelical theology in general and about the work of J. I. Packer in particular will be interested in the essays in this book:
“To James I. Packer on his Seventieth Birthday” by Donald Lewis (Associate Professor of Church History, Regent College) and Alister McGrath (Principal, Wycliffe College, Oxford).
“Theology: A Multidimensional Discipline” by John R. W. Stott (Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church, London).
“Systematic Theology as a Practical Discipline” by Kenneth Kantzer (Dean of the Graduate School, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL).
“Toward a Theology of the Biblical Text” by Roger Beckwith (Librarian, Latimer House, Oxford).
“Recovering Baptism for a New Age of Mission” by David Wright (Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh, Scotland).
“Christology and the Quest for the Historical Jesus” by Colin Brown (Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA).
“The Dance Between God and Humanity” by Bruce Waltke (The Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.).
“Grace and Truth: The Progress of the Arguments of the Prologue of John’s Gospel” by William Dumbrell (Professor of Biblical Studies, Trinity Theological Seminary, Singapore).
“Paul Doing Theology for the Corinthians: Second Corinthians” by Paul Barnett (Bishop of North Sydney, Australia).
“Prospects for the Pastoral Epistles” by I. Howard Marshall (Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen, Scotland).
“The Important of Tradition for Modern Evangelicalism” by Alister McGrath.
“James I. Packer’s Contribution to the Doctrine of the Inerrancy of Scripture” and “Select Biography of J. I. Packer’s Writings on Scripture” both by Roger Nicole (Visiting Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL).
“J. I. Packer and the Shaping of American Evangelicalism” by Mark Noll (McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL).
“A Vision for Preachers” by Peter Jensen (Principal, Moore College, Sydney, Australia).
“Knowing God: The Transmission of Reformed Theology” by James Houston, The Board of Governors’ Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.).
“Immanuel and the Purpose of Creation” by Loren Wilkinson (Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.).
“A Select Bibliography of J. I. Packer’s Works.” A total of 277 entries, divided into five sections: books (sole author, including pamphlets); books (joint author); books (contributor); articles in Puritan and Reformed Studies Conference Reports; and other articles (a selection of the more significant ones).