Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms summarizes much of J.I. Packer’s thoughts that answer the question “How now shall we live?” I’ve enjoyed Storms’ works before and have been curious to learn more about Packer, so I was looking forward to this read.
The book starts with some brief biographical information on Packer. Then, we are quickly thrust into core aspects of his theological framework. In particular, Packer emphasized the atonement as central to any Christian understanding of life or doctrine. The Bible is seen as the authority for the Christian life. These early chapters are used to set the stage for a more holistic approach found afterwards.
Packer’s stance is heavily influenced by Puritanism. The Puritans have suffered from a bit of a bad reputation, and some of it has been deserved. However, the insights the Puritans gave into living purely (sorry) are worth reading about, and Packer’s view of the Christian life highlights them throughout. The battle against indwelling sin, the definitions and search for holiness, and the like; all are colored with Puritan lenses, and this provides a different approach than some of the other books in the series.
After the holistic approach found in the middle section of the book, individual topics are addressed. These include the work of the Holy Spirit, prayer, discerning God’s will, and enduring suffering. The chapters on prayer and enduring suffering are particularly edifying. Packer offers biblical answers to perceived unanswered prayers as well as insight into how to pray and why and when (always). His approach to enduring suffering leans heavily towards a Calvinistic response, and Storms presents it in a pastoral, applicable manner.
Storms admirably handles Packer’s view on spiritual gifts. Packer is a cessationist but seems to have a rather moderating position, whereas Storms has been an outspoken continuationist. He fairly presents Packer’s view on the topic of miraculous gifts without criticism–an appropriate stance given the purpose of the book.
Packer on the Christian Life is another good entry into the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I think the entries on Luther and John Newton were slightly better. It comes recommended.
+Good insight on varied practical topics, including prayer
+Makes accessible, in one place, much of Packer’s work
+Highlights contributions possible from Puritanism
-Could use more exposition in addition to all the quotes
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
Sam Storms, Packer on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).
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Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Does 1 Corinthians 15 teach a Millennial Gap?
Sam Storms’ Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative is a major work written in defense of amillennialism–the eschatological (end times) position that there is no 1000 year earthly reign of Christ but rather that the millennium is the church era (among other things). One argument premillennialists use to defend one aspect of their position is that 1 Corinthians 15:22-28. Because there is a gap between Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of believers, premillennial believers argue that there can also be a gap between the resurrection of Christ’s people and “the end” in verse 24.
Sam Storms analyzes this argument in extended fashion. Here’s a snippet of his discussion:
The premillennialist argues that the “end” [in verse 24] is the end or close of the millennial age, 1000 years after Christ has returned to earth. The amillennialist argues that the “end” is the end or close of the present church age… all one need do is demonstrate which of these two options is correct… So, does Paul tell us when death dies? …As I read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, the defeat of death occurs at the second coming of Christ… (145, cited below)
If it is the case that Christ’s second coming is indeed the “end,” then it follows that the premillennial interpretation is mistaken and indeed, Storms argues, the whole system mostly collapses on itself. Storms concludes that 1 Corinthians 15 cannot be used to support the notion of a millennial gap.
What do you think? Does 1 Corinthians allow for such a lengthy gap in between parts of the text? What eschatological position do you hold to? How damaging is this text–if at all–for various eschatological positions?
No matter what you think, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative is cogently argued and something that anyone interested in eschatology should own and read.
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Sam Storms, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Scotland: Mentor, 2013).