J.I. Packer, Concise Theology (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2020), 302 pp.
In July 2020, the church lost a great titan of the Christian faith. J.I. Packer went to be with the Lord he loved so much. He was as he once said, “British by birth and Canadian by choice.” This man of God wielded a mighty influence on countless numbers of people all around the world.
One of my biggest regrets in life is falling asleep during a Packer sermon when I was an immature Bible College student. Put off by his British accent and outdated dress, I withered away an opportunity as true greatness stood before me. The funny thing is that Dr. Packer would have recoiled at the reference to “greatness” uttered in the same sentence as his name. A good friend once shared how Packer rebuked an audience for giving him a standing ovation – when God alone is worthy of such adulation.
Thirty years after my mistaken nap during Dr. Packer’s sermon, I heard him again – this time at a conference in Minneapolis, celebrating Jonathan Edwards’ 300th birthday. I remember being captivated by Packer’s sermon. He was simply riveting. His accent was no longer a problem. I could care less about his taste in clothing. This man was delivering the Word of God with passion, authority, and God-centered resolve.
Most people credit R.C. Sproul with the resurgence of Reformed theology in America. It’s probably true that Dr. Sproul is behind a lion’s share of the renewed interest in Calvinism, otherwise known as the doctrines of grace. And John Piper is certainly a key player when one considers the uptick in Reformed thought, especially among young men and pastors. If R.C. Sproul is the mind behind Reformed theology and John Piper is the heart behind the Reformed faith in the 21st century. Surely then, J.I. Packer is the backbone of Reformed theology. When J.I. Packer penned Knowing God in 1973, the evangelical world reverberated with Christ-centered joy as he reminded the church about the essential attributes of God.
Thankfully, Crossway Books is committed to keeping the memory of J.I. Packer alive with the recent re-publication of Concise Theology, which first appeared in 1993. Concise Theology is quite frankly a mini-systematic theology. Instead of taking 50 pages to explore the doctrine of the Trinity or the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, this book narrows the discussion to a few pages. Thus, the great benefit of this work is its brevity. In a few minutes, readers can get a solid overview of a subject from a world-renowned Reformed theologian.
Concise Theology is a must-read for pastors and students of theology. Each chapter invites readers to ponder the depth and profundity of the Scriptures, which always directs their gaze to a holy God.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.