Getting old is something everyone can relate to. But at eighty-eight years of age, J.I. Packer is uniquely qualified to share biblical principles that concern the subject of aging.
Most people know that Dr. Packer is a first-rate theologian who has influenced untold thousands of people over the years. Packer shares his God-given gifts and experience which include a tenure longer than most people can imagine in his latest book, Finishing Our Course: Guidelines For Engaging With Our Aging.
In a style that we’ve grown to love over the years, Packer expresses his heart in a youthful wittiness which is combined with a depth of theological and emotional maturity: “Aging is not for wimps,” he says.
Dr. Packer is careful to remind readers of the biblical perspective on aging: “The Bible’s view is that aging, under God and by grace, will bring wisdom, that is, an enlarged capacity for discerning, choosing, and encouraging.” He makes a strong case for being productive in the golden years: “And my contention is going to be that, so far as our bodily health allows, we should aim to be found running the last lap of the race of our Christian life, as we would say, flat out. The final sprint, so I urge, should be a sprint indeed.”
Such a worldview runs against conventional wisdom. The world notion is growing old includes focusing on self, spending money on self. There is a not so subtle brand of narcissism that is plaguing many adults; a narcissism that needs to be rooted out and replaced with God-centered ambition. Packer helps eradicate this selfishness which is all too common in American culture, especially.
I found Finishing Our Course to be helpful on so many levels. It contains the biblical wisdom that is necessary to inform and motivate anyone who desires to finish well – all to the glory of God.
Concise Theology by J.I. Packer could be considered a miniature systematic theology. The four general sections of the book are set forth as follows:
(1) God Revealed as Creator
(2) God Revealed as Redeemer
(3) God Revealed as Lord of Grace
(4) God Revealed as Lord of Destiny
Each section contains a short, but extremely pointed summary of a particular doctrine. The book is not designed to be a comprehensive systematic theology. Rather it is written with the layman in mind who has a desire to learn doctrinal truth or may not have the time to devote to a larger work. The precision with which this book is written may encourage readers to study further in a given area.
J.I. Packer continues to write in a way that many have grown to love and expect. Three basic strengths must be noted. First, the author emphasizes the greatness and majesty of God. Packer emphasizes that “theology is for doxology.” He writes, “The truest expression of trust in a great God will always be worship, and it will always be proper worship to praise God for being far greater than we can know.” Second, Concise Theology is a superb introduction to Reformed thought. Yet the author does not “wear his theology on his sleeve.” This work may appeal to a broad range of people who otherwise may be reluctant to study Reformed theology. Finally, the most controversial points of Reformed theology are dealt with in an honest and forthright manner. The most engaging essays include Packer’s discussion on particular redemption, the enslaved will, effectual calling, and the constitution of man.
The church owes a tremendous debt to Dr. Packer’s faithful ministry over the years. May his tribe increase!