Almost everything about J. I. Packer is counter-cultural. When asked a question, his answers tend to be 7-8 minutes long, and come out in full paragraphs. One of my favorite quotes from Packer is where he warns against the spirit of this age, which holds that “the newer is the truer, only what is recent is decent, every shift of ground is a step forward, and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.” Packer represents the opposite. He is “old school.” Listening to him talk is sometimes akin to hearing someone speak in your second language. You might understand what is being said, but you have to lean in and listen because the cadence and vocabulary are not your mother tongue. But I am convinced that we ignore the biblical, historical, theological, practical wisdom of this octogenarian to our peril.

I’m thankful Desiring God recently posted some clips of a conversation with Dr. Packer. I thought it might be helpful to collect them here.

The Puritan Vision of Sanctification

Killing Sin Through Personal Prayer

Advice To Aspiring Writers

Union With Christ: One of the Secrets of Sanctification

Evangelical Preaching Is Too Light on the Holiness of God

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14 thoughts on “Wisdom on Steroids: Conversations with J. I. Packer”

  1. Wesley says:

    Thanks so much for posting these! Man, your description of listening to Dr. Packer being like listening to someone talk in our second language is both a fantastic word picture and so fitting: same could be said of the Patristics, Puritans, Reformers, etc. But the “effort” – as many have seen – is more than worth it! We all do well to put it forth.

  2. When I clicked through I was expecting Packer’s opinion on steroid use (assumed he was against it). I’m so not kidding. I thought there might be some deep spiritual analogy he’d lay out. Good stuff here, but I’m still a bit disappointed.

  3. Sam Snodgrass says:

    Because you closed comments of your discussion of premillenialism, I guess that I will just have to make a comment here. If you believe the Scriptures, as opposed to allowing Covenant/Reformed theology dictate what you believe, you have to believe in the fact that our Lord will return after the Tribulation and establish His kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years:

    “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God; in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

    And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.” (Rev. 19:11-20:8)

    God’s word on the topic is clear and unequivocable. What more is there to discuss?

  4. Tim Wilcoxson says:

    I have always been helped by J.I Packer’s incredible clarity in writing. He seems to favor theological clarity over novelty, thankfully. He speaks like he writes with every thing carefully thought out and expressed. At times it’s almost like he is dictating a book. These are very helpful clips. One could wish for more! Thanks for posting these Justin.

  5. Jim Haw says:

    Thanks for sharing this. What a treasure J. I. Packer is.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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