Packer’s Involvement in ECT Didn’t "Just Happen"

ji-packerIt had a precedent that goes back to 1970. Many American evangelicals were caught by surprise by J I Packer’s involvement with and defense of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. The first ECT was vague, misleading, and even gobsmacking. The second was, for those committed to the faith of the Reformation, infuriating since it didn’t really address the problems of the first. One of the questions I’ve heard over and again since 1994 is “How could Packer be involved in this and defend it?” The answer is partly in his history, which Martin and Carl (via video) explain. Alister McGrath’s biography of Packer is also illuminating in this regard.

UPDATE: 20 October 09 see Martin’s illuminating post on Packer’s 1959 address on “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”

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70 comments

  1. Interesting history. I appreciate Trueman’s balanced portrayal. It is ironic that a man who made such ecclessiastical compromises also has been so instrumental in God’s providence to be a primary player in bringing people to the faith. In my experience, more people have stated that they came to the protestant and/or reformed faith through C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, and J.I. Packer (or some combination thereof) than any other person. It is also interesting that of these three, Sproul and Packer are good friends and Packer’s work with ECT led Sproul to write, in our time, one of the best books on the gospel.

    I am thankful that I never have had to face such ecclessiastical forces as Packer did, for I know that without God’s grace I would have probably made even worse mistakes. As someone who was not even aware of these issues in England in the 60’s/70’s, I now have a more sympathetic view of Packer thanks to Trueman.

    As an aside, I hope Sproul leaves us with a systematic theology.

    Thanks for posting this Dr. Clark.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    Does Packer’s disdain for the Reformed scholastics fit into this anywhere? When I was reading Martin Downes’ post, it made me wonder if there was any connection.

    • Good question. My perception of Packer is that he has been generally appreciative of the Reformed orthodox writers of the 17th century. His DPhil thesis was a little soft on Baxter but he wrote an appreciative forward for an edition of Witsius and he’s well read in Owen and others.

  3. Choosing to leave a denomination to start a new one is among the most difficult decisions that a Minister can face. Those of us who belong to “continuing churches” (I’m a Minister in the OPC) should be careful about judging too harshly those who saw or see things differently than we do. I am happier to cut J.I. Packer more slack at this point than I am with ECT.

    Like Prof. Trueman, I am happy to acknowledge the positive impact Packer’s writings had on my own life in the 1980’s.

  4. If Dr Packer had never written “‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God,” we would all be living in a very different world. I write as one who was educated in a Neo-orthodox seminary in 1960–63, and read Dr Packer’s little book in 1964. That was my Copernican revolution and I was a changed man. Soon thereafter I read Murray’s “Redemption Accoplished and Applied” (another little book) and again God laid claim to a part of my mind. Would anyone suggest Mr Murray was a failure for not producing a sprawling Dogmatik?

    • I don’t know that Murray needed to produce a sprawling dogmatic but some of his successors have criticized him for leaving a mixed legacy. See David Van Drunen, ed. Pattern of Sound Doctrine (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing)

  5. While many here speak positively re: JIP, serious chills run up and down my spine, including his steadfast failures to address Tractario-Ritualizing Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England. JIP bristled at a recent conference in Orlando, FL, under the sponsorship by Wycliffe College, Oxford U., and Dr. Turnbull’s leadership (Principal of Wycliffe). A questioner, a friend, asked about these “primary matters” (justification by faith alone, Anglo-Catholic pieties, e.g. you name it, including saint invocation for starters) and the Reformation faith, vis a vis the XXXIX Articles. The response was chilling and bristling. The friend was rebuffed. Dr. Turnbull approached my friend afterwards and assured him, contrary to JIP, that Anglicanism was and is a Reformation faith–and Tractarianism and its parasitic presence and tolerance is CONTRA: the XXXIX Articles. I’ll see if I can get the eye-witness over here.

    Chills, notwithstanding other writings. An important read is Iain Murray’s Evangelicalism Divided.

    I hope this thread is seriously pursued. I’m all ears.

    Philip

  6. I can assure the Reformed Churchmen here that we, I with some Anglican roots, an old BCP, have very much in common–minus some things. The English Reformers are NOT widely taught or known in this new-fangled Mish-Mash they call the Anglican Church of North America. Again, serious chills.

    Don’t give up your Confessions.

  7. I will try again to make my point. If the failure to produce a large Systematic Theology is a valid criticism of Packer, why is is not also a valid criticism of Murray? And even those who have produced such works have sometimes left “mixed legacies.” Charles Hodge has been critized for his use of Evidences and his failure to maintain 6/24 creation.

    • Laurence,

      I think I understand your point. I don’t accept your premise nor do I accept your conclusion. I’m not saying that Packer hasn’t done great things. He has. Knowing God was a seminal moment for me. It opened my eyes to a great deal of truth. I’ll always be thankful for his good work, including his defense of inerrancy.

      Your argument seems to be that if one is going to criticize Packer for not producing a system (the size is immaterial), then one must also criticize Mr Murray for the same thing. I reply by saying I understand and that the sorts of criticisms you are suggesting haven’t or couldn’t be made of Mr Murray have, in fact, been made and with some validity.

      We have a responsibility to re-state the faith in every generation. If we don’t we risk losing it. This is why the Reformed orthodox re- articulated the faith so often both in dogmatics and in confessional documents.

      Mr Murray’s idea that he had nothing to add to Hodge was misleading and untrue. In fact Mr Murray made several creative suggestions, not all them to the benefit of Reformed theology. It’s easier to see that now, 40 years after Mr Murray completed most of his work, than it was then. His discomfort with the covenant of works and his suggestion that we more or less abandon it was unnecessary and unhelpful and, as I argued in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, arguably it should have been tested in the courts of the church. In other posts I’ve raised questions about his revision of the doctrine of sanctification and his rejection of the visible/invisible distinction. Arguably, had Mr Murray produced a system he would have to confront all those issues systematically.

  8. Laurence:

    That may be Dr. Trueman’s analysis. Unfortunately, the link won’t open. Have a man from Canada helping me and maybe can watch.

    Your two points–as noted–aren’t an issue.

    Ecumenism and ecclesiastical relations back in the late 60’s and 70’s on JIP’s part “in England.” That “history,” critical and historical analsyis, on my view, has not been told.

    ECT did not, willy nilly, appear out of thin air.

    I hope Dr. Thompson, an Anglican, in Australia raises the matter. He’s begun to argue the Protestant nature of Anglicanism. We’ll see where that goes. I hope the Presbyterians raise this–as a matter of history. I expect nothing from Virtue. I would love to see a development of Iain Murray’s eye-brow raising questions more fully developed in Evangelicalism Divided.

    I hope this blog and further analysis gets most serious play and wide extension.

    Laurence, your points are duly noted.

    The precise question–at bar–the status controversiae as Cunningham likes to say–is just this. This and this only. ECT did not just materialise out of thin air.

    What are the antecedents and what will the historic record show?

    Dr. Clark has put forth a powerful proposition requiring dispassionate, critical and historical review.

  9. I’m currently reading Packer’s “Knowing God”, mainly because it was listed on Monergism.com’s recommended reading list.

    So far the tome seems useful enough, but nevertheless I’m personally baffled by Packer’s explicit endorsement of Popery, and I’m aghast at his horrificly unbiblical claim that practicing Papists are regenerated children of God when in fact they are children of perdition.

    This reality is laid bare in the following exchange between John Ankerburg and John MacArthur:

    JA: one of the things that we told Chuck, and Jim Packer, and Bill Bright, and that was this statement [from the ECT]: “We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity, that Christ intends for all His disciples” (ECT). Now the assumption in that statement is that Evangelicals and Catholics are all Christ’s disciples. What do you think of that assumption?

    JM: Well, I think that is in grave error! And just going back, if I can make the point solidly, to borrow the language of the Apostle Paul, “Any attempt at self-righteousness, no matter how noble the effort, no matter how frequently the “God” vocabulary is used and the divine is brought into it—any attempt at self-righteousness, Paul classifies as “skubalon” (Greek), in Philippians 3. That word is about as vivid a word as he could possibly use. It could be translated “rubbish”—the most accurate translation is “dung”…

    What you have got [with Roman Catholicism] is a whole system built on “skubalon” and you can’t throw your arms around that system. You can’t embrace it, and simply say, “Well, they talk about Jesus, and they talk about God, and they talk about faith, and they talk about grace, and we have got to embrace them. And if we don’t embrace them then we are violating the unity of the Body, and we are being ungracious to other disciples.” That is a frightening misrepresentation of the distinctiveness of “Justification by faith, and faith alone” …

    It is a false religion, it is another religion. When you throw your arms around that you literally have to undo any doctrinal distinction. In fact, ECT doesn’t just do that implicitly, they do that explicitly. In the document, in effect, they say, “we have to accept all baptized Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ. In an article that followed that up in Christianity Today, J. I. Packer said, “We should acknowledge as brothers and sisters in Christ, anyone who lives to the highest ideals of their communion.” My response to that is the opposite. I maybe could fellowship with a bad Roman Catholic, that is, one who has rejected the system, but was still in the church and came to know Christ. But one who holds the highest ideals of Roman Catholicism—on what grounds do I have spiritual unity?

    (Online source)

    • Coram Deo:

      Regrettably, for some reason, the URL re. Dr. Trueman’s assessment from HB as well as Against Heresies blogspot won’t open.

      I’ll accept the data that Laurence offers re: two specifics that are not at bar, failure to write a Systematics and Commentary on Romans. I can’t respond.

      To your points.

      1. This is an aside and not germane to the point at bar. Knowing God was not seminal for me at all. I’d read several ST’s before picking it up. It’ was a nice piece, but a tad too chatty for me. Nuff there. Same for the little handbook on The Word of God and Fundamentalism. And that it was, a little handbook. (1958? I believe.) Dr. Clark has spoken well of Knowing God. So be it. He’s been influential, undoubtedly. Just my aside on these two little popular works.

      2. You raise the ECT with John Ankerberg and John MacArthur. Wish we had the full transcript. Wish we had JIP’s written rebuttals.

      3. Again, I hope this discussion gets international engagement…here, also at Dr. Thompson’s blog (he’s an Australian Anglican and forget name of spot, but he’s the Principal, I believe, of Moore Theological College) and at Against Heresies. Trueman might be appreciative of JIP at the level of scholarship. My issue is the one related to the subject before this court, before this jury. “ECT didn’t just happen.” That is–repeat–that is the singular issue before this audience vis a vis the post. “ECT didn’t just happen.”

      4. You offer a discussion between Ankerberg/MacArthur. MacArthur’s comment on “skubalov,” or rubbish and/or trash, re: works righteousness does not–let me repeat this–does not rise to JIP’s level of ability of discussion. JIP just doesn’t have it to see it that way in “terms of applying that to Rome.” He may be good on paper, but his ecclesiastical leadership with ECT was a disaster. Let me take a moment to contrast JIP with one English Reformer and Martyr, John Philpott for context. And this is just one among dozens of others.

      Philpott, during trial 6 and 7 with bp. Bonner of London (1555), calls “the church” being defended by the Inquisitors a “false church and synagogue of Satan.”[1] Philpott, The Writings and Examinations of John Philpott (Parker Society series), 126. You’ll be able to accesss this through http://www.books.google.com. You’ll soon see Philpott worsting and besting Bonner on exegetical, theological and historical, e.g. patristics and more, grounds. This is not an exception, but Philpott is the rule for English Reformers.

      As a corollary, you will rarely hear such a comment in public to this effect. “False Church,” “anti-Christ,” “false gospel.” MacArthur gets at it, to his credit. PACKER CAN’T. The question is: “ECT? It didn’t just happen…”

      Confessional Lutheran Churchmen (LCMS, WELS, ELCE) will call him Anti-christ, to their great credit and in their faithful record keeping of the past. Whatever Packer offered in terms of scholarship and a DPhil at Oxford on Owen aggravates the question before the jury.

      The question before this forum: “Whence ECT? What were the historical antecedents?”

      Continuing with Philpott by way of courage. Courage and a Reformational insight to the Mass. Philpott was tossed into prison with several recalls and interviews. One one occasion, he’s asked if he’ll go to Mass. He told the Emissary to inform the Bishop: “My stomach is too raw to digest such raw meats of flesh, blood, and bone this morning” (reference to the transubstantiated body and blood). This goes to Philpott’s earlier responses that Rome Capernaitically masticated bones, hair, teeth, flesh and blood. He died for this.

      On Philpott’s view, Rome once was an apostolic see; “otherwise it is now of no more force, than if the Turk at Antioch and at Jerusalem should boast of the apostolic sees, because the apostles once did abide there, and founded the church of Christ.”[2. op.cit, 128] This appears to be the standard fare that we’ve encountered with all Reformation writings: no hesitancy to call Rome an Anti-Christ.

      During the discussion, Philpott affirms “My belief must not hang upon men’s sayings without the sure authority of God’s word, the which if any can shew me, I will be pliant to the same. Otherwise, I cannot go from my certain faith to that which is uncertain.”[3, op.cit., 135]

      Here endeth but one brief illustration, although there are many more.

      5. This stuff won’t be discussed much in Episcopal Seminaries. You won’t get this from Virtue with his puff pieces. This stuff will get “stuffed” by these new Manglicans in the USA. Packer came into Reformed territory, talked a good game, and found himself outside the circuit in terms of Reformed Conferences. ECT was and is–given his background–beyond comprehension. And Christianity Today will only puff ECT.

      Why? Some solid clues are in Iain Murray’s Evangelicalism Divided, excellent clues. One of them was the agreement to bury the hatchet with Anglo-Catholics. Evangelical Anglicans had argued that their view of the C o E was the historic, Reformational, and Confessional one. That saw grew old–this is my profoundest suspicion–and that saw needed to be buried. I believe Stott was in this game. I believe Llloyd-Jones saw it and revealed it.

      Again, lest we lose sight of this thread, as excellent question as raised by Dr. Clark, “Packer’s Involvement in ECT didn’t just happen…” Why? Where? When?

      For the sake of Reformational Anglicanism and the desperate need to discuss its Reformational roots of Anglicanism (sorely lacking in centres of pufferies and windbaggeries), this must be explored.

      Coram Deo, I hope this adds some illustrative power to your Ankerburg-MacArthur post. However, your post doesn’t deal with the deeper issues. Why and what was the history pre-ECT?

  10. Dr Clark: Thanks for your response. Although you do grasp my point, I am not sure what you think my premise is. My premise is simply that the criteria for evaluating one theologian must be the same for the next. In your points (which I share) in criticizing John Murray, you have clinched my argument for me. Thanks.

    I indeed agree that we have an obligation to restate the Biblical faith in every generation. But why is a multi-volume Systematic Theology (as much as I love them) a more effective tool than short pointed studies like those produced by Packer and Murray? Packer’s brief incisive study of “Limited Atonement” did more for me than any other discussion I have read.

    Are you sure that Mr Murray would have corrected his mistakes re: Covenant of Works and Visible/Invisible Church if he had simply written longer books? Seems to me a “system” can bury an error as quickly as it can expose it. (Think of Basel.)

    Forgive me for being tedious on the point, as this was only Dr Trueman’s penultimate point, not his conclusion, which was positive and appreciative of JIP.

    Mr Veitch: My points are indeed at issue, because I raised the issue.

    • I don’t know whether Mr Murray would have corrected himself but without a system (which might have been a one-volume system like Berkhof’s) he left a lot of ambiguity about what he would have said or how he related one thing to another.

      That said, given his commitment to doing theology from a mostly biblical-exegetical approach, he might not have been willing to write a one-volume system. Apparently he wasn’t willing to write any system! Take a look at the VanDrunen ed vol and see what you think. There are at least two essays therein that address this question.

  11. Also, for Laurence. Is it Laurence or do you go by Father Wells? Are you the same person? If the same person, as a BCP-man myself, I shall use the pre-Tractarian (centuries old) practice of Rev. Wells or Mr. Wells. Or , Dr. if you are one. How would you have it? Is Laurence workable?

  12. Mr. Wells, you raised your two issues. That, you affirm, substantiates their validity. Pointed noted and conceded.

    However, the point at bar and before this forum is found in the title of Dr. Clark’s post.

    I didn’t want to see penultimate and antepenultimate points distracting from the larger issue lurking behind the question.

    That was my point.

    I trust you see it.

  13. Lest sight of the thread is lost. I noted earlier, before the other circumlocutions, that:

    “Ecumenism and ecclesiastical relations back in the late 60’s and 70’s on JIP’s part `in England.’ That `history,’ critical and historical analsyis, on my view, has not been told.”

    The title of the post is: Packer’s Involvement with ECT “Didn’t Just Happen.”

  14. D. Philip Deitch said: You raise the ECT with John Ankerberg and John MacArthur. Wish we had the full transcript.

    I linked to the full transcript of this discussion at the end of my original post. And I too would like to see JIP’s written rebuttals, though I don’t know if they exist.

    You wondered aloud several times about why the ECT happened, what happened pre-ECT, and so forth. Of course these are valid questions, and the answer IMHO is simply that Rome’s Counter Reformation never ceased. Being the seat of anti-christ and therefore founded upon the very gates of hell itself, the demonic powers and principalities, the spiritual wickedness in high places which energizes the harlot false church of Rome (which looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon) have continued their relentless supernatural assault upon Biblical Christianity continually in one form or another since its inception.

    Satan’s counterfeit church always and everywhere seeks to rend Christ’s little flock, and where Inquisitors fail – for the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church – then a forked tongue of peace, and a poison tipped olive branch are offered up instead.

    From Lighthouse Trails Research:

    “Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome is, it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.”–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Sword and the Trowel,” Jan. 1873

    The above quote from Charles Spurgeon (the “Prince of Preachers”) is very pertinent to the time in which we live. Many believers are familiar with Spurgeon but are unaware that one of his mottos was “No peace with Rome.”

    For the past two years, Adullam Films has been developing a new documentary titled, “A Lamp in the Dark: The Untold History of the Bible.” Thank the Lord, the first edited draft of the work is complete and should be ready for duplication by next week, once the final touches have been made. Our new film records events from the first century onward, showing the history of the Church, and the long war both for and against the Word of God. We document the trials of the saints, along with Rome’s ancient hatred of the Bible and her repeated attempts to “keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures.”

    When the Bible began to be translated into the languages of the common man, it resulted in the Protestant Reformation. What few modern day Christians are aware of, however, is that Rome launched a Counter Reformation in 1540 with the establishment of the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuit Order). Their purpose was to destroy the work of the Reformers and bring the world back into the Dark Ages. It is our belief that the Counter Reformation continues to this day, and is the real secret behind the Ecumenical Movement, the World Council of Churches, the European Union, and the Emerging Church.

    Methinks the ECT could easily be added to the list above. Evil is as often restive and patient as it is impulsive and impetuous.

    In Christ,
    CD

  15. Coram Deo:

    Thanks for the post of the online source of the transcript between some representative voices, e.g. Sproul, Kennedy, MacArthus, Ankerberg.

    It’s standard fare stuff on Reformation theology. Glad to see it and read it.

    What is absolutely sickening–however–is JIP’s failure to put Galatians out on the false gospel. He could have shown ecclesiastical leadership. He did not. I don’t care if JIP is the King of England, wrote 1000 books and is an angel in the flesh. Galatians is what it is, period.

    As previously noted, he, JIP, above all the others, had the background to know better.

    Again, back to the threat posted by Dr. Clark. What “historical precedents” were there pre-ECT. What was in JIP’s thinking pre-ECT? What agreements in the late 60’s and 70’s before JIP arrived in the US.

    This didn’t drop out of the air. I hope this is thrashed out and extended far and wide.

    Philip

  16. Coram Deo:

    You posted Spurgeon:

    “Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome is, it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.”–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Sword and the Trowel,” Jan. 1873

    Our weak-kneed times cannot bear the directness of Spurgeon. We’re too polite, pluralistic, relativistic and–probably–too “owned” by institutions with fears of revenue losses, loss of book sales and more…to speak with the directness of Spurgeon.

    Packer should have spent more time in the English Reformers, 1550-1620, pre-Laud rather than Owen, a non-conformist. The English Reformers, to a man, would agree with Spurgeon.

    No matter how the historians parse the pre-ECT precedents, without the hugfests, Packer erred profoundly.

    If you follow the Christianity Today blogs, you’ll see back-scratching of Romanists quite often.

    Anyways, may the pre-ECT precedents continue to be sifted.

  17. Finally able to get the URL and view.

    I thought Trueman was highly appreciate and thankful for JIP.

    Trueman suggests that had JIP pulled out of the C o E, he could have been a great leader in English Non-Conformity, bringing additional weight and depth.

    That’s not the real point in my view.

    The real issue is there was–ecumenism–and softening towards Anglo-Catholicism. A burying of the hatchet. There are alot of older Evangelical Anglican Churchmen who see that as JIP’s failure…not as Trueman suggests, but as JIP’s failu

  18. hit button too early…

    …as JIP’s failure to lead them, as Evangelical Anglicans, including the Confessional, Protestant, and Reformed Churchmanship they believed was the essence and vision of the C o E (versus the AC’s). I know of two older, long-in-the-tooth Englishmen who feel this way…both of Oxford and sons of C o E rectors/pastors. In other words, men closely acquainted with the C o E scene, JIP and Jones.

    Those two men would read Heidelblog with great joy, appreciation and approval, while retaining their old BCP and allowing Bishops. They have expressed profound disappointment over JIP as a “leader.”

    That’s a precedent that I would like to see explored—capitualizing to Anglo-Catholics in the C o E–as one in the longer road towards ECT.

    Trueman also notes that JIP was marginalized in this process. He then moved to the US.

    The sidetracked issues of a ST and commentary on Romans are that. Trueman thinks Packer is on the level of titan, alongside Hodge.

  19. Mr. Wells:

    You said:

    “If Dr Packer had never written “‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God,” we would all be living in a very different world.”

    An overstatement in my estimation.

    Maybe for you and your world, but far more titanic works were on offer before JIP’s little handbook on this subject. And works known to many, many more minds than Jim’s world.

    Chemnitz on Trent, especially volume one. William Whittaker on Disputations on Holy Scriptures (Parler Society series). Louis Gaussen on Theopneustos. Warfield on Inspiration. WTS Symposium (c. 1944), “The Inerrant Word,” I think the title was. And many, many more.

    It may have shook some, but it shouldn’t have. Especially from an English and Anglican perspective. Whittaker’s volume alone it a sheer piece of titanic thinking (Cambridge Prof, 1580). Every Confessional Churchman needs to digest that excellent piece of scholarship on the Word of God. Even Cardinal Bellarmine thought highly of Whittaker as a contestant, hanging a painting of Whittaker in his study, to the chagrin of Bellarmine’s Jesuit compatriots.

    Philip

  20. For the Reformed here:

    If you’ve sensed a profound sense of disappointment and distrust towards these Anglicans these days, you right. I don’t see “prinicpled” Confessional, Reformed Anglican voices out there. I see compromisers.

    I have my reasons. Sorry to have appeared to dominate the forum, but the points had to be made.

    When the ACNA has Metropolitan Jonah, Orthodox Church of America, at the new Anglican hugfest in Bedford, TX, 23 June 2009, standing up and calling the Reformation “heresy,” you’ll begin to get the sense of profound betrayal. It was aweful.

    Where’s JIP on that statement? He’s got the clout, the pen, the posture and the venues to respond. Not a thing in the public market.

    Nuff said.

    I yield the balance of my time to other honourable gentlemen struggling with this issues—the historical precedents to ECT.

    Regards to all in the name of our Most Sovereign Redeemer,

    Philip

    • I have no idea what specific things the LORD gifted, equipped, and called Dr. Packer to do, but I am certain that it is God’s call on his life that matters – and not the desire of other people who wish he had made different choices.

      Why should we assume that Dr. Packer should have been the Great Leader in the Evangelical World? Didn’t the Evangelical Anglicans actually have a leader (John Stott)? So the complaint is simply that Dr. Packer didn’t become the great leader fo the non-conformists. For the non-conformists to blame some of their problems on the fact that an Anglican thought he should remain Anglican is quite an accomplishment in blame shifting.

      • Dr. Packer’s associations with non-conformists were arguably much stronger than John Stott’s. This can be seen in his involvement with the organising of the Puritan Studies Conference, The Evangelical Magazine, and various Bible rallies around the UK. Dr. Trueman’s comments on this do reflect something of the loss when these relationships unravelled in the 1970s. And of course Packer was 20+ years Lloyd-Jones’ junior, so the question of future leadership among non-conformists was a very real one.

  21. Another clue from the backgrond, offered at Against Heresies. At:
    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2009/10/carl-trueman-talks-about-j-i-packer.html

    Packer appears to have been softening up on classical Anglicanism (= minus Anglo0Catholics). Year later, when enthusing about Rome, JIP noted that je jas forever felt that Romam followers were fellow-believers. Softness. Here’s a quote:

    “Certainly from Lloyd-Jones’ standpoint the parting of the ways was due to Packer’s ecumenical commitment expressed in Growing into Union. Lloyd-Jones expressed his concerns to Packer in a letter dated July 7th 1970. Referring to a discussion about the book at the monthly ministers’ Fellowship (the Westminster Fellowship) Lloyd-Jones wrote:

    “The general opinion there, without a single voice to the contrary, was that the doctrinal position outlined in the book cannot be regarded as being evangelical, still less puritan. The three of us [the free church members of the Puritan Conference committee] therefore feel, most reluctantly, that we cannot continue to co-operate with you in the Puritan Conference. To do so would be at the least to cause great confusion in the minds of all Free Church evangelical people and indeed a number of Anglican people.

    “This I feel sure will not come as a surprise to you as you must have known that the views expounded in the book concerning Tradition, Baptism, the Eucharist and Bishops, not to mention the lack of clarity concerning justification by faith only, could not possibly be acceptable to the vast majority of people attending the Puritan Conference.”

    This was “one” historicl prededemt of JIPs weaknesses. If one dug deeper, woud there be more?

    BottomlineL He signed ECT and there were precedents.

  22. Scott
    You might remember that both Packer and Colson gave glowing endorsements to Peter Kreeft’s perfectly dreadful book, ‘Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and The Culture War’. Kreeft, who once taught at Calvin College before converting to Roman Catholiciasm advocated postmortem salvation for the likes of Budda and Mohammed and explicitedly rejected sola fide in this book. Packer later wrote an apology of sorts from ‘the dog house’ in his words that appeared , as I remember ,in an issue of the old ‘Reformation and Revival Journal. ( I reviewed Kreeft’s book in the Nov/Dec 1998 issue of ‘Modern Reformation’).

  23. To those so eager to condemn Dr Packer for signing ECT, I put the question was Charles Hodge wrong in 1845 when he defended “Romish” baptisms and went on to affirm that while the RCC is not a true church, it is a real church. Hodge was able to cite Turretin and other Reformed worthies in support of his position.

    I will stand by my assertion that but for JIP’s “Fundamentalism and the Word of God” (which he later enlarged in “God Has Spoken”) we would be living in a very different world. Up to that book, Biblical Inerrancy was a ghetto doctrine, maintained in only tiny enclaves. In the world of my mainstream Presbyterian education, it was linked with a flat-earth mentality. Packer made the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy possible in a way Machen and his successors never could, with a far wider appreciation and acceptance of BI. To God be the glory!

    Not that I follow Dr Packer without question. I wish he had not waffled on the charismatic fad. He has endorsed books I would not waste time reading.

    Sometimes small books have more influence than large ones, and a book’s influence should be the measure of its success. Dr Packer’s readership is far wider than …..(fill in the blank as you wish). And I would genuinely appreciate a 5 volume Dogmatic Theology from either Dr Clark or Dr Trueman. That would truly be a blessing to us all and I am willing to wait (reading Dr Horton’s multiviolume series in the meantime).

  24. I’ve been out of internet range since posting that link to Carl’s thoughts on Packer but it seemed to have stirred some discussion here and elsewhere. Ironically I gave two addresess this morning at Bethlehem Sandfields, the church where Lloyd-Jones began his ministry.

  25. Mr. Wells:

    You said:

    “I will stand by my assertion that but for JIP’s “Fundamentalism and the Word of God” (which he later enlarged in “God Has Spoken”) we would be living in a very different world. Up to that book, Biblical Inerrancy was a ghetto doctrine, maintained in only tiny enclaves. In the world of my mainstream Presbyterian education, it was linked with a flat-earth mentality. Packer made the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy possible in a way Machen and his successors never could, with a far wider appreciation and acceptance of BI. To God be the glory!”

    Mr. Wells, it was Dr. James Montgomery Boice and Dr. Robert Charles Sproul, Sr., who marshalled up the Chicago Conference on Inerrancy, to which Dr. James Innes Packer was invited and in which he participated, as one among hundreds of scholars from a plethora of denominations. Add the inimitable Dr. Jack Gerstner, Prof of Church History, Pittsburg Seminary. Also, add the Dr. Preuss of Concordia Seminary, no “ghetto” minded adherent to inerrancy. None of these men were “ghetto inhabitants.”

    Your statement that JIP made inerrancy possible in ways that Machen and his successors could not is a serious over-reach and over-statement.

    Jim was a player, admittedly, but never was the statesman that Jim Boice was. Jim Boice and Jim alone with God’s help put that mega-conference together.

    But this is an aside from the main issue at bar. The “historical precedents” to ECT.

  26. Mr. Wells:

    You said:

    “I will stand by my assertion that but for JIP’s “Fundamentalism and the Word of God” (which he later enlarged in “God Has Spoken”) we would be living in a very different world. Up to that book, Biblical Inerrancy was a ghetto doctrine, maintained in only tiny enclaves. In the world of my mainstream Presbyterian education, it was linked with a flat-earth mentality. Packer made the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy possible in a way Machen and his successors never could, with a far wider appreciation and acceptance of BI. To God be the glory!”

    Mr. Wells, it was Dr. James Montgomery Boice and Dr. Robert Charles Sproul, Sr., who marshalled up the Chicago Conference on Inerrancy, to which Dr. James Innes Packer was invited and in which he participated, as one among hundreds of scholars from a plethora of denominations. Add the inimitable Dr. Jack Gerstner, Prof of Church History, Pittsburg Seminary. Also, add the Dr. Preuss of Concordia Seminary, no “ghetto” minded adherent to inerrancy. None of these men were “ghetto inhabitants.”

    Your statement that JIP made inerrancy possible in ways that Machen and his successors could not is a serious over-reach and over-statement.

    Jim was a player, admittedly, but never was the statesman that Jim Boice was. Jim Boice and Jim alone with God’s help put that mega-conference together.

    JIP didn’t lead us into a “different world.” It was a handbook suitable for a first or second year college student.

    But this is an aside from the main issue at bar. The “historical precedents” to ECT.

  27. Mr. Wells:

    You said:

    “I will stand by my assertion that but for JIP’s “Fundamentalism and the Word of God” (which he later enlarged in “God Has Spoken”) we would be living in a very different world. Up to that book, Biblical Inerrancy was a ghetto doctrine, maintained in only tiny enclaves. In the world of my mainstream Presbyterian education, it was linked with a flat-earth mentality. Packer made the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy possible in a way Machen and his successors never could, with a far wider appreciation and acceptance of BI. To God be the glory!”

    Mr. Wells, it was Dr. James Montgomery Boice and Dr. Robert Charles Sproul, Sr., who marshalled up the Chicago Conference on Inerrancy, to which Dr. James Innes Packer was invited and in which he participated, as one among hundreds of scholars from a plethora of denominations. Add the inimitable Dr. Jack Gerstner, Prof of Church History, Pittsburg Seminary. Also, add the Dr. Preuss of Concordia Seminary, no “ghetto” minded adherent to inerrancy. None of these men were “ghetto inhabitants.”

    Your statement that JIP made inerrancy possible in ways that Machen and his successors could not is a serious over-reach and over-statement.

    Jim was a player, admittedly, but never was the statesman that Jim Boice was. Jim Boice and Jim alone with God’s help put that mega-conference together.

    JIP didn’t lead us into a “different world.” It was a handbook suitable for a first or second year college student or a layman. To the extent that it had influence, I share your gratitude re: the book. Am willing to concede it had influence, but not to the extent noted by you.

    But this is an aside from the main issue at bar. I don’t want the main point to be lost as indicated by Dr. Clark. The “historical precedents” to ECT.

  28. Dr. Trueman might have missed that Anglican “impatience” with non-conformity. That said, I have to agree with Trueman when he comments that Packer failed to write a “magnum opus”. He certainly could have done so, especially if he presented a case for Reformed, Prayerbook Christianity. I see ECT as a major faux pas of his, but, being in the Church of England, he is already in communion with Roman doctrine! It would be a good move for Anglicans to add to the Articles of Religion: the Irish Articles of 1615, and the Three Forms of Unity. Charles

    • The Anglican Articles reflect a less mature form of Protestantism, but they are decidedly Protestant. Thus, I don’t think I can agree with the notion that to be Anglican is to be (somehow) already Roman. There is a problem, as Phil Veitch knows, in Anglicanism insofar as there aren’t many old fashioned confessional, Reformed Anglicans. Conservatives seem to gravitate to Anglo-Catholicism (which is contrary to the Articles) and others to broad evangelicalism.

    • Charles:

      I can’t speak to Dr. Trueman’s alleged Anglican “impatience” with non-conformity. He would have to answer that.

      I’m not sure how deep that alleged “impatience” actually is. You’ll certainly hear that from Tractarians and, probably, amongst the Old High Churchmen like Dean Burgon, perhaps. But the old Westminster Standards are about as “high church” as they come. The sacramental views of the WCF reflect precisely, on my view, the ruling on the famous Gorham case, 1850, in favour of Rev. Gorham, an evangelical Anglican, against Bp. Philpott (Exeter Cathedral).

      Further, Westcott, Moule, Ryle and others were convinced BCP-men, but–so far as I can see–were not impatient with Non-Conformists.

      As to the 19th century, your note that C o E was in “communion” with Roman doctrine would have elicited a storm of disagreement. The godly Churchmen through the last 150 years have registered their Reformed, Protestant, and Confessional credentials repeatedly…at http://www.churchsociety.org. The same can be said about the old Protestant paper in continuing circulation today, “The English Churchman.” The latter represents a broad coalition of (Reformed) Presbyterian of various sorts, including Scotsmen, Baptist (OK, I’ll take a hit there from Dr. Clark on the term “Reformed”), and Confessional Anglicans.

      As to the Lambeth Articles of 1595, the Irish Articles and the 3FU, this was an historic failure that allowed Laud and Wesley service in His Majesty’s Church. Yet, Calvin, Bullinger and Bucer continued to exercise substantial influence, e.g. Toplady, Simeon, etc. We must salute the Reformed and Presbyterians here, while–as we won’t–give up our Reformed Prayer Book Christianity.

      Expect nothing of the sort from the ACNA. I cannot support that at all. We’re in exile.

  29. Dr. Clark:

    Just reviewed your post in the ULR below, but vis a vis the ECT discussion and its precedents. The discussion between “Ernest Evangelical” and “Cardinal Cassidy.”

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/was-the-reformation-a-big-misunderstanding/#comment-12413

    This very ethos underlies much of what I am reading about the new Anglicans in the US. They can reach from Rev. Rick Warren to a Metropolitan Primate of the Orthodox Christian Church (Mr. Jonah by name) at the love-in on 23 June 2009 in Bedford, TX. Both were lead speakers. By the way, the latter one called the Reformation a “heresy.” Their new leader, Bob Duncan, thinks that this is surmountable in new discussions between Nashotah House and the OCA.

    It’s deeper than that, of course, but the non-confessional perspective of Confessional, Reformed and Protestant Anglicanism was anything but present.

    “We all love Jesus, we all have our quiet times, and, by whillikers, we’re all gonna just getta get on with each other and the `transformative message of the love of Jesus.'”

    The liberals and the culture wars are so strong, that we’re united and we can’t allow the Reformation to interfere with that–that’s the spirit of reporting from my reading.

    As to the subject-line, ECT and antecedents, this appears t0 be the motivation behind ECT. The transcript of the discussion posted by Coram Deo brings this out.

    Where’s JIP on this Anglican schizophrenic exhibition of multiple personalities?

    What’s the long road from the 1960-70’s to ECT in the 90’s to the silence on the schizoid expressions? This tenacious question of “historical antecedents to ECT” is not going away for this scribe.

    It may provide a model for compromises at one point with consequences in subsequent years. It is especially egregious when an highly visible leader is involved.

  30. Dr. Clark;

    You query, or assertion really, re: JIP’s “schizophrenia” as a cultural warrior versus confessionalist is enlightening. Especially, the phrase cutting “theological deals.”

    Your URL below gets at it. Of course, Rome hasn’t changed, notwithstanding Noll’s puzzling comments. I was living in Italy in 1998-2000, while JP2 was widely reporting as re-affirming Trent. This was in the press widely.

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/is-the-reformation-over/

    Re: ECT and antecedents, somewhere in the past readings, JIP said “Rome had mud on its face that needed to be cleaned up.” Wish I had the quote at hand. Maybe someone else has it

    The English Reformers, to a man, would not agree with this “reduction”, this “minimization,” this poor metaphor of a “muddy face.” They saw not a mere muddy face on a recalitrant lad, but evil, lies, and wickedness in the essence of the system. To a man, Rome held a false gospel and was anti-christ. That kind of language JIP cannot rise to…for popularity?

    As a scholar, JIP’s knows this stuff, but chooses popularity–that’s my guess–over staring into the dark and evil hole of Rome and ECT.

    Somewhere in the pre-ECT years, a decision by JIP must have been made to gloss over and/or minimize these things.

    • Philip,

      While I find ECT appalling, the suggestion that Dr. Packer chose this as a route to popularity is … well it is just plain odd.

      Dr. Packer was massively popular before ECT and engaging in ECT did nothing to enhance his popularity. Furthermore, many of Dr. Packer’s writings on subjects like the definite atonement and in praise of the Puritans are not the type of things that a person writes who is seeking the applause of the masses.

      • To be clear, I’m not talking about personal popularity but about an attempt to keep the “evangelical movement” in or near the cultural center. That’s something rather different.

        • Dr. Clark,

          Thanks for the clarification, but I was responding to Philip’s comment:

          “As a scholar, JIP’s knows this stuff, but chooses popularity–that’s my guess–over staring into the dark and evil hole of Rome and ECT.”

          David

        • That was the sense in which I offered it as a possibility, but with the CoE flavour, to wit, bring the evangelical movement into a better light with other factions, AC, liberals. I sense that (some) evangelicals may have brought discredit to themselves in UK. ???? That’s a question, by the way. As to personal popularity, Jim already had that.

  31. Dr. Clark:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/how-the-two-kingdoms-doctrine-could-have-prevented-ect/#comment-12417

    While we’ve asked about the antecedents to JIP’s ECT failure, it also serves quite helpfully to explain his “present failure” in 2009 to address the syncretism and multiple-personalities disorder of the New Anglican dysfunction.

    The coordinating point is liberalism and homosexual priests (=presbyters and they need to change their BCP’s to say that) and bishops. That’s constantly puffed at Virtueonline.org.

    While JIP has written about the Confessional role of the XXXIX Articles and their role for Anglicanism as defining parameters, he excuses many Anglo-roman practices as “secondary matters.” It’s revisionism.

    I’m not sure if it is a matter of courage or what. In the military, there are many categories of personal assessment for annual review. One of those categories is “leadership.” Another is “strategic” thinking. Another is “decision-making ability.” Somewhere, these issues are located in previous decisions, later made visible by a pen in hand.

    The Vatican’s one-kingdom model still exists and they are willing to co-opt anyone for supremacy. Of course, there can be collaboration on social issues, but why bring in theological compromises?

    You’re right. We must teach the Confessions to each new generation.

  32. Methinks a refresher on The Great Downgrade Controversy would be helpful in bringing some perspective. Spurgeon went to the grave fighting against the liberal tentacles of modernism that were creeping into what could be described as the “conservative evangelicalism” of his day.

    We see the same thing happening in our day with post-modernism. The emergent/emerging church in particular is simply another road that “leads home to Rome”. While it may be accurately described as many things, at its core ECT was simply an early manifestation of PO-MO pragmatic relativism in action.

    In many ways JIP comes across as the thinking man’s Brian McLaren.

    In Him,
    CD

    • CD:

      I am unable to apply the model of the Downgrade Controversy with Spurgeon to the question under discussion. Further, I have no idea about this post modern model to which you refer.

      Concluding that JIP is the thinking man’s Brian McLaren makes me scratch my head too. JIP has too much on the books to suggest he’s in the emergent direction.

      What I see, from my perspective, is this. JIP was a doctrinally-moored, Confessing (Anglican) evangelical. He was scholarly. He had works on the streets to confirm these points of view, for the Churchman as well as the Scholar. He had popularity across denominational lines. (No one argued much about episcopacy to my knowledge.) He surely had the trust of Jim Boice and R.C. Sproul in early Conferences on Reformed Theology held in Pittsburg and Philadelphia, several of which I attended in the 70’s while an undergraduate. He wrote–often–from a popular perspective, but I suppose he has things in scholarly journals also. He wrote for the Church Society, which has a learned audience for Confessional Anglicans. There is alot to put him inside the Reformational and Calvinistic camp, notwithstanding his ecclesiology and committment to Prayer Book piety and use.

      Then, ECT, mid-90’s. The Downgrade Controvery doesn’t help me understand this. We have roughly a 20-year period of 1970 to 1990. What happened that drove him to put his pen to ECT. Clearly, Colson knew that RC Sproul wouldn’t sign it. He knew Kennedy wouldn’t. He knew that Jim Boice wouldn’t. Yet, he knew that JIP would. Why?

      I am suggesting that something happened with the Keele Conferences for Anglicans, 1967, and in subsequent years. That needs scholarly inquiry.

      http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2006/10/evangelical-unity-appeal-extracts-from.html Dr. Clark called attention to that also. This post–posted today–suggests that MLJ was calling for the establishment of a visible church, not mere “wings of evangelicals” from mixed denominations such as JIP’s. MLJ refers to the difficulty–financially–that some men would have in following this call. This may offer one clue, to wit, that of curacies, stipendiary vicars, canons, etc., and the whole complex of legal laws that govern payment of C o E clergy. Giving up income? Stott? Packer? Family situations for other Confessional, Evangelical Anglicans? More answers are needed on this. MLJ’s call was easier for him to say as an independent and Congregationalist.

      One intent from the Keele Conferences, headed by Stott, was for a more faithful engagement with the C o E “structures.” Liberals and Anglo-Catholics took dim views of Evangelical Anglicans—who had, until 1970, argued that they were the continuuing and true Anglican representatives. The fight between AC’s and Evangelicals had a more vigourous and energetic character that the capitulatory American counterparts. I suspect–with no proof–that “fellowship over doctrine” was operational.

      I can only suggest as a working hypothesis that some “damage control” was at hand or at work. That is, an effort to rehabilitate any negative image that Evangelical Anglicans had in the C o E. I may be wrong. Again, Evangelical Anglicans fought in England for the Reformation faith–no doubt about that. And they did much better at it than the Americans, e.g. the Reformed Episcopal Church was one ineffectual effort. The TEC doesn’t even know what the issues are–but that’s not the case with Evangelical Anglicans, JIP included—which again aggravates the question posed by Dr. Clark.

      Maybe a historian will pick this up and track down the antecedents to JIP and ECT. It “didn’t just happen.”

      Whatever JIP did, with this scribe, it was undone by ECT. In the Marine Corps, we had a saying, “One `Aw shucks’ could undo 1000 `Attaboys.'” JIP had an opportunity to bear true witness to the Gospel and to the false gospel of Rome, an opportunity to call Newhaus to the True Church, an opportunity to teach these non-confessional evangelicals, e.g. Colson, Bright, Timothy George, to the Reformational faith.”

      JIP followed the crowd. He failed to provide leadership as a Divisional Commander. For this scribe, he is no field commander, simply a technician and a good one, but not able to provide Command Leadership.

  33. Coram Deo:

    My sense is that there is more to the English story than we know. Namely, the relationship of Evangelical Anglicans (Stott, the leader, and Packer, as another) to Anglo-catholics and liberals. The name Colin Buchanan remains in my head as one who did some work on Eucharistic theology.

    These issues were fleshed out in the Keele conferences and strategies of 1967 as well as subsequents ones–dates elude me now. But 1967 was as an initial trajectory. British Anglicans were not going to pull out of the C o E at MLJ’s insistence, but would remain and adjust/adapt to the internal dynamics of the C o E.

    Accomodation or making peace with those factions, it is believed, was involved. The question arises? What accomodations? What adjustments? Is this true? If so, on what, when and why?

    My sense is that Evangelicals had a bad rep (??). Evangelicals had fought for their version of Anglicanism…Protestant, Confessional, and Reformed (or half-Reformed is perhaps closer to it is my guess, e.g. Article XVII of the XXXIX). Packer would have been a Calvinist in the Dordtian sense. The sense was that they were not team-players. The remedy was to become team-players with the other factions. What were the ecclesial pressures with the C o E at that time? What were the evangelical responses to them?

    An analysis of British evangelicalism in the C o E is needed to get the historical antecedents. I don’t have that information, but can only offer an hypothesis built on the shifting ephemerals from my memory. It needs much more analysis. It needs the facts.

    But ECT, “didn’t just happen” with JIP in the mid-90’s. Something more had been at work for some time. It is *that* point that Dr. Clark has raised…and it is *that* point that has not been answered.

  34. I hate buying books when I’m up the my eyeballs reading just the English Reformers themselves…the originals plus the 17th century follow-ons.

    But Dr. Clark’s book on Covenant and McGrath’s on Packer–germane to this thread–need to be put on my short list. The new Lutheran Study Bible is #1.

    Practically speaking, a lesson learned. Rather than walk down the Packer-ECT-pathway…walk in a directly different path, that of the Reformation Confessions on the vital issues at bar. Make those issues clear and prominent. Teach those things clearly to the next generation said to include, but not limited to, the five solas, TULIP, and the details of our catechisms. For me, also the BCP.

    ECT clarified nothing not previously known to those in the Reformation tradition. Most unhelpful and even divisive.

  35. There’s also a vague memory, to wit, of pressures from some factions within the C o E to unite with Methodists, a real show stopper for Anglo-catholics (And English AC’s are more consistent than their American counter-parts I’m told. I’m also told that the American ACs are more aggressive about it.).

    On union with the Methodists, I would think a show-stopper for Calvinistic Anglicans as well….I would hope so since Wesleyanism is a theological blight. Arminianism has been the uncorrected disaster since Archbishop Laud’s reversal of the English Reformed consensus…broadly speaking, but including Canterbury until Laud. Indications of some Evangelicals uniting with AC’s to stop these Wesleyans, by way of voting, t o stop this. All of it, as a matter of politics based in their respective theologies.

    In other words, as an antecedent, “deal cutting” over theology?

    As to ECT, dragging theology into questions on collaboration on social issues? To unite against liberals? The price tag? Talk theology and get some concessions. One explicit concession: no cross-communal evangelism. A deal.

    For this Calvinist, that dawg will NEVER hunt.

    I am suggesting things for confirmation. Yes, there were antecedents, but exactly what they were are not clear. ECT with Packer “didn’t just happen.”

  36. Dr. Clark:

    Your URL from the past, two years ago. See: http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/ect-a-post-mortem/#comment-12445

    Hunger for social promience, preservation of the enthusiasts’ experientialism and subjectivism, and their anti-historical non-confessionalism TRUMPS biblical authority and Reformation Confessions.

    That appears to be an excellent bottomline on the question.

    Nevertheless, it still does not explain the failure of leadership of JIP.

    I’ve seen Navy geniuses, nuclear engineers, Captains (one paygrade below Admiral)…brilliant men…probably the most intelligent men in the military. However, the Navy recognized that they lacked “Command leadership qualities.” They would run the extensive departments on aircraft carriers–the Nuke Departments. Again, brilliant, but they never would command the carrier itself (I had two carrier tours). In other parts, these men might placed in submarine squadrons overseeing the nuclear programs on 8-10 submarines. But they were never called to Command the Squadron of the 8-10 submarines (I had 36 months aboard subs).

    At this point, this is how I view JIP. A brilliant technician, but not a Divisional Commander so desperately needed for these day. That’s a perspective from which I am operating….why ECT? What were the antecedents? Why no leadership? (Simply, he may not have been up to it.)

  37. An interesting tidbit at:

    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2009/10/trueman-on-packer-part-2.html

    Again, historical antecedents, vis a vis, Dr. Clark’s question or proposition, “ECT, it didn’t just happen…”

    Aside from the MLJ-JIP rupture (not sure about those details either), there appears, as I suspected, to be internal C o E dynamics at work, e.g. no place within Evangelical Anglicanism. What does that mean?

    JIP had been the head of a school in Bristol as well as Wycliffe College, Oxford. ??? What does McGrath mean by this, no further place within Evangelical Anglican circles?

    I think the blogspot above provides a more balanced picture on Dr. Trueman’s comments, to wit, JIP was widely appreciated, but there were some failures. Dr. Trueman deeply appreciated JIP’s ministry.

    I’m not convinced that the ST and Commentary on Romans are the faultlines as Dr. Trueman suggests. And assuming the mantle of leadership for “Non-Conformists” is puzzling, even unnecessary perhaps.

    I need to get McGrath’s book. ECT didn’t just happen.

  38. An interesting tidbit at:

    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2009/10/trueman-on-packer-part-2.html

    Again, historical antecedents, vis a vis, Dr. Clark’s question or proposition, “ECT, it didn’t just happen…”

    Aside from the MLJ-JIP rupture (not sure about those details either), there appears, as I suspected, to be internal C o E dynamics at work, e.g. no place within Evangelical Anglicanism. What does that mean?

    JIP had been the head of a school in Bristol as well as Wycliffe College, Oxford. ??? What does McGrath mean by this, no further place within Evangelical Anglican circles?

    I think the blogspot above provides a more balanced picture on Dr. Trueman’s comments, to wit, JIP was widely appreciated, but there were some failures. Dr. Trueman deeply appreciated JIP’s ministry.

    I’m not convinced that the ST and Commentary on Romans are the faultlines as Dr. Trueman suggests. And assuming the mantle of leadership for “Non-Conformists” is puzzling, even unnecessary perhaps.

    I need to get McGrath’s book. ECT didn’t just happen.

    He failed to bear witness to the Gospel of the Reformation and failed, sorrowfully failed, as a leader, in public venues, as an example to junior warriors in the trenches, to call the Romanist leaders to repentance and to join any of the True Churches of Christ.

  39. I remember during the heated days of ECT II, around 1998, asking Eric Alexander what to make of what I considered J. I. Packer’s involvement in ECT . Eric looked at me quizzically and asked, “Did you not know that Packer is an Anglican?”

    One might take such a statement in a number of ways, starting with a Glacow Presbyterian’s disdain for all things Canterbury. But I think the legitimate point is that the via media is fraught with perils when it comes to integrity and wholeness in truth and practice. One can scarcely deny that Anglicanism is one of history’s greatest examples of the via media. For an evangelical, it is virtually impossible to avoid schizophrenia of some sort within such a system. Take the Packer-Lloyd-Jones issue: how do we treat baptized church members who deny the virgin birth, atonement, etc. Anglicanism says they are Christians; evangelicalism says they are not. Not much via media there; hence the schizophrenia.

    Today, this via media is seen in our so-called “conservative” Reformed denominations not merely between Evangelicalism and Rome but between Evangelicalism and secular culture. Wanting to accomodate culture, progressive Reformed folks are willing to embrace ideas like gender egalitarianism and theistic evolution, supporting these with ludicrous arguments from the Bible that are unworthy of their ability and their Reformed credentials. Why? For the same reason as Packer’s ECT support: they are pulled in different directions. This is a lamentable situation for anyone to be in, but those who are trying to mediate two conflicting groups (whether Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism or Christianity and secular culture) should not be counted on to be consistent in their message and practice.

    I remember personally showing James Montgomery Boice a copy of Peter Kreeft’s Ecumenical Jihad (a book that argues that Muhammed is in heaven because of the second chance he received after he died), along with Packer’s endorsement on the back cover. Boice — who knew Packer well and deeply respected him — was absolutely floored, and he considered it a betrayal of the gospel.

    For all of Packer’s brilliance and for all the debt that we owe him especially for many of his outstanding writings, the question that ultimately matters is the question each of us will face: was he faithful? This is the problem with the via media, it makes faithfulness very difficult. Jesus himself was the one who commented, “A man cannot serve two masters.”

    Lastly, history shows that the flaws of great men tend to dominate their legacy. This was true with Lloyd-Jones and his doctrine of the sealing of the Spirit. The same will probably be true of Packer and his Rome-friendly ecumenism. But he has been a great man. It is very appropriate, I think, for us to seek to learn the lessons from such prominent lives, but we should do so without failing to appreciate the many contributions the Lord has given us through them.

    • Rick:

      Thanks. Charitably done with a wide-lens view, including what apparently is occurring in Reformed Christianity.

      Yet, I for one, cann0t get beyond this capitulation, especially given his background. As a BCP-man, I know I am not alone on this point amongst older C o E Evangelical Anglicans. It’s just not rep0rted widely.

      Upon reading his numerous writings, ECT is lasting and governing odour. It yields the un-ending question, “Why?”

      Somewhere preceding ECT, “compromise” was in the background.

      For an old military, that is unacceptable on the battlelines, now and forever.

      England’s Reformation was sealed in blood and Packer grossly surrendered the flag.

  40. I need to put in an edit: I ommitted the word “puzzling” between “Packer’s” and “involvement” in the first para. it should “concerning Packer’s puzzling involvement in ECT.”

  41. Yikes, another edit: That is “Glasgow,” not “Glacow.” Note to kids: do not blog comment in haste!

  42. I revisited this URL:

    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2009/10/carl-trueman-talks-about-j-i-packer.html

    “The break between Lloyd-Jones and Packer, in 1970, came after the publication of Growing into Union. The book was written by four authors, two evangelicals and two Anglo-Catholics. But the positions advocated were representative of a common mind (“We are all four committed to every line in the book…and we are determined that no wedge be driven between us.” I am referring to a footnote by Iain Murray in Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace and am not able to verify what has been omitted from this sentence).”

    As to antecedents, which Dr. Clark, queried, this again re-registers as one antecedent, although not explored by the blogspot. Burying the hatchet with Tractarians?

    The English Reformed tradition was Cranmerian, Bucerian, Bullingerian and Calvinistic on the Lord’s Supper. Until the Tractarians.

    This is eminently cryptic, to wit, two evangelicals and two Anglo-Catholics writing a book on the Eucharist. I’ll need to track that down.

    What does this paragraph tell us, as to antecedents? There’s more here than meets the eye.

    7% of the C o E were “Evangelicals” in the 1960’s according to one of my readings. The Anglo-Romewardisers and liberals had long thumped their tubs about the English Reformed, Protestant, Confessional, and Evangelical Anglicans. There’s a long and substantial body of literature on it (cf. http://www.churchsociety.org).

    There was a long history of opposition to the Anglo-Catholics in the C o E, something little known on the American shores in Episcopal circles. Peter Toon noted that there is little or few works of scholarship on the 20th century Evangelical Anglicans in Britain or the US.

    Deal-cutting with this book? A book that not one of the authors would deny, line by line? This is one very good clue for enlargement.

    British Anglicanism had a long line of evangelical defenders pre-1960’s. I’m fairly sure that American Presbyterians and Reformed are not widely read in that field. I could be wrong, but that’s my sense on it.

    I have a friend in the Church of England (cont’), a Calvinist I might add, who has one word for England Anglicanism. “Weak.” He’s a Bishop, with the old BCP, and he rehearsed for me–with characteristic caution—that JIP had been a wide disappointment to many of them. Not just MLJ, but Evangelical Anglicans themselves.

    Another disturbing, but less than full, paragraph from the URL:

    “One commentator, in 1977, wrote of Packer’s diminished influence among evangelical Anglicans. They had, quite simply, moved on. This assessment is also given by his biographer Alister McGrath, “Increasingly, Packer felt he was a ‘pelican in the wilderness’. Nobody seemed to want him very much.” He was left with no institutional role in evangelical Anglican leadership circles. I think you have to understand Dr. Trueman’s comments against this historic background.”

    This suggests that Evanglical Anglicans had thrown the good man, as it were, under the bus? They had “quite simply, moved on?” A “pelican in the wilderness?” What does that mean? What are the antecedents to that phrase? Back to Dr. Clark’s question, “It just didn’t happen.”

    Deal cutting with Anglo-Catholics? Ecumenism? Failure to stand for the Reformation faith of the old English Reformers?

    As such, emphatically, decisively, JIP does not–repeat–does not stand amongst the English Reformers of 1550-1620.

  43. Date:

    25 October 2009

    Where is Dr. James Innes Packer and Dr.John Stott now that Rome is offerring Anglo-Catholics sanctuary under an ordinariate?

    There are many outlets, media-wise, where their opinions would be appreciated.

    If I missed it, please post.

    Capitulation on ECT surely parallels the long-standing silence on Tractarians.

    That gig is up, unless someone will demonstrate, conclusively and with documentation, otherwise.

    The rank odours remain for this Calvinistic BCP-man.

  44. Very interesting blog stuff. Just a couple smaller contributions. “Pelican in the Wilderness,” is a quote from the Psalms (102:6) where the import is of one seriously displaced. Pelicans, being oceanic water-feeding birds, would be drastically out-of-place in the “wilderness” or desert.

    One Packer aspect that I haven’t seen mentioned involves Packer’s MYSTICISM. This commitment is a slippery dynamic, often revealing philosophical gremlins hidden deep within. True mysticism (vs. mere concession to mystical realities) dispenses with “means” or 2nd Causes. Thus it is anti-Creational, as God’s good creation establishes and mandates 2nd Causes.

    For example, Quakers dispense with the MEANS of revelation, to wit, God’s Written Word. They insist on immediate revelation to men, in the midst of a Quaker meeting. Mysticism is a radical misunderstanding of anything to which it’s applied. The Devil was a mystic when he challenged our Lord to dispense with second causes/means like stairs-ladders-ropes, etc., and simply leap off the pinnacle of the temple — demanding that the angels would catch him! Jesus rebuked Satan’s mysticism by declaring, “Thou shalt not tempt (or put to the test) the Lord thy God! Demanding the 1st Cause when 2nd causes should suffice is a wicked, foolish enterprise. But many “religious people” think its especially transcendental and laudatory.

    From my culpable memory, I would say JIP had a soft spot for charismatics. They suffer from mysticism’s frailties. True Reformed Theology always allows the Written Word to trump “spirituality,” however it’s defined. But JIP was shy at precisely this point. He seemed to “sense” things with his Spirit that his head wouldn’t allow him to condemn. I might fellowship with Charismatics at a pro-life rally, and even enjoy their fellowship. But I would never mince my words regarding their errors. I think this is responsible “ecumenism,” and shows forth the love of Christ — while at the same time clinging to the beauty of truth.

    Doesn’t JIP fail just here? His fellowships coalesce into his kerux; his ecclesiology colors his dogmatics. It should be just the opposite. After all, the one is clear and didactic, while the other is much more undefined and “obscure.” It’s the difference between people and words. The latter are clear. The former are not!

    Recently I did quite a bit of research on John Wickliffe, the old Oxford “don” and Reformer. I was stunned when I saw his holy, angry, revulsion to papalism — once he had seen it. Without even the support Luther (or the English Reformers had) from fellow travellers, Wickliffe began to publicly and systematically refer to the papacy as “Anti-Christ,” and “The Man of Sin.” I believe he was the first of the “reformers” to so refer to the popes in this way. Luther, Calvin and the English Reformers (like Phillips) merely echoed Wickliffe.

    But that which the Morning Star could see and say, men like JIP find difficult. The latter are the true Lollards, or murmerers/stammerers. Sadly, they typify our syncretistic culture, which tolerates the demonic — when it is found in veiled places like the church.

    Along these lines, is it not ironic that when Jesus shows up in his very first synagogue (after commencing his public ministry in Mark 1) he discovers a demon — hiding in the pews???? Our Lord trounces that which many today cuddle, namely corrupting, wicked spirits. This is Postmodernism, not Reformed theology.

  45. Very interesting blog stuff. Just a couple smaller contributions. “Pelican in the Wilderness,” is a quote from the Psalms (102:6) where the import is of one seriously displaced. Pelicans, being oceanic water-feeding birds, would be drastically out-of-place in the “wilderness” or desert.

    One Packer aspect that I haven’t seen mentioned involves Packer’s MYSTICISM. This commitment is a slippery dynamic, often revealing philosophical gremlins hidden deep within. True mysticism (vs. mere concession to mystical realities) dispenses with “means” or 2nd Causes. Thus it is anti-Creational, as God’s good creation establishes and mandates 2nd Causes.

    For example, Quakers dispense with the MEANS of revelation, to wit, God’s Written Word. They insist on immediate revelation to men, in the midst of a Quaker meeting. Mysticism is a radical misunderstanding of anything to which it’s applied. The Devil was a mystic when he challenged our Lord to dispense with second causes/means like stairs-ladders-ropes, etc., and simply leap off the pinnacle of the temple — demanding that the angels would catch him! Jesus rebuked Satan’s mysticism by declaring, “Thou shalt not tempt (or put to the test) the Lord thy God! Demanding the 1st Cause when 2nd causes should suffice is a wicked, foolish enterprise. But many “religious people” think its especially transcendental and laudatory.

    From my culpable memory, I would say JIP had a soft spot for charismatics. They suffer from mysticism’s frailties. True Reformed Theology always allows the Written Word to trump “spirituality,” however it’s defined. But JIP was shy at precisely this point. He seemed to “sense” things with his Spirit that his head wouldn’t allow him to condemn. I might fellowship with Charismatics at a pro-life rally, and even enjoy their fellowship. But I would never mince my words regarding their errors. I think this is responsible “ecumenism,” and shows forth the love of Christ — while at the same time clinging to the beauty of truth.

    Doesn’t JIP fail just here? His fellowships coalesce into his kerux; his ecclesiology colors his dogmatics. It should be just the opposite. After all, the one is clear and didactic, while the other is much more undefined and “obscure.” It’s the difference between people and words. The latter are clear. The former are not!

    Recently I did quite a bit of research on John Wickliffe, the old Oxford “don” and Reformer. I was stunned when I saw his holy, angry, revulsion to papalism — once he had seen it. Without even the support Luther (or the English Reformers had) from fellow travellers, Wickliffe began to publicly and systematically refer to the papacy as “Anti-Christ,” and “The Man of Sin.” I believe he was the first of the “reformers” to so refer to the popes in this way. Luther, Calvin and the English Reformers (like Philpott) merely echoed Wickliffe.

    But that which the Morning Star could see and say, men like JIP find difficult. The latter are the true Lollards, or murmerers/stammerers. Sadly, they typify our syncretistic culture, which tolerates the demonic — when it is found in veiled places like the church.

    Along these lines, is it not ironic that when Jesus shows up in his very first synagogue (after commencing his public ministry in Mark 1) he discovers a demon — hiding in the pews???? Our Lord trounces that which many today cuddle, namely corrupting, wicked spirits. This is Postmodernism, not Reformed theology.

  46. Rather than mysticism, why not just poor leadership?

    Poor statesmanship?

    And lack of courage?

    Jim’s a big boy and spent long enough in the academy to get it. In my estimation, he’s a technician and that’s about it. “One `huge’ aw’ shucks undid a 1000 `attaboys'” for this scribe. He’s done and finished.

    Words without action are that, words. Cheap too!

  47. “Anti-christ” predates Wycliffe. Rev. (bp.) Gregory the Great affirmed that if any bishop anywhere should claim “universal bishop” of the church, such a claim would be done by “Anti-christ.” A successor or two later started using the term without much notice, since Rome was a backwater in the 7th century (50K? versus 1 million in Paul’s time?)

    The term was working in the Avignon period as well as Wycliffe’s.

    The term “Anti-christ” appears in all the English Reformers, pre-1600.

    You’ll never hear it from Jim Packer, even on a good day. Nor from Tim George with Christianity Not Today. Ya gotta pay the bills and keep the friends, ya know?

  48. Dr. Knodel:

    Are you the OPC-man working in Scotland? For the Protestant Truth Society?

    If so, I’ll be in touch by separate correspondence.

    HM knows we need Wycliffites like you, not Packerite-soft-on-Romanites.

    Phil

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