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Christian Cannibals

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  1. Rob Murphy says:

    Spiritual midgets, indeed.

    Lord, stretch me or take me out. Don’t let me be a hunched over, curmudgeonly, faultfinding, small-minded and smaller hearted miserly vampire of grace.
    Help us seek Your face abide in You.

    Great, sad post.

  2. Michael says:


    Packer has always self- identified as one of “us”…pastors and teachers in the Body.
    Evidently, thats not much of a calling anymore in some places…

    God help me to celebrate all my brothers and sisters who are fulfilling the call God gave them…not me.

  3. james tiberius kirk says:

    John 21:22 b

    “What is that to you, YOU follow Me!”

    Seems like there’s a lot of busybodies and older-brothers-of-the-prodigal-son…

  4. A E A says:

    Thinking themselves Davids, they are really Shimeis

    That is the perfect one line summary.

    What really bothers me is there are lots of them.
    Lord help me to not be wise in my own opinion and be petty and critical of Your champions.

  5. Jessica Menn says:

    I watched the clip, and I thought what Carl Trueman said about Packer was very nice. It did not seem to me that he really thought Packer was a failure. It seemed to me that he was saying that by worldly standards Packer could be viewed as a failure because he did not live up to his full potential–he did not achieve the position of leadership he was capable of achieving–but spiritually speaking that “failure” is Packer’s greatest success because he has lived out his life in humility–not aggrandising himself or seeking out power because he is capable of doing so.

    Trueman seems a bit conflicted to me. He seems to find certain aspects of British evangelicalism troubling and believes that J.I. Packer had the ability to ameliorate those aspects but chose not to step into a role that would allow him to do so. That seems somewhat wishful thinking on Trueman’s part, but it’s not uncommon for a person to have desires or expectations surrounding someone they admire greatly.

    In the end, it seemed to me that Trueman really admires and respects Packer, and was not literally labelling him a failure.

  6. A E A says:

    I can’t watch the clip on the Internet connection I have here, I’ll have to watch on Wednesday.

  7. Rob Murphy says:

    Michael – I know five other guys besides you whom I also hold in high regard and they have met Packer and been impressed by a ‘hero’ of the faith whose humility has left the greatest impression. He doesn’t think himself a hero of the faith, just a slave of grace.
    This man has faithfully ministered and done so with integrity, never, ever bringing shame on the Gospel. That is what Paul told us to do . . . live quiet humble lives in service to Jesus. I would rail at greater length except for fear that I would become what I despise.
    I’m with you, Michael – God bless your servant, brother Packer.

  8. Lutheran says:

    I think Trueman is lamenting that Packer wasn’t more sectarianly Calvinistic —

    He also seems to be strongly in Lloyd-Jones’s camp with regard to splitting off from

    I find it very odd that he didn’t say a word about another great Anglican evangelical
    and colleague of Packer’s, John Stott.

    I think Packer did a world of good. This attack strikes me as very sectarian and overly judgmental.

    But this Seminary’s donors and backers will love it.

  9. Lutheran says:

    I believe Packer’s writings have done a world of good. I’m glad he didn’t get caught up in the Calvinistic bramble bush. He might have written a lot of obscure stuff that few would read. As it is, Knowing God, EATSOG, and many others have blessed millions of believers,
    myself included.

    I thank the Lord for J.I. Packer

  10. Lutheran says:

    I do have a visceral response to Trueman, but I’ll count to 10 instead…

  11. Michael says:

    Truemans words were soft compared to what is on the other link I cited.

    It is all about sectarianism and power and not about grace and calling.

    These men think me a buffoon, but I had to say something lest I not sleep.

  12. Michael says:

    Trueman has been one of my favorite authors…he understands and appreciates Luther as much as Calvin and he is an excellent history teacher.

    That makes this much more painful…

  13. Tim says:

    Is Packer perfect? Of course not…but then again, none of us are save our Lord Jesus. Taking pot-shots at a man for what he *didn’t* write is pretty cheap.

  14. Lutheran says:


    I’m with you.

    Whatever happened to “different strokes for different folks”?

  15. FWIW I was stunned by the rhetoric in your post, it is much stronger than Trueman’s. When I posted the link I added some historic context, most notably an extract from the letter written by Lloyd-Jones to Packer.

    Perhaps Dr. Trueman’s provocative use of “failure” is really a tribute. Is he not saying that Packer was capable of writing perhaps the definitive reformed/evangelical systematic theology of the 21st Century? And if only he had. Is he not also saying that Packer was the leader that non-conformists really needed? Certainly one commentator, in 1977, wrote of Packer’s diminished influence among evangelical Anglicans. They had 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.

    And by the way Knowing God began as a series of articles in a publication Packer was involved in with Welsh Calvinistic evangelicals from 1959 onwards, and so from that period of close contribution with Lloyd-Jones.

  16. Papias says:


    Where are we with the “Knowing God” series?

  17. Sarah says:

    I listened to the video and at first I thought that Michael was being a bit harsh, but then something struck me.

    Downes…you are correct that Trueman is saying that Packer was capable of doing these things, but didn’t do them. He says that Packer chose instead the way of being the gentleman who did not ruthlessly aspire. On that level he is a success of a modest Christian leader…

    Hmm. To me that sounds a bit like Trueman is patting Packer on the head and saying that he wasn’t what he could have been because he didn’t have the drive. He succeeded in being the dotering professor.

    I’d be curious to sit with Packer and have coffee and talk about this (Michael, wanna come?) Maybe I will do that in the coming months. I would really like to hear his take…because I am sure that he will say there were areas where he made mistakes and decisions he would do differently. I have no idea what they are.

    I, however, think that he chose the role of professor much like he had chosen to be a pastor…because he was called and gifted. It was not a settling for something less, but was a role he could embrace as one who was willing to pour into others and equip them to go out and impact the world for Christ. He has always been accessible, always been willing to hash out thoughts with his students, and there are now those who have a systematic theology in their minds (like me) because of studying under him, but who also have been touched by seeing greatness that doesn’t worry much about itself.

    Failure? Nah. Content to walk in the calling God had given him, I would say.

  18. BrianD says:

    The only being in the universe Packer is obligated to obey and serve is God Himself.

    It doesn’t matter if anyone else is impressed, depressed, unimpressed, arrogant, condescending, or whatever else they think or feel about it.

    Sometimes, the Truly Reformed sicken me.

  19. Michael says:


    I linked to the Heidelblog as well as your site.

    The word “disappointment” was used by Dr. Trueman as well as the word “failure”.

    The comments on the other blog dredge up a forty year old controversy in what very much seems like an attempt to diminish Packers contributions to the church as a whole.

    On one hand I agree with Trueman…Packer certainly could have written a grand systematic, but at what cost to us who do not walk the halls of academia?

    Why can we not simply celebrate a great man finishing well and rejoice at what he did give us?

  20. Sarah,

    Please call me Martin.

    Isn’t Trueman saying that he could have been the leader of the non-conformists but chose to stay within an evangelical anglican constituency that, in the end, left no significant leadership role for him in the UK? That’s McGrath’s take.

    On a personal note his writings were a significant influence on me and I pushed to get his Tyndale lecture “What did the cross achieve?” back in print.

  21. Sarah says:

    Martin…my apologies, no slight intended by using your last name. I’m a bit fussy headed this afternoon as I’m sick, and normally would have welcomed you to the blog as well. I apologize.

    My main point is simply that I think Packer does not see spending his energies in pouring into his students rather than writing a systematic, etc as second best…he sees them as fulfilling what God called him to do.

    The other things, I would really like to sit and talk with him about.

  22. Michael says:


    I just ordered your book a couple of days ago on handling error in the church.

    Thank you for stopping by and engaging with us.

  23. Michael says:


    I would love to speak with him again…just to say thank you.

  24. BrianD says:

    Clarification: the Truly Reformed religious people sicken me sometimes.

    Not that Martin Downes (btw, welcome, Martin!) is one of those people…nor that any of us, myself included, are exempt from the disease of religion.

    The disease that praises great works and others who have one’s exact viewpoints, and diminishes giving up “greater” works for what Christ calls a man or woman to do, as well as to fellowship with believers from other traditions, and what God does in their lives that might not line up with what we’ve been taught is right and proper.

  25. Michael says:

    I heard some of this same talk in Geneva…and it struck me then as it does now.

  26. Michael says:


    Excellent observation.

  27. Papias says:

    How do we go about processing this, when someone doesn’t do what we want? Trueman is entitled to his opinion of Packer, and vice-versa.

    We have oftentimes come on here and bemoaned that Pastor Chuck has not had a firmer hand in the CC movement. Are we not guilty in the same respect as Trueman?

    Does it also apply to the Ted Haggards and Todd Bentley’s as well? Just thinking where this all goes….

  28. Michael says:


    I think that wanting someone to correct injustice is different from attempting to define their calling when no injustice has been done.

  29. Palm62 says:

    hmmm, can’t bring up the reference for this blog… but agreeing with BrianD… such criticism skates close to Judas’ focus IMO: “how can **we** maximize this asset **we’ve** got here?” As if it was their business…
    just sitting here pondering and waiting for a phone call or two – not trying to enter into the discussion…

  30. Xenia says:

    I don’t know anything about any of these folks. I do think there are more than enough theology books in existence and the world does not need another systematic theology book. What the world does need is more examples of Christian humility and if that is the trait that Rev. Packer demonstrates, this is evidence that he chosen the right path for his life.

  31. philbertz says:

    Not long ago we discussed how crazy-busy everything/body is and how little time it leaves for doing what is truly valuable. Piling expectations onto someone who has faithfully run the course seems odd. Jesus invited folks to follow him assuring his burden easy, his load light. Religion, indeed, kills…but it is a slow, agonizing death.


  32. Sarah says:

    I’ve been thinking on this through the day, and something our pastor said yesterday has interrupted my thoughts. He is teaching through the book of Acts and was talking about when Barnabas went up to Antioch and when he got there he “saw the grace of God.”

    Jim talked about what does this mean…how is it that someone can visit a congregation and the grace of God is evident? Is it, possibly, in how gracious we are to one another, along with the evidence of our redemption?

    There are times to exhort each other and to challenge each other to push further and to use our giftings faithfully, but may there be a graciousness in how we do that. Regarding Packer, may there be more respect of a man who has walked faithfully with great integrity than questions of “what if”.

  33. Lutheran says:

    I really like what Xenia said. I agree.

    Everything I’ve heard about Dr. Packer has been positive. He seems like a genuinely grace-filled, humble, and at the same time, gifted man. We need more of those!

    I have been profoundly affected by the life of another evangelical Anglican — John R.W. Stott. I met him in person and was just amazed how humble and yet wise and smart he was.

    I heard a story that a few months ago, Rev. Stott gave his last public talk. At the end of it, he asked everyone to close their eyes to pray. When they opened them, he was gone from the room. I wasn’t surprised at all.

    God love the Anglicans! Thank the Lord for godly examples!

  34. Sister Christian says:

    Lutheran, yes… what Xenia said.

    and following what Sarah as well:

    “Regarding Packer, may there be more respect of a man who has walked faithfully with great integrity than questions of “what if”.”

  35. Thanks for the welcome (BrianD). Michael, thanks for buying the book. I hope you find it a stimulating read.

    Theology teachers leave different kinds of legacies. For Packer, and others, there is the living legacy of the influence of his teaching, mentoring, and example upon those he has taught. There is also a literary legacy. If he had stopped writing after the publication of Knowing God I still believe that we would be indebted to him for generations to come. Lloyd-Jones believed that Packer had the gifts to write an ST that would have been a remarkable provision for the church, but it was not to be. We do have four volumes of collected shorter writings, and perhaps in the future we will have a set of collected works (as we do with Warfield, who didn’t write a ST either).

  36. Pilgrim says:

    This guy is off target. The reason Packer Is indeed a failure is due to his act of treason to Jesus in his involvement in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) document.

  37. Sarah says:


  38. Michael says:


    Back up your vile accusation with facts.
    Show me in Packers teachings anything that is not historic and evangelical.
    I dare you…give it a shot.

    “In Dr Packer’s words, the purpose of the 1994 ECT statement was to formulate a justification ‘at the level of principle’ (p 173) for a commitment of Evangelicals and believing Roman Catholics to one another. The purposes to be achieved by such commitment include friendship and, more important, ‘the common task of evangelizing the nonbelieving world’ (p 36), ‘the aim is to proclaim Christ the Saviour together’ (p 167).
    Before anyone dismisses this as but another ploy leading to re-union with Rome the authors and supporters of ECT merit a serious hearing. The Evangelicals among them are clear that this is not an effort at rapprochement with the Church of Rome. Packer writes: ‘Co-operation with the Roman Catholic Church is not what ECT is about’ (p 165); or again, ‘I am not and could not become a Roman Catholic’ (p 161). He sets down clearly the biblical issues over which evangelical Christianity has always opposed Rome and states that the unity which concerns him is ‘with individual Roman Catholics who for whatever reason do not self- consciously assent to the precise definitions of the Roman Catholic magisteriuml… but who think and speak evangelically about these things’, and ‘are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ, despite Rome’s official position’ (p 159).2 So the co-operation which ECT proposes is not one of churches; the model is rather that of individuals belonging to a parachurch agency for the accomplishment of specific purposes. Neither evangelical nor Catholic participants anticipate any present prospect of church unity, but their case is that Christians ought to go as far as they can to help one another, and to serve the cause of Christ together, provided that in doing so they are not required to suppress any conscientiously held truth. ECT is for co- operation ‘up to the limit of what divergent convictions allow’ (p 149).”


    How is the intent expressed by Dr. Packer here “treason against Jesus”?

    Evidently, a lifetime of teaching sound evangelical doctrine is not enough for some.

  39. Concerned says:


    Can we find common ground in RC doctrine?
    The ECT issue,,I have some teachings on it from many yrs ago.
    I was persuaded that common ground must be found on common doctrine.
    That is not to say that Catholics can’t be saved.
    I know many who are..

    By the way, I hope you are recovering well.

  40. Michael says:

    I am not fit enough to contend with this nonsense.

    Read Packers statements on ECT and his followup writings on the subject and get back to me.

    Packer does not compromise one iota of the historic Protestant faith in these writings…he affirms them.

  41. Michael says:


    My unity with the brethren is based on the person and work of Jesus Christ.

    Packer seems to think that there are actually regenerate people outside of his tradition…which some think is heresy.

  42. Concerned says:

    OK..Wasn’t criticizing Packer’s involvement..but there are several others on the panel in support,and I know there are also several well-known who were in opposition to it.

    I did say that there are regenerate people in the RC church..just in studying the doctrine it does seem to me to be “another Jesus”.

    I know this is a sensitive topic so I am OK without further involvement in the discussion.

  43. brian says:

    I think Jesus knows Dr. Packard in ways none of us will, and in the end his “systematic” theology will be written in the souls of those brought into the kingdom. Not pen and ink but on the hearts of men and women.

  44. brian says:

    “his act of treason to Jesus ” I was wondering when those five or six hundred rescue people ran up into the towers if there was someone down at the ground floor checking everyones theological credentials? Basically ect were trying to find some common ground between evangelicals and Catholics. Personally the splinter group “true believer” mentality has done much more to damage the cause of Christ. I would hold Harold Camping is a perfect example of that and there are alot of folks that dont want to play nice in the same sand box.

  45. philbertz says:

    I just wish we could all be failures and treasonous on the scale of Packer…the world would never be the same.


  46. mrtundraman says:

    Apparently the measure of success in Calvinist circles is whether or not someone published a systematic theology. As if there aren’t enough Calvinist systematic theologies out there. LOL

  47. Hi

    I guess some here are upset with criticism of Jim Packer. Well, many of us who still believe that the Reformation was correct about justification (and that Paul is right, we are justified by unmerited favor alone, apart from the “works of the law,” even if those works are described as cooperation with grace) were great disappointed with Jim Packer’s collapse, first in 1970 in the UK, and then again in 1994 and following in ECT. His explanation of his decision to endorse equivocal, vague, confused, and confusing language has been entirely unsatisfactory. There are things on which Christians can agree to disagree but how sinners are right with God is not one of them. Either Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to sinners and received through faith resting in and receiving Christ and his righteousness alone, or it isn’t. Either Christ was righteous for us or his righteousness is imparted to us and infused in us by grace and cooperation with grace (works). These are two contradictory accounts of justification. Packer knows this. He was my teacher for a course when I was in sem and I’ve benefited greatly from his work. I was personally shocked by ECT but now, as Martin has illustrated, there was precedent for it as far back as 1970. So that leads one to ask, “what does it mean?” What is it about? Those are fair questions and the criticisms from Sproul, Horton, Godfrey and others were well placed. Remember, even the Apostle Peter was criticized by Paul for getting the gospel wrong. Sometimes it just has to be done.

  48. brian says:

    This reminds me of many of the discussion I had when I was in the clan so to speak, though I have come to understand these last 29 years I have been a visitor, which is fine.

    This is a great question

    “what does it mean?” That is a painful search for many of us. Dr. Packer has made that search a bit less painful. It may account for the loyalty to him, which I do admire, and to be honest am somewhat envious.

  49. Michael says:


    I have almost all of Packers works…and in none of them is there anything remotely resembling a confused doctrine of justification.

    As a matter of fact, he presents the Reformed position more clearly and for the benefit of more people than anyone I can think of.

    I defy you to show me one place where Packer got the Gospel wrong.

    Just one.

    I’ll wait.

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, I think that you reformed guys need to drink more and stop fighting. It’s hard to fight seriously when you slur your words. 😉

  51. puzzletop says:

    I’ll drink to that!

  52. centorian says:

    not so mld….. that’s when the fighting gets really good 8)

  53. centorian says:

    oooh, Mr. Clark does bring up and important question……

  54. Psalm62 says:

    well, you all are confusing me 🙂

    If your doctrine (not mine) teaches that you are saved as a mindless, trusting infant when your parents present your for baptism – how does one then argue that salvation is by ‘works.’ If I’ve never renounced my parents’ efforts at getting my little baptised self into the Kingdom am I not home free? Whether Anglican, Lutheran, one of the Catholic persuasions, a Presby… etc. Why are folks debating how this is accomplished as a matter vital to individual salvation? And that wasn’t the original item of umbrage anyway… was it???

    I have a mental picture of something called “The Way of Salvation” covered in post-it notes…

    just leave me in my confused state – I don’t think that I am salvageable tonight 😆

  55. Michael says:

    Here’s what it means.

    It means that Packer has always been an advocate of dialogue and unity without compromising the essentials.

    If one reads his articles post ECT defining justification and other Protestant doctrines he is as clear and uncompromising about doctrine as you can be.

    If you see how he deals with regenerate people of other traditions, he is as godly and gracious as possible while again, not compromising the essentials of the faith.

    In a nutshell, he’s chasing John 17…

  56. victorious says:

    The question Clark asks: “o that leads one to ask, “what does it mean?” What is it about?”

    Was already answered earlier in the thread.

    “He sets down clearly the biblical issues over which evangelical Christianity has always opposed Rome and states that the unity which concerns him is ‘with individual Roman Catholics who for whatever reason do not self- consciously assent to the precise definitions of the Roman Catholic magisteriuml… but who think and speak evangelically about these things’, and ‘are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ, despite Rome’s official position’”

    Centy. One day when you teach at seminary; before you let your students write their thesis. Take em to Sturgis to share the gospel with bikers for a week. I will take my students to burning man to share the gospel and pray for those they give first aid to.

    If Paul penned his letters to people(the source for their doctrine) for whom he imparted his life along with the gospel then these students should at a minimum carry out a gospel ministry amongst the fields of the world before writing a masters or doctoral thesis.

  57. Pilgrim says:

    Roman Catholics, and it just so happens that the vast majority of my paternal family on both sides are Roman Catholic; however, it is as John MacArthur correctly pointed out when asked the following by John Ankerberg:

    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?


  58. centorian says:


    I’ll go to burning man with you……

    I was actually going to bring a team there a few years back. Long story, but it didn’t happen.

  59. victorious says:

    This thread is the perfect set up for JA to appear. The kindling is in place. 😉

  60. centorian says:

    Free Jackie!

  61. Michael says:

    Great…now we have apprising.org called as a witness.

    I’m freakin impressed.
    If the best you can come up with to tar a giant is from a blog you really should shut the hell up.

    You ever heard of primary sources or are the words too big?

    I have read all of Packers work after the ECT and he is more clear than ever about justification by faith and every every cardinal doctrine of the Protestant faith.

    I have his writings, so does Dr. Clark.

    Show me in the mans writings and teachings compromise in doctrine.

    You can’t do it because it doesn’t exist.

    I have a full bookshelf and hours and hours of classes taught by the man, including systematic theology 1 & 2.

    He is a Protestant, a Calvinist, and a Puritan to the core.

    This is nothing more than spiritual character assassination and it is disgusting me to my core.

  62. philbertz says:

    Those who can’t write teach. Those who can’t teach, teach P.E. 😉 A little education humor to illustrate that anyone can be a critic, but most can’t perform the tasks they critique. How many sports writers can hit a 90 mph fastball? How many movie critics can direct or film? How many political pundits ever ran for office, much less were elected? Those who do, do. Those who can’t, bitch.

  63. brian says:



    there goes another industrial strength irony meter.

  64. brian says:

    I read the http://apprising.org article and the links. I dont count myself much of anything, human what ever and I do know my own depravity. I also know the discernment folks are better people, and they know it. I will admit, to my shame I wept inside, something I no longer do outside. It was this type of tripe that raped my spirit and soured my view of the faith. It is so rational, effective, internally consistent and all the other apologetic spew. Just like Scientology, though I consider Scientology far more honest then these folks, because those Scientology folks do not know any better. Basically it is a cheap cult that needs to grow up.

  65. Concerned says:


    I have nt read down from your post..time factor..but I want to ask you a question.
    How can RC’s be saved and still participate in mass?
    From what I understand, the Priest calls Jesus down from heaven, and by a miracle called transubstantiation, the wafer becomes Jesus and this really conflicts with the biblical definition of communion. There are many more issues.

    Also, I understand it is called the “sin of presumption” in the RCC to even assume you are saved. You can only hope to work your way thru pergatory and have many people pray on your behalf after you are dead…so can there really be any dialogue.

    It seems we can dialogue with the people, but not their religion.
    And in this dialogue, are we not endorsing the false teachings?

  66. Concerned says:

    Not enough time to do a complete list plus scripture but will list issues(from a handout I have) with the RCC:

    Clergy celebacy
    Divine revelation expounded by APostles Successors
    Holy days of Obligation
    Justification by faith plus works
    Mary’s assumption
    Mary exalted as mediatrix
    Mary’s Immaculate conception and sinlessness
    Peter the rock on which the church was built
    Papal authority and infallibility
    Pope as head of the church
    Prayers for and to the dead
    Priests CONTINUING to offer Jesus as a sacrifice for sins(It is not finished)
    Rosary and repetitious prayers
    Salvation not assured
    Second commandment removed from the Catechism(It is true!)
    Statues and Images
    Tradition equal with scripture in authority
    Venial sins

  67. Tim says:

    Here’s what gets me:
    (1) Packer made a debatable decision to sign on with ECT. Got it…so did a lot of other people, who took a lot of flak for it at the time.
    (2) Packer has firmly qualified his involvement with ECT, and wrote extensively on the biblical doctrine he does hold…so there should be no doubt as to his own beliefs.
    (3) Packer has done an immense amount of good for Evangelicalism, and has humbly glorified the Lord Jesus through his career.

    And for this, he’s called a “failure?” Was ECT questionable? Yes. Has 95% of the Church outside of academia ever heard of ECT? No.

    Regarding the Paul-correcting-Peter scenario… Umm…it’s been done. It was done at the time by a bunch of people far more involved in Packer’s life (and Bill Bright, and Richard Land, etc) than us. Why we think we have the right to sit back and armchair quarterback the whole affair 12+ years after all the dust has setteled is beyond me.

  68. Tim says:

    “settled” … sorry.

  69. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I may have missed something in the Carl Trueman video – but, it seems to me that he was speaking very highly of Packer. I know that most Christians are used to only reading “fluff” pieces and rarely want to challenge their own minds or worse yet, think that a christian ‘hero’ has faults.

    For EVERYTHING that Trueman said was a failure on Packer’s part, he also said that the same was his (Packer) greatest success.

    You know, this book and these articles were not some ‘toast’ or ‘retirement’ dinner – it was a book looking at Packer. For me, I would think Packer would be embarrassed if people had only done the ‘fluff’ piece.

  70. Rev 3:16 says:

    If THIS is what seminaries are pushing, I don’t want any of it!
    What a pinhead!

  71. dansk says:

    Whatever the complex theological issues, and they are real and merit discussion, at ground level the real challenge with Roman Catholics is often just getting them “lost”, so to speak, so that they can get saved.

    I led a Roman Catholic girl to Christ the other day, the old-fashioned way, by quoting scripture and letting the word of God do the work of God. But salvation came only after she first accepted her lost condition.

    For this person and with at least one other RC that I have known closely, the problem is that it can be too easy to think of oneself as a perfectly good Catholic (or good Methodist or good anything, really) without ever truly encountering and being challenged by the person of Christ and His claims.

  72. Michael says:

    Last time I checked, I was writing in English.

    The long list of issues with the RCC have all been addressed at one time or another in Packers writings, (which you obviously haven’t interacted with) and he would agree.

    The difference is that Dr. Packer has always sought to teach those in error a better way while the modern way is simply to condemn and walk away in faux triumph feeling justified and superior.

  73. Papias says:


    Since I haven’t had a chance to watch the video(wife’s bday last night), it seems that the two areas of “failure” are:

    1) Packers not writing a book on systematic theology
    2) The ECT issue

    Are there other “failures” that they ascribe to Packer as well?

  74. Michael says:

    “It seems we can dialogue with the people, but not their religion.
    And in this dialogue, are we not endorsing the false teachings?”

    Hell, no and if you’d read anything the man actually wrote you’d be embarrassed to ask the question.

  75. Michael says:


    Packer has never been a leader in the anti-ecumenical war.

    His way has always been to leave the door open to dialogue with anybody and to in his words, “teach,teach,teach”.

    He is thoroughly Reformed, but completely gracious to all who call on the name of Christ.

    Some of his British counterparts wanted him to be the lead man for Reformed doctrine and dogma and separate from the unclean masses.

    He wouldn’t, he didn’t and now some 40 years later, it’s still an issue.

  76. Michael,

    I intend the following questions to be constructive…

    Given the joint affirmation in ECT I, “we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ,” how should we understand this to be an example of teaching those in error? The phrase, without the word “alone,” is interpreted in mutually exclusive ways by RCs and Reformed evangelicals. How is that a meaningful or clear joint affirmation? As far as I can tell, historically, it didn’t advance the discussion beyond what we find in the 16th century.

  77. Michael says:


    The ECT came together as a study group.

    As you know ,there have been follow up declarations made (that many of the “truly Reformed” have signed off on) and even to this day the members are producing articles as part of the group.

    It wasn’t meant to be a one shot deal.

    It’s a dialogue.

    Packer, (and others) have made it clear that there are real, important doctrinal differences between the traditions.

    Blessedly, it is the clear, concise Packer himself who is writing some of those articles….and perhaps teaching some Catholics things they knew not.

  78. Psalm62 says:

    Michael, “walk away in faux triumph…” it was worth opening this site today just to read that turn of phrase – if that’s original (I don’t get around much), my compliments 🙂

    bravo on the 8:15 observation – don’t mess with Michael today – hope it means he’s feeling better…

    philbertz’s obvervation about “those who can’t,” … what is the difference between criticism and analysis?

    hope I haven’t killed another thread

  79. Michael says:


    Thank you… 🙂

  80. Michael says:

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that the critics are right.

    J.I. Packer should have never signed ECT and he should have been an ecclesiastical leader.


    When do we celebrate the gifts that the man has given us?

    When do we give glory to God for what he accomplished through Jim Packer?

    When do we celebrate a man finishing well?

    The next time I see Packer I won’t interview him about ECT or the division with Lloyd-Jones.

    I simply want to thank him for teaching me truth in a way that I could understand it…and for being an example of humility and an irenic spirit.

    I’ll thank him for teaching me that good theology always leads to doxology…it teaches you things that evoke praise to God.

    Theology that doesn’t do that is empty doctrine.

    I’ll thank him for fulfilling his calling…even when that meant going into exile to do so.

    I love Packer and I praise God for him.


  81. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The Catholics are a slick bunch. They have a way of suckering people in and get them to say “we are one big happy family”

    This happened in 1997 when the world Lutherans (including the ELCA) signed the Joint Declaration with the RCC which pretty much was an agreement on Justification. Now, we know that the RCC has not moved one inch on their position of Justification, so guess who the suckers were? I think this was the last straw between WELS, ELS, LCMS and our ELCA brothers (until this past last straw of the ELCA affirming homosexual clergy.)

    So too the RCC suckered the Protestants at ECT. Those who signed ECT should just run and say “we take back what we said earlier”.

  82. Erunner says:

    MLD, I came across this today. Maybe it may be of interest for you.


  83. Xenia says:

    They are a slick bunch for sure. Read the history of the Council of Florence, where they attempted the same thing with the Orthodox.

  84. Psalm62 says:

    if I may opinionate this am regarding the R.Catholic organization (for want of a better term)…

    it seems to me that it is not a single-minded entity, but has great power struggle dynamics going on internally and most intensely in the Vatican itself… I think John Paul II was a demonstration of this over the life of his term as their Pope

    I am coming around to believe that it is almost a certainty that the anti-Christ element will eventually prevail as the tentacles of the organization are everywhere on this planet (to some that would be an encouraging thot)…
    but that is not to say that the whole of what is under the banner of Roman Catholicism is counter to redemption at this time… IMHO

    makes another case for rapturing out the Church before anti-Christ makes his final big move here 😉 something about a ‘wind-swept house’

  85. Lutheran says:

    ‘He is thoroughly Reformed, but completely gracious to all who call on the name of Christ.’

    To me, that’s J.I. Packer in a nutshell.

    I don’t mean to pick on the Reformed community — there are certainly enough Lutherans who do this, too, for my taste — but they seem to specialize on the 5% of the negative and ignore the 95% of the good.

    I mean, geez. ECT has been hashed around in these circles ad nauseum. What’s done is done!

  86. Psalm62 says:

    Scanned Erunner’s yahoolink and the thought crosses my mind that all the compromising that is being done in name of compassion and avoidance of judgementalism is producing an equal and opposite reaction – Lord Jesus, what are we seeing here?

  87. Lutheran says:

    How did this thread all of a sudden morph to Catholic bashing?

  88. Psalm62 says:

    Lutheran:”How did this thread all of a sudden morph to Catholic bashing?” have we a working definition of the difference between analysis and criticism (derogatory kind)?

    my apologies for my contribution to ‘bashing’ – they are a fascinating organization – on a worldly level

  89. Xenia says:

    Lutheran, accept my apologies. There was no need for me to bring up the Council of Florence.

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “How did this thread all of a sudden morph to Catholic bashing?”

    with greatease!!! 😉

  91. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Back to Erunner’s linked article. It is what I have been saying for quite some time. Rome is taking back the Church of England by persuasion. They have contracted with Tony Blair to handle the political side of the transfer and NT Wright to handle all things theological to make the shift smooth and palatable for the masses

  92. Michael says:


    I think you may be right…

  93. I’m not claiming that Packer compromised in his own writing, though he did write a goofy endorsement to Peter Kreeft’s book teaching universalism and he did sign and defend incoherently ECT I and II which, to Reformed confessionalists, was a serious compromise of the essential doctrine of the Reformation. As I said, he also signed the utterly contradictory document by Sproul et al. On this Packer has attempted to play both sides against the middle.

    I don’t know how well read everyone here is on the ECT discussions that began in ’94 but ECT I and II produced a great lot of literature but his own account (in CT and later in the ECT volume written to defend it) he was nothing less than incoherent.

    It is possible for one or two or three stupid, public acts to undo a lot of good. I have a lot of affection for Packer but he will leave a mixed legacy. i’m grateful for all the good he’s done. I’m grateful for all he’s taught me but I wish he were more willing to embrace consistently what Luther called the theologia crucis — a theology of the cross.

    I fear that the truth is that Packer did what he did as part of an attempt to create a socially influential, religiously conservative movement. To get that alliance he had to marginalize key Protestant convictions.

    As Packer knows better than I, our forefathers went to the stake for the sorts of distinctions and convictions that Packer has too easily pushed aside. It was an Anglican, Cranmer, who stuck his hand into the fire (and kept it there until it burnt off) because of equivocation on the doctrine of justification. Their willingness to suffer, to be marginalized for the sake of Christ, has left a much greater legacy than those who compromised, who negotiated in an attempt to maintain social influence in their own day.

  94. Lutheran says:

    I don’t get it.

    So attempting to have theological dialogue with other types of Christians is equivalent to Luther’s “theology of the cross”? Really?

    I can’t see how Packer’s work represents a “theology of glory.” If anything, his contributions, IMHO, have been marginalized by the Truly Reformed. I assume Packer
    didn’t just form ECT for fun, but because he believed in it. Does Packer think he
    equivocated vis-a-vis the doctrine of justification because he signed ECT? I highly
    doubt it.

    Seems to me that Packer represents the theology of the cross — his work seems to be attacked by damn near everyone, which I find ludicrous — but also like Jesus. I also don’t see him grandstanding at all.

  95. dansk says:

    I have known some Roman Catholics who loved Jesus dearly and genuinely, and looked to the sacraments and other accoutrements of that organization as vital and strengthening.

    IMHO the potential for a soul-damning false assurance is the major drawback.

    My Grandpa would say, “I’m a member of the Catholic church. I’m just not a member of the Roman Catholic church.”

    I am into Christ-proclaiming, but not much into Catholicism-bashing.

  96. Rev 3:16 says:

    For the record, I just purchase a few months ago, “Knowing God,” and I knew with the very first chapter it was going to affect me long term like very books have (The Highest Life, Tale of Three Kings, In Pursuit of God, etc).
    It seems to me that knowing God, a pursuit which Packer more than others, probably more than Dr. Pinhead, has greatly equipped us saints, should be the most important thing.
    However, in academic circles if the “ends” is less important than the “means,” I could understand how Packer failed.
    Heck, half of David’s theology is incorrect — “God, I love you, but wipe out all my enemies!” (obvious, but fair paraphrase of David’s earliest Psalms) and yet Jesus said he was a man after God’s heart. Then again Jesus wasn’t a Dr. so I guess His opinion wouldn’t matter either.

  97. Michael says:

    Dr. Clark,

    I hear your concerns, but differ with your conclusion.

    I have profited greatly from your work, from Martins work, and from Dr. Trueman, whose work I especially enjoy .

    Packers legacy is intact outside academia…indeed it is alive in all those he has taught and that they will teach.

    I thank you for engaging us and for your passion for truth.

    We are not academics, but we do care about these matters and seek to hear from those better trained than ourselves.

    God bless you for investing some time in us.

  98. victorious says:

    Concerned: Thanks for the question and the comments.

    I also have a problem with every point you listed concerning the RCC whether an erroneous belief or practice.

    You said:
    “It seems we can dialogue with the people, but not their religion.
    And in this dialogue, are we not endorsing the false teachings?”

    In dialogue with individuals we are free to find areas of agreement and explain areas of disagreement.I believe such a practice allows us to engage people and avoid endorsing false teachings. We can refute wrong doctrine from the place of affirming what we believe from the Scriptures and showing how catholic doctrine or practice is incongruent with scriptural truth about the person and work of Christ.

  99. Concerned says:


    Can the dialogue come to a common ground?
    Would Paul have hung around with the Judaizers and found a “common ground” in which to dialogue?
    I guess I am making more of a statement than asking 🙂

    I also know that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their “traditions of man”..so I am wondering why some of the Protestants seem to have no issues with the many false teachings of the RCC church and prefer to overlook them..

  100. Concerned says:

    …in favor of “unity”…

  101. Concerned says:

    JOHN MACARTHUR: (on the topic of ECT)

    Look, if the Catholic Church is already a cobelligerent, if they are already anti-abortion, and pornography, and homosexuality; they are going to use all of their energies within the framework of their system to go after that. We are committed to that, and we are going after that. There is already a collective movement. Once you then sort of try to define that as “common spiritual mission” built on “common spiritual unity” you just take doctrine and throw it out the window, and perception is violated, particularly because the Catholic Church claims to be true Christianity, and when we reverse 450 years of history, and just throw our arms around the Roman system, which I think we have to say, John, in all honesty, is not a group of wayward brothers but is an apostate form of Christianity.

    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? And when you get spiritual leaders from both churches, coming together to sign a common effort—you may say that it is to fight a cultural war, but people are going to see it as confusion over doctrine.

  102. victorious says:

    Concerned: Dialogue is for the purpose of engaging people. Not establishing a beachhead of compromised or diluted influence. Sometimes dialogue will never find common ground and may reveal the sword that Jesus said would divide even family members as a result of their response to Him.

    Dialogue can progress to and will rightly establish a properly targeted and timed rebuke.

    Back in a while after basketball . .

  103. Concerned says:


    I will be sleeping but will check in in the AM…

  104. Michael says:

    “so I am wondering why some of the Protestants seem to have no issues with the many false teachings of the RCC church and prefer to overlook them..”

    Where are these Protestants?

    I haven’t seen them here…

  105. Concerned says:

    Didn’t mean here on this blog…

  106. brian says:

    Where the Catholics are winning and rightfully so is dealing with issues of origins, the American Evangelical group has not dealt with it at all. I can see why Dr. Packard stayed with in the Anglican Communion. I also disagree that Catholicisms is Apostate.

  107. Augustine says:

    “Evidently, a lifetime of teaching sound evangelical doctrine is not enough for some.”

    I think too many people either listen to what someone else said about it or simply jumped to the conclusion that the mere mention of RCC means instantaneous corruption of all involved. A cursory read of Dr. Packer’s statement reveals the utter nonsense of such a belief and what his intentions in it were.

  108. Augustine says:

    “Where the Catholics are winning and rightfully so is dealing with issues of origins, the American Evangelical group has not dealt with it at all.”

    What issue of origins are you referring to? That Augustine was a Calvinist more than a millennium before Calvin was born? That Aquinas was Sola Scriptura centuries before the Reformation? Which origins do you mean?

  109. brian says:

    Augustine I am not the best of writers on blogs, I do much better with grants and such. I was speaking of origins I e evolution OE or YEC. I do hope you have a nice day.

  110. Lutheran says:


    I agree with you.

    There are better options than YEC, for sure and the Catholics are ahead of the game.

  111. jennifer says:

    I listened to the clip – and came away feeling that you have misunderstood the heart of what Packer was saying. I haven’t time now to read through all the comments – but early on I felt that Jessica summarised well what Trueman was saying.

  112. Babylon's Dread says:

    Carl Trueman will be blessed if he lives long enough to regret what he said here. There is no point nor value to calling a man a failure over something you think he should have done. Above all things Packer is a Christian gentleman of the first order.

    When a man like Packer becomes an octogenarian he is due honor and there is no place for his ‘brethren’ to go after him. It is correct to say that Trueman was in most ways attempting to do that but it was also designed to set himself up to express HIS disappointment. Anyway it will drive me to read more Packer than I have.

  113. CL says:

    This is why I have left the church and the trappings of Christianity..after 15 years in the CC system. The “church” is nothing but a social club, and all the bickering between doctrinal beliefs between varying groups is just more then burdonsome. We disagree with this one, taht one, this group, that group…etc…on and on it goes and has for centuries. If you don’t believe our little bite of doctrine or eschatology then you are not in our “club” and we whisper about how unspiritual you are and hwo spiritual we are, because “we” have the complete truth and you don’t. God Almighty it gets old. Man through his pride has taken what God intended as a beautiful thing ” His Church” and turned it into a social club, if He walked through teh doors He would probably be kicked out. I still believe in Him just not what man has done to His “Church”….I’ll have no part of it any longer.

  114. London says:

    Yep…the church is messed up alright! No doubt about it.
    Not sure what you mean about the “trappings of christianity” though. Can you eleborate a bit?

    Not every church is a social club btw.

  115. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t know if I agree with your ‘Doctrine of the Church.” – I hope we don’t divide over this. 😉

  116. tobi says:

    amen and amen…and the saddest thing of all this is the fact that it turns off nonchristians like nothing else. this kind of thing always reminds me of an old petra song, witch hunt:

    Everybody look there’s a new bandwagon in town
    Hop on board and let the wind carry you around
    Seems like there’s not enough to keep us busy
    till the Lord comes back
    Don Quixote’s gotta have another windmill to attack

    Another Witch Hunt looking for evil wherever we can find it
    Off on a tangent, hope the Lord won’t mind it
    Another Witch Hunt, takin’ a break from all our gospel labor
    On a crusade but we forgot our saber

    There’s a new way to spend all our energies
    We’re up in arms instead of down on our knees
    Walkin’ over dollars trying to find another dime
    Never mind the souls ’cause we really haven’t got the time

    So send out the dogs and tally ho
    Before we sleep tonight we’ve got miles to go
    No one is safe, no stones left unturned
    And we won’t stop until somebody gets burned
    Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Brothers

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