J.I. Packer died yesterday. His classic, Knowing God, made a significant impact on me in college. Even more influential, to me personally, is his Keep in Step with the Spirit–which is the clearest, most accessible single volume on the Holy Spirit that I’ve read. He had me hooked in the forward as he described his confusion trying to sort out a Keswick spirituality (a.k.a. “Victorious Life,” a well-meaning attempt at a middle way between the “Wesleyan Holiness” and “Reformed Struggle” models of Christian Spirituality). I felt like he was in my head, articulating with his winsome clarity and remarkable insight, my very struggles with doctrines I was taught, but never knew the names of (Keswick is pronounced, “Kezick,” btw.).
But it gets better. How, in a single book, he could so deftly handle the pertinent texts regarding the modern and ancient expression of the charismatic gifts–how he was able to so charitably and insightfully see all the way down to the bottom of a tremendously confusing issue, and deliver a workable theology one can use for a lifetime, is beyond me. Truly this man was gifted by the Lord–and I’ll be forever grateful for his irenic tone, his brilliant mind, and his practical theology. May his influence continue to abound long into the future.