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J. I. Packer on Young Christian Leaders
In the lengthy time that Dr. J. I. Packer afforded me to speak with him while we were recently together in Orlando, I asked him which theological issues he would commend young Christian leaders to study in order to be prepared for the next fifty years. His list was quite insightful:
1. Regeneration — He said that the doctrine of regeneration has not been fully appreciated by many who do not understand that to be born again with a new heart and new nature means that we have at our deepest level a new identity and new passionate desires for God’s Word and ways. He commended to all young Christian leaders a thorough study on the doctrine of regeneration.
2. God-Centered Theology — He said that theology today is rife with man-centered thinking so that the glory of God in all things is not the essence of what is taught to be faithfully Christian. The result, he explained, is that even Christians often live their lives for the supreme purpose of their perceived happiness, feelings, and satisfaction. Yet, biblical Christianity differs from the other religions of the world in that the desires and purposes of God override ours; we are not the number one priority, but rather God is.
3. Godliness Begins at Home — This point was both surprising and refreshing. I was expecting only weighty and complicated theological admonition from such a theological giant. However, his wise counsel on this point is well needed. Packer said that most Christians do not take seriously the biblical teaching that true Christian living begins first at home with one’s spouse, children, and grandchildren. Therefore, he implored young Christian leaders to begin their quest for maturity and holiness at home in relationship with their family.
4. Trinity — Packer stated that the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity is not completely appreciated as it should be. The result, he said, is that some Christians have only a deep understanding of Jesus or the Holy Spirit so that they are guilty of what he called “Jesus-olatry” or “Holy Spirit-olatry” rather than a full love and worshipful appreciation of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.