Theologian J. I. Packer, who died on July 17 at age 93, helped millions of evangelical Protestants articulate and understand what they believe. His books, like 1973’s Knowing God, didn’t just explain doctrine—they reignited passion for the authority of Scripture, the wonder of the Cross, and holy living. But Christianity Today also remembers Packer as a colleague. He contributed to some of our first issues and, starting in the 1980s, served as an editor for more than three decades. “Pump truth,” he prodded us as he demonstrated it in the more than 70 articles he wrote on suffering, mystery novels, jazz, ecumenism, prayer, and dozens of other topics.
His picture accompanied most of them, though in a 1991 article he said that he wanted to be remembered for challenging evangelicalism’s personality cult: “I hope to be remembered as a ‘voice’ (like John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness) encouraging people to think, rather than as a personality whose felt status and charisma stopped them thinking.” A voice, he said, “that called people back to old paths of truth and wisdom.” So in that spirit, instead of another lengthy tribute (you’ll find several good ones on CT’s website), we are republishing one of Packer’s classic articles, pumping truth that’s needed as desperately today as it was in 1985.
In the New Testament, civic obligation is emphatically commanded alongside—indeed, as part of—the obligation to serve God. When Jesus answered the question about taxpaying with the words “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark ...1
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