For a decade, J.I. Packer has persevered as his left eye developed macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss. Over Christmas, the 89-year-old evangelical theologian's right eye began suffering the same.
This marks "the end of a remarkable writing and speaking ministry," writes Crossway's Justin Taylor in announcing the news. "He is unable to read, and therefore he will be unable to travel and speak. Because so much of his writing involves initial working with a ballpoint pen and blank paper, he is also unable to write."
Packer's reaction: "God knows what he is doing," and “some good, something for his glory, is going to come out of it.” In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Coalition (TGC), the Knowing God author reflects:
I find it more possible to concentrate on God himself and his plans, purposes, and performance than I used to do. I suppose that all these things have rooted themselves more deeply in my mind and heart. And I trust there’s less superficiality than there used to be.
Packer told TGC that his final words to the church would be: "Glorify Christ every way."
Taylor offers more details and cites Packer's recent reflections on aging, including:
How should we view the onset of old age? The common assumption is that it is mainly a process of loss, whereby strength is drained from both mind and body and the capacity to look forward and move forward in life’s various departments is reduced to nothing....
But here the Bible breaks in, highlighting the further thought that spiritual ripeness is worth far more than material wealth in any form, and that spiritual ripeness should continue to increase as one gets older.
This past fall, Crossway celebrated Packer's legacy as one of the 20th century's "greatest theologians."
"Ever since the publication of Knowing God—an international best-seller—Packer has exerted a steady, albeit generally quiet, influence on contemporary evangelicalism," stated the publisher, which also produced a video documentary.
Packer explained in CT's September 2015 issue how he "learned to live joyfully" thanks to Ecclesiastes. Earlier he explained the surprising "high spots of my life." CT profiled Packer's "lonely journey of a passionate Puritan" in a 1998 cover story.
Past CT interviews with Packer include "mission-driven faith" and whether the Cubs are really cursed. Essays by Packer include the "lost art of catechesis" and finding "God's will" for everyday decisions.
CT's past articles on Packer include his tribute to John Stott, Timothy George's attempt to interpret the great "theologizer," John Stackhouse on how Knowing God remains "doctrine that delights" 40 years later, Richard Mouw on why we need Packer's approach to hear Christ speak, and when Beeson Divinity School hosted a tribute to him.
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