Friday, March 7, 2008

J.I. Packer on "same sex unions"

J.I. Packer is not just one of the great theologians of the modern era, but of the entire post-Reformation era, in my opinion.

His seminal work, “Knowing God”, is the book that brought me fully to the Reformed faith. Other than the bible, no other book has meant more to my walk with God and love for Christ than Packer’s book. Many books come and go, “Knowing God” is a classic that will continue to withstand the test of time and be cherished by manifold generations to come.

James Innell Packer, born July 22, 1926 in Gloucester, England, is described (by Theopedia) as a conservative evangelical Anglican, author, and theologian in the Calvinist tradition. He currently serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is considered widely to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century. He has been called the “doctrinal Solomon” of Christian thinkers. Other than his support of a certain level of ecumenism with Roman Catholics and his commitment to the Episcopalian form of church government, there is little J.I. Packer has written or said that I disagree with. He has been a very wise servant of Christ for his eighty-plus years.

Recently he has come under fire for his outspoken opposition to the Anglican Church’s failure to uphold biblical standards in the area of homosexuality. In fact, Packer has been attending (and occasionally preaching at) a church (St. John’s) that recently voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada because of the several ways in which the larger church has been growing increasingly liberal. In response the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, sent Packer a letter threatening suspension from ministry. The letter claims that Packer “abandoned the exercise of ministry” after the church voted to separate from the diocese and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone under the oversight of Anglican Archbishop Gregory Venables.

It certainly would be something if a church that is doing whatever it can to legitimize homosexual practice, even among it’s ministers, would bring an act of discipline against it’s most notable theologian for protesting such a position. Homosexual practice good, you can stay ordained. Protesting homosexual practice bad, you will get defrocked. This shows how far things have fallen in the Anglican fellowship.

The above clip is very recent and shows Packer giving a wise explanation regarding his opposition to homosexual practice and the overall importance of the issue for the Church.

For more rich Packer fare, check out Jay Bennett's current entry here.


Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Tony, when I hear such bold, brave and uncompromising, wise men of God, I am truly humbled. I have always admired those wise folks, who, when ask a question, pauses, then thinks before speaking. You are right, the total and tragic irony, this great man of God has stood for truth for over 80 years, and in his finest hour, is being wrongly subjected to heretical religious discipline from those within the church he has so valiantly defended.

Rick Calohan said...

As for those who know me, I grew up in the Presbyterian Church United States of America (PCUSA). When I was an active member and elder in my old church one of the issues that was prevalent among the secular progressives in the church was ordination of active homosexuals, and blessings of same sex unions or solemnization of homosexual marriage. Although I believe, the proper term would be “Sodomization” of the homosexual relationships and the church as a whole.

I am no where as wise or as eloquent, as J.I. Packer, but I know how painful it is to leave a church you grew up in and loved because its positions on the essentials make it an apostate because the Church would rather accommodate what society calls normal but the Gospel calls sin.

I happen to come across these articles found at the Bible Presbyterian Church website the denomination that Pastor Tony and Nathan were once members of in their hometown of Grand Island, New York. The first addresses the state of Presbyterianism in America today and the latter on 20th Century Presbyterianism.

I wrote a term paper in my Reformation and Modern Church History course at Covenant Seminary with Dr. David Calhoun back in 2003, on the History of the PCUSA so I found these articles to be of great interest. Because it points out the differences that may be obvious to us, but not to those outside of Presbyterian and Reform Theology, because when you tell others that you are Presbyterian they usually assume you are part of the PCUSA because they make up roughly 80% of Presbyterians in the United States.

The PCUSA General Assembly is full of wolves in sheep’s clothing who want to subjugate over 200 years of history by making subtle changes in the Book of Order so that they may be able to ordain homosexuals and bless their unions.

Thank God, that will never happen in the PCA so long as there are Members, Deacons, Elders, and Pastors such as those at Redeemer whom continue to carry the torch of the Reformation and the spirit, of those great witnesses of our past whom in 1973 chose to leave the PCUS rather than bend or cave into liberal theology. The PCA declares its goal to be "faithful to the Scriptures, true to the reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission." As the PCA wrote at their founding:

“We gather as a true branch of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We affirm our allegiance to Him as the sole Head of the Church and the sole Law-giver in Zion. We remember that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail’ against His Church.”
-National Presbyterian Church 1973.

last mohican said...

Most in the gay rights movement are not really interested in God's Word as they are in promoting the gay rights agenda. Foremost is the acceptance of the gay lifestyle and when the Bible becomes a liability it is deleted, modified, or revised.
First as a primer, our moral code of absolutes comes from a changeless God. Dietary restriction, rituals, and the laws of OT have passed away with the coming of Christ and now we have a New Covenant. The morality of GOd remains. Thus incest, infanticide, homosexuality, bestiality, and adultery remain as abominations and pass into the NT.
Christ is also God Incarnate. What us upheld by the Father and the Holy Spirit(the trinity) is upheld by Him. He also came not to day away with scripture but to uphold and fulfill it.
In the NT, whenever the subject of sexuality comes up, the heterosexual norm of marriage is always upheld. Jesus, in answer to a question, quotes Genesis 1&2. Jesus as our Creator wasn't ignorant concerning the things we now know. It is only in the heterosexual union of marriage that we find the fulfillment of God's intended order, both precreative and unitive. The aplostle Paul reaffirms the norm in serveral of his letters also quoting the Genesis passages. In summary, there is a created biological order intended in our sexuality.
Finally, at no time when any of the Bible was written was there a word which corresponds with our English term "homosexual." Instead, homosexual behavior was described. The Greek words "malakoi" and "arsenokoitai" in virtually every Greek lexicon, including all of the standard English ones has understood thses words to be referring to homosexuality. These terms are also used in classical Greek literature (Lucian/Aristotle).
When Paul used thse words he was not just condemning certain types of homosexuality. The terms he used were directly based on the Greek Septuagint translation of the prohibitions against homosexuality in Leviticus. Paul, a rabbi trained in the Torah, was mindful of these Levitical condemnations and the Septuagint translation of them when he chose his wording in Corinthians and Timothy.
Homosexuality is anatomically aberrant, psychologically deviant, and morally bankrupt. But we are all sinners. God clothed in flesh came down to us and has freed me from the bondage of sin. Whatever one is struggling with, freedom is found at the Cross.