Friday, February 29, 2008

Bishop Threatens to Suspend J.I. Packer from Ministry

It is one thing to face high level dissension bordering on schism in your church. But, when you threaten a man hailed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential evangelicals in the world . . . yikes!

Packer, the squinty-eyed, jazz-loving, octagenarian represents one of the great thinkers in the evangelical fold and an extremely irenic exemplar of Calvinist soteriology. Known to millions for his classic, Knowing God, he has maintained loyalty to his Anglican tradition while standing squarely in the eveangelical camp. The letter threatening him shows how much brinkmanship is involved in ecclesiastical politics today.

As evidence of the escalating crisis in the global Anglican Communion, today one of the of the world’s most esteemed Christian theologians, Dr. J.I. Packer, received a letter threatening suspension from ministry by the controversial Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham. Bishop Ingham accused Dr. Packer, hailed by Time Magazine as the “doctrinal Solomon” of Christian thinkers, “to have abandoned the exercise of ministry” after the church where he is a member voted to separate from the diocese and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone under the oversight of Anglican Archbishop Gregory Venables. Dr. Packer, who was ordained in the Church of England, is the author of the Christian classic, “Knowing God,” and joined Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus as one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005.

Dr. Packer, who received his theological education at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, was ordained a deacon (1952) and priest (1953) in the Church of England. He was Assistant Curate of Harborne Heath in Birmingham 1952-54 and Lecturer at Tyndale Hall, Bristol 1955-61. He was Librarian of Latimer House, Oxford 1961-62 and Principal 1962-69. In 1970 he became Principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol, and from 1971 until 1979 he was Associate Prinicipal of Trinity College, Bristol. In addition to his published works, he has served as general editor for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He currently serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

He will be 82 in July.

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