J.I. Packer: That’s Not Good Enough

Right between the eyes.  From a Calvinist.

HT: Justin Taylor, Crossway

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

7 responses to “J.I. Packer: That’s Not Good Enough

  • Pete Paine

    “Do Suffering and Evil Disprove God? William Lane Craig vs. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong” – take away from a viewer with a much lower IQ…

    For the past several years, I have been fortunate enough to have the co-producer of this blog as my “Religious Mentor.” We have enjoyed many conversations over lunches. I consider John, well read, loving and patient, and, oh yeah…my older brother. My walk with Christ is fortunate to have a guide.

    The whole concept of “Apologetics” or defending your faith is fascinating. I could easily understand Lee Stroebel’s “Case for a Creator” and “Case for Christ,” and other straightforward presentations. When it came to some other issues, I had more trouble grasping the concepts. Two issues were really hard to wrap my mind around:

    1. How can evil exist if God is all loving?
    2. Do we really have free will if God knows everything?

    I watched the aforementioned debate while pondering these two ageless questions. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is a prolific writer and accredited scholar. He used about 20 points of logic to proclaim that you can not have an all loving God and an all powerful God.

    William Lane Craig countered with a well thought out logical dictum on why Sinnott-Armstrong was wrong.

    My head was spinning. I felt as if I was back in college in a philosophy or logic course. Could God expect man to understand these theories? Did I have to take a course on Calvinism vs. Molinism vis a vis Middle Knowledge?

    Then, one line really hit me. Craig asserted “In your argument, you are assuming the point of life is to be happy. The purpose of life is TO KNOW GOD.”

    I think that is a great jumping off point to answering my two questions regarding evil and free will. Who am I to think that I can figure out what God is thinking? The most heinous evil most of us can think of is The Holocaust. Senseless slaughter of millions of Jews. What good could possibly come from that? If I postulate that God doesn’t exist because of this atrocity, then I am assuming I know God’s plan. Maybe the millions of people that died will play another role in God’s plan. Who am I to say that in 1945 God was done with them?

    Regarding free will: Who am I to say that God knows I am going to eat an omelette for breakfast tomorrow and nothing I can due in the next 18 hours will change that? I think to debate of this matter is presumptuous. We presume we know God’s thinking. I don’t think God would like that.

    Part of the great commission is defending your faith. In the areas of evil and free will, we are supposed to be able to defend our beliefs. My answer is:

    The purpose of this life is to know God. It is not to live a 100% happy life. I won’t pretend to know what God is thinking. I do know that through his grace given through the cross, we are offered eternal life. That sustains and fulfills me. I will take Grace, and leave the omelette decision up to IHOP.


    • John Paine

      Oh great, now everyone will want lunch. 😉

      Thanks for the kind words. I don’t know which is worse: leaving them in or cutting them out.

      I always enjoy your company and thought-provoking discussions. What a blessing to have a brother!

      I do think Dave Rudy should help us straighten out this whole Calvinism thing that Clarke introduced to our nearly theologically pure blog in such an insidious manner. How can he call Calvinists ‘sourpusses’? Dave, can you help a brother out?


  • jriddett

    These past comments may relate to the Garden of Eden and the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil. If your interested Ravi Zacharias speaks on jan 6 and jan 7 online on ” just thinking “. I too believe purpose is to know God and to add to that – discipleship.
    Ravi explores also by saying the problem of defining Good and evil. As in this post ” thinking we know how God thinks “. We have His word to study His character, but to the problem does lie in thinking or ” pretending ” to know we know what God is thinking. As in Eden and the forbidden tree of the knowledge of a Good and evil.


    • jriddett

      And I did appreciate this j I packer video. I have been thinking a lot about defining faith. That comes as how I personally relate explain and through His word. I believe he was right in saying we need to know what it means , give it serious attention. I used his book and chapter in baptism in Growing in Christ at the time of my baptism to define and study baptism. It was a great tool and helped me understand the biblical implication and work through my time in regards to discipleship.


    • John Paine


      Wait a minute…are you saying you studied before being baptized? 😉

      I really appreciate how you work (seriously) at your faith, and how you share it with us. It is a real encouragement. Thanks!


  • jriddett

    Yes , and I believe it was one of the first times I loved to study The desire to study Gods Word is a gift. I appreciate having grown up hearing the word preached at the chapel. I was excited about a post baptism group I pursued , but I think a pre baptism group and mentorship would be worthwhile too. After baptism , through the chapel did get a mentor ( heart to heart ) relationship that was helpful. I would love to be a part of these things for others again.
    If you think of how much effort goes into other things we research and pursue that find ” necessary”. What is more ” necessary ” than support spiritually? Thanks again for your encouragement too. Ministry and being a Christian can be isolating at times, this blog helps:)


    • jriddett

      In more response to the video- when I was newer or younger in faith : it was hard to express what faith is , but now that I say that. It’s not that it was harder , it just may have sounded different or maybe simpler and that’s probably ok. It’s a process and I couldn’t speak as well at times. Many times I was at loss for words , things were mysteriously wonderful. However the gift of the Holy Spirit gives the desire to seek and know him through his word. As packer points out taking Gods word seriously. I believe some may find it easier to just listen to sermons , songs and not give effort to reading and digesting His word for themselves and it may be a slippery slope unfortunately. Yes , sermons and biblical teaching do help. But more especially if you can’t find that ? Packer was right it’s time to take the bible seriously. That’s why a church that believes that getting the word into people and people into the word is so very important. As Dick said ” God speaks to us , most of the time through his word”.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: