J. I Packer. Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 176 pp. $12.99.
J. I. Packer is something of an evangelical monolith.
Throughout his lifetime—now nearly a century long—while the West’s quasi-religious moorings have been left unattended, Packer has bolstered the Christian consciousness. Relentlessly biblical and never apologetic, Packer has stood upright in a sea of cowering men and women who, having once professed faith in the lordship of Jesus Christ, have since knelt to a different, less demanding master. Those yielding to such temptation assure us that old questions demand new answers; that old truths need new interpretations. To avoid dilapidation or—even worse—irrelevance, Christianity desperately needs either renovation or redefinition.
In Packer’s mind, the residual effects accompanying this kind of thinking have been tremendous. At worst, orthodoxy gets thrown overboard in favor of a lighter, more culturally palatable religion. At best, biblical Christianity becomes, to borrow Packer’s word, “fuzzy.” Such “fuzzification of faith,” he rightly observes, fills church after church with malnourished Christians who don’t take their faith seriously because they don’t see how or why or to whom it all matters (20).
Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know is primarily intended for those people: sincere, everyday Christians who don’t know why they believe what they believe or how that belief, generally speaking, translates into God-honoring behavior. In an almost too-quick 175 pages, the reader gets a thoughtful introductory foray into evangelical thought—“ventures in adult catechesis,” as Packer puts it. Or you could call it “mere Christianity.”