a Book Note: FINISHING THE COURSE WITH JOY BY J. I. PACKER
For my airplane reading on my US trip one of the books I read was a small but powerful book by J. I. Packer, Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with our Aging (Crossway, 2014). It seeks to debunk some of the myths connected with aging. One myth is that now our work time is over and we must enjoy our retirement with travel and other earthly pleasures (what a boing life that would make!). Another myth is “the world’s winding-down ethos that this book urges Christians of all ages to repudiate.” Instead he speaks of how zeal, learning, involvement in ministry and leadership can be key factors in our lives in spite of our advanced years.
Packer will soon be 88 years old. I was involved with him in the drafting committee at the Amsterdam 2000 Conference for Evangelists when he was 74 years old. I was amazed at his astuteness and how he could summarise a discussion of half an hour into one succinct sentence! He, like John Stott and Carl Henry, visited Sri Lanka when the evangelicals were a small and despised group in the church who were considered to have committed intellectual suicide. These three encouraged us younger folks (yes, there was a time when we were young) to pursue the life of the mind and argue for a credible witness to biblical Christianity. Drs Packer and Henry stayed in my parents’ home! Dr Packer’s book Fundamentalism and the Word of God, read in the early seventies when I was a student as Asbury Seminary was a watershed in my own reflection on the inspiration of the Bible.