Well, I promised to follow-up my original post from Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God. I have a growing interest in the history of American Christianity and this book only increased that fascination.
Theological liberalism has repeatedly made the mistake of standing in authority over Scripture rather than submitting to Scripture’s internal worldview and judgments. This is a reoccuring tendency among God’s people that must be guarded against whether it be in churches, evangelical societies and organizations, or learning institutions. Packer points out the origin of this pattern:
“It was precisely because man welcomed the prospect of becoming the measure and judge of all things that sin first entered the world. ‘When you eat…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,’ affirmed the serpent. It was as though he said: ‘You will not need to depend anymore on what God chooses to tell you; you will be able to work out for yourselves what is good and bad, and be the master of your own judgment, on the basis of your own experience; you will have a mind of your own for the first time’…Man accepted the invitation to pursue wisdom by constructing a private interpretation of life out of the resources of his own independent judgment. He sought intellectual self-sufficiency, ability to solve all life’s problems without reference to the word of God.” p. 138-139
Packer wrote this book decades before he was actually embroiled in the recent controversy over same-sex unions in the Anglican church. See his short interview here and notice how important the authority of Scripture still is (Packer is eighty-two now) for how he responds the challenge of homosexuality to the gospel.
In the next post I will show Packer’s observation regarding how Liberalism and Fundamentalism both shunned the discipline of systematic theology with similar goals in mind.