Thursday, August 16, 2007

What will your verse be?

One of my heroes is J. I. Packer, who had been declared one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" by Time Magazine in 2005.

He helped introduce me to the Puritans (e.g., A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life) in general and in particular to John Owen, the subject of my studies at Oxford. He wrote Knowing God, an essential and one of my all time favorites and on my short list of books I've read multiple times. His list of accomplishments are great in many ways, but I often find it interesting to hear from the individual what he or she thinks is his/her greatest accomplishment.

Luther thought his greatest book was The Bondage of the Will, another classic, and I think he's right. But, perhaps the greatest thing he did was translate the Bible into German so the commoners could read it and not only the clergy. This was great in the Protestant tradition of Sola Scriptura, but also in the standardization and development of the English language. Something similar could be said for the King James Version of the Bible.

What about J. I. Packer?

Some might herald his introduction to John Owen's Death of Death in the Death of Christ as his greatest production. It's accessible to the common man and, though pithy, it's packed with rich theological insight.

What about Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God? It helps to show that the slanderous & libelous accusation that "Calvinism kills evangelism" is a non sequitor.

According to Dr. Packer himself (audio clip), it seems that his work as general editor of the English Standard Version (ESV) is probably his greatest contribution to the kingdom.
I find myself suspecting very strongly that this was the most important thing that I have done for the Kingdom and that the product of our labors is perhaps the biggest milestone in Bible translation in the past fifty years or more.

As a sola Scripturian, it's hard to top giving the people a Bible that's readable and faithful to the Hebrew & Greek manuscripts. What an honor & privilege that must have been for him.

We use the ESV at Providence Church and I'd recommend it (as have others). Personally, I think debate over Bible versions can be petty and counter-productive, so don't take my commendation as a condemnation of every other version.

Contrary to what you might if you use anything other than the ESV (or KJV in some circles), the terrorists have not already won. However, if you're in the market for another translation or would like a good study Bible, the ESV is the choice of The Reformation Study Bible, which I heartily recommend.

Walt Whitman wrote:
'O me! O life!...of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless...of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here...that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.'
That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

God is not only the great story teller, but He is the greatest story writer, writing the glorious story of a King and His Kingdom.

You get to play a part in that drama. What will be your role in glorifying God through the advancement of His kingdom? What will your greatest contribution be?

What will your verse be?


At 16 August, 2007 19:48, Blogger Rev. said...

Knowing God.
Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God.
A Quest for Godliness.
Intro. to The Death of Death.
Each of those works has had a tremendous impact upon the Kingdom. The ESV. Another monumental labor.

At 16 August, 2007 21:54, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Great post Gun!

At 16 August, 2007 22:11, Blogger Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Gunny,

A Quest for Godliness did it for me, too, specifically the intro to The Death of Death, which forms one of the chapters in that book.

Thanks for the poignant question you ask in this post.

Love in Christ,


At 16 August, 2007 23:09, Blogger AJF said...

I echoe your sentiments concerning Packer. What a statement from him concerning his work on the ESV. Praise the Lord!

We've been using the ESV for the past three years plus. Great translation.

At 17 August, 2007 11:22, Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Gunny,
I'm a NKJV only man! :)
Only because that is the translation that I currently use. If convinced that I should change, I will. I've heard a great deal of praise concerning the ESV, but out of sense of precious dollars that are hard to come by, and a familiarity with my current translation, I will stick with the NKJV.


At 17 August, 2007 15:43, Blogger GUNNY said...

Apart from a 6-month phase of KJV onlyism, I was pretty much a NIV man, with my NASB used for consultation as my secondary source.

It was not easy moving away from 2 translations with which I had great familiarity to start afresh with the ESV.

Even now I find that I quote from all 3 and even a composition of the 3 from time to time.

But, if the ESV was good enough for the Apostle Paul ...

At 23 August, 2007 22:36, Anonymous bobo said...

Whoa Nelly!!!!

Back that train up Mr. Man. What was that slipped in comment about a stint in the 1611 camp. For shame. I had no idea, and need more details before I verbally acost you according to your misdeeds.

I generally still prefer a more wooden NAS. But run with the ESV so as to follow along with the crowd and not create any commotion.

We alive now are blessed to have lived alongside dear, sweet, BRRRRRRiliant men like Dr. Packer. I'm sure lots of people are 'smarter' than him, but he always made immense depth available to the masses and that is saying a whole, whole lot.

I remember how mind blowing it was for me the fist time I considered the concept of the Lamb's BOOK of Life. Its not like your fancy Santa Clause list of who's done right and who hasn't. Its a BOOK, chock full of the stories of faithful men and women who trusted Christ and accomplished great and marvelous things for His eternal glory. I pine for the ages when the BOOK will be cracked open and billions of us will gather around the throne of our Lord to have this enthralling story recalled in its multi-faceted grandeur for, say, 10,000 years. That's going to make an awesome movie.


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