Pilgrim’s Progress

pp

In an interview back in the summer of 2003, J.I. Packer praised Puritan literature, a massive and intimidating body of work. So where should an inquiring reader start? Here’s an excerpt from his answer, as published in Reformation and Revival 13/4 (2004), page 170:

Q: Where would you advise a person to go to begin to understand the Puritans?

JIP: There is indeed a lot of material, but the Puritans were a single school of thought and an extraordinarily homogeneous one. For years now I have been telling people that if they want to start exploring Puritan wisdom they must read Pilgrim’s Progress. (I am quite emphatic about this!) What you have in Pilgrim’s Progress is a kind of pictorial index to all the topics relating to the Christian life that the Puritans thought about, preached about, and wrote about. All the perplexities, all the temptations, all the forms of opposition, all the encouragements, all the ups and downs of Christian living, the trials in the form of depression and the trials in the form of overconfidence, and the ways that Satan arranges to test Christians who are overconfident are all there, these pictured in a beautifully vivid form.

Q: But people will say, “Pilgrim’s Progress is just a children’s book.”

JIP: They will say it, and they will be wrong.

Haha! Classic Packer. You can download and read PP free in a fresh edition edited by my colleague Jonathan Parnell, here.

Packer: “As I grow old, I want to tell everyone…”

J.I. Packer, who turns 85-years-old today, wrote these words:

An evangelical theologian, dying, cabled a colleague: “I am so thankful for the active obedience (righteousness) of Christ. No hope without it.” As I grow old, I want to tell everyone who will listen: “I am so thankful for the penal substitutionary death of Christ. No hope without it.”

Birthday Book Giveaway #2

Entertainers Andy Griffith, Marilyn Monroe, and Miles Davis entered the world in May and June of 1926. A few weeks later, on July 22, a boy was delivered in England and given the name James Innell Packer. We know him today simply as J.I. Packer, and tomorrow marks his 85th birthday. This birthday — and the many birthdays before it — give us a good reason to pause to thank God for this man’s faithful theological influence and for his many years of fruitful writing.

It seems fitting that we celebrate his birthday and his legacy by giving away a few of his books, all made possible by our generous friends at Crossway Books.

I have four Packer books to give away and now I need four randomly selected winners to give them to. Those four winners will each choose one free book from this list of options:

Here’s how to enter:

  • You can enter through Twitter. Just re-tweet this and you’re entered.
  • You can enter through a comment on this post. Leave a brief, or even a blank, comment (and please include your email address, which will not be published).
  • Entries will be received until 7 am EST tomorrow morning (Fri). Winning entries will be randomly selected and I’ll announce winners at that time.
  • The winning books can be shipped within the continental United States only. Sorry.
  • Canadian readers (one in particular), please keep your snarky comments to a minimum.

Thanks for entering the contest!

Speaking of his books, here’s a brief video of Packer describing his early days as the Lord was confirming his writing gift.