Concise Theology by J.I. Packer

Concise Theology largerJ.I. Packer’s “Concise Theology” is a thorough examination of the essentials of Christianity. For those not familiar with Packer, a Google search will reveal that Packer is a prolific author and considered one of the most significant theologians of the late 20th Century. “Concise Theology” is written from a Reformed and evangelical viewpoint.

In the preface, Packer describes the work as “short studies on great subjects” and since the text is interspersed with a large number of biblical references, it’s a great platform from which to launch an investigation into myriad biblical topics. Despite its brevity, Packer is not guilty of oversimplification. The fact that the author refuses to condescend to his readers is borne out by the title of one of the book’s chapters: ‘Antinomianism’, which simply means being anti-law. “Concise Theology” would be a fantastic resource in fellowship groups, where difficult theological questions tend to arise often.

The book is divided into four sections, namely 1) God Revealed as Creator; 2) God Revealed as Redeemer; 3) God Revealed as Lord of Grace; and 4) God Revealed as Lord of Destiny. It contains chapters devoted to topics familiar to most such as Revelation, Omniscience, Trinity, Original Sin, Justification, Marriage and the Family. It also covers topics that are perhaps less widely discussed like Angels, Demons, Satan, Enterprise, Discipline, Unpardonable Sin, Heaven and Hell. Packer also examines complex topics that are often the subject of divergent views such as Predestination, the Two Natures of Jesus, Definite Redemption, Election, and the Sacraments. I cannot overstate how informative I found the book; I feel I’m on much firmer Theological ground having read it!

Packer states in the book’s preface that ‘theology is for… the praise of God and the practice of godliness.’ Since our church mission instructs us to bring glory to God, the relevance of Theology to us as members of St Peters cannot be doubted. As all Theology begins with thinking and speaking about God, we can be confident that these pursuits bring glory to our Father. I therefore encourage everyone to read “Concise Theology: A guide to Historic Christian Beliefs.

Review by Craig Webber

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