Packer’s Fav Five

Justin Taylor got to have breakfast with J.I. Packer. He asked him Dr. Packer for the top 5 books to put in a basic theological library to give his kids some day.

Dr. Packer gave these 5:

I would have to differ, first by adding Packer’s own Knowing God. And then, call me crazy but I have to be honest, I would go with Piper’s The Pleasures of God.

So, my theological short list would contain the following:

  1. Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
  2. Piper, The Pleasures of God
  3. Packer, Knowing God
  4. Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times
  5. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

(cf. My suggested reading list in order of books I would recommend a Christian read at some point in his/her spiritual development.

Who … er … what’s in your Fav 5?


About Eric "Gunny" Hartman

Gunny is pastor of Providence Church in Plano, TX, and has taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has completed coursework for a PhD in Rhetoric at University of Texas at Arlington and tries to be a good father to his 4 kiddos, exhibited by coaching a girls soccer team.


10 thoughts on “Packer’s Fav Five

  1. >The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich BonhoefferJesus and the Victory of God by N.T. WrightThe Theology of Paul the Apostle by James DunnSystematic Theology by Wolfhart PannenbergIn the Face of God by Michael Horton

    Posted by Matt | July 18, 2008, 9:20 pm
  2. >I’m stuck on Luther. On Galatians, Bondage of the Will, anything. Just can’t get past him.And Louis Berkhof.I’ve read about _Knowing God_ and Chesterton. I should move them up the list.

    Posted by QueenKnitter | July 18, 2008, 3:30 pm
  3. >Mine are in no particular order by the way. Although 1 Enoch should be at the top! Get the point?

    Posted by Mark Mathews | July 18, 2008, 2:50 pm
  4. >Indeed. I still prefer PL over PP, but that’s probably because a chapter of my dissertation is on Milton. 😉

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | July 18, 2008, 2:46 pm
  5. >”as soon as I finish making one, three or four more books occur to me that I should have put on.”I’m like you Nate, I hate making lists because I keep thinking about what I would change. I’m sure I would change all of them at some point, except for 1 Enoch! It stays.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | July 18, 2008, 2:45 pm
  6. >1. Pilgrim’s Progress . . . A Must!!!2. The Pleasures of God – Piper3. Institutes – Calvin4. The Unity of the Bible – Fuller5. 1 Enoch (A good English Translation)I know the last one seems a bit quirky but since almost every NT author shows direct contact with it and Jude actually quotes from it, I think it is formative for knowing the traditions that underly the early apocalyptic Christian communities from which we receive the NT writings.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | July 18, 2008, 2:42 pm
  7. >I’m always reticent to make these lists; as soon as I finish making one, three or four more books occur to me that I should have put on. I’m not sure what Packer meant by “basic,” but my list makes the medieval assumption that one should have a good grasp on the liberal arts before one sets to theology.1) City of God by Augustine. I know Confessions is more commonly read, but I think that Augustine’s later work exhibits more nuanced views of history, salvation, and sexuality among other things. That, and it’s got a section about people who can make melodies by farting.2) Paradise Lost by John Milton. If you come to this poem with a fairly good sense of the Bible and a fairly good sense of literary irony, you’ll find it simply dynamite. If you take yourself and Literature entirely too seriously, you’ll make the mistakes that the Romantics did and take Milton’s Satan, one of the great absurd figures in English literature, seriously.3) Theology and Social Theory by Johm Milbank. A reader with a working knowledge of modern philosophy should find this vision of a post-critical Augustinianism quite compelling. A reader without that sense will find it impenetrable.4) Theology of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann. I know that Brueggemann tends to rub Reformed folks the wrong way, but Brueggemann, for my money, is still one of the great Christian teachers when it comes to reading the Old Testament faithfully and truthfully.5) The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright. Again, I know he’s not the most popular with Calvinists, but his historical thesis in this book, that Jesus makes sense not as a radical departure from but as a middle term between Second-Temple Judaisms and early Christianity, is still the most elegant refutation of the Jesus Seminar and other modern follies. If I were in the mood to cheat, I’d include Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God, the other two volumes of The Trilogy (as we Wright-wingers call it), but I’m more inclined to winking nods at cheating this morning. ;)As I said, I’m sure I’ll think of three more books I should have put on as soon as I post, and I’m already kicking myself for not including David Bosch’s Transforming Mission and George Herbert’s The Temple, but what can you do?

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | July 18, 2008, 2:36 pm
  8. >Okay, after sleeping on it and getting some sound advice, I’d like to reinsert Ryle, at the expense of Lewis’ Mere Christianity.I REALLY thought about the Confessions as well.

    Posted by GUNNY | July 18, 2008, 2:21 pm
  9. >not all about systematic theology that is…

    Posted by Jared Nelson | July 18, 2008, 12:43 pm
  10. >Mine would not all be specifically about theology.1) Packer’s Knowing God – to start out with some basics about the attributes of God.2) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton – to give a feel for the poetry of Christianity3) The End for which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards – for the telological meaning of the world.4) The Confessions by Augustine – What better gift than to see the story of your life as written by God and prayed back to Him?5) Anti-Pelagian Writings by Augustine – What can I say, Augustine made me Reformed. I would especially point to the Predestination of the Saints and the Gift of Perseverence.

    Posted by Jared Nelson | July 18, 2008, 12:42 pm

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