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Beware - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
on 5 September 2014
This book is a classic beloved by conservative evangelicals and as such is worth a read but in a way it really deserves either a 1 or a 5 – 3 seems to be too average to do justice to the strengths and weaknesses of this work. It is an excellent read, clear and engaging with much to interest and enlighten the reader. Some sections are full of warmth and wisdom with genuinely helpful and indeed challenging insights into the nature of God and the Christian faith. However, this is very much the sort of book you get when the author is convinced of his own salvation and theological correctness and the result is a work of concentrated fundamentalism and bigotry. At frequent intervals the author reminds his readers that their faith is seriously lacking or flawed if they do not respond with the appropriate degree of spiritual ecstasy to certain favourite hymns of his or do not agree with his own particular take on matters of doctrine. This can come across as sanctimonious and pharisaic at times. More seriously, this book is unbalanced, disingenuous, incoherent and self-contradictory. Packer is a hard-line Calvinist but he hardly deals with election and reprobation at all. The book is full of the wonderful things God through Jesus has done for sinners but unless you are an attentive reader you can easily forget that the only beneficiaries of this benevolence are (evangelical) Christians. The vast majority of humanity is lost and condemned to Hell. There is little or nothing on predestination, the (in)compatibility of divine sovereignty and human moral responsibility, the Biblical texts suggesting that atonement is for all, the problems of a Biblicist account of scripture as inspired by God … and so on and so on. Packer fails to offer a convincing account of the relationship between God’s love for (some or all of) humanity and His salvific grace and so we are told that God loves all His creatures, that love means doing one’s best for the object of that love … and that only the elect are saved. Calvinism is a blasphemous and satanic doctrine – but in works like this it is presented in such a way as to appear to be the true gospel. This book is therefore a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Read it and take the good from it but do not for one minute consider it to be an accurate account of the Gospel.