Time with God: An Interview with J.I. Packer - page 5

 


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From the Winter 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Time with God: An Interview with J.I. Packer

Professor of Theology at Regent College

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  What’s your perspective on how the culture in the United States affects Christians?
  I would answer that off the top of my head by saying, everything, it seems to me, in U.S. culture conspires to make us worldly; worldly minded, preoccupied with the things—perfectly lawful things most of the time—that are involved in keeping going in this life. But these things pre-occupy us so that spiritual concerns just don’t preoccupy us. And I think we’ve got to watch against the pressure of the world to make us worldly—we who live in North America.

  I don’t live in the United States, but I live in southern British Columbia; the United States is only half an hour’s drive away, so I think I know pretty much what it’s like living here. Let me elaborate a little. Material values are insidious. The bank balance, a nice home, getting on in terms of place and position in the firm or getting on with the business that you’ve started yourself, getting ahead—it’s the preoccupation that will most certainly get hold of you if you don’t deliberately set yourself to counter it. And you counter it by saying, “Now wait a minute. I am in this world to love and serve the God who saved me. I am in this world to help people any way that I can. These are my priorities. On the Lord’s Day, for instance, I put fellowship with His people in church before the allurements of the countryside and the golf course and all that sort of thing. I try to get my priorities clear and stick to them in that way.” That’s the way, I think, that we learn to counter the pressure to be worldly, that is, simply living in terms of the set of values that unbelievers around us live by, and we just have to be disciplined about it because the pressure is constantly on.

  What is your perspective on how spiritual darkness operates in the West?
  My perspective can be stated quite briefly. I do believe that the world is full of hostile spiritual powers, just as the sixth chapter of Ephesians indicated when Paul wrote it nearly two thousand years ago. I don’t think anything has changed there. I do believe, however, that Satan and his cohorts these days in North America intend to keep out of sight. They don’t always do that. There are cultural situations in Africa and in some equatorial and near-equatorial parts of the world where Satan and his hosts gain more by frightening people and having them running scared from morning to night, scared of evil spirits, than he would gain by keeping out of sight. So he has people running scared and scores that way.

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