Packer Heat

What does J.I. Packer say about Mike Licona? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In point 22 of his long response to Mike Licona, Norman Geisler says the following:

Speaking of “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy [which] defines it most exhaustively,” Licona claims, “But even those who helped compose it aren’t in complete agreement about its meaning. I continue to be a biblical inerrantist and subscribe to both the Lausanne Covenant and the Chicago Statement.” However, this claim by Licona is flatly false. There are only three living framers of the ICBI statements (J. I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and myself), and we all agree that Licona’s views are not compatible with the ICBI statements (see # 3). What Licona does to the ICBI statements is typical of what many of his peers do with the New Testament, namely, they read their meaning into it (eisegesis) rather than reading the framer’s view out of it (exegesis). Indeed, Licona is so bold as to affirm that those of us who are living ICBI framers do not properly understand the statements we framed! No wonder they misinterpret the New Testament. If Washington, Madison, and Jefferson were here today, by this same logic they would no doubt say to them that they did not properly understand The Declaration of Independence!

We are quite pleased that Geisler has enlisted the support of J.I. Packer, who gives a fine recommendation by the way of Henri Blocher’s “In The Beginning”, a fine work that is very sympathetic to theistic evolution. For the Framework hypothesis of creation, it really wouldn’t matter if evolution is true or not. Genesis is meant to tell the who and why. It is not meant to tell the when and how.

If Packer understands the ICBI statement so well, then what are we to make of the post that was put on Mike Licona’s Facebook page?

Dr. Licona, I noticed that Dr. Geisler has written a reply to your recent interview by TheBestSchools. Geisler’s response is at

I noticed in his point 22 that he disagrees with your statement that the framers of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) don’t always agree on how to interpret ICBI. Dr. Geisler says there were only 3 framers of ICBI, R. C. Sproul, J. I. Packer, and himself. He then says “we all agree that Licona’s views are not compatible with the ICBI statements.” I just wanted you to know that I emailed J. I. Packer last fall and asked him what he thought of your view of Matthew’s raised saints. I received this reply from him on 24 February forwarded from David Horn, the Academic Secretary at Regent College:

Hello Johan,

Thank you for your email. I have just today received the following handwritten reply from Dr. Packer.

Dear Johan Erasmus,

I apologise for lateness in responding to your email.

What Dr. Licona offers is an interpretive hypothesis as to Matthew’s meaning. What biblical inerrancy means is that Scripture, rightly interpreted, is true and trustworthy. I don’t think Licona’s guess about Matthew’s meaning is plausible, but it is not an inerrancy question.

Sincerely in Christ,

J.I. Packer

With this email, Packer is saying that Licona’s stance is one entirely of hermeneutics. He doesn’t agree with Licona’s reasoning, and that is fine, but it is not an issue of Inerrancy. If this is the case, then it would seem that Packer obviously does not understand Inerrancy according to Geisler.

At this point, one of two things could be done.

Either Geisler could finally drop this whole thing and realize he’s fighting a battle that is not harming Mike at all but is rather harming himself every step of the way. He could seek to make restitution for the damage that has been done and move on and familiarize himself more with NT studies.

Or, Packer could be thrown under the bus somehow.

As for Sproul, from what I have seen, he has not spoken on this at all and being a Preterist, is not quite likely to be as literal as Geisler and could have even more sympathies. If this is the case, then two out of three framers have no problem whatsoever with Licona’s view. Again, it does not mean they agree, but they do not see it as an Inerrancy issue.

We all hope for the former, but as of this point, the ball is not in our court and we will wait to see what happens.

In Christ,
Nick Peters