In comparing notes with others, I have found that my own experience is not uncommon: It was through reading C. S. Lewis's works that I learned to value Christian thinking, but it was through devouring J. I. Packer's writings that I came to love theology. These four volumes capture most of Packer's more significant fugitive writings, ranging from short devotional pieces published in obscure Church magazines, through op-ed pieces for popular magazines such as Christianity Today, on to meaty introductions to new editions of great historical works and major addresses, and articles originally appearing in collaborative volumes and scholarly journals. It, I fear, may be as close as we get to a Packer systematic theology. Manifest throughout is Packer's unique blend of pithy, alliterative style and profound spiritual substance.
In a short foreword, Packer tells us that behind each piece "lies a conscious attempt over more than forty years to hew to Luther's line" that theology should arise out of persevering prayer, sustained study of the substance, thrust and flow of the biblical text, and uncompromising fidelity to the truths thus discovered, whatever the costs. I think Luther would be pleased with what his counsel has wrought. These highly diverse examples of Christ-and-Church-loving theological thinking ring in the ear even as they resound through the heart.