J.I. Packer is a true gentleman. He read my biography of Richard Baxter and mailed me a copy of his book, A Grief Sanctified, along with a thoughtful note. This is the second time I’ve received a personal communication from the world-class theologian and author of the classic, Knowing God. The first was back around 1988, when he sent me a detailed, thorough reply to a question about ecclesiology, along with a fairly lengthy paper (which he obviously read).
I’ve learned something through all my research and writing adventures over the years. The great ones are generous with their time, their writings, and their knowledge. Some have sent long, patient, careful discussions of topics I’ve raised, while others have sent books! For a bi-vocational pastor, with little or no formal education, ministering in a rural or semi-rural context, some of these world-class scholars were a lifeline through their writings and podcasts (or, tapes and CDs in the last century). I always took those responses as expressions of love: for the subject matter, for teaching and instructing others and, most of all, for God and His people.
I’ve received personal correspondence from F.F. Bruce, Leon Morris, Chris Vlachos, Geoffrey Bromiley, Alex Strauch, James Boice, Dick Lucas, the family of Hans von Campenhausen, Patrick Browne (the son of Edward G. Browne), and more. What wonderful examples they have been.
By the way, Dr. Packer said that I profiled Baxter “very, very well.” How kind he is.