J.I. Packer and Our Search for the Stationmaster


Talbot School of Theology

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In chapter 10 of the modern theological classic Knowing God, J. I. Packer invites us to stand at the end of the York station platform to watch trains with him. When we first watch them come and go, it’s hard to discern a set pattern in their movements. “[We] will only be able to form a very rough and general idea of the overall plan,” says Packer.

Nevertheless, the plan is there. There is a “magnificent electrical signal box that lies athwart platforms 7 and 8 . . . with little glow-worm lights moving or stationary on different tracks to show the signalmen at a glance exactly where every engine and train is.” In Packer’s analogy, God has that sweeping York-signal-box view of the universe.

We do not. We’re down on the platform where life comes at us in unpredictable, often head-spinning succession. And yet people assess the meaning of life in various ways. Packer’s analogy helps us consider three.


J.I. Packer; Knowing God;

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The Gospel Coalition