Growing Young and Growing Old: The Legacies of John Lewis and J.I. Packer

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Today I have a piece at Christianity Today thinking about the passing of Rep. John Lewis and theologian J.I. Packer.

Within a span of 24 hours, we learned of the deaths of two titanic figures—civil rights leader and United States Congressman John Lewis, and evangelical theologian J.I. Packer. Both were old—Lewis was 80 and Packer 93—but upon reflection, I couldn’t help but see each, in my own imagination, at radically different periods in life. With Lewis, I saw the smiling, young civil rights worker in the mug shot after his arrest in Mississippi. With Packer, I saw the frail, wizened theologian ambling through a library, a stack of books precariously cradled in his arms.

The narrative consistency between youth and age in the course of a life—between who one is in their prime and in the valley of the shadow of death—is essential to integrity. Youth is about more than self-indulgence or self-protection. And old age is about more than reflecting back on the “good old days” of the heights of one’s powers. A life well lived does not view youth as something to be hoarded nor age as something to be evaded. A life well lived sacrifices one’s future by standing in the face of danger for the sake of those one may never see, and similarly, such a life sacrifices one’s legacy by teaching those younger how to wither into weakness embraced by the knowing God of one’s youth.

Read the full article here.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.