"Thou Our Guide" in KNOWING GOD and published separately
Author: J. I. Packer
View: Wisdom View in Traditional Vocabulary
Like most believers I highly respect Packer and was interested in his view of God's guidance. When Packer wrote this article he did not have the specific issues of the traditional view and the wisdom view in mind. It was written in 1980 before Decision Making.. As a result his wording does not always try to distinguish issues in the current discussion. At times he seems to hold the traditional view and others the wisdom view.
He discusses the question, "Has God a plan for individuals? (210)." In his answer he gives references that clearly refer to God's sovereign plan (Eph. 3:11; 1:10-11). Other references to this plan are God's will for Jesus to do His will (Luke 18:13; John 4:34), and for Paul whose apostleship was "by the will of God (Acts 21:14; 22:14; 26:16-19; 1 Tim 1:16) ".
He shows evidence of God communicating His will examples of direct revelation eventhough these must be "judged exceptional and not normal (210)." He thinks that for many Christians "Their basic mistake is to think of guidance as essentially inward prompting by the Holy Spirit, apart from the written Word." But in the area of "vocational" decisions where the Bible will not make the final decision he thinks "the factor of God-given prompting and inclination, wherby one is drawn to commit oneself to one set of responsibilities rather than another, and finds one's mind settled in peace as one contemplates them, becomes decisive (213)." This last comment could be claimed by either the traditional or wisdom camp.
Packer contents that God's primary mode of guidance is Scripture. "The fundamental mode whereby our rational Creator guides His rational creatures is by rational understanding and application of His written Word." He then puts a strong emphasis on believers thinking, planning ahead, accepting wise advice, and examining possibly selfish motives.
He quotes a wisdom view author, Oliver Barclay, with approval. His strongest comment that supports the wisdom view is the following: "We need to ask ourselves why we 'feel' a particular course to be right, and make ourselves give reasons--and we shall be wise to lay the case before someone else whose judgment we trust, to give his verdict on our reasons (216)."
From this article Packer will not fall cleanly into either camp, but his view is so strong on applying wisdom and giving reasons that the end result of following his advice will not include the pitfalls of the traditional view.