Over the last sixty years, J. I. Packer has exerted a steady and remarkable influence on evangelicalism. In this biography, well-known scholar Leland Ryken acquaints us with Packer’s life, heart, and mind, tracing the outworking of God’s sovereign plan through his childhood, intellectual pursuits, and professional life. Filled with personal anecdotes and little-known facts, this appreciative volume sheds light on the key themes that have given shape to Packer’s life and thought, highlighting his enduring significance for Christians today.
“His ‘rule of thumb for pastoral sermons’ is that half of the sermon should be exegesis of the Bible and instruction in its message, and half should be application. If a preacher observes these proportions, claims Packer, he ‘cannot go far wrong.’” (Page 368)
“ his words: ‘It didn’t work and that was a deeply frustrating and depressing thing.… In fact, it was driving me crazy” (Page 47)
“The corrective came in the form of Packer’s encounter with the Puritans, especially (at this early stage) John Owen.” (Page 47)
“thoughtful style, producing the impression that everything is well thought out. Packer’s” (Page 54)
This book offers a full and balanced portrait of a diligent and faithful theologian. But because J. I. Packer’s theology has always been pastoral, practical, catechetical, and eminently readable—instead of recondite, esoteric, or merely academic—it is appropriate that this welcome volume is itself down-to-earth, accessible, and reader friendly. Leland Ryken, as a veteran student of the Puritans, is the ideal author to write about the most influential Puritan of our time.
- Mark A. Noll, author, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind
This book is a fascinating, insightful, and, to my mind, precisely accurate portrait of the same Jim Packer whom I have known for more than thirty-five years. What a joy to read this book and be challenged by Packer’s remarkable life!
- Wayne Grudem, Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
J. I. Packer is chief among the cadre of impressive British thinkers who have had a shaping influence on evangelical Christianity in North America over the past half-century. Indeed, his influence girdles the globe, and it shows no sign of abating as this great theologian approaches his tenth decade. This new biography builds on earlier Packer studies, but it offers distinctive insights into the humanity and ministry of a life lived well, with grace abounding and wisdom from above.
- Timothy George, Distinguished Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for more than 43 years. He has authored or edited more than three dozen books, including The Word of God in English, The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, The ESV Literary Study Bible, and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society and served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version.