J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought, By Alister McGrath
J. I. Packer
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: November 10, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4177
  • ISBN: 9780830841776

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J. I. Packer was one of the most influential evangelical theological and spiritual writers of the twentieth century, best known for his classic work Knowing God. In the 1990s Christianity Today readers named him one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, second only to C. S. Lewis. But who was Jim Packer, and what is the story of the man behind the writings.

Alister McGrath, a bestselling author and friend of Packer, tells the story of Packer's faith and how it sustained him during his time in England and Canada. Along the way he explores Packer's many contributions to theology and spirituality, alternating narrative with reflection. By engagingly setting out Packer's ideas and the central themes of his work, McGrath helps to explain why Packer and his writing continue to be so helpful to millions on the journey of encountering God.

This beautiful recollection of a giant of the Christian faith is both a celebration of his life and the perfect introduction to his thought and writings for a new generation of readers.

"Like the Puritans before him, Packer saw the natural place of the theologian as lying within the community of faith—not standing above the community of faith, still less standing outside it, but rather speaking to the Christian community as one who shared in their journey of faith and hoped to encourage them to reflect on it more rigorously and profoundly. This small volume aims to help its readers explore and reflect on what Packer so vividly describes as 'the biggest thing that ever was. In retelling Packer's story, this book explores the interconnection of faith and life, opening up the ways in which the core ideas of Christianity change people as they become part of their lives."

From the introduction

"Like thousands of other pastors, I can say that Packer's work and witness are of inestimable value to me. He was a master of making the divide between doctrine and piety disappear."

Derek Rishmawy, University of California, Irvine

"J. I. Packer's primary legacy is the influence he held over events in Christendom and over people's lives during his lifetime. . . . J. I. Packer gave evangelicals a place to stand in regard to the authority of the Bible."

Leland Ryken, Christianity Today, obituary, July 17, 2020

"Packer was magisterial in substance, but adopted the tone of a fellow traveler. He convinced us that the study of God 'is the most practical project anyone can engage in.'"

Christianity Today, "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals"

Read an Excerpt


1. The Beginnings of a Journey: From Gloucester to Oxford
2. Old Books and Deep Wisdom: The Importance of the Christian Past
3. Preparing for Ministry: From Oxford to Birmingham
4. Learning from History: Retrieving the Puritan Heritage
5. The Theological Educationalist: Tyndale Hall, Bristol
6. The Bible: Authority, Interpretation and Translation
7. The Return to Oxford: Latimer House
8. Theology and the Life of the Church
9. A New Beginning? Trinity College, Bristol
10. Theology and Spirituality: Knowing God
11. The Move to Canada: Regent College, Vancouver
12. Conservatism: Holding on to What Is Good
13. The Golden Years: Ministry in Vancouver
Further Reading


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Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath (DPhil, DD, Oxford University) is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University and fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. After initial academic work in the natural sciences, Alister turned to the study of theology and intellectual history, while occasionally becoming engaged in broader cultural debates about the rationality and relevance of the Christian faith. He is the author of many academic and theological works, as well as the international bestseller The Dawkins Delusion, the acclaimed C. S. Lewis—A Life and A Theory of Everything (That Matters).