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It has been an honor for Crossway to publish Leland Ryken’s new biography, J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life, and Sam Storms’s study, Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit

We have also had the opportunity to publish several of his most recent books, including:

Who is J. I. Packer?

He once described himself as “English by birth, Canadian by choice, Christian by conversion, and Calvinist by conviction, I speak as an evangelical who finds his home in the worldwide Anglican church family.”

Sam Storms describes Packer as a  Puritan, theological exegete, and latter-day catechist—based on the following self-designations from Packer:

I would ask you to think of me as a Puritan: by which I mean, think of me as one who, like those great seventeenth-century leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, seeks to combine in himself the roles of scholar, preacher, and pastor, and speaks to you out of that purpose.[1]

[My goal as a Christian theologian] is not adequately expressed by saying that I am to uphold an evangelical conservatism of generically Reformed or specifically Anglican or neo-Puritan or interdenominational pietist type, though I have been both applauded and booed on occasion for doing all these things, and I hope under God to continue to do them. But if I know myself I am first and foremost a theological exegete.[2]

[I am] a latter-day catechist—not, indeed, a children’s catechist (I am not good with children), but what may be called an adult or higher catechist, one who builds on what children are supposed to be taught in order to spell out at adult level the truths we must live by and how we are to live by them.[3]

My colleagues Jon Marshall and Josh Dennis have filmed a beautiful documentary of this gracious and Christocentric octogenarian, allowing a fascinating father in the faith to speak in his own words:

Note in particular Dr. Packer’s moving closing words, when asked how he would like to be remembered:

As I look back on the life that I have lived, I would like to be remembered as a voice, a voice that focused on

  • the authority of the Bible,
  • the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • the wonder of his substitutionary sacrifice and atonement for our sins.

I would like to be remembered as a voice calling Christian people to holiness and challenging lapses in Christian moral standards.

I should like to be remembered as someone who was always courteous in controversy, but without compromise.

I ask you to thank God with me for the way that he has led me and I wish, hope, pray that you will enjoy the same clear leading from him and the same help in doing the tasks that he sets you that I have enjoyed.

And if your joy matches my joy as we continue in our Christian lives, well, you will be blessed indeed.

[1] J. I. Packer, “Inerrancy and the Divinity and Humanity of the Bible,” in Honouring the Written Word of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer, Volume 3, 162 (emphasis added).

[2] J. I. Packer, “In Quest of Canonical Interpretation,” in Honouring the Written Word of God, 223 (emphasis mine).

[3] J. I. Packer, “Reflection and Response,” in J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future, 174 (emphasis mine).

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3 thoughts on ““J. I. Packer in His Own Words”: A 20-Minute Documentary”

  1. Bo Salisbury says:

    Not only does J.I. Packer continue to write, but he remains the picture of a Christian gentleman. I treasure one typewritten letter he sent to me in the late 80s and a handwritten note I received from him a couple of years ago. I read Knowing God after leaving Mormonism and confused on the nature of God. It was a watershed for me. He also introduced me to Richard Baxter. There’s more…. I can never thank him enough and thank Jesus for gifting the church with brother Packer.

  2. Bobby Sparks says:

    What an inspiration!

  3. Wil Rodríguez says:

    I’m from Colombia and J.I. Packer is hardly known among christians here, let alone the rest of the population. Nevertheless, this giant has been a great inspiration for me. His lectures and his books show what a wonderful servant God has made of him. God has pleased to use his insight and teachings in my pilgrim’s journey towards heaven, and I’m thankful for that. Indeed, I’m thankful for all the faithful teachers like Packer that God has raised throughout history.

    This man resembles those heroes of the faith, of whom the world was not worthy. (Heb 11:38). Finally, borrowing from A.W. Tozer’s words on Leonard Ravenhill, I would like to say of J.I. Packer that “…To such men as these, the church owes a debt too heavy to pay…”

    To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus!

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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