J.I. Packer, 1926-2020

J.I. Packer, an English-Canadian evangelical theologian, died today. His clarity of writing was unsurpassed. Knowing God is perhaps his best-known work and was required reading for one of my theology classes. My copy, now over 40 years old is pictured here.

As I said, it was required reading for a class, but because there weren’t any specified reading assignments, many of us blew it off during the spring semester, hoping that the prof wouldn’t remember it. Alas, at the end of the term, he reminded us of the requirement, and many of us (including me) had to sign pledge cards that we would complete the reading over the summer. This I did, and it became one of the enduring titles I’ve read in my lifetime. It’s a Top 5 book of all time for me.

Two chapters in particular left a lasting impression on me. “The Heart of the Gospel” crystalized my understanding of the biblical concept of propitiation and its necessity to having a correct understanding of the atoning work of Christ.

“God’s Wisdom and Ours” highlighted for me the role of suffering in the life of a believer and how the wisdom of God is not necessarily understanding the why of a given trial, but trusting in God’s sovereign plan for our lives.

And speaking of the sovereignty of God, his Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is indispensible for answering objections to the doctrines of sovereign grace.

His voice will be missed, but hopefully never silenced in the Church.