Monday, March 21, 2016

Bio of J.I. Packer...

Author Leland Ryken has written J.I. Packer, An Evangelical Life (from Crossway), who has become a well-known theologian in both the UK, Canada, and the USA. Ryken wants readers to know Packer and to get a picture of his varied roles and accomplishments. In other words, it's "the man" he wants his readers to know and appreciate. James Innell Packer was born on July 22, 1926 in the village of Twyning, near the city of Gloucester, England. Packer was known as "a shy boy, who did not mingle much with others." At seven years old he began to attend the "junior school." There was some bullying going on and one day another student chased Packer out of the school grounds and onto a busy street. The result: Packer was hit by a passing van and "the injuries to his head have affected him every day since."

"Taken to the Gloucester Royal Infirmary and rushed into surgery," the injury was trauma to the head with "a depressed compound fracture of the frontal bone on the right side of his forehead."  After three weeks in hospital and six months at home for recuperation, he was able to return to school. His parents took every precaution to prevent further injury to their son's head. No physical activities in the following years, and no bike riding. When most kids wanted and received a bicycle on their birthday, Packer was surprised to receive a typewriter, which sounds strange, but proved to be a great help to him when he began his writing career later.

Packer has done so many things it's hard to relate them all, so Ryken has chosen to put his story into three parts. Part 1 is The Life and reports on Packer's early life and college years (1926--1948). Then comes Theological Education and Ministry, (1948--1954). Next is Professional Life in England (1955--1979) followed by Professional Life in North America (1979--Present).

Part 2 is called The Man, giving a portrait of the man, at first little known, and his style and rhetoric and what they tell about him. Part 3 is Lifelong Themes, and covers the Bible, Puritans, Writing, Anglicanism, Theology, Preaching and the Minister's Calling, and Controversy.

In an Afterword, Ryken gives Packer three pages to "reflect on his life," which he does nicely, like this: "I am drawn to thank God again for what he has led me to discern and attempt thus far, and to ask him to raise up other saved sinners who will travel further and faster along these trails to serve the church of tomorrow. So may God be glorified. Amen."

---Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks