J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought offers the readers the life, faith, career, works and controversies of this influential theologian. The set up of the book is giving the narrative first then the analysis from McGarth. So this is not the usual all narrative and then the conclusion will give the analysis of the person. This will give you a breather from the narrative to examine what takeaways we can get from that part of Packer’s life. Both the narratives and reflections are meaty and in some parts of the book, you can’t distinguish each other. I like how McGarth gives a satisfying context of certain events, people, books and career moves of Packer that shaped his life. You won’t get lost reading this book.
I haven’t read much of Packer’s major works and biographies about him specifically what McGarth wrote . Even his momumental book, Knowing God hasn’t landed on my reading list. But reading this book, you’ll get a glimpse of some of his notable books, how it came about, the impact it brought to him and the evangelical world without giving all of it’s content. Yes, you have to buy those and read it. All are given fair treatments even on Knowing God.
Of course, there is more than just the books he wrote. J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought highlights his career in the academics, his relationship with John Stott and Martyn Lloyd Jones, his move and flourishing in Canada. McGarth gives readers a good serving of those in the book.
No hype, drama or sensationalism throughout this short volume. It’s a straight to the point account and reflection of this theologian. This is not to say that McGarth serves a cold slab of meat. You’ll still find some striking stuff within those pages. Another is that you’ll notice some redundancy on points McGarth is driving. But once you drive by that part, it will be a good ride again.
All in all, J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought is brief biography concentrated mostly on how Packer was shaped and became a leading voice of Christianity. Going through this book is a fitting retrospect and rediscovery of this, as McGrath puts it ‘organic theologian’. If you want something that is more focus of the mind that was shaped and that had shape Christianity then, J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought is a best jump off to dig in to his books and biographies.
4.5 out of 5
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(Review copy of this book was provided by InterVarsity Press)