'Knowing God' Author JI Packer Dies at 93

J.I. Packer (Courtesy)

Respected evangelical theologian and bestselling author James Innell "J.I." Packer died July 17 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was 93.

Packer wrote 47 books, including Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (1961), Keep in Step With the Spirit (1984), A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (1994) and Weakness Is the Way (2013). His 1973 book, Knowing God, was one of the bestselling Christian books of all time. Crossway is expected to release his final work, The Heritage of Anglican Theology, in 2021. He co-authored 19 others. He was an editor at Christianity Today for more than 30 years, and theological editor of the English Standard Version Bible.

In 2005, Time magazine named Packer one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals.

He taught Greek at Oak Hill Theological College in London and later studied theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, where he received M.A. and D.Phil. degrees.

After serving in parish ministry, he became the librarian at Latimer House at Oxford. In 1970, he became principal at Tyndale Hall and, in 1971, associate principal of Trinity College in Bristol. At Regent College in Vancouver, he was the founding principal and the first faculty member to hold the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology. He taught several classes, including Systematic Theology and Puritan Theology.

The son of a railway clerk in Gloucester, England, Packer grew up in an Anglican home and later became an Anglican priest. He became a Christian while studying at Oxford University through the influence of InterVarsity Fellowship and St Aldate's Anglican Church.

"When he was writing daily, Jim wrote 2000 words (on his treasured manual typewriter) before breakfast," according to an obituary posted by Regent College. "When asked if he wanted a dictionary loaded onto his iPad (a device he used as his eyesight deteriorated), he smiled sheepishly and admitted, 'Well, I haven't needed one so far.'"

He announced he was ending his public ministry in 2016 due to blindness from macular degeneration.

Packer is survived by his wife, Kit; their three children, Ruth, Naomi and Martin; and two grandsons.

Information on memorial services will be announced soon.


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