Packer was described by Time magazine as ‘one of the most influential evangelicals in North America’, and wrote in 1973 what many consider as the definitive classic evangelical book of the 20th century: Knowing God (Hodder & Stoughton). It has sold more than a million copies in North America alone. It had a huge influence on my evangelical spirituality.
Born in England, Packer studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and attended lectures by CS Lewis.
Packer went on to teach at Oak Hill Theological College in London before attending Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, where he underwent theological training for ordination into the Church of England.
His theology was centred on Paul’s key themes: justification by faith alone, regeneration, reconciliation, which find little or no basis in the teaching of the historical Jesus.
As a Christian under the influence of Packer I zealously defended the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed a fundamentalist position on biblical inerrancy (that the Bible has no errors or contradictions whatsoever when properly understood). It is a statement of impressive intellectual gymnastics that convinced no one but those already committed to inerrancy.
His failure to engage with other Abrahamic monotheisms, especially Islam, is a significant deficit in his voluminous work which severely limits its relevance in today’s religiously turbulent world.