Here I want to briefly note three new books written by him or about him. The first is a work by Alister McGrath on Packer’s life and thought. And the other two are posthumous collections of some of his writings. If you love Packer, and/or simply love the Lord, theology, the Christian life, and Puritan and Reformed thought, these books are must adds to your library.
There are some folks you just cannot get enough of. If they are authors, you always want to read more from them – even well after they have passed away. And publishers also know the value of coming out with even more books from departed but much-loved writers.
For the believer there are some very well-known Christian authors who are continuously being mined by publishers, seeking to get the very last dregs out of their corpus. C. S. Lewis would be one obvious example. Just about everything he has written – including letters to correspondents and the like – has been resurrected and published.
So too with A. W. Tozer. All of his books have been published and republished, and then the publishing houses went through all his sermons, articles, and so on. One of the newest collections of his works features his public prayers. For someone who only had around a dozen works published during his lifetime, there are now well over 100 titles all bearing his name.
One could be a bit cynical here and argue that pretty soon a collection of his shopping lists might appear. Yes, I jest, but I probably would be the first one to buy such a volume if it were released! We just cannot get enough of some of these great Christian writers.
Another author plenty of Christians just can never get enough of is the late J. I. Packer. The famous English theologian, Christian leader, and author only passed away relatively recently (July 17, 2020). See my write-up about him here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/07/18/notable-christians-j-i-packer/
But some new volumes by or about him have already appeared. And that is good news for Packer lovers, of which I am one. I have a number of books on Packer, and at least 40 books written by Packer. And there are around 100 articles on my website about him, referring to him, or quoting him. So I am a big fan of Packer.
Here I want to briefly note three new books written by him or about him. The first is a work by Alister McGrath on Packer’s life and thought. And the other two are posthumous collections of some of his writings. Here they are:
Alister McGrath, J. I. Packer: His Life and Thought (IVP, 2020)
McGrath has already penned a full-length biography of Packer: J. I. Packer: A Biography (Baker, 1997). In this volume he looks further at his life, his writings and theology. A number of key topics and moments from his life are discussed in some 13 chapters.
Thus we learn further about his conversion, his love of the Puritans, his high regard for Scripture, his desire to always bring together theology and the Christian life, and so on. Let me share just one quote, from his chapter on “Theology and the Life of the Church.” Says McGrath:
Packer argues that it is never enough for us to know about God; true Christian theology is about knowing God – a relational and transformative process of knowing and being known, which sustains and informs the Christian life. The Christian encounter with God is transformative. As Packer, following Calvin, pointed out, to know God is to be changed by God; true knowledge of God leads to worship, as the believer is caught up in a transforming and renewing encounter with the living God. The ultimate test of whether we have grasped theological truth is thus not so much whether we have comprehended it rationally, but whether it has transformed us experientially. In an important sense, we are not called on to master theology, but to allow it to master us. This helps us to understand Packer’s intense concern with Christian piety, especially as this is expressed and sustained by the doctrine of sanctification.
J. I. Packer, The Heritage of Anglican Theology (Crossway, 2021)
This volume is about the history and thought of Anglicanism. It is based on lectures Packer had given at Regent College over the years.