James Innell Packer, better known to many as J. I. Packer, was one of the most famous and influential evangelical leaders of our time.
Recently, the world was notified of his death on Friday, July 17, at age 93. J. I. Packer came from humble stock, being born into a family that he called the lower middle class. Packer was uncomplaining and accepting of what providence brought into his life from childhood on.
Packer's life-changing childhood experience came at the age of seven when he was chased out of the schoolyard by a bully onto the busy London Road in Gloucester, where he was struck by a bread van and sustained a serious head injury.
According to a local church web post, Packer was a serious student pursuing a classics degree, the heartbeat of his life at Oxford was spiritual.
When Packer left Oxford with his doctorate on Richard Baxter in 1952, he did not immediately begin his academic career but spent a three-year term as a parish minister in suburban Birmingham.
Packer spent the first half of his career in England before moving to Canada for the second half. In England, Packer held various teaching posts at theological colleges in Bristol, during which he had a decade-long interlude as warden (director) of Latimer House in Oxford, a clearinghouse for evangelical interests in the Church of England.
Most importantly, Packer was one of the three most influential evangelical leaders in England. Packer's moved to Regent College in Vancouver in 1979 shocked the evangelical world but enlarged Packer's influence for the rest of his life.