November 24, 2015

J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken - Book Review

I freely admit that I don't normally have the endurance for listening to audio books that take more than 5 or 6 hours to listen to.  It isn't that I don't like to listen, but my audio book listening times are usually limited to my commute to and from work. Listening to a lengthy audio book in 15 minute segments tends to feel wearisome, but I found with J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken that I was creating times to continue listening. About 1/3 of the way through the book, I found that I didn't want it to stop. I genuinely felt like I was getting to know J. I. Packer, so I wanted to know more of his story.

I wouldn't relate listening to this book like watching a movie. The first part of the book did tell his story, but it wasn't action-packed suspense. What kept me going was the character of this man. In many ways I began to relate to his decisions and understand why he might be doing what he was doing.

I especially appreciated Leland Ryken's approach to breaking up the biography the way he did. As I mentioned, he started by giving an overview of his life, but then he went the extra mile to attempt to reveal more of Packer's character by examining several areas of his life. There were portions that explored Packer as a Preacher and Packer as an author. There was also the examination of the many controversial topics that were an ongoing part of Packer's life as a public figure. Before I listened to this book, I didn't realize that Packer was an Anglican, but by the time I was done I found myself appreciating his ongoing efforts to bring doctrinal reformation to the church. He described himself as a crusader, and I can see and appreciate that fact.

This book was read by David Cochran Heath, who always does an outstanding job. If you are interested in learning more about J. I. Packer, then I would highly recommend this book.

This book will also be important to me because this is the book I was listening to as I decided that I wanted to be a full-time Pastor. (I have been a part-time Pastor and a part-time Teacher for the last 6 years.)