- Product Review (submitted on March 30, 2011):
Thank you Christian Audio Reviewers program for the opportunity to review this GREAT Christian classic!
Knowing God by J.I. Packer, InterVarsity Press, 1993, 286 pages.
Reviewed by Derek R. Iannelli-Smith
Time Magazine listed J.I. Packer as one of the top 25 evangelicals and described him
“an Oxford-trained theologian, claimed the role informally with his 1973 book, Knowing God, which outlined a conservative Christian theology deeper and more embracing than many Americans had encountered. It did real justice to hard topics such as suffering and grace.”
In summary, Knowing God is 286 page study on theology. What is theology, Theopedia states that theology, “(from the Greek theos - God - and logos - word or reason) is reasoned discourse concerning God. More specifically, Christian theology is the rational study and understanding of the nature of God and doctrines of the Christian faith based on the God's revelation of Himself, chiefly found in the Bible.”
This would accurately describe Packer’s work. Packer states, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
The book is divided in three sections, I. Know the Lord, II. Behold Your God! III. If God Be For Us . . .
I like how one reviewer stated,
“New and maturing Christians will find this book useful yet challenging, and may find it helpful to work through it with a mentor. More mature Christians will also be fed by its teachings. Some readers may be challenged by the theological vocabulary that Packer uses, but this is another opportunity to learn and grow. Knowing God will help the reader understand biblically who God is and who we are in Jesus Christ. This book is not only relevant to today’s Christian, it is an essential read.”
I read this book early on in my Christian walk and was impressed, and now 14 years later it made and even deeper impact. Two sections impacted me this time around, Chapter 4 on Idolatry and Chapter 20 on Grace. Why?
Idolatry is a topic that has not been discussed well in many Christian circles. The pendulum swings back in forth from liberalism to extreme fundamentalism. Packer’s expositional handling of this topic is highly recommended and one that I would recommend all of us who use the terminology of idolatry need to be reminded of.
The section on grace is one that is needed and I remember thinking to myself as I read this, how it reminded me of a body of believers I was associating with sometime ago. They had some fuzzy thinking about grace and how I wished I could have remembered that this was out there and an invaluable resource we could have studied the topic together and been reminded correctly of the true definition of grace. Packer’s discourse reminded me of an another author who also spoke of grace.
"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." — Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
The narrator for the audiobook from christianaudio.com did a great job with inflection, tone, pace, and it was easy to stay engrossed in the material.
It was great to review this book again and I was struck by the relevancy, the soberness, and the truth in which this book almost 30 yrs. old spoke. It was a very discerning work and I highly recommend it for those who want to love God with all their mind.