Knowing God, by J. I. Packer (InterVarsity Press, 1973)
In this collection of material previously published in his columns in the Evangelical Magazine, J. I. Packer emphasizes the foundational importance of knowing God—and challenges readers to learn who the Bible says God is instead of going with who we think He is. As we come to know God’s character and attributes, we can trust Him. It’s hard to trust someone whose character you don’t know.
The book explores key attributes of God, including such things as His majesty, wisdom, truth, love, justice, wrath, goodness and severity, and His adequacy. It’s not meant for a casual read, but to be considered, pondered and prayerfully ruminated on. There is much in its pages to nourish Christians.
The writing style is scholarly and includes references to teachers and hymn writers whose names may be unfamiliar to contemporary readers. Taking the time to Google these names would introduce us to many stalwarts of the faith. Knowing God is a valuable resource, and I’d love to see an updated edition for today’s readers. I think the deep content would be easier to process without textbook-level delivery.
Dr. Packer writes from a solidly Protestant/Evangelical point of view, and my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters won’t agree with his chapter about images of God. I’m not sure what to make of it, myself, but the chapter includes a challenge to examine one’s mental image of God to be sure it’s whole and true, and I found that very helpful.
Despite finding the book a hard read, I think it’s one that will benefit any Christian who takes the time to prayerfully work through it. For me, it’s a keeper that I’ll refer back to again.
Dr. Packer is a well-respected theologian and Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College, Canada. In 2005, TIME Magazine listed him as “one of 25 most influential Evangelicals in America.” [Influential Evangelicals: J.I. Packer]