Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Knowing God, by J.I. Packer


This.  Book.  Rocks.  Solid, dense, and hard-hitting, Packer presents the reader with a crash course on Christian theology.  He starts with the importance of knowing God, then introduces the three persons of the Trinity.  From there, he walks through the attributes of God and then clearly, thoroughly, and repeatedly explains the gospel and its effect on the lives of Christians.  The end result is both deeply convicting and extremely encouraging. 

Packer is particularly focused on the gospel as adoption--that is, that Christians are not only justified before God and saved from the wrath their sins deserve, but that we have been brought into an intimate relationship with God through the blood of His Son.  I was particularly encouraged by this aspect of the book, as I can sometimes forget the personal and relational nature of salvation.  It is all well and good to know that your sins have been forgiven, but to be welcomed into a holy family is a different experience altogether.  This kind of immutable acceptance and affection is what ultimately breeds love in us toward God, and it is a useful lens through which we can rightly perceive hardship, suffering, and doubt. 

Honestly, I cannot recommend this book highly enough--for the young and old in the faith alike.  Packer's writing is clear, and he speaks with gentle and straightforward authority about some extremely complex issues.  Still, the book is simple enough to be understood by newer Christians, yet substantive enough that I suspect even spiritual giants would benefit from its wisdom.  Be warned, however: there's so much here it's almost impossible to glean it all in one go.  Fortunately, the book improves on re-reading--I discovered things I missed the first few times around and was blessedly reminded of things I noticed before but had sadly forgotten. 

If you haven't read this book, read it.  You will not regret it.  And if reading isn't really your thing, the audiobook version, read by Simon Vance, is quite good.  Vance's slower reading pace allows for maximum absorption of the meaty text, and his British accent helps focus the wandering mind.

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