on April 27, 2003
First, I must admit that Knowing God is the first book by Packer that I have read. Luckily, I was not disappointed. Considered a modern Christian classic by many, Knowing God lives up to its reputation. In it Packer presents a balanced view of God - who He is, what He is like, what He has done for us, and what He expects from us in return. I had a pretty good understanding of some subjects before reading this book, but found myself learning a lot as Packer challenged me to dig deeper into the Bible, and apply my faith in order to get a clearer picture of God.
I really enjoyed this book because I have been looking for "deep" Christian books that are neither full of fluff (like a lot of the recent self-help style Christian books), or too full of theology to grasp (thick, boring tomes that most Pastors can't even finish). I found that Knowing God fits nicely into this category. Packer's thoughts about God are deep, yet concise. He includes a lot of scripture to support his perspective, which indicates that it is not written for a "new" or "baby" Christian, and he also includes some historical and academic material as well. I liked the fact the he quotes many sources which enabled me to write down the titles to other books which go deeper into subjects of interest to me.
Overall, I recommend this book to Christians who have a firm grasp of their faith, and are looking for guidance on how to grow a deeper relationship with God. One of the keys is gaining a better understanding of God, and this book offers an excellent starting point for that journey.
on August 5, 2003
This book was a tremendous book on the attributes of God by a tremendous theologian. My favorite part is when Packer quotes the Puritans. He quotes them a lot, too. The Puritans are an often forgotten group, except for the negative things that happened. Packer shows that the Puritans were amazingly following after God and His statues.
This is the only devotional-type book that I have ever enjoyed. While it was fairly devotional in content, Packer put Theology into it. He doesn't just put milk in the content, but also adds meat to it. I love it when he talked about such things as the atonement, election, etc. These are topics that most devotional writers will not even touch, because they are "too controversial". But, Packer tackles the issues with tenacity.
I love the chapter on the Grace of God. That was my very favorite chapter. Packer talked about how most Christians today really don't believe in the grace set forth in the Word. He also quotes a bunch of hymns that the Puritans wrote. This just shows how amazing they really were. This is a great read for someone wanting to study the attributes of God.
on July 17, 2002
After the recommendations of many people I respect, I picked up this book with the intention of finding out what everyone was talking about with J.I. Packer. This book does not dissapoint, and really transcends generations with a clear picture of evangelical theology, and for those who believe, God. Packer carefully makes his way through all aspects of the divine, and makes a strong argument for why to believe, and what God is really like. It would be interesting to give this book out as a tool to introduce someone who did not believe in God, to the whole concept.
Packer is a humble man, after hearing him speak a few years ago, I know his heart is in a great place. This book does put a strong emphasis on pre-destination, and if that is not up your alley it may rub you the wrong way. Overall this is a classic theological book for the 20th century, one that will be remembered long into the future.
on April 18, 2002
This is a great book. I have used it in no less than three different Bible studies. By now, my copy is bent and worn from use and I have grown a great deal through studying with it. I would recommend this book highly, particularly if you are looking for a book to go through as a group. Packer's book has been used to introduce thousands to the theological study of God's word. Indeed, it was the first Christian book I read as a youth that engaged my mind in a meaningful way. "Knowing God" is theological - and completely grounded in the Bible - but it is also very readable and includes suggested questions at the end of each chapter. There is something in this book for both mature and beginning Christians.
The book is divided into three parts. The first concerns (roughly) how we can know God, the second speaks of the attributes and character of God, and the final reflects on the Christian life and the way in which knowing God affects that life. Buy it and read it.
on May 12, 2006
Packer's Knowing God is a modern classic, focusing on both the theology and the spirituality of knowing and loving God. Packer lives up to his name in that he "packs" his book(s) with incredible truths, yet he writes with a smooth prose in easily digestible chapters. This book covers the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but especially focuses on the character and attributes of God and their relevance and application to our spiritual lives. This is probably the best popular treatment of "theology proper" written in the past century and deserves to be read by any Christian. This would be a great book to give a young and hungry Christian who is beginning to be discipled. Few things are more important to one's long-term spiritual health than having a high view of God. This book goes a long ways to helping us lift our gaze upwards. Buy all means, buy this book.
on July 23, 2001
This book is considered a contemporary Christian classic in Christian circles. The list of names who have endorsed and praised this book is like a 'who's who' of Christian thought. Needless to say, this book has quite a reputation to live up to. After reading it, my opinion is that it does indeed live up to its billing.
This book is a lengthy, methodical, and comprehensive analysis of the God of the Bible, and how we should respond to what the Bible says about Him. At the outset, Packer draws a compelling distinction between 'knowing God', and simply knowing 'about' God. The rest of his book then seeks to flood the reader with knowing God and how awesome a task this really is.
On an overall scale, I took two main things away from this book, both of which are desperately needed in the body of Christ today:
1) To its credit, this book does not sugarcoat God. Packer directly takes on the conventional practice of defining God exclusively as a 'God of love' in a humanly subjective sense. This book clearly demonstrates that God is indeed a God of love, but in ways that are not regularly talked about in our churches or felt by professing believers. Further, Packer does justice to God by discussing at length the judicial aspect of God as repeatedly discussed in Scripture. Any analysis of God that's even remotely worthwhile will enter into this domain. Packer does it without apology and presents God not as a benevolent and non offensive deity that doesn't care enough about sin and evil to judge it accordingly (and to then call this kind of god a god of love), but as a God who is zealously interested in His creation and wants human beings to live upright lives and that because of His loving holiness, cannot allow evil and injustice to go unpunished. This concept is essential to any real understanding of God, and understanding that when the idea of 'God is love' is meant to communicate the idea that God should never judge anybody or anything because it would somehow be unloving for the Creator of the universe to do so, that this kind of 'love' does not resemble the God of the Bible, and that we should be thankful that God's love does not resemble an approach as unloving, apathetic, and crippling as this.
2) Packer, by analyzing the nature and character of God, also spends considerable time analyzing the nature and character of human beings. And similar to his ongoing examination of God, Packer does not sugarcoat his analysis of the human condition. Throughout the book, Packer's essential theme is that God is completely holy and perfect, and that human beings aren't, and that as human beings, we would be wise to continually recognize the difference between us and God. I think Packer impeccably drives home the point that as human beings, we simply can't have an adequate appreciation for God's holiness and love for us until we come to grips with how sinful and unholy we are, and how this sinful nature manifests itself in the world we live in each day.
On both of these points, Packer uses straight talk, straight out of Scripture. Packer is clearly writing in response to what he believes is a systematic watering down within the body of Christ of the holiness of God and the hopelessness of humanity outside of God's grace. Packer clearly believes that large segments of the body of Christ today are scared to preach these things or declare personal allegiance to such ideas, because they seem so 'unenlightened', 'outdated', or bordering too close to the fire and brimstone kind of messages that folks today recoil at. So as not to be misunderstood, I don't believe this book to be a fire and brimstone book. But I do believe it be a level headed and thoroughly Bible-based examination of God and humanity. And while certain parts of this book may be uncomfortable for some to read (I was a little uncomfortable with some of what was written), it was really clear to me that the thorough and genuine joy, hope, and purpose of the Christian life is best achieved when we understand both God and ourselves in light of what Scripture says about both. Without 'knowing' this, we are inevitably left with a reduced view of the perfection of God, as well as an inflated view of ourselves. And this worldview is very dangerous, and also very debilitating. Such a worldview provides scant comfort when we are suffering or enduring trials and difficulties. But a true knowledge of God, as Packer so eloquently shows, leads to an entirely different perspective and can truly lead to a dependence on God that knows no limits as to the benefits we will receive from such a dependence.
A great book, a true classic. A must have, in my opinion.
on September 17, 2005
"Knowing God" by J. I. Packer will soon hit the quater-century mark in longetivity. Ever since its publication, it has been, correctly, considered a classic on theology proper (the doctrine of God the Father).
A primary reason for its instant classic (perhaps an oxymoron) status is Packer's smooth blending of head and heart. Though an undoubtedly one of the Evangelical world's most brilliant scholar/researcher, Packer's heart for God shines through in "Knowing God." His work is one-part A. W. Tozer and one-part John Calvin. Quite the powerful combination.
For a modern scholarly yet devoltional treatment of the person and works of God, one can hardly do better than "Knowing God."
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians" and "Spiritual Friends."
This is a book for Christian idolators. You're probably scratching your head and wondering what I mean by that phrase, since it seems oxymoronic. How can a person be a Christian and an idolator at the same time? Very simply, by worshiping God as something other or less than he truly is. We all do it to a greater or lesser degree, depending on our theological and doctrinal "upbringing." Every Christian, whether a truly born again believer or a merely nominal professor of Christ, knows a certain amount of truth about God, some of us very little, others rather alot by comparison. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, your knowledge of the infinite God is forced to pass through the filter of your finite, sin-tainted human mind. The result is a false or incomplete notion of God's nature and character. In other words, we worship something other than the One True and Living God -- i.e., an idol.
Packer writes to alert complacent Christendom to this seemingly little-recognized phenomenon. He astutely points out, though, that this occurs not simply in ignorance or as a function of limited human capacity to comprehend the infinite. Rather, there is a certain degree of willfulness involved, as many of us choose to disregard or downplay those aspects of God's character which we find less pleasant than others. For example, western Christians love to talk about God's mercy, love and providence. We extol his kindness, longsuffering and forgiveness, as if these "good" attributes were the only ones worthy of mention. But what about those qualities which get far less play in the Christian bookstores -- things like wrath, justice, righteousness and holiness? When was the last time you saw a bestseller about the wrath of God? Yet wrath is just as much a part of God's makeup as his mercy. He is no less holy and righteous and just than he is good and forgiving. It is to these unpopular and oft disregarded qualities that Packer redirects our attention.
The author also reminds us of the vast difference between knowing "about" God, and actually "knowing God". In other words, our heads can be filled with theology, but if it doesn't translate into a life-altering relationship of love and obedience toward God, we cannot say that we know God. And so Packer sets out to teach us something about how to know God by exploring his attributes, and in particular the "unhappy" ones. He also, in what I think is one of the best portions of the whole book, spends a fair amount of ink expounding the crucial doctrines of propitation and adoption. Even better, he gives the most succinct and eloquent summary of the gospel which I have ever read, by linking these two concepts in a simple three-word phrase: the gospel is the good news of "adoption through propitiation." The theological depth of that statement is simply mind-bending, and Packer's formulation of it, by itself, makes this book worth reading.
My only criticism would be of the book's undue (in my opinion) verbosity. The author could have communicated the same truth with the same impact in a much more concise presentation. I found some of the chapters toward the center of the volume to be a bit labored and dry, and even occasionally redundant. Nonetheless, this has been and will continue to be a classic, and I commend it to the reading of every believer who is serious about diving deeper into the unfathomable depths of God's nature and character. Let us be idolators no more!
on October 18, 2000
Knowing God is the very reason Jesus Christ came. John 17:3 says that knowing God is the definition and meaning and purpose of eternal life. Here is another book focusing its readers on the Person of God. It is very well written and covers many, though not all of God's revealed attributes. Any person looking to study the Person of God to know Him more intimately (that should be every born-again Christian) needs to read this book. Place this book next to Pink's "Gleaning in the Godhead" and Tozer's "The Knowledge of the Holy" and you will have a 3-book library on the Person of God probably unsurpassed at this time.
on February 11, 2000
This book is my number one recomendation for anyone either wanting to come to know God, or to simply develop their spiritual relationship. I have never read anything that sums up the Christian faith as effectivly as this book. This book is a great resource for today's Christian.