Barry Wallace's Reviews > Knowing God

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
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Apr 07, 12

Read in January, 1980

I initially bought and read Knowing God almost 35 years ago. I was a new Christian, young and ignorant; but as is true of many young people, I had no idea just how ignorant I really was.

I don't think I can adequately express how thankful I am for Packer's book. It was a Godsend to me. It taught me not simply how to approach theology, but how to approach God himself. It shaped my heart and my mind in ways that I'm certain saved me from making even more mistakes than I did in my exuberant, youthful ignorance.

We do ourselves a tremendous disservice, and our souls incalculable damage, if we casually dismiss the study of God. Or, as Packer put it in chapter one:

"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."

Another thing I realized was that theology was a two-edged sword--having on the one hand immense value, and on the other potentially damning dangers. Packer went on to issue a warning in that first chapter that probably needs to be trumpeted more often (and more loudly) than it is.

"If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, "Knowledge puffs up.... The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know" (1 Cor 8:1-2).

"To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception."

By the grace of God my goal is to do everything in my power to avoid self-satisfied self-deception. I know I haven't always succeeded, but I have no intention of giving up the fight.

Those are just a few of the reasons that I'm thankful for Knowing God. If I could make it required reading for every new Christian, I would.
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