This book is difficult to sum up in a review. It’s one of those great Christian books that belongs on the Mt. Rushmore with Mere Christianity and Desiring God. (That’d be interesting to think of what say four books belong on the Mt. Rushmore of great Christian books.) No matter how I comment on it, I’m bound to leave some part out, maybe your favorite part. Anyway, Knowing God ought to be required-reading for any Christian hoping to dive deeper into the meaning and interpretation of biblical doctrines.
It’s hard to review because it kind of covers everything. Packer gives an in-depth survey of all the aspects of God, the love of God, the grace of God, the judgement of God, etc. But at the same time it’s not like a Systematic Theology textbook. It’s a joy to read.
It’s almost too much information. Almost. This book covers so many aspects of Christianity, you really need to read it to get a sense of it. In regards to “knowing God” Packer gives the example of how someone “knows” a horse. When a rider or stableman says he knows a horse he usually does not mean that he has seen it before or that he is aware of it. He means he knows, “how it behaves and can tell you how it ought to be handled.” Knowing God means walking with God every day. It’s the lifelong pursuit of holiness and sanctification.
Packer speaks to how we speak about Christianity. An example from the book is how people say that they have a personal relationship with God. This sounds good and right but runs the danger of personalizing God in the same way we are a person, “weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible!”
In another section Packer writes about how the Christian value of sexual purity before marriage is not something that stifles the human experience in any way but rather emphasizes exactly what makes us human. Only animals copulate with any willing mate at every available opportunity. This over sexualized characteristic does not enhance our humanity but rather our most brutish and primal instincts. It’s the capacity for self-control that actually makes us human.
There are so many great gems in this book. Packer explains that God’s jealousy is more in terms of preserving something (us) that He already owns rather than the covetous, wrongful entitlement we feel in our sense of jealousy.
This book is convicting and eye-opening. No simple review can do it justice. It’s required-reading and underlining and keeping on every Christian shelf. It’s a deep well of Godly, biblical wisdom. You could keep drawing refreshing insight from it your whole life. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know God, and to every Christian to keep as permanent fixture in their home.