Review of J.I. Packer\'s Knowing God Chapter 1

Title: The Study of God

Purpose: To provide a basic understanding of the concepts and themes to be explored within the rest of the book

The principle warning: \”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.\”

The five pillars of Christian thought and belief in the eyes of Packer: 

1. God has spoken to Man 

2. God is Lord and King

3. God is Savior

4. God is Triune

5. Godliness is the response to God\’s revelation

My response to these pillars is that Packer has correctly highlighted the most important components of basic theology and practice. The only tweak I would offer for contemplation is a shift on the fifth point, which is that Godliness is not a response to God\’s revelation but is rather a perspective position where the reverence of God, to those academically inclined I am referring to the concept of the Numinous, is the lens through which one sees and acts in the world. 

Packer acknowledges the changes in local formalized faith education that have led to generations of spiritually illiterate Christians who are utterly incapable of seeing and rebuking heretical teaching. 

The Key Question: \”What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have it?\”

Packer\’s primary warning about the intention of the study of God is explicitly stated in the following quote from page 22, \”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 a direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception.\”

Packer states that God is the subject, helper, and should ultimately be the end of our study. In other words, our study of God, is principally about God, aided by God, so that we may come to know God more intimately. If prayer is our conversations with God, our study of God is like watching his Instagram story.

Packer continues to unfold this idea, building the concept that our study of God should lead into a prayer life that revolves around bringing before God our study of him so that He may affirm and correct as needed our understanding of who he is. 

 

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