This post is going to be a bit different. Soon I will be through discussing a book that has been wonderful for me. I have blogged on it since June of 2019 [that’s a bit of a sign that I have liked it]. I am not sure that everyone understands but commenting on a book gives a writer a chance to learn, and learn I have. I have learned a lot about the idea of the Holy Spirit, its supernatural power to transform human nature, its role in allowing us Christians to be salt and light, its ability to bring about a dramatic revolution in those around us and its usefulness in times of crisis.
As I begin to wind down my study of The Holy Spirit, it is time to commit to a new book and that new book will be Knowing God by J. I. Packer. This book has a vaunted reputation as a “classic” in the field of Christian living literature, and besides announcing the new book, I want to introduce you to the author, J.I. Packer.
Packer* is believed by many to be second only to C.S. Lewis as one of the most influential theological writers of the 20th Century.
Packer suffered a child-hood injury at the age of seven. He was chased from the playground by a bully and ran into the street, only to be hit by a bread truck. This was a serious injury and it had an impact on his life that was unusual. Packer eventually recovered from his injury and wanted a bicycle at the age of 11. Instead of a bike, his parents gave him a typewriter to keep him from going back into the streets. He took to typing and writing from a very young age.
Packer attributes C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity as the book that stirred his soul the most and when he went to Oxford University in 1944 [where Lewis taught], he gave his life to Christ after hearing Charles Elliot’s famous hymn “Just As I Am.”
Packer struggled in his early Christian life with what he called “indwelling sin.” He experienced great frustration over the inability to get past daily sins into the promised victory of a life in Christ. This robbed him of the joy of his salvation. He was told that he simply needed to re-consecrate himself, over and over again, until such time that he could identify whatever obstacle stood in the way of the fullness of moral victory. Energetic obedience to the will of God was useless. He felt this focus on reconsecration held back his Christian growth.
Packer was ordained a deacon in the Church of England and eventually he became a priest. He got his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford and after several appointments in England he moved to British Columbia, Canada where he lives at Regent College today [age 92].
Packer biographer Sam Storms says of Packer “One of the things, among many, for which I especially admire Packer is his insistence that all theological reflection, to be of value, must issue in holiness of life in which the love of God and his glory are preeminent. Put another way, theology and spirituality are inseparable. For Packer, theology ‘cannot, and should not, be detached or dissociated from the relational activity of trusting, loving, worshiping, obeying, serving, and glorifying God. One way of judging the quality of theologies [he explains], is to see what sort of devotion they produce.’”
nWhen choosing the next book, I often peek at amazon reviews [as if they really matter]. When I looked at thoughts about Knowing God I was astounded. Of seven hundred and twenty-six reviews, eighty six percent were five-star. I can’t say that amazon reviews intrigue me that much but the overwhelming positive response got me curious.
As we leave Pastor Billy Graham and move to Knowing God, I wonder about my response to a book that is described as a “masterpiece”, a “work of Christian literature that deserves the title of contemporary classic” and a man who gets comments like “this man lives what he writes”.
Chuck Swindoll [popular evangelist, writer, educator and radio preacher says “for years I have been asked to list the top twenty Christian books I have read. Knowing God has been on my list since the mid-1970s.”
My next book…
J.I. Packer Knowing God.
From Sam Storms “Ten Things You Should Know about J.I. Packer”.