Blog Post

17 Sept 2023 – Minister’s letter – Knowing God: a modern classic of Christian literature

Minister’s letter – Knowing God: a modern classic of Christian literature

I’ve just finished reading J. I Packer’s Knowing God. Published in 1973, it’s become a modern Christian classic. It’s a book I’ve known about for years, having a reputation as the kind of thing keen Christians read early on in adulthood. I finally got to it.

As per the title, Packer wants us to know God better, and every chapter is soundly Biblical. But Packer always applies this knowledge to the Christian life, demonstrating that a growing knowledge of God enhances our capacity to joyfully walk with him. In doing this Packer exhibits just as good a grasp on the human condition as he does on the Bible.  There were many ‘ah ha!’ moments where I understood an aspect of Christian experience with greater clarity, and many paragraphs of comfort as well as challenge.

For example, when addressing life’s difficulties Packer observes that “often the start of the Christian career is marked by great emotional joy, striking providences, remarkable answers to prayer, and immediate fruitfulness in their first acts of witness; thus God encourages young Christians, and establishes them in ‘the life’. But as they grow stronger, and are able to bear more, he exercises them in a tougher school.” This reflects my own experience.

The book takes discipline to read as it’s quite dense. Our society’s capacity and appetite for reading may have diminished in the 50 years since publication, and many of us would search out easier reads. This one is worth the effort!

Martin Kemp