Knowing God by J. I. Packer

I have  listened to this as an audiobook and hardly dare to say anything which might sound negative about such a distinguished author or this book in particular. It is totally biblically based, expounding many passages very literally, but reinterpreting others metaphorically (e.g. “all things” in Rom. 8:32); I have trouble with that kind of ambivalence.

The last chapter of the book elaborates on a few verses from the end of Romans 8 – a chapter I dearly love. It’s incredible how far and wide it’s possible to stray from a few clear words!

Altogether I was overwhelmed by Packer’s apparent intimate and detailed knowledge of God, his character and ways, and his absolute demands on us. I heard more about God’s unapproachableness and wrath than his desire to welcome me into fellowship with him. Also, Packer’s emphasis on our propensity to misunderstand, rebel and act sinfully frightened me and made me feel hopeless.

It’s very much centred on election and our ‘final’ union with God in heaven, and has rather little to say about how we should be living with and for Jesus here and now. Disappointing. So I can’t honestly recommend this book.

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