I am writing this ongoing blog series on Reflections to encourage Christians to read more vigorously and enrich their lives with Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully, a brief introduction to these important Christian texts will motivate todays believers to, as St. Augustine was called in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these excellent books.


This weeks book, Knowing God by evangelical Protestant theologian J. I. Packer, is a contemporary classic of Christian doctrine. Widely considered one of the most important evangelical theological works of the twentieth century, Packers magnum opus (greatest work) has sold more than one million copies in North America alone.

Why Is This Author Notable?

James Innell (better known as J. I.) Packer was born in 1926 in England. He was educated at Oxford University where he studied under C. S. Lewis. Packer is a latter-day Puritan in the Reformed or Calvinistic tradition of the conservative side of the Anglican Church. He has taught for many years and currently serves as Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Packer is considered one of the most important evangelical theologians of the second half of the twentieth century.

What Is This Book About?

Originally written as a series of articles for a magazine, Knowing God was first published as a book in 1973 and has become a standard evangelical work of doctrine and theology. Consisting of 22 chapters and divided into three parts, the work explores the knowledge and attributes of God and the enjoyment that Christians derive from knowing him intimately.

Part 1 is entitled Know the Lord and explains just how and why the believer knows the triune God of historic Christianity who is revealed in the incarnate person of Jesus Christ. Part 2 is titled Behold Your God and unpacks many of Gods attributes, such as his majesty, wisdom, goodness, and justice. Part 3 carries the title If God Be for Us and reveals the joy of knowing God in personal relationship through Christ.

Packers book takes doctrine and devotion seriously as he provides practical guidance to the reader both as a theologian and as a pastor. This influential book provides evidence that reading theology can be inspirational and enjoyable. Packer is well-known for saying that the believer should turn theology into doxology.1 In other words, the believer in Christ should turn the study of God into the praise of God.

In Knowing God, Packer warns of the dangers that can result when a person avoids the study of theology:

Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.2

Why Is This Book Worth Reading?

Knowing God is widely considered a contemporary masterpiece of evangelical theology and devotion. In 2006, Christianity Today magazine ranked the book number five on their list of The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.3 This is a book that many Christians can read and study over and over throughout their lives.


Knowing God by J. I. Packer (book)

  1. John G. Stackhouse Jr., Doctrine That Actually Delights, Christianity Today, December 9, 2013, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/december-web-only/knowing-god-turns-40.html.
  2. The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals, Christianity Today, October 6, 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/october/23.51.html.
  3. Wikipedia, s.v. Knowing God, last modified November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowing_God.

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org


About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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