Thursday, August 28, 2008

Knowing God: The Study of God

So I'm reading J.I. Packer's "Knowing God", and a friend of mine just challenged me today to start sharing more of what I'm reading... so here goes. Maybe it will be a bit heady in some places, and overly vulnerable in others, but perhaps my sharing will lure you into what, by all accounts, is an amazingly good book.

"If we pursue theological education for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it."
~J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p.22

God, keep me from this!

A mom of ten that I respect a great deal has a certain dislike for theology. She rightly points out that it often leads to fighting (which I, too, dislike). And she gets her "theology" (knowledge of God) from her multiple passes through the Word of God each year. She listens to the Bible on CD throughout the day, and she keeps her Bible open on her kitchen counter and reads as she's going about life.

And I try to carry out some of these same principles in our home, too, so that I'm taking in great amounts of Scripture to learn of the character of God.

One of the most helpful things I've done recently is to listen repeatedly to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) on audio (through iTunes-- I love it! I can make my daily "list" of things to listen to and not have to fuss with it throughout the day). This same mom of ten actually recommended this as well. She said a great way to learn about God as a Father (and to have an idea of how God parented the Israelites when they were a young nation) is to listen to the Pentateuch over and over again, with that question in mind. "How did God "father" them?" And it's true. I've learned so much about God as Father (and gained even more solid footing in biblical discipline of my children) by doing this.

At the same time, though, I believe that our grasp of Scripture and our knowledge of God (not just about Him, but knowing HIM) can be enhanced and rightly shaped by reading mature, thoughtful, proven theological books, sermons, and other writings. I sincerely hope that, while spurred on by the "great books" (even, and perhaps I should say "especially" by the great theological books) of Christian faith, my theology will come from the Word of God and be learned with a humble spirit. That is my hope and prayer.

"Knowledge puffs up... the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know." ~1 Corinthians 8:1-2


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