Knowing God: The Difference between Knowing God and Merely Knowing about Him – J. I. Packer

knowing-god-packer-2023Crossway has just published a new, beautiful hardcover edition of J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God. In the article mentioned above and linked below, the publisher quotes the author himself on what it means to truly know God. There are plenty of good thoughts here for us to ponder.

I well remember reading this book for the first time and being captured by Packer’s ability to explain deep truths about God in a clear, biblical way that was also warm and pastoral. I learned to love the Puritans from him, often considered the last great Puritan himself.

After giving you a portion of that article, I post Crossway’s description of the book. As always, I encourage to visit the links to read more about this wonderful title and to think seriously about adding this edition to your library.

To focus this point further, let me say two things:

1. One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of him. I am sure that many of us have never really grasped this. We find in ourselves a deep interest in theology (which is, of course, a most fascinating and intriguing subject—in the seventeenth century, it was every gentleman’s hobby). We read books of theological exposition and apologetics. We dip into Christian history and study the Christian creeds. We learn to find our way around in the Scriptures. Others appreciate our interest in these things, and we find ourselves asked to give our opinion in public on this or that Christian question, to lead study groups, to give papers, to write articles, and generally to accept responsibility, informal if not formal, for acting as teachers and arbiters of orthodoxy in our own Christian circles. Our friends tell us how much they value our contribution, and this spurs us to further explorations of God’s truth so that we may be equal to the demands made upon us.

All very fine—yet interest in theology and knowledge about God and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes is not at all the same thing as knowing him. We may know as much about God as John Calvin knew—indeed, if we study his works diligently, sooner or later we shall—and yet all the time (unlike Calvin, may I say) we may hardly know God at all.

2. One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God. It depends on the sermons one hears, the books one reads, and the company one keeps. In this analytical and technological age, there is no shortage of books on the church book tables, or sermons from the pulpits, on how to pray, how to witness, how to read our Bibles, how to tithe our money, how to be a young Christian, how to be an old Christian, how to be a happy Christian, how to get consecrated, how to lead people to Christ, how to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (or, in some cases, how to avoid receiving it), how to speak with tongues (or how to explain away Pentecostal manifestations), and generally how to go through all the various motions that the teachers in question associate with being a Christian believer. Nor is there any shortage of biographies delineating the experiences of Christians in past days for our interested perusal.

Whatever else may be said about this state of affairs, it certainly makes it possible to learn a great deal secondhand about the practice of Christianity. Moreover, if one has been given a good bump of common sense, one may frequently be able to use this learning to help floundering Christians of less stable temperament to regain their footing and develop a sense of proportion about their troubles, and in this way one may gain for oneself a reputation for being quite a pastor. Yet one can have all this and hardly know God at all.

We come back, then, to where we started. The question is not whether we are good at theology or “balanced” (horrible, self-conscious word!) in our approach to problems of Christian living. The question is, can we say, simply, honestly, not because we feel that as evangelicals we ought to, but because it is a plain matter of fact, that we have known God, and that because we have known God the unpleasantness we have had, or the pleasantness we have not had, through being Christians does not matter to us? If we really knew God, this is what we would be saying, and if we are not saying it, that is a sign that we need to face ourselves more sharply with the difference between knowing God and merely knowing about him.


Knowing God by J. I. Packer is a modern Christian classic. Since its original publication in 1973, Packer’s insightful and practical approach has impacted countless Christians throughout the world as they are introduced to the wonder and joy of knowing God.

In this beloved work, Packer challenges readers that while they may know about God, it is not the same thing as knowing him. Organized into 3 sections, Knowing God explains the importance of theological study of the Lord, what the Bible has to say about God and his character, and the benefits of knowing him. From cover to cover, Packer teaches that each truth learned about God should ultimately lead to prayer and praise.

  • Accessible: Written for Christians of all backgrounds and denominations, as well as new believers

  • Practical and Insightful: Addresses many common questions about faith, including Who needs theology?What does it mean to be adopted into the family of God?, and Can God communicate his plan to us? 

  • Beautiful Hardcover Edition: Perfect for a lifetime of reading and for giving as a gift

Source: The Difference between Knowing God and Merely Knowing about Him | Crossway Articles

Published in: on March 21, 2023 at 10:13 PM  Leave a Comment