Over the years, J. I. Packer has written many books intended to call Christians back to the roots of their faith, to explore the depths of God, and to be transformed in life and thought by the work of the Holy Spirit. He's a hero to the orthodox, a pain in the side of the heterodox, and an encouragement for many to rediscover the historic faith "once for all delivered to the saints."
His most recent effort, Taking God Seriously, is also one of his most accessible and most desperately needed. Many of his prior works (Knowing God, Growing in Christ, A Quest for Godliness) presuppose a level of biblical and doctrinal knowledge, however limited it might be. Because of the shifts in Western Christianity over the last four decades, Taking God Seriously actually assumes that readers don't have a foundation to build on, and it attempts to be that foundation.
"Well," some might say, "I do take God seriously." But what does that look like? The subtitle of this book makes an implicit statement at which many (even many "conservative evangelicals") would balk: "Vital Things We Need To Know" suggests that part of Christian faith is understanding and putting our trust in propositional truth statements. These are found in the Bible, and the first step toward taking faith seriously is to understand how to approach the Word of God.
From a discussion of Scripture and faith, Packer moves on to explore doctrine, Christian unity, repentance, the church, the Holy Spirit, baptism, and the Lord's Supper, calling us to take them seriously. Packer is Reformed Anglican, but his instruction and exhortation is pertinent for any and every Christian in our current postmodern and largely post-Christian context.
One word we read several times is "homosexuality." This is a huge threat both to the purity of Christian doctrine and practice, and the unity of the Church, as more and more communions embrace and accept what the Bible clearly calls sin. Packer doesn't take a political stance, but he urges Christians to consult God's Word on the issue, and to honor truth over convention.
At the end of each chapter Packer provides questions for study and discussion. Because a lot of the content will be brand new to many who've spent most of their lives in church (even though it's all basic to the faith), this is an excellent choice for Sunday schools and small groups. It's perfect for individuals, too: basically an introduction to biblical theology, Taking God Seriously is an important call to Christians at all stages of the Christian life.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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