Good Christian Books: Concise Theology by J.I. Packer - An Excellent Resource to Understand Theology Simply
Concise theology sounds like a very neat and succinct title. In fact, this is what JI Packer’s book is all about - a concise explanation and exposition of theology. Packer breaks down different words that are related to theology, and writes little 2 or 3 page sections on each word. For example, there are over 50 little chapters on theological subjects such as ‘creation’, ‘predestination’, ‘sin’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘The Holy Spirit’...
If you were a new Christian seeking to have a more solid and deeper understanding of theology and certain doctrines, Packer’s concise theology is definitely an excellent place to begin. Packer’s writes about theology in a very reader friendly way, and I not only enjoyed reading about some of the more complex issues in very simple and clear words, but I found myself gaining a more profound appreciation for God and who He is.
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Of course, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between each chapter as the chapters often overlap and run parallel to each other (eg. the ideas of sin and holiness cannot be fully segregated). However what Packer attempts to do really helps us to gain a better understanding of each term - not a standalone understanding, but one that helps us to see a bigger, wider, deeper, and more colorful picture of God.
With each chapter and reading, one thing that strikes me over and over is how God’s mind is just mind-blowing, way beyond my myopic and finite human comprehension. Although we are able to articulate some aspects of God and what being a Christian entails, there is so much more that I don’t really understand. The way God has created the universe, the way He is sovereign over every single thing on earth and in heaven really is hard to comprehend. But the mysterious but sure way that God allows things to take its course still have His fingerprints all over it. Reading all these 2 page sections all point me towards this awesome God that I have – how despite the limited understanding that I have, I can still know unmistakably that I have a really awesome God. This is both empowering, and yet humbling at the same time. There is still so much that I haven’t really figured out. I have a feeling there will be even more that I will never figure out, cause I’m not meant to.
In the Preface, Packer says that ‘theology is for the praise of God and the practice of godliness.’ Reading through Concise Theology then became an exercise for me to see how I could challenge myself to praise God and grow in godliness. By the time I got to the end of the book, I realized that I couldn’t help but give God praise and o to grow in spiritual maturity- that’s a long way for me to go! But if you have a desire to know God better, and to understand theology better, this is one book that should feature prominently in your reading diet.
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