This video by Tim Conway underscores a point I made in my last post regarding the potentially damning dangers of theology. When theology is pursued as an end in itself, can it become an idol? I think so; and idolatry in any form, committed by anyone, is nothing short of an act of treason against God (see 1 Cor. 10:1-14).
Continue reading below the video clip for more excerpts from “Knowing God”
Looking at God through the wrong end of the telescope
In my last post, I described my personal gratitude for J.I. Packer’s outstanding book Knowing God.
In the preface, which you don’t want to skip when you read the book, Packer identifies what he considers the source of much of the church’s weakness: “ignorance of God—ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with him.”
He goes on to list two factors which contribute to that ignorance:
…one is that Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God…churchmen who look at God, so to speak, through the wrong end of the telescope, so reducing him to pigmy proportions, cannot hope to end up as more than pigmy Christians…these capitulations to the modern spirit are really suicidal so far as Christian life is concerned.
Do you have great thoughts of man and small thoughts of God, or great thoughts of God and small thoughts of man? Your answer, if honest, is very telling. As A.W. Tozer once remarked:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
If we’re wise we won’t rest until we find a remedy for the inexcusable ignorance Packer describes. To that end he urges professing Christians to recover the “lost art” of meditation.
What is meditation?
How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God…
Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God…
Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us—’comfort’ us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word—as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ… it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being humbled and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength and our joy. God help us, then, to put our knowledge about God to this use, that we all may in truth “know the Lord.”
With that exhortation, Packer concludes the first chapter of “Knowing God.” Can we ever really grow in our knowledge of God apart from meditating on the truth? Packer seems to doubt it. So do I.