This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute http://www.desertbibleinstitute.com.
We, as Americans, are an extremely proud people. Dr. Packer shows in his book Weakness is the Way how only through embracing the reality of our weakness and turning our full need to God can we start to glorify Him and allow change to be worked in ourselves.
The opening of this book is rock solid. Packer gives a detailed definition of weakness with both various biblical allusions and personal anecdotes that make the subject matter come alive for his audience. He uses, primarily, First and Second Corinthians to show the biblical example of God’s people dealing with both spiritual and physical weakness. He augments this with a great deal of chapter-and-verse support. He concludes his opening points with his own “gloom and discouragement” in dealing with physical, and then mental, weakness in his own life.
Throughout the book, Packer manages his trademark smooth, conversational style making the whole experience more like having a conversation with a knowledgeable grandfather than a preeminent biblical scholar. Packer offers a clear, didactic structure to his audience. He regularly employs an organization of: definition, explanation (through visual, allusion, or analogy), and application.
He further educates his audience by using strong, descriptive, concise language that forces the audience to expand their vocabulary and understanding of the topic. He shows his audience the respect of leaving the academic bar set high but, unlike many biblical writers, takes the time to explain what he is saying in a way that makes his more complex ideas understandable. An example of this is how Packer explains the unique structure of both Greek and Pauline grammar and style in a way that is challenging to the novice or student yet is still approachable.
The second half of the book; however, lacks some of the vigor of the first. Packer uses the controversial topic of tithing to show our innate human weakness, sinfulness, and need to give over to God all of our weakness. He stresses how we must recognize our reliance on the Lord. It seems from the attention that Packer gives this subject that his position is that this is one of the greatest trials for most Christians, although he never really comes out and says as much. While the point is well taken (and apropos to the topic) he spends over a quarter of the book talking about it.
Packer then concludes his work explaining how through working with God through our weakness we have a hope that the rest of the world will never know. While again appropriate, Packer seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on the topics of tithing and hope without smoothly working them into the powerful first half of the book. It gives the impression that these were two separate essays and, while connected the topic, weren’t exclusively created as part of the book as a whole. The last half of the book therefore lacks the focus, alacrity, and purpose that the first half of the book contains. While still good, and basically relevant, it leaves the audience feeling like they just watched the second-half of a Super-Bowl with neither side scoring a point: interested but somewhat unsatisfied.
While this book falls short of other works by Packer, like Knowing God and A Quest for Godliness, this is still a well-written, well-formatted work that ultimately belongs in every Christian’s library if for no other reason than the importance of the topic itself.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.christianaudio.com.