Any time I see the name, J.I. Packer on a book, I become instantly interested. If you have never heard of this man, google his name. Hop on to YouTube and watch some videos. I bet you’ll begin to see why I admire the legacy this man left for the church.
In the summer of 2019 I was assigned Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way for a class focused on developmental theory and the discipleship of children. I was excited to make my Amazon order as soon as the assignment was made clear to me through the syllabus. I had previously read another great book on a similar topic by the co-author, Gary A. Parrett and felt even more excitement about how this book would benefit my family and ministry.
The book focuses on the importance of Catechesis in the church. “Catechesis is the church’s ministry of grounding and growing God’s people in the Gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight.” (29) This old practice might have lost favor with the advent of specialized ministries and the western church of the last 100 years or more. However, Packer and Parrett make the case that this practice is not only biblical but also applicable to churches today.
Here are my top five quotes from this compelling work:
1. “A spiritually heart-healthy diet, we think, is the primary need of present-day Western congregations. And the foundation of that diet, we believe, is good catechesis.” (10)
2. “Catechesis…is in the first instance more a preemptive ministry. It seeks to lay spiritual, moral, and theological foundations that can help grow a church and its individual members toward maturity, so that they will not be easily swayed by deceptive doctrines or moral compromises that will, invariably, arise to trouble them (see Eph. 4:11-16). It aims, in other words, to prevent struggles before they begin, anticipating them and, as we say, nipping them in the bud.” (45)
3. “Rote memorization of catechisms without a lively, interactive relationship of didactic exchange between catechist and catechumens was not of course the Reformers’ intent, and the warnings against such lapses into the merely mechanical were frequently sounded.” (65)
4. “Catechesis must always be attentive to the counter-catechesis at work in our lives. Earlier, we dealt with the causes and consequences of the uncatechized church. In reality, however, all our members actually have been catechized–thoroughly so–in competing worldviews.” (162)
5. “Churches wishing to push forward a ministry of catechesis need to urge and help equip parents to do their absolutely vital part in such a work.” (200)
I was not raised in an environment where catechesis was emphasized or even mentioned. Unfortunately, even the name evokes reservation on the part of some protestants. However, this is mostly because of mis-information and a lack of exposure to church history. This book will inform, inspire, and do away with myths associated with the discipline of catechesis. I truly believe that churches in the 21st century would benefit greatly from evaluating what this book has to offer.
Director of Training and Consulting
Family Time Training