If you haven’t listened to this MP3 of J.I. Packer yet, it’s well worth your time. Phoenix Preacher writes:
J.I. Packer is on one last crusade. He wants the church universal to recover the need for catechesis…life long learning of the doctrines and practices of the historic church.
According to Packer, we will not experience or sustain the renewal and outreach of the church unless we recover this lost practice. It’s that important.
Why? Packer argues that Christian belief and behavior are foreign and have to be learned. Not only this, but the fact that Christian belief and behavior are foreign is itself a foreign concept.
Catechesis has been part of the church’s practice, particularly in the patristic and Reformation eras. Every time our culture has become nominally Christian, the practice has been lost, which has led to all kinds of problems. Now that we live in a post-Christendom culture, catechesis is more important than ever.
Packer suggests that we need to adapt our methods, particularly when catechizing adults. The format of programs like Alpha and Christianity Explored may be useful.
We discussed this at Monday’s Theology Pub, and I’m convinced we need to get on this. Listen to Packer’s talk and see if you don’t agree.
The next step is harder: actually doing something about it.