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Grounded in the Gospel June 15, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Books.
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I just finished reading “Grounded in the Gospel” by Packer and Parrett.  It’s hard to put my finger on my exact impression of this book.  On the one hand, there were several moments of enlightenment.  However, I hesitate to recommend it because it was such a hard read.

The thesis of the book is that evangelicals (particularly in America) have lost even a rudimentary knowledge and understanding of their faith over the last century and that the way for the church to reclaim the faith is through catechism.

Packer challenges us to look to the past and church history to discover a solution: “We are not, as it turns out, the first ones who have ever had to wrestle with the issue of how to grow Christian communities and Christian individuals in contrary cultures.”

Now catechism is a totally new concept for me.  Prior to the last 12 months, I assumed it was a Catholic thing.  However, there are actually imperatives in the New Testament for catechism.  It played a vital role in the church from the 2nd-5th centuries (A.D.) and was renewed by Protestants during the Reformation.

Essentially, catechism is passing on the faith in a deliberate and intentional way.  It is best done in relationship with a teacher/mentor/parent who engages the learner(s) on an ongoing basis – not only learning theological facts, but dialoguing and discussing how these truths affect the whole person.

This book is shaping our thoughts about the future of Crosstown Church.  We need to be concerned not only that people come to our church, but we also need to think deeply about what they will become in time within our church.  “Grounded in the Gospel” is challenging us to be intentional about the way we “grow” Christ followers.

As Packer says “By the time they reach adulthood, many of our members have already been so thoroughly catechized in unbiblical thinking and values that our efforts to catechize them in the Faith of the Gospel become truly a steep uphill climb through very difficult terrain.”

As you can see, this is an issue that churches need to get right.  This book thoroughly addresses the philosophical, historical and practical approaches to catechism.  Unfortunately the tone is excessively academic which makes it a challenge to work through.

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