JI Packer: Fighting Heresy in Churches and Small Groups

h/t ACL Sydney for this article from several years ago
Can you explain a little more about the process of catechesis?

First, there are other ways of doing catechesis than by question and answer, which is what we are used to when we think of catechizing children. Catechesis is the teaching of the truths that Christians live by, and linked with that it’s the teaching of how to live by those truths. It’s a practical, pastoral discipline of instruction.

In the second and third centuries, the inquirers didn’t have any Christian background””they didn’t have any kind of theistic background even. They were polytheists who came out of various pagan cults. And so the catechists had to begin at the beginning and take them through the whole body of Christian doctrine.

We know from surviving catechetical materials that they taught not by separating truths from each other in order to focus on them in isolation. Rather, they taught the whole Christian view of Christianity””God’s great economy of grace for the salvation of sinners””and the syllabus was essentially the themes of the Apostle’s Creed.

And you feel that the practice of catechesis would be beneficial in modern churches, as well?

Yes. If we could recover catechesis as a regular element of church life, well, we’d be anticipating a lot of these problems with heresy and other troubles. We’d be constantly sustaining orthodoxy and reminding people of what the Christian faith is when you put it all together as a single ball of wax.

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