J. I. Packer on Catechesis
Among evangelical pastors and theologians today, few have written more passionately and persuasively on the need to restore catechesis in the church today than J. I. Packer. A self-described "latter-day catechist," Dr. Packer stands in a small tradition of pastoral theologians—he named near contemporaries such as C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and John Stott—who wrote for a higher level but still non-specialist audience, that is, those who saw their task as adult catechesis.
One of the problems behind the contemporary failure to catechize, Packer recognized, was the dearth of literature addressing this middling audience. Much exists for beginners in the faith, as well as academic specialists. But not much is there for folks in between. Packer saw his task as a "translator" of the wisdom of the Great Tradition, helping believers come to a greater understanding of their life in faith.
"Where are my successors?" Dr. Packer has asked. We hope to encourage some here.
Below are a few video clips, articles, quotes, and references to books by Dr. Packer on catechesis.
2014 Interview w/ Joel Scandrett (Trinity School for Ministry)
Dr. Packer describes catechesis as the nexus point between "the doctrine by which we live" and "how we live that doctrine."
a Three-Part Series on Catechesis (2014)
Dr. Packer delivered three lectures at the 2014 ANiC (Anglican Network in Canada) Synod. In each one, Dr. Packer lectures for about 30-45 minutes, and is followed by an "application" by Jeremy Graham, a priest at St. Johns Church in Vancouver where Packer attends.
Online Articles and Interviews (the free stuff!)
"Called to Catechize" — In this 2012 article for the online journal, The North American Anglican, Dr. Packer sets out his case for Anglicans in particular to recover catechesis. One of the particular points of note is how he narrates the reduction of all-age catechesis—a hallmark of the Puritans—to a child-only form of catechesis.
"The Lost Art of Catechesis" — from the March 2010 volume of Christianity Today, this article by Packer and Gary Parrett presents a nice précis of their book Grounded in the Gospel (subscription required).
"One of the Most Urgent Needs in the Church Today" — a compilation of quotes from various books about the contemporary need for catechesis
Interview with Anglican Planet — a 2009 interview with Dr. Packer and Bronwyn Short conducted by Julie Lane Gay on the need for a new catechism.
BOOKS AND CHAPTER ARTICLES
J. I. Packer and Gary Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way (Baker, 2010)
One of Dr. Packer's most recent and fullest accounts of a vision for catechesis. This book, co-authored with Gary Parrett from Gordon Conwell, is especially written to convince evangelicals of the need to renew catechetical teaching within churches. As such it carefully lays out the biblical imperative of catechesis, as well as a a practical aim.
J. I. Packer, Growing in Christ (Crossway, 1994; a reprint of I Want to Be a Christian 1977)
A pre-cursor to the new Anglican Catechism, in this work Dr. Packer offers a through but accessible account of the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.
J. I. Packer, "Reflections and Response," in J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future, ed. Timothy George (Baker Academic, 2009), esp. pp. 172–176.
A rare self-reflective account of Dr. Packer's perception of himself as a "latter-day catechist." In accord with the great pastor-theologians of the early church—Irenaeus, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Augustine—along with their modern "translators—Lewis, Stott, Schaeffer, etc.—Packer writes that he mostly understood himself to be an adult catechist. He eschewed the professionalization of theology that is so pervasive in academic circles, but also saw the need to deepen and further the basic catechesis that one might receive in their youth ("I am not good with children," he says).
A particularly well-stated example of the urgent need for catechesis and the audience to which this effort is directed.