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Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way Paperback – April 1, 2010

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From the Back Cover

Recovering an Ancient Practice for Modern Evangelicals

Historically, the church's ministry of grounding new believers in the essentials of the faith has been known as catechesis--systematic instruction in faith foundations, including what we believe, how we pray and worship, and how we conduct our lives. For most evangelicals today, however, this very idea is an alien concept. Packer and Parrett, concerned for the state of the church, seek to inspire a much needed evangelical course correction. This new book makes the case for a recovery of significant catechesis as a nonnegotiable practice, urging evangelical churches to undertake this biblical ministry for the sake of their spiritual health and vitality.

"Packer said that the greatest challenge for the twenty-first-century church was to recatechize and disciple believers. These contributions from two of our best Christian thinkers help us to do precisely that. It will help you to see how to make not just converts but, as Jesus tells us, disciples."―Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship

"More than a call to recover a neglected practice, Grounded in the Gospel provides concrete advice to us all for dedicating ourselves anew to rooting the next generation in the great truths of the faith."―Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California

"I want to prod parishes of all denominations to listen to Packer and Parrett's cries and constructive proposals to better equip new believers. This is an urgently needed book!" ―Marva J. Dawn, author of Is It a Lost Cause? and Talking the Walk; teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College

"At last, a book that tells local churches how to fulfill all of the Great Commission! I highly recommend this book to pastors and church leaders who want to encourage Christian intelligence and maturity in their people."―Warren W. Wiersbe, author of the "BE" commentary series

"This book emphasizes two critical factors: learning is important, and catechesis is about the holistic development of the whole people of God. Christian learning needs to make a comeback in the church. This book will help."―Linda Cannell, academic dean, North Park Theological Seminary

J. I. Packer is Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College and an senior editor for Christianity Today. Best known for his bestselling classic Knowing God, Packer is the author or editor of more than fifty books.

Gary A. Parrett is professor of educational ministries and worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the coauthor of A Many Colored Kingdom and Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful.

About the Author

J. I. Packer is Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College and an executive editor for Christianity Today. Best known for his bestselling classic Knowing God, Packer is the author or editor of more than thirty books.


Gary A. Parrett is professor of educational ministries and worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the coauthor of The Many Colored Kingdom.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; Spire Books edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080106838X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801068386
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In Jr. High, I had a friend name Charlie. He was a pretty good guy and had great parents. He also had a Nintendo, which was a pretty big deal even as far back as 1991. Anyway, I remember asking him one day what he was doing after school, and he said, "Ugh, I've got to go to catechism." His family was Catholic (I think), so he had to do this catechism thing until his confirmation (which I'd also never heard of).

Whatever catechism was, it sounded positively dreadful (after all, think of all the Nintendo he was missing out on...)

Likewise, in modern evangelical circles, the idea of catechism is shunned. It's too Catholic, too dry, too dull. Instead, we rely primarily on self-learning, children's church and sparsly-attended adult Sunday School classes for our doctrinal formation.

J.I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett want to change that. In Grounded in the Gospel, the authors strive to illustrate the biblical foundations of catechism and provide helpful outlines for how we can integrate it into our churches' ministries. As they work they build their case, the picture of catechism they describe is anything but dreadful--for one who desires to know more about the Christian faith, it can be downright exhilarating.

I greatly appreciated the thoughtfulness and thoroughness the authors applied to the subject, particularly as they wrestled first with the historical and biblical foundations of catechism. Because in many evangelical circles, there is a discomfort about the idea of doing things because of historical tradition, it is essential to understand that the idea of catechism finds its roots in Scripture. The authors explain that the our word "catechesis" is derived from the New Testament word for "teaching," kat'che'.
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I just finished reading the book and bought 40 copies for the teachers in our church. Packer and Parrett have provided a great case for the need to return to catechesis today, asking a fundamental question, "What must we teach?" My only suggestion would be further biblical support with other key terms (i.e. sterizo - Acts 14:22; 15:41; 16:5; 18:23; Rom 1:11; 16:25; 1 Thes 3:2) and key passages (i.e. Acts 11:26 - What did Barnabas and Saul teach that enabled the Antioch church to grow "strong" such that the Holy Spirit saw fit to send them both out (vs. Simeon, Lucius and/or Manaen)?) and ask "what did the apostles teach?" to guard against reading church history back into the first century (NT). For an excellent present day catechical tool I am using, see "The First Principles Series" by BILD Int'l ([...]).
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I really enjoyed reading this. This is such an important message for a Biblically illiterate generation of Christians. The recent Renaissance in Christian apologetics has been great for reminding Christians of the need to know *why* they believe what they believe, but that is really predicated on actually knowing *what* you believe in the first place. That's where this book's call to catechesis comes in. It is a reminder to look back to traditions we've let slip away, to reacquaint ourselves with an old friend of the church for most of its history: the catechism. In evangelical circles, we tend to think of the catechism as a Catholic device, forgetting that Luther and other Protestants had catechisms as well. But more importantly, the early church, before there was Catholic and Protestant, had formal teaching of new inquirers and members to pass on faithfully what they had received. We have fallen far from that level of diligence, but may Packer's and Parrett's call to renewed emphasis on teaching sound doctrine bring us back closer to God. Parrett's look at the importance of hymnody is also a welcome relief from the emotionally-driven, worldly "worship songs" being sung in a lot of churches now. Not that those are all bad, or that the style is wrong or anything like that. But Parrett reminds us that we are always singing theology, the only question is whether it's good accurate theology or a distorted view of God made in man's image instead of the other way around. Overall, I highly recommend the book.
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I read this book because I heard the authors interviewed in an episode of the White Horse Inn radio program (WHI-986, Feb. 28, 2010). I thought their thesis - that the church is strongest when it places an emphasis on catechesis - was intriguing. The book did not disappoint. According to the historical evidence presented in the book, it does appear that the church has been strongest when its catechetical efforts have also been strong. And as the emphasis on catechesis wanes, so does the overall strength of the church.

Considering the lack of doctrinal depth and biblical knowledge of many in the Protestant churches I have been associated with, I think this is a message that Protestants need to both hear and apply in their individual congregations.
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This book is an answer to our prayers for our brothers and sisters in the evangelical churches. I watch a lot of 'religious' programming on tv and the need for catechesis is overwhelming.

Packer and Parrett have laid out a step by step road map on how to catechise the preachers and teachers who can then catechise the faithful. We Christians tend to think that we are all on the same page but we're not. This book not only points to the right page but lays out how to get there.

This is not the quickest read you'll ever enjoy but it's worth the work.
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