J. I. Packer: Fighting Heresy in Churches and Small Groups

J. I. Packer: Fighting Heresy in Churches and Small Groups

Could an ancient practice be the solution for a modern problem?
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What kinds of heretical beliefs have you found to be common in the church today?

What is common in this post-Christian age is all the various forms that are taken by the fantasy, and it's a very potent fantasy, that all religions are somehow one. Somehow they are the same religion. Somehow they are all of them pointing to the top of the same mountain, and as we climb we become more and more aware that we're getting closer to everybody else who is climbing by other paths—Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever—and when we get to the top, we shall find that we're totally together.

It's a sweet dream, but the early Christians rejected it out of hand. And, I think, so should we.

Going back to the topic of catechism, is it still possible to do catechesis or guard against heresy as effectively when so many of our modern churches are so large?

I think it would be possible if the will was there.

I mean, if you have a megachurch, what's important is the infrastructure. You've got to develop an infrastructure which takes in all the people, thousands of them, to give them such basic instruction as they all need. Of course, it's easier to arrange an infrastructure for a congregation of about 100, but the principle is the same even though the work is harder.

You break people down into learning groups, call them classes or whatever you choose, and you have persons who are gifted and know their stuff as catechists. The catechists teach the faith as the integrated unity that it is in Scripture. They don't teach isolated points of doctrine; they teach the whole Christian story as it's brought together, and they teach the creeds. And as they go along they sort out the inquirers and they dispel the errors.

—J. I. Packer; copyright 2011 by the author and Christianity Today International.

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