Friday, February 5, 2010

Gospel-Powered Parenting

I recently read this book and someone asked for my thoughts. This isn't a full review but just some thoughts.

1. Overall, it was a good book. Easy to read, challenging, encouraging. A book that places the gospel at the center of our parenting is a good thing.

2. I thought the strongest chapters were the one dealing with the first principle of parenting (having strong marriages) and the one dealing with the importance of fathers.

3. While there are some practical suggestions, this is not a "how-to" book. If you are looking for a program to work like an exercise program, this book will likely disappoint.

4. Always appreciate the focus on the need for heart transformation, not simply behavior modification.

5. A few quibbles.

a. There seems to be at least ambivalence to homeschooling. At one point, he states that he has seen no qualitative difference between those in public schools, private schools, or homeschools. He also has a negative example where a parent has their list of "No" items, like no drinking, no movies, etc. and includes no public education in the list. At another point, while emphasizing the crucial role of the family in training children, the author states that "parents can, and probably should, hire a school to assist us." No problem with the "can" but "probably should" seems a stronger sentiment to me.

b. The author rightly stresses the need for our children to experience new birth. However, he says several times that we should not assume our children are Christians. I take his point but have two concerns. One is that if we constantly take a negative regard to our children's faith, we can actually cause them to doubt. If, for example, my son, Jack, tells me he is a Christian and I respond by telling him that he can't be because he is too young, or doesn't understand enough, or hasn't done something, then I think I am undermining the very gospel I preach. Indeed, we find the Bible revealing things such as "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" or "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." I am not suggesting the author disagrees; it was simply unclear to me. The second concern is how the author suggests we discern the new birth in our children. On one hand, he warns against presuming regeneration because our children attend church or youth group or even a child's profession. All good but then he goes on to list other signs that would indicate new birth, such as increased obedience to parents, reading God' Word, etc. My question would be "Can't a desire to worship with God's people be a sign of the new birth?" or "Does an increased desire to read God's Word necessarily mean conversion?" At that point, it seems to me that you are simply exchanging one list for another. I think the discernment of a parent in this matter is a more dynamic, on-going affair. Again, I am not suggesting that the author would answer in the affirmative to my questions but that was how that section of the book read to me.

Okay, that was longer than I meant it to be. Overall, it is a good book, worth reading.


Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the review, Jon! Thanks for taking the time to do it.

anewday said...

Thank you so much for reviewing this! Very helpful. :)

Sarah said...

I appreciate the review, too.

Nan said...

Thanks for the mini-review!