Book Review: Gospel Powered Parenting
This is Mike and Jan Brindle's review of Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William Farley (P&R, 2009, 234 pages). You can purchase a copy of Gospel-Powered Parenting online or in our church bookstore.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God..."(Romans 1:16). While Paul wrote this verse in the context of describing the gospel and salvation, author William P. Farley in his book Gospel-Powered Parenting asks us to extend our thinking to see how the gospel is the power of God for all living activities, especially the activities of marriage and parenting.
The back cover explains, "Parents who claim the gospel as their own have an enormous effect on their marriage, their integrity, and their love for their children. Keeping the gospel at the forefront of every aspect of marriage helps parents fear God, sensitizes them to sin, motivates them to enter their children's world, and causes them to preach the beauty of the gospel to their children through their marriage." If you're looking for a parenting book heavy on tips and techniques, Farley's book is not the book to read. While certain techniques are suggested at the very end of the book, the author declares that the gospel alone is more than sufficient to answer all your critical parenting questions.
What we think about God determines how we act. William Farley challenges us to understand who God is. The author focuses on the fear of the Lord as the beginning of all parental wisdom (as Proverbs 9:10 assures us it indeed is). He takes us on a spiritual journey through an exploration of gospel fear, the holiness of God, and the grace of God. Gospel-Powered Parenting emphasizes first the relationship parents have with God, then the parents' relationship with each other, and finally, their relationship with their children, all in light of God's Word. The author points us to the concept that if Christians really understood the fear of God, we would really understand the verse in 1 John 4:18 that states "Perfect love casts out fear" (except the fear of God).
Understanding the real power of the gospel also takes a front and center role throughout the book. Do we really understand that God's dynamos power is for every believer and not just super Christians? Do we really believe Isaiah 53:1 when it says "Who has believed what they heard from us, to whom has the arm of the Lord (His power) been revealed?" Is God's power, which is available to all Christian parents, greater than we can even conceive?
The study of the fear of the Lord and the power of God alone makes the book a great summer read. While you will likely not agree with everything the author says (we personally thought the emphasis on patriarchal structure in homes was a bit too strong), we need the gospel front and center in all our lives (As Pastor Tom likes to say, "Preach the gospel to yourself daily"). Because we are imperfect parents, we must run to the gospel daily for cleansing and forgiveness. The gospel then produces humility, and humility attracts our children to the gospel.
This book may just help you keep your focus in the right place.