Book Review: Gospel-Powered Parenting

William P. Farley. Gospel-Powered Parenting. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2009. 208 pages.

“Can you explain what the word gospel means in two minutes or less?”

You may have been asked a question like this by someone who wanted to encourage you to share your faith with lost folks. Indeed, the gospel is profoundly simple, simple enough for a child to understand.

I’d like to ask you another question, though: can you explain how the gospel affects your work? Your hobbies? What you are doing right now? While the gospel is a crystal clear message, it is also a vast constellation of brilliant truths that ought to affect–and be central to–everything we do.

William Farley expounds this concept as it relates to parenting. And I would encourage you to read what he has to say. While there have been thousands of parenting helps published in the last decade or so, few approach the subject with the clarity and freshness of this book.

I’ll warn you, though. This book is different in two big ways. First, while most books focus on a “simple” goal, such as correcting your child’s behavior or training them to “turn out” a certain way, Farley presents a much fuller purpose for the parenting task. He maintains that the all-consuming goal of parenting is that your children learn to love and serve God–to actually enjoy Him–and teach others to do the same.

The second difference is along the same lines. Because most books have a less transcendent goal, they focus on simpler means. Gospel-Powered Parenting takes an entirely different approach. Farley convincingly shows that your entire life has profound implications for your children’s future. While many authors are telling us how to do a successful timeout, Farley is explaining the truths of the gospel and what they mean for your walk with God, your marriage, and your role as a parent.

Another unique contribution that Gospel-Powered Parenting makes is an unashamed, unequivocal call for fathers to take the lead in raising children. He goes so far as to say that “fathers are the parents, and their wives are their assistants” (p. 126). This statement is a little shocking in the wake of a feminist culture nearly 50 years in the making, but it is exactly what we dads need to hear.

In summary, this book is a reminder that the best advice, the loving church community, even rigorous religious education, all pale in comparison to a parent who has faced up to his or her desperate need to continually experience the grace of God. Until we keep that in the front of our minds–and in front of our families–our best efforts will be just that: ours.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to the end of my parenting rope enough times to know that my best efforts won’t get my children anywhere. They need nothing but the precious blood of Christ and the grace and power it affords. That’s what this book is about.

One Response

  1. Sounds like a great book! Right on target!

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