Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 10/16/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. Timeless counsel on Christian parenting superior to most contemporary Christian parenting books.
One might expect a parenting book from fifty years ago to be outdated. And many are, especially if they promoted the latest fads or pop psychology. But the Word of God is timeless, and when one has the gift of correctly interpreting and applying the Word, his works will be timeless too. At this stage in my life, there's no subject more important to me than parenting. And there’s no one I would rather read on New Testament topics than Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
So, when I saw that his sermons on Ephesians 6:1-4 had been republished under the title Raising Children God's Way, I was compelled to read it and knew that it would be exceptional. What I didn't expect is that this book is more balanced and realistic than much of what is being written on the same subject today.
Raising Children God's Way consists of five sermons that Lloyd-Jones preached at Westminster Chapel, London, during his series on Ephesians. The entire series was originally printed in an eight volume set by Banner of Truth. The book under consideration is only 85 pages long - perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
The chapter titles are:
- Submissive Children
- Unbelieving Parents
- Discipline and the Modern Mind
- Balanced Discipline
- Godly Upbringing
In the first two chapters, Lloyd-Jones unpacks the meaning behind Paul's admonition to children, "Obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise." The third chapter tells how and why the modern view of man is flawed, which leads to flawed ideas regarding discipline. The last two chapters of the book deal more directly with the practical aspects of raising children: "Balanced Discipline" discusses how to discipline without exasperating, humiliating, or driving children away, while "Godly Upbringing" deals with the teaching and nurturing of children.
There is a lot to like about this book. First, since these sermons were originally preached to a mixed audience, they are applicable and edifying to everyone, parent or not. Second, as is always the case with Lloyd-Jones, his writing is clear and to the point. The pages are not filled with fluff - no sentimental stories about little Johnny. And the author doesn't put on intellectual airs. He writes like a normal man speaking to normal people. Third, Lloyd-Jones' approach to discipline is balanced and intelligent:
Discipline is essential and must be enforced; but the Apostle exhorts us to be very careful as to how we exercise it, because we can do more harm than good if we do not do it in the right way...[Discipline] must always be intelligent; there must always be a reason for it, and that reason should always be made plain and clear.
Fourth, the author stresses the importance of treating children with love and respect:
You must not think of yourself primarily, but of the child. The child's good is to be your controlling motive...The child is as much an entity as you are yourself, given, sent by God into this world even as you...If in punishing or administering discipline or correction, we are ever guilty of humiliating the child, it is clear that we ourselves need to be disciplined.
And fifth: instead of fussing over the smaller details of raising children, Lloyd-Jones focuses on the essence of good parenting:
I say to Christian people, and all who are in any way responsible for the discipline of children and of young people, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.'
In one way or another, I've been disappointed with most contemporary Christian parenting books that I’ve read. Not this one. I would gladly trade the others for this one, short volume.