Book Review: A Theology of the Family
With roughly the same amount of pages as Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, A Theology of the Family is a daunting book by its sheer size and volume. On the squashable bug meter, this rates five spiders out of five. It’s big. And yet, the book is a fantastic resource that, if read in small doses, even the casual reader can swallow and digest in manageable portions.
Edited by Scott Brown and Jeff Pollard, A Theology of the Family contains twelve chapters and one-hundred and fifteen (or so) sections within those chapters from writers on the topic of family that vary from John Bunyan to R.C. Sproul, from John Calvin to Joel Beeke. With each section remaining relatively small, it’s not inconceivable that each section could even be read as a part of nightly devotion. The book really does offer a beautiful balance between scholarly and casual reading.
What Pollard and Brown have put together is a product of their own life’s work and ministries. If you are unfamiliar with Pollard, you’re probably not unfamiliar (should you be in our circles) with Free Grace Broadcaster or Chapel Library, with their incredible gifting of free Puritan and Puritanesque resources to churches. I’ve been blessed on multiple occasions to receive the resources free of charge for Reformation Montana conferences and other events and thought to myself, “Who are these crazy people?” Well, it’s Jeff Pollard and the ministry of his church, Zion Bible Church. You can tell, when reading A Theology of the Family, that the resources from centuries past on the topic of family were no doubt what was (in part) discovered by Pollard in his work with Chapel Library. Pollard has been the doorkeeper to the Saints of old for many, and through that door came some of the resources in this book, no doubt.
Scott Brown is the director for the National Council for Family Integrated Churches (for full disclosure, my church is listed with the NCFIC). The NCFIC has been at the center of both controversy and reform in recent years for being the spear-tip of the family integrated church model. The organization promotes the complementary roles of men and women, the centrality of the church in God’s plan for families, and the sufficiency of Scripture along with their better-known goal of integrating all ages into church worship and activities. Like with Pollard and Chapel Library, Brown’s life calling can be seen within the pages of the book and it is edited accordingly.
There are several reasons why this book is worthy of your purchase and reading.
First, I can almost guarantee you that you haven’t read the vast majority of what this book contains. While most of the writings of the Puritans and non-Conformists are collecting dust in literary tombs and will (likely) never see the light of day, Pollard and Brown have brought some out into the light. Even if you have read the authors included therein (and you probably have), it doesn’t mean you’ve read them on this topic. Doesn’t it intrigue you what Baxter, Watson, Bunyan, or M’Cheyne had to say on these topics?
Secondly, let’s assume you’re a skeptic. Let’s assume you don’t know Brown or Pollard and certainly wouldn’t vouch for them as experts on the family. Let’s assume you don’t know if you can trust their legacy on this topic, which is still being written. You can trust any of the fifty-six authors published in this book. Goodness, you probably already do! Edwards, Ryle, Gill, Luther, Calvin, Gouge, Henry, Lloyd-Jones, Sproul, these are trusted authorities for most us in Reformed and evangelical circles.
Third, the variety of topics contained is wide-reaching and practically helpful. Topics include godly manhood, motherhood, marriage, bringing up children, modesty and even abortion. A Theology of the Family really does cover almost everything.
Without giving anything away from the treasurer trove of knowledge and biblical exhortation contained in the pages of Pollard and Brown’s work, please trust me, it’s worth your time and attention. You can find it here.
[Contributed by JD Hall]