Trained in the Fear of God by Randy Stintson & Timothy Paul Jones
The Bible is all about relationships: first, our relationship with God and its priority over all else; second, our relationships with others—family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies. There are many passages that speak to these relationships and Jesus taught a great deal about them. In fact, when asked what the two greatest commandments were, Jesus responded with the following, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
Mark 12:29-31 NASB Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The first commandment comes from what is known as the Shema, named after the Hebrew word for hear. But the original word implies more than just listen. It is really saying, “Pay attention to this because it is extremely important!” The original text, which covers verses 4-9 of Deuteronomy 6, has more to say about this relationship that is to be of utmost importance in our lives. Not only is it important to you, but you are to teach to your children about God, looking for teachable moments wherever you are and whatever you are doing. This relationship with God should permeate and direct every aspect of our daily lives.
This passage is one of the foundational verses used by the authors of the book because it establishes the fact that the family is to be the primary place where children are taught about God, shown how to live to honor Him in all that you do and say, and encouraged to help others, especially in times of need. The church is to be a partner with the family as the family together grows in their discipleship.
Here is the Table of Contents to help give you an idea of what to expect in the book if you choose to read it. I believe the topics are presented with respect for and adherence to the bible as God’s revealed word to mankind and our source for instruction in life and fellowship.
Introduction: The Problem with Family Ministry
Part 1—The Character of God and the Created Order: A Biblical and Theological Framework for Considering Family Relationships
- That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord: Family Discipleship in the Old Testament
- Bring Them Up in the Discipline and Instruction of the Lord: Family Discipleship among the First Christians
- The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: The Trinity as Theological Foundation for Family Ministry
- Male and Female, He Created Them: Gender Roles and Relationships in Biblical Perspective
- The Compassion of Truth: Homosexuality in Biblical Perspective
Part 2—Covenants and Community: Family Discipleship in Christian History
- Among Your Company at Home: Family Discipleship in Late Ancient and Medieval Churches
- The Home Is an Earthly Kingdom: Family Discipleship among Reformers and Puritans
- The Challenge of Matriarchy: Family Discipleship and the African American Experience
- Growing Gaps from Generations to Generations: Family Discipleship in Modern and Postmodern Contexts
Part 3—Growing the Family of God: Guiding a Congregation toward Theologically Grounded Family Ministry
- The Pastor’s Home as Paradigm for the Church’s Family Ministry
- Habits of a Gospel-Centered Household
- Building a Milestone Ministry in Your Church
- Why Your Child’s Brain Needs Family Ministry
- Family Ministry, the Priority or a Priority?
- The Freedom of Christ and the Unforeseen Consequences of Feminism
- Building and Equipping Missional Families
- Making the Transition to Family-Equipping Ministry
Person and Subject Index
Each of the chapters are written by different people or pairs of people and as you can see the subjects cover the gamut of historical, theological, and practical issues facing the church and families today and doesn’t shrink from some of the more difficult ones including male headship, homosexuality, and feminism. The authors present the issues from a conservative, biblical perspective and maintain that a marriage/family is designed by God to be between one man and one women for a lifetime, with the husband/father leading the family with the cooperation of and in partnership with the wife/mother, in the discipleship of their children and in their participation in the church, a community of faith.
I already had an inclination toward agreeing with the authors before reading the book which was confirmed the more I read. I couldn’t do an adequate job of defending or critiquing the many topics discussed, so I will leave it to the reader to decide for themselves after reading the book. I will say this: the more I read it, the more it became apparent that I still need to grow in some areas of my faith life. Why do I say that? Because I want to be a reflection of God’s design for relationships: first, with God, and second, with others. Some might find it controversial but the authors provide enough Scriptural support to give credence to their message.
Stinson, Randy, and Timothy Paul Jones, eds. Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011. [Christianbook] [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [Alibris]