Book Review of Andreas Kostenberger’s (Ed) “God, Marriage, and Family” and some thoughts on the “Family Integrated Church” movement

Baptists are often accused of not having a thorough Biblical theology of family, but this book has made a large impression in the Evangelical world, even considered by many to be “thee” book on family. I read this book in preparation for a sermon series on the family and I found many of the chapters to be incredibly insightful and helpful.

I do have to admit that the one weakness of the book is it’s inability to deal with the role of children among the redeemed community in the Old and New Testaments. Make no mistake, the role and function of Christian parents is held in high regard and they are encouraged to teach and instruct their children in the Lord, but there is no real clear paradigm for the initiation of children in the redeemed community. One would assume that the traditional Baptist paradigm of waiting for repentance and a credible profession of faith is what brings our children fully into the covenant community, but do these children have any status in God’s redemptive dealings with the family from the womb? This is a very small issue within the broader context of this book.

I found chapter 13 “God, Marriage, Family, and the Church: Learning to be the Family of God” to be a much needed update in this second edition. At least it seeks to deal with how the institution of family and the church function and where our children fit in the whole equation. This chapter has been discussed in the blogosphere in regards to the concerns of the “Family Integrated Church” model. One of the prominent figures, Voddie Baucham, responded to Kostenberger here. Honestlty, I think that Scott Brown (no, not the Senator from MA) has adequately responded to the concerns over at their site. For those interested in sifting through the whole “Family Integrated Church” movement, I do think that Kostenberger’s chapter is necessary reading. While I have said that Brown adequately responded to the krux of Kostenberger’s theological concerns, I do think that the “FIC” culture does often resemble what Kostenberger is referring to. It usually attracts a bunch of homeschoolers who view the institution of family as equal to or even exceeding the ecclesiastical authority of the church. This leads to all kinds of issues that I will refrain from noting. If I may offer a few last words, I want to also commend the “FIC” reaction to what they think are even greater issues of neglect in the Evangelical church in equipping husbands, wives, and children to live out their institutionally responsibilities in the family for the glory of God. I am a stronger critic of the rabid egalitarianism in Evangelicalism than the cultural concerns I see in some of the “FIC” crowd. As C.S. Lewis once said, all heresy is the overemphasis on a neglected doctrine. I am not suggesting that the “FIC” is heretical by any means, but my concerns of the movement are the understandable reaction to the pathetic environment in your generic Evangelical church.

Oh yeah, back to the book…it is worth buying and will serve as a reference in your library for future use. I know that Mark Driscoll mandates the reading of this book for premarital counseling and would say that I almost would mandate that this book sit in the library of every family in our church.

© 2011, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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