HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Christian Family
Author: Larry Christenson
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, 1970
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Christenson, Larry. The Christian Family (published in 1970 by Bethany Fellowship Inc., 6820 Auto Club Rd., Minneapolis, MN 55438). Larry Christenson (born March 10, 1928) is a minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the former director of the International Lutheran Renewal Center in Minneapolis, a popular conference speaker, and a bestselling author of more than fifteen books. His book The Christian Family has been called “America’s Favorite Book on the Family” with over two million copies sold in the United States alone since the first edition was published in 1970, and it has been translated into nine other languages. Also, it was the winner of the Gold Medallion Award (ECPA), which recognizes excellence in evangelical Christian literature. The book is divided into two parts. Part One examines “God’s Order for the Family” with five chapters, one each on mates, wives, children, parents, and husbands. Part Two has three chapters which make application of these principles for “Practicing the Presence of Jesus.”
Most people have found the book useful, but there are some people who absolutely hate it. One critic said that “the author’s opinions…appear to be largely formed around what was typical for a Christian family in the 1950s in America,” claiming that “scriptures need to be examined closely in regard to the context, culture, and language in which they were delivered in order to have a proper understanding of what God intended and how that intersects and pertains to contemporary society and family life.” That kind of language is often code-speak for “the Bible is outdated and needs to be reinterpreted for today’s culture.” But those of us who believe the Scriptures reject this notion, convinced that God’s truths as revealed in His word are universal and unchanging. And the fact is that a larger majority of people in the 1950s appear to have accepted God’s truth and thus had some things which we could still use today.
Another objection is that Christenson “indicates that the basic problem with modern families is the lack of a proper authority structure–not a lack of love, or even a lack of wisdom in expressing love – but a failure of authority and submission” and “established that the family is a place of control rather than of nurture.” Those who reject God’s plan for order in the home usually oppose those who teach it. Someone even alleged that “Christenson recommends that a man beat his wife and daughters to make them submit to his authority.” That is simply a pure misrepresentation. He does teach reasonable corporal punishment for children, which today’s leftists equate with child abuse. “One million readers suffered from a frightening lack of discernment.” This is the mentality that says that the left knows better than anyone else how to raise children. One detractor noted, “Nazi death camp survivor Elie Wiesel put it like this: ‘Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.’” With all due respect to the late Mr. Wiesel, that is the essence of humanism as opposed to following God’s way. With recommendations by such people as David Wilkerson and Ruth Bell Graham, I think I’ll take Christenson over the modernists.