- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Crossway (May 4 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433520095
- ISBN-13: 978-1433520099
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #122,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus Paperback – May 4 2011
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“So many Christian parents fall into the trap of asking the law to do in the hearts of their children what only grace can accomplish. Armed with threats, manipulation, and guilt, they attempt to create change that only the cross of Jesus Christ makes possible. It is so encouraging to read a parenting book that points parents to the grace of the cross and shows them how to be instruments of that grace in the lives of their children.”
―Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect?
“In our human attempts to raise good and godly kids, we often forget that God extended his best grace to us. We are not full of grace on our own; we desperately need his grace. Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica, provide a great tool to guide parents down the road of gracious parenting. I commend it to you.”
―James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church
“Elyse Fitzpatrick continues her never-ending quest to churn out grace-filled, Christ-centered, gospel-saturated books. And now she’s done it again with her daughter, Jessica, coauthoring this excellent parenting book! If you are a parent, get online and order your copy of Give Them Grace today!”
―Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; author, The Pastor and Counseling and She’s Got the Wrong Guy
“The authors―mother and daughter―remind us that parenting is not only hard but also impossible. Yes, we need to nurture, teach, discipline, train, pray, and model, but we must not depend on our parenting skills to change the hearts of our children. Instead, they counsel parents to ‘rely on the faithfulness of Jesus, our great high priest, to change their hearts.’ Grace for both parents and children flows through the pages of this book; I only wish I had read it at the beginning of my parenting instead of the end.”
―Rose Marie Miller, missionary; author, From Fear to Freedom
“This is not just a book on parenting; this is deep training in the gospel. Elyse Fitzpatrick shows parents how to model themselves after the heavenly Father, who changed his children not by wrath and the law but by grace. A lot of books talk about gospel-centeredness in theory; this book shows you how to apply it to one of life’s most important relationships.”
―J. D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; author, Not God Enough and Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
About the Author
Elyse Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the author of over 20 books, including Because He Loves Me, Comforts from the Cross, and Found in Him.
Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.
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In reading this book, I applaud the authors for helping readers see that grace is what saves and sustains both parents and their children. Without children of my own, I can only observe from afar the frustrations and challenges of raising godly children. Indeed, there are many sincere Christian parents who, despite their best efforts, have raised children that end up rejecting Christianity altogether. This book encourages parents to not give up on their children but trust in the powerful grace that flows from Christ. However, I did find the book to be repetitive at times and the content drifts somewhat off-topic as the bulk of content were dedicated to discussions between law and grace. I understand the authors are trying to eradicate any form of works-based mentality that parents may have but much of the book seemed more intent on examining the doctrine of justification by grace rather than about parenting. Much of the book could actually be removed and constitute an entirely separate book on the doctrine of grace. Naturally, one could see how the gospel is supposed to impact all aspects of our life including parenting but how it practically works out in the act of parenting seems to be left unanswered. At the end of the book, I still cannot see how the authors reconcile the need for grace while upholding discipline and obedience. For sure we are to preach the gospel to our kids by reminding them of their sinfulness and need for God’s grace. Moreover, we can certainly tell kids to obey because Jesus obeys but what are we to do afterwards if the child disagrees? Do we simply keep on repeating those words and hope that it sinks in one day? How do we stress obedience while asking our children to fall back onto God’s grace? In essence, my question for the authors is this: In the context of parenting, how do we teach our kids both the doctrine of justification and the doctrine of sanctification?
In summary, I do recommend this book for parents who have become tired or discouraged over the years from the disappointments in parenting. The authors remind parents that godly children are the result of the gospel transforming their lives not a product of the parents’ successful parenting methods. The role of parents is to display the grace that they have experienced through Christ to awaken their children to their own sinfulness and their need for a Saviour.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.
In essence, the first 90 pages (or so) are largely consumed with establishing a theological foundation. One's view of the book will be significantly coloured by their perspective on that foundation.
As you can gather from the two star rating, I am not fond of this book. That said, I don't regret reading it and learned a few things. One must applaud the authors for attempting to write a "fresh" parenting book that isn't the "same old stuff". The book does get better after the 90-or-so-page-mark, the content is a bit more nuanced and practical. I like that it seeks to magnify the grace of God. I like that it attempts to lead parents away from prideful self sufficiency and away from Christless parenting. I like that it tries to get parents to thoughtfully engage in parenting in a way that is gracious and points their children to the gospel. While I can't recommend the book, I *do* like that the authors are seeking to challenge people to discern what is distinctively Christian in their way of parenting.
That said, I believe there are some significant theological problems, both in explicit statements and in general emphasis. Those who have been in Reformedish circles over the last couple of years will immediately see the connection with the controversial Tullian Tchvidjian. This should not come as a surprise when Tullian himself says in his foreword that Elyse "taught me a ton" about the gospel. The book's theology is basically that of Tchividjian and has more of a Lutheran theological flavour than a Reformed one. After all, five of the ten chapters begin with a quote from Luther or Lutheran theologians. I am almost tempted to theorize that beyond writing the foreword, Tullian may have been the "ghost writer".
The outlook if the whole book is affected by the basic emphasis of the 'Liberate Conference' or 'Grace Lit' fad. Such a perspective pervades the first 90-or-so-pages and is the underpinning of the rest. The third use of the law is severely under emphasized. The underlining assumption is that there is only one proper and safe motivation to obedience--gratitude. One might say the book's outlook leans significantly in the direction of "soft antinomianism"--not necessarily overt antinomianism, but undertones of it. As Tullian is known to do, the book utilizes Gerhard Forde--who it should be noted is even regarded by many Lutherans as having antinomian tendencies.
In many places the gospel is "over applied". And the distinctions in the different "levels" of obedience, while having some value, are perhaps taken too far and given too much weight. If you are going to read it, I believe the theology and practice of the book should be taken with a grain of salt, and you will have to be prepared to take the good and throw out the bad. I will not get into a deeper theological discussion of these issues I'm noting, since this is a book review, not a theological dissertation. I will simply say that if you've seen any problems in Tullian Tchividjian's theology, you will probably find them here as well.
I believe there are other problems with the book, beyond its theological perspective, and these further add to my justification for the two-star rating I gave.
Some of the examples of conversations are unhelpful. I like that the book gives concrete examples of what parents can say in different situations (many, parenting books are far too abstract). However, a good many of the examples are unrealistic and unhelpfully verbose. They are tedious and unlikely to dazzle a kid--even if approximated with some adjustments. And there is little specific guidance as to how "age appropriateness" fits in to the equation, other than a reference to the different types of obedience and an observation that they are more or less relevant at different ages.
Furthermore, one or two of the suggested speeches seem to be lacking in wisdom and tact. The worst of them almost sound like a stereotypical Christian parent from a sitcom or the Simpsons. Seriously: you are going to lecture your kid on his eternal state when he blows his team's baseball game? I can't imagine how that sounded good even in the "laboratory" of theory! I doubt it would "dazzle" any kid. I realize they are just examples, but I think these flaws seriously compromise the usefulness of the examples. If you read the reviews, the vast majority of the non-4-or-5-star reviews bring up this aspect.
The writing style leaves much to be desired. Even though the general flow is jumpy and flighty at times, there is, on the other hand, too much rehashing and repetition. Dramatic words like "dazzle", "drench", and "bombarded" are over used.
I also think the tone could have been worked on, especially for a book about "giving grace"--leading the reader to believe that perhaps the author's law vs. gospel categories are perhaps not as "airtight" in practice as they are in theory. Even some of the speeches that are meant to "give grace, not law", seem sort of "legal" (by their definition of "legal/law", not mine) in tone. The comments at the end of the chapters about "what the Holy Spirit may be teaching through the chapter" (not an exact quote) may add to the perception of a "preachy" and "talking down" feel to the book.
I would love to see a book come out which had some similar goals, but with a better theological foundation/framework (more sound on law/gospel issues), written better, and more concise and realistic examples. That improvement would trickle down to many minor details in the book--making it a stronger book all-round. Such a hypothetical book may not get Tullian's endorsement, but it would at least be more robust and realistic. And I suppose there is always the recourse of a tried and tested J. I. Packer endorsement.
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