Book Reviews -- By: Lilly Park
JFM 2:2 (Spring/Summer 2012) p. 66
Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families. By Michelle Anthony. David C. Cook, 2010,219 pages, $14.99.
It has been said that the work of orthodox teaching is not only to present the same old truths without compromise but to present them more beautifully and believably than they were considered before the teaching began. There is really nothing new to say about Jesus (or parenting for that matter), but there are worthy things to say, and they should be said well.
In chapter 4 of Raising Children To Adore God (Chosen, 2003), Patrick Kavanaugh explored the idea of making both church and home into environments that will instill in our children a life-long passion to worship the one true God. Kavanaugh unpacked five principles that should characterize the “home environment”: unconditional love, impartial justice, wisdom, stability, and the centrality of Jesus. That chapter is one that I’ve returned to again and again when reflecting on parenting, and I was reminded of its simplicity again and again while reading Michelle Anthony’s book, Spiritual Parenting.
Anthony serves as Pastor of Family Ministry at ROCKHarbor Church in California and as Family Ministry Architect for David C. Cook Publishing Company. Anthony never quotes Kavanaugh, but they see the same themes in the scriptures, and she does a good job of re-telling the same old truths, and telling them well.
Like Kavanaugh, Anthony recognizes that it is not the job of the parent to “merely control my child’s behavior and by doing so somehow create a spiritual life for him or her” (15). Rather, the goal is to pass on a “vibrant and transforming faith,” the kind of faith in which children “know and hear God’s voice,” “desire to obey Him,” and will to obey him “not in their own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit” (16). Such faith begins with firm conviction and personal surrender. The corresponding conduct then comes not merely as behavior modification or “sin management” but as a by-product of genuine faith (24).
Anthony then encourages parents with the following words, “The joy of parenting can be spent on cultivating environments for our children’s faith to grow, teaching them to cultivate a love relationship with Jesus as we cultivate our own, living our lives authentically in front of them so that they become eyewitnesses to our own transformation” (25). Her ten environments include three identity-forming environments, three missional environments, the environment of correction, and three environments for spiritual formation.
3 Identity-forming Environments (Storytelling, Identity, Faith Community
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