You won't find anything particularly new in Voddie Baucham's Family Shepherds, but that doesn't mean the content won't strike you as earth-shattering. This isn't the typical "try harder with your family!" book; it's a call to men to engage their roles as father and husband with their eyes focused entirely on the Gospel.
But Baucham doesn't start with the "how," he first shows his readers "why." Without reformation, he asserts, there can be no revival, and so he first presents a biblical understanding of manliness and family leadership that takes its cue from both the Old and New Covenants, following this with practical suggestions and guidance.
What is a family? What is its purpose? What is the purpose of marriage, and how can I improve mine? Why should I lead my family in worship on weekdays? Will that ensure my kids never go astray? Baucham answers all these questions and many more straight from the pages of Scripture, offering a holistic picture of family life that is Gospel-centered and wise.
As a pastor, Baucham has seen every kind of family. He also recognizes the importance of submitting one's family to church elders who are models of biblical home life, and exhorts Christian men, no matter their background or track record, to join a biblical church and to begin leading their families in the pursuit of Christ.
Topics include everything from formative and corrective discipline, to the primacy of marriage, to the importance of catechism. If you're looking for simple practical advice there is some of that here (don't let your family break apart due to technology, love your spouse in front of your kids, etc.), but the focus is God's Word and the Gospel message contained in it.
Terms like "family worship" and "doctrinal unity" may not be very popular anymore, and most authors of popular works don't usually quote Charles Hodge, but Baucham writes clearly and explains all his terms so every father can understand them. But the goal isn't simply understanding, it's transformation.
Transformation, that is, which is rooted in and proceeds from a true love for, understanding of, and faith in the Gospel. There are too many books that expect us to change; Baucham's call to rely on the God who changes us is as refreshing as his assurance that he's seen men turn from selfishness to spiritual leadership through renewed trust in the true Gospel.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.