linked me to a talk by this fellow who was railing on against the popular model of youth ministry, the popular conception of family and success, the myth of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the necessity of the Gospel for the church. For some, I am sure, the message sounded like complete madness, but to me, it was amazing.
The speaker was Voddie Baucham Jr., and I became an instant fan. The problem was that Pastor Baucham sort of fell off the face of evangelidom. He did one thing with John Piper, and there was something else I can't remember, and he wrote another book about family-centered faith models. So while I expected him to be some kind of "next big thing" (especially in the circles I am sort of involved in or looking over the fence into), it turns out he was more interested in being a husband, father, and pastor -- to which I say, "may his tribe increase."
But then about 4 weeks ago Crossway sent me this book you see pictured at here at the top of the post titled What He Must Be, which Pastor Baucham wrote. And the topic is, well, startling -- because the full title is What He Must Be . . . If He Wants to Marry My Daughter.
Now, at this point, I am supposed to write a review of this book and whatever -- and if I disagreed with the book, of course it would break into a six-part autopsy of the body. But fortunately for all of us, this is not that kind of review.
But here's the thing: I'm actually in the middle of this year-long series on what the Pastor should be, and this book has dropped into the middle of my study. So in that, I'm going to make a brief connection to that topic, then give you the breakdown on this book which is probably in the top three books of the last 50 years on marriage and the call to being a husband. (the other two, for the easily-distracted, are Sacred Marriage and, in spite of the associated TV show, Marriage on the Rock)
You know, Paul tells Titus that the one who would be an elder should be "above reproach" and have "children who are believers". And in that description (which we will get back to in the long run), what we find is the nut from which this book about what kind of young man we should seek out for our daughters grows into a kind of oak tree of spiritual instruction.
In my view, the book has two clear faults: it has no scripture reference in the back (note to Crossway: add it to the second edition), and the sociological vision of chapter 2 was, I thought, too loosely-secular. It was really a compilation of statistics about marriage -- and let's be frank: nobody doubts today that marriage as an institution today is on the rocks, floundering as the church sort of looks on morosely. But even if it wasn't, or we didn't know it, that would be irrelevant to the point at-hand, which is what the Bible calls men to be.
But I can't say this clearly enough: you have to overlook those faults to get into this book and grab a robust view of the role of a husband and a father -- both from the perspective of what you personally ought to be in your family, and what you ought to seek out in and mentor into young men who think they want something to do with young women, especially the young women in your family.
I started out with a pad of post-it notes as I crossed over into Chapter 3, afraid I was going to get let down by this book because of Chapter 2 -- and instead I found myself wall-papering its interior with notes for quotes. The rich theology is both accessible and convicting; the common sense and fatherly perspective make the book frankly-engrossing.
Pastor Baucham covers the bases of biblical manhood: patriarchy, Christ-likeness, leadership, fatherliness, and what he calls "the 4 P's" (read the book to find out what that means). This is a book about reclaiming the role of men in our families, our churches and our society -- and I say, "Lay it on, my friend!"
There's nothing sort of subtle about this book, and that is a strong compliment. Let me put it this way: non-fiction comes in three categories, more or less -- the descriptive, the instructive, and the "convictive". A descriptive book tells you that something was done, or is being done -- like a history book, or a biography -- and can be entertaining or somewhat instructive. An instructive book tells you how something can be done -- one perspective on the tactics involved, like Joe Carter's book on how to argue persuasively -- and is totally useful and serviceable. The "convictive" book doesn't just tell you about what happens or has happened, and doesn't just talk about how to do it: it seeks to show you why this stuff it is talking about is important, and moves you from being an observer to being a practitioner because your heart is in it.
Voddie Baucham practices what he's preaching here, and he wants you to do it, too. In that sense, it is a deeply pastoral book -- seeking to make disciples of men, to be doers of the word and not just hearers only. Read this book, and then read it again, and then tear out the chapters and make little booklets of them so you can share them in small groups, and then start teaching this stuff to your sons so they can be this kind of men. And then teach it to your daughters so they kind find these kind of men.
Very good book. In fact, I think so much of it I want to give one away. Here's the deal: in the meta -- the "comments" for you blog-noobs -- I want you to tell me, in 50 words or less, why you or your family or your church needs this book. You can start posting immediately, but only post once (if you post twice, you're out of consideration). You can post here until end of the day Friday (Midnight my time; that's 10 PM left-coast time), and I'll review the entries and award a book on Monday to the best answer.
And if you don't win one, just buy one. This book is worth every penny, and you will read it more than once.