Joel R. Beeke and Nick Thompson
Reviewed by: Ben Ward
Beginning: Family Worship in Genesis, by Joel R. Beeke and Nick Thompson. Reformation Heritage, 2021. Paperback, 208 pages, $8.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Ben Ward.
Family worship is an essential feature of the Christian household, and yet how many Christians participate in the practice regularly? There may be many reasons, but one of the most common seems to be a variation of “I don’t know where to start” or “What do I do?” For many, especially heads of household, it can be daunting to just pick up the Bible and begin to teach one’s family as though an expert. Thankfully, Reformation Heritage Books has been printing helps for family worship like this one, the first in what will be a series of books going through the Scriptures. The series begins by asking, “What is the chief end of parenting? If you are a parent, your primary goal should not be to raise intelligent, successful, competent, and upright citizens . . . your primary concern ought to be God-ward for the good of your children’s souls and preeminently for God’s glory” (ix).
This first volume certainly fits that bill: its content is focused upon the primary meaning of the Scriptures and does not concern itself with political or cultural topics. Aside from the content, the structure is tremendously helpful for family worship. Every spread (the two pages that face you when reading a book) is one self-contained lesson on a portion of Scripture, and there are ninety-two lessons in the book. The structure of every lesson is the same, with a “Review” of previous lessons, a “Read(ing)” from the Scripture on which the lesson will be based with some basic questions about the text itself, a “Reflect(ion)” with the lesson itself and some deeper questions about the meaning of the text, and finally a “Request,” or a note for prayer based on the text. There is an appendix to the book reminding the family of the importance of Bible memorization for family worship and providing a schedule to help that take place.
This book will be most helpful for parents with young children who are old enough to digest and reflect upon the material. Our one-year-old would not get much out of this! The book helpfully refrains from polemics, not touching on particularly controversial questions such as the age of the earth or baptism. About the latter, Beeke and Thompson write,
Though both authors are of a paedobaptist conviction, we have sought to address the issues of covenant membership and baptism minimally in this series. If you are of a credobaptist persuasion, you may choose to skip the portions of this devotion marked with an asterisk. (110)
That isn’t to say the book shies away from clarifying time-worn traditions. In the lesson on Genesis 28:10–17, the authors write,
This dream is often called “Jacob’s Ladder.” But that is not a very helpful way to think about it. This was God’s Ladder. Only God could make a way for Jacob to know salvation and blessing. (145)
Amen, and may God make this help in understanding the Scripture fruitful for families for many years to come.
December 10, 2023
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