August 3rd, 2009
Ditchfield, Christin. A Family Guide to the Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 304 pp. $15.99.
Christin Ditchfield has written more than fifty books with a total of four in the “A Family Guide Series” including “Narnia,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” and “Prince Caspian.” She is also the host of the Take it to Heart! radio program.
From the introduction of the book, Christin writes:
A Family Guide to the Bible was written to help busy parents, grandparents, and teachers with the basics: What’s in the Bible, where to find it, and how it all fits together. It’s intended to be simple, family friendly, and easy to understand and follow.
Christin sets out to do in 300+ pages what many have written countless pages on–set a doctrine of the Bible and a way to learn about it so you can better learn from it and teach your children to live by it. The first chapter offers up a history of the Bible. In so doing, she offers dates and authors and even arguments for the inclusion and non-inclusion of particular books of the Bible.
The second chapter is an apologetic for the Authority of the Bible and whether or not it can be trusted today. The third chapter explains the message of the Bible–that God created everything very good, man sinned, and God sent His Son for our sake so that we may, through faith, be made right with God once again. While the first three chapters only comprise some 24 pages, they are absolutely the most important three chapters of the book as they set the foundation upon which Christin will write the rest of the book.
Chapters four and five comprise the majority of the book. In these two chapters, Christin offers short summaries including the name of the book, the author, the audience, the setting, the story, the message as well as some key verses and certain words that should be known. She concludes each book with a “did you know?” section that offers up some little known detail about the author, the book or the time period the book was written.
Chapter six helps you to discover how to study the Bible. She offers advice on choosing translations and how to use Bible dictionaries and concordances. She then offers some good pointers on studying for personal edification as well as how to study for family devotions.
Chapter seven is a concordance of sorts in that she lists various stories, and heroes (male and female), the miracles and teaching of Christ as well as verses to help you… She concludes the book with a chapter on the maps of Bible lands before offering some tips on how to find out more about the Bible.
I must admit that at first, I was skeptical of A Family Guide to the Bible since I am a minister and a seminary student. It almost seemed as though it was going to be too simple. However, I was surprised at how “complex” the simplicity really was.
Allow me to be frank here for a moment. Many seminary students and pastors would do well to read this book. Although they might not agree with everything Christin writes (I certainly didn’t), there is nothing wrong; i.e., heretical, about what she does write. As a minister and a seminary student, it is so easy to miss the trees for the forest. All too often, we speak over our people (congregation and family) thinking that they have the same knowledge we do. A Family Guide to the Bible will help you to bring it down a notch. Who knows, you may learn something yourself!
As for her intended audience of busy parents and grandparents, Christin has written a wonderful resource that I would recommend highly to anyone wanting to better train up your child in the way he should go. I couldn’t help but think that this would be a nice resource to compliment Don Whitney’s book, Family Worship. Using Whitney’s book as a way to introduce Family Worship and then Christin’s book to help you mine the Bible, I can easily envision a reformation in the home taking place across America.