My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.
First, Bavinck wrote (1908) as some of the great transitions in family life and society were taking place. This included the movement away from an agrarian culture, the advancement of women’s rights, increase in divorce, the allure of Marxism/socialism, the industrial revolution, and the push of evolutionary theory. This book gives you a window into the mind of a great Christian theologian during a period of drastic change.
Second, Bavinck sticks to principles while acknowledging that application can change. For example, he notes that women are working in various fields. He says that may be inevitable. But then he goes on to say that women should obtain jobs that line up with their central vocation, being wives and mothers. He also encourages women to be trained as housekeepers first and then in a vocation second. In keeping with this idea, he says that once puberty hits women should be educated differently than men. He keeps motherhood and being a wife at the center while acknowledging certain realities of modern life. He also does a good job of acknowledging that sin exists in all ages and yet each age does bring unique challenges.
Third, there was a lot more discussion of the state and society than one might think in a book like this. He discusses how dangerous the state takeover of a child’s education is. He also says that the state educating children allows a woman to leave the home more easily. He also discusses private property, communal property, and the movement into the cities.
Fourth, he is unashamedly patriarchal. He calls women to obey and submit to their husbands. He says husbands are the masters of their homes.
Finally, he is a great writer. Part of this is due to the translator, Nelson Kloosterman, since Bavinck originally wrote in Dutch. Many sentences and paragraphs are a joy to read not just because of the content, but because of the way he says it.
My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.
2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.
3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.
4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is quite different from 4.5.
5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.