Book Reviews

Fathering like the Father

Kenneth O. Gangel, Jeffrey S. Gangel Grand Rapids 2003-01-01

Kenneth and Jeffrey Gangel “believe that Christian dads need to learn from God and need to hear from fathers who are living out the relationship” (p. 13). Kenneth, distinguished professor emeritus of Christian education at Dallas Theological Seminary, and his son Jeffrey, vice president for spiritual formation at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, have written a book that accomplishes that goal. The subtitle of the book is, “Becoming the dad God wants you to be.” In their own words they “have attempted to focus on Scripture, preferring to develop [their] message around God’s fathering behavior grounded in his attributes, as found in the key text(s) for each chapter” (p. 13).

Each chapter begins with a discussion of an attribute of God. That attribute is linked not only with a biblical text but also with a biblical character. Some of the attributes covered in the fifteen chapters are forgiveness, faithfulness, goodness, love, mercy, and grace. After examining the attribute of God, the Gangels tell how that principle has worked out in their own home. Personal examples and illustrations by the Gangels make each attribute come alive. Then the reader is privileged to hear “Jeff’s story” followed by “Kenn’s story,” thus providing further examples of how each attribute played out in their lives. Each chapter ends with a section on “Making it Work” with “Questions for Discussion” and a “Father/Child Dialogue.”

The father/child dialogue puts each principle to the ultimate practical test. For example under forgiveness the father/child dialogue begins, “Dad, tell your kids about a time you needed and received God’s forgiveness. They love to hear about your mistakes” (p. 43)!

The book is biblical, insightful, and practical. It could be used in personal study or in a group. The questions for discussion make the book an excellent fifteen-week small-group Bible study. But the greatest benefit will be in fathers discussing each attribute with their own children.

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