Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: God's Wisdom for Marriage & the Home by Scott Markle

Marriage has been a major national news story for all the wrong reasons, so I offer you some good news with a  recent book by Scott Markle, God's Wisdom for Marriage & the Home for the Glory of the Lord (GWFMATH), 34 chapters, 446 pages, with a Scripture index.  Scott will not attempt to impress you with the clever writing style of some worldly evangelical.   He sets your table with meat and potatoes, a full course of helpful heaps of exegetical platefuls, all depending on the Word of God for the recipe.  Each chapter builds on the former to provide a very complete manual for a God-glorifying Christian marriage.

Couples need help with their marriages with so few good examples around.  Pastor Scott Markle ends every lesson with truths upon which to meditate and corresponding verses to memorize.  I see the book as handy for a premarital counseling assignment and a refresher course for marriages in the church.  Couples could take one chapter at a time, ending with some discussion about implementation, and working their way a little at a time until the end.  If you're a pastor and you're looking at some ideas for a series on marriage, the book could help you with that.

You shouldn't read GWFMATH, looking for serious original language work in the nature of a commentary.  Markle takes his authority from the Bible (all King James Version), but it's obviously intended to be practical.  Couples' marriages can and will be edified by careful consideration of the material.

Markle gets marriage passages right that others have missed.  He diagnoses problems in marriages with precision.  With most of GSFMATH, I concurred, with little disagreement.  I would have liked more elaboration to what he meant by "naturally" in this sentence on p. 16:

Although there may be different levels of authority and submission between the roles of the husband and wife within the marriage and home, there is no superiority or inferiority between them spiritually or naturally in the sight of the Lord their God.

Maybe by "naturally" he means intellectually, but I wasn't sure.  I would have liked to understand better what he meant.  Men are of superior strength and women are vulnerable emotionally, both as a "weaker vessel," so it would have helped to get what he was saying.

Markle spends some time on James 1 on pp. 197-199 in a chapter on communication and misapplies what James wrote in v. 19.  James was revealing a faithful response to the exposition of the Word of God, so that text holds no authority for marital conversation.  Other passages would have been better for the application he wanted to make.  And then he misses what the "root of bitterness" is in Hebrews 12:15 on pp. 254-255, which isn't that uncommon in material I've read or heard.

The above critiques really are minimal in light of the massive amounts of great material in the book.   For that reason, I recommend it for anyone who wants a better marriage or could be used of God to help others with theirs.

+++++++++++++

As a side note, you'll notice that Scott self-publishes through Xulon Press.  There are those, I know, who would disrespect a book, unless it was picked up by a big-named secular or Christian publisher, that someone how it isn't credible unless it is.  I've thought about this some recently, and have considered doing an entire post on it.

We should not allow the publishers to be the controllers of what materials are acceptable or suitable for churches and their people.  Publishers very often have an agenda and it's often an economic one, a purpose that conflicts with that of a true church.  Since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, it should be churches deciding what is good material for churches.  I would like to see churches take the power and influence away from publishers by publishing their own materials.  To do that, other churches should help with promotion in order to circumvent the publishers, and not reward them for their parachurch operation and money-making endeavors.  I would support Scott earning some money for the work he's done here, but I also admire someone who goes ahead and finishes the job without the endorsement of publishers that have zero scriptural authority.

None of the above is to say that churches should just go ahead and approve of shoddy work.  They should help the books to be as good or at least as nearly as good as those done by publishing houses.  But I also see the standard for publishers to center too much on readability, if not on a big name that will get people's attention to sell more of the books.

7 comments:

Jon Gleason said...

I heartily concur with this endorsement.

d4v34x said...

My guess is by "naturally" he meant "inherently". His point might be that women and men are of equal value before the lord (spiritually) and physically (naturally). Just a guess based on the snippet.

Also, I don't suppose you mean to imply that a clever writing style is inherently worldly.

Bill Hardecker said...

Pastor B.
I will have to add this to my ever growing list of must reads. Thank you. I mean that without being nuanced.

Anonymous said...

Brother Brandenburg,

First, I wish to thank you for your blog-review and endorsement of my book. It is indeed difficult and expensive to publish your own material without granting control over to the popular publishing companies. My prayer is ever that the Lord our God will use my writing efforts for His glory. This is the "purposeful" reason that my books include the phrase, "For the Glory of the Lord," and have the authors name in smaller print underneath.

Second, I wish to make an attempt at answering your question concerning the sentence on page 16. The opening sentence of that paragraph reads -- "Furthermore, we must recognize that there is no superiority or inferiority between the man and the woman in their natural relationship to the human race." The Biblical evidence for this statement is then provided, in that both the man and the woman were created in God's image, and in that both the man and the woman were granted dominion over the creation. Finally, the paragraph concludes with the sentence that you quoted.

My intention was to communicate that both the husband (the man) and the wife (the woman) stand as equals before God spiritually, both being created "in His own image," and that both stand as equals before Him naturally, "in their natural relationship to the human race" (as humans, in their humanity), both being granted dominion over the creation. I pray that this explanation will help in answering your question.

For the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,
Abiding in Christ, and Christ in us,
Pastor Scott Markle

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Scott, for dropping by.

I had not heard "natural relationship" before. The way I've explained what you are saying, I believe, is that both man and woman are made in the image of God, so in that way they are both fully man, as in mankind. I think of of Gen 1:26-27, male and female created he them. I've never said "natural relationship" or read it. It's fine. Did you coin it?

Thanks for writing the book. Again, it's solid and would help a marriage and a couple.

Kent Brandenburg said...

D4,

Thanks for asking. I thought about editing that to make it more specific, but I don't mind leaving it purposefully ambiguous. There is good clever and bad clever. Scott doesn't try to be clever at all and in so doing he definitely distinguishes himself from a worldly evangelical. Those types of marriage manuals are out there that say a little too much.

Anonymous said...

Brother Brandenburg asked -- "I've never said 'natural relationship' or read it. It's fine. Did you coin it?"

In answer -- I cannot say that this phrase has never been used by anyone ever before. However, I can say that in writing my book, I did not acquire the phrase from anyone else. In that context, I chose the word "spiritually" as a reference to our relationship toward God; and I chose the word "naturally" as a reference to our relationship toward mankind (the human race).

Pastor Scott Markle