Book Review: Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson

4 out of 5 Stars
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Buy: Amazon, CBD, or Monergism

Reading Level: Moderate

An Epidemic of Father Hunger

Father Hunger may be the problem of our generation. Over the last decades father hunger has become an epidemic destroying the core of our society--the family. With out the family, society slowly erodes and the values, benefits, and strengths that holds hands with it. Of course, as Christians there as a deeper problem because we not only must have families but ones that love God and fathers that will raise their children according to the admonition and teaching of the Lord (Eph 5). Wilson gets at this when he says,

[W]e do not try to build strong families in order to build a strong kingdom for God. Rather, He has established an invincible kingdom, and when we seek this kingdom first, all these other things are added to us” (p. 23).

For me the Father Hunger started slow in the first three chapters but picked up steam and by chapter four I couldn’t put it down. Wilson danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee skillfully attacking this problem.

No, Really Doug, Tell Us What You Think

Some people are put off by Wilson’s in your face style and often biting satire. However, in evangelicalism I don’t think we error on the side of being too in your face. We often fall on the other side--being too accommodating of error. All that to say feminist, egalitarians, atheists and liberals (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone else) may be offended by many of the things Wilson says. For instance, Wilson boldly proclaims, “Feminism is therefore, at its root, a Trinitarian heresy” (p. 43), using the endearing term “the village atheist” (p. 59), or pointing out “the sodomification of America” (p. 129; also, see pp. 159-64 for a frank conversation about homosexuality).

He also spends a lot of time in the middle of the book discussing the economics and politics which contribute to father hunger. And let’s just say that if Wilson was Rocky then the Russian from Rocky IV would be the democrats. This political and social focus was something which for me was unexpected but he had some strong insights. He also spent a lot of time defending Christian education arguing from Ephesians 5 that it is the families responsibility to educate their children from a Christian worldview which for Wilson excludes any kind of public education for minors.

A Garden of “Yes”

I’ve mentioned this insight before but it’s worth repeating and Wilson mentions it in the book. A strong admonition provided which all parents would do well to heed is that we should father our children like God fathers us. Says Wilson,

There is a kind of person who says that God is up in Heaven, looking down on us, trying to find someone who is having a good time. When he finds such a one, He tells him to stop it right now. H. L. Mencken defined puritanism as the haunting fear that somehow, somewhere, someone might be happy. That is, as I said, slander on the Puritans, but there is a kind of person that it does in fact apply to. That kind of person fills up the lives of others with “this is bad for you,” “so is that,” and “so is this,” and “that, too, over there.” I ache for children growing up in such homes, not because they are “eating healthy” (because they usually aren’t, which is another subject), but because the spiritual environment is so unhealthy.

What statement is being made in all this about fatherhood and provision? The kids grow up in “a garden,” but not the Father’s kind where all the trees are permitted but one. They grow up in something called a garden, where all the trees but one are forbidden, and the one that is allowed to them grows rice cake--like globules that taste like little bits of Styrofoam glued together in a nutrient ball. (p. 149)

Let’s Wrap It Up

If you are easily offended this may not be the book for you. Or it may be just the book you need to help thicken that skin a bit. For Wilson fan boys the style and punch are there--It’s practical, memorable, and engaging. These are hard words but the problem of father hunger is a hard problem and one that won’t go away easily. Again it may be the problem of our generation. And the way we addresses, or chose not to, will have a lasting impact on the church, our countries, economies, and society at large. For this reason, conservative evangelicals should hear Douglas Wilson out. I’m already mulling over taking Father Hunger to some guys at my church and reading it through together talking through the chapters and different ways father hunger has impacted us and discussing ways in which we can impact this problem for the glory of God. That’s how I would recommend using this book for the men. For the ladies, Father’s Day is coming up. This would be a fantastic gift for the bibliophile in your life.

A free copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson. If you plan on purchasing this book, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by using these links to purchase it from Amazon, CBD, or Monergism.
Mathew Sims is an average Joe who works a 9 to 5 and blogs on the side. He is an editor and writer for Grace for Sinners. He lives in Simpsonville, SC and loves spending time with  his two daughters, Claire and Maddy, and wife of seven years, LeAnn. He has a BA in English/Creative Writing and attended Geneva Reformed Seminary for two years completing nearly 40 hours hours of an Mdiv program. He and his family serve and are members at Grace Church. He loves reading, writing, the outdoors, music, cooking, and is an Apple fan boy. You can find him on twitter @GraceforSinners and Facebook. Please email me with any questions or comment below.