BOOK REVIEW: The Persuasive Christian Parent by Mike D’Virgilio
The Persuasive Christian Parent: God’s Provision for Building and Enduring Faith in Your Children; Mike D’Virgilio
By Beth Bakker
Recently, when messaging with a friend about The Persuasive Christian Parent, I wrote the
following, “You don’t have to be a parent to like this book. You don’t have to have kids or even like them. It’s fantastic for everyone!” While explicitly written to parents, D’Virgilio’s work is an excellent read for anyone who wishes to make sense of Christianity’s truth claims and worldview, especially as they are viewed through the cultural lens of the secular West.
In the introduction, the author states, “Christianity is so powerfully credible that my kids should never want to leave it or be tempted to do so.” (1) D’Virgilio then begins to argue for this position by examining the problem he is seeking to address: the exodus of young people from the Christian faith; and proposes a general solution: an increased emphasis on the role of the mind among Evangelical Christians. D’Virgilio writes, “The tendency in Evangelicalism is to play the mind off the heart, knowledge off experience, and knowing off doing. There are not a lot of Christians in our churches overly focused on the mind, knowledge, and knowing… it is disconcerting. And it’s a false choice.” (2)
From this point on, D’Virgilio does his part to contribute to this solution by feeding the reader’s intellect in a usable, down-to-earth way. First, he presents the philosophical background needed to critically assess and address the anti-Christian worldview of the culture at large. He takes on the “isms”: empiricism, scientism, materialism, post-modernism, and relativism. He defines terms, provides easy-to-understand illustrations, and helps his audience think through the assumptions behind these systems of thought, the conclusions to which they logically lead, and their effect on the truths of Christianity.
Apologetics is weaved in throughout the book. D’Virgilio addresses topics such as arguments for God’s existence, including the Moral Argument and New Testament reliability. The author offers firm biblical grounding for apologetics when he declares, “Throughout Scripture God condescends to people’s need for evidence and rational reasons to believe, to have faith, to put their trust in him and his Word. Scripture testifies that God has provided us with evidence because we need evidence to believe.” (3)
The previous quote shows D’Virgilio’s strength in communicating complex concepts in ordinary, everyday language. Perhaps my favorite way he does this is when he discusses desiring to equip parents to “make sure it [Christianity] seems real” to their children by sharing the superiority of its explanatory power for all of life over other worldviews. (4)
While stressing the need for Evangelicals to pay greater attention to the life of the mind, D’Virgilio asserts that, ultimately, people do not leave the faith for intellectual reasons. (5) Instead, the departures come down to individuals choosing to be God by rejecting his view of reality in favor of their own.
As he pursues this line of argument, D’Virgilio incorporates theology and the Gospel message into his text. In chapter 14, he lays his cards on the table and describes his own reformed theological convictions and how they have contributed to the ideas he espouses in this work. D’Virgilio is gracious in doing so, and as he introduces the chapter states, “Most Christians don’t embrace my family’s theological convictions. Yet to not share how these convictions helped build an enduring Faith in our kids would leave out a… foundational thread to the story…But I also don’t want to needlessly offend, or have anyone not read the book because of what I say in this chapter.” (6) In sum, The Persuasive Christian Parent is an immensely readable blend of scholarship, everyday language, and practical tips for parents, or ANYONE, who seeks to contend for the Christian faith. Mike D’Virgilio has helped make philosophy, theology, and apologetics user-friendly and usable from movie illustrations to sample conversations. I love this book!
1 Mike D’Virgilio. The Persuasive Christian Parent: God’s Provision for Building an Enduring Faith in Your Children, (2020), p. xix.
2 Ibid., p. 16.
3 Ibid., p. 204.
4 Ibid., p. 72.
5 Ibid., p. 95.
6 Ibid., p. 188.
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