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The Social Structure of Christian Families: A Historical Perspective [Paperback]

By Brian W. Grant (Author)
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Item Number 136075  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   189
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.03" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2000
Publisher   Chalice Press
ISBN  0827234465  
EAN  9780827234468  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Over the last two thousand years, the organization of the family has changed greatly, as have norms and expectations about ideal family life. In this comprehensive study, Brian Grant traces the history of Christian family practices from its precursors in ancient Israel to today, with an emphasis on the past 500 years. He looks at how the shape of the family in different centuries influenced the theological shape of the church, paying particular attention to family's role in the theology of today's church. Grant concludes with a discussion of the building blocks necessary for a contemporary constructive theology of family.

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More About Brian W. Grant

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Grant is Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana. He trained in the Religion and Personality Program at the University of Chicago, where he received his doctorate in 1971. He has been associated with Christian Theological Seminary ever since. He was named Lois and Dale Bright Professor of Christian Ministries in 1999.

Brian W. Grant currently resides in the state of Indiana. Brian W. Grant was born in 1939.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The long history of family life...  Feb 21, 2004
Brian Grant's book on the social structure of Christian families grew out of several sources -- his response to other key writers on the subject (Stephanie Coontz and Don Browning), his teaching experience in courses at my seminary (when looking for a theological text on family life for use in the course, he couldn't find one appropriate to the context and theological view he wanted to present), and the desire to provide a historical grounding in the subject of family life.

Grant's book succeeds in looking at the long, two-thousand year history of family life within the developing Christian context. While he addresses the earliest Christian contexts (Biblical times, Apostolic times, Greek and Roman contexts, Middle Ages to the Reformation) this is only one-third of the text. The greater portion is devoted to the post-Reformation history, leading up to the context of family (in reality and in ideal form) for the current American situation. As Grant states in his introduction, much of historical circumstances that inspired or prompted church responses on the subjects of marriage, children, household economics, etc., no longer exist, and it is best if we in the current age do not appeal to these theological formulations without a firm grounding in the largely societal developmental framework.

Grant's history of family development is done from a theological viewpoint, and the particular theology he incorporates is predominantly process theology. God is continually at work in the world in a persuasive manner, always at work in individual and family lives, but far from being the sort of God who will intervene with thunderbolts should directives be ignored. Grant's introduction explains both his historical and theological paradigms, and asks key questions about the developmental track of family history.

The final chapters (the twentieth century, and Grant's conclusion) draws the strands of history together for the current culture. While issues such as women's rights, divorce rates, single parenthood and the like seem like uniquely modern problems, they have historical antecedents that make understanding them more clear. Modern popular culture tends to idealise previous generations; understand the difficulties of the past and the solutions or developments out of those makes the current situations more accessible. However, there are unique problems to be addressed also. Perhaps the one great gap in Grant's book is that there is no real discussion of the issue of sexual orientation as it impacts marriage or family life -- drawing a conclusion from this omission is difficult given Grant's generally liberal stance socially and theologically through the rest of the text.

Grant's conclusions are worthy of note -- there have not been consistent ideas or rules for 'family values' throughout the many centuries of Christianity. While these have often come from some sort of biblical or theological grounding, the interpretations have been driven by societal needs and values. Grant sees God as constantly re-creating human nature, but along lines that are discernable and not random.

This is a useful text to those who need to understand families better -- counselors, teachers, ministers, and others in helping professions. It is interesting and generally accessible to the average reader. It is documented with footnote and bibliographic information, but need not be seen simply as an academic text. It is very readable and engaging.


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