14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family

BOOK CRITIQUE 1: Tripp, Paul D. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.


Parenting is an important responsibility in human life, but also one of the most difficult tasks. Parents often feel the pressure in trying to do everything possible and right in order to raise children who are “good,” “obedient” and “disciplined.” Some wish to have a set list of formulae or rules for parenting. However, parenting can be easy and enjoyable if shaped by the truths of the gospel. In Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family, Paul Tripp offers a biblical perspective of parenting. He provides fourteen gospel based principles that are able to radically alter the views and thoughts of parents about raising children.

Tripp demonstrates that parents need more than modern techniques, strategies, and rules of parenting. According to him, what they need is God’s grace in everything they do. It is important for parents to understand that they are only serving as God’s ambassadors in fulfilling His will to Children. Therefore, there is no need of getting preoccupied with the ownership model of parenting where everything is all about “my children” and “our children.” Children are God’s gift. The authority that parents exercise over children is God-given.   

It is clearly pointed out in Tripp’s book that sin is one of the main factors that lead to ineffective parenting. In most cases, parents feel that their rebellious and disobedient children are sinful, and that they need Christ. They forget that they also need redemption since it is sin that makes them angry with their children. It is important to note that Tripp does not pretend about the difficulty and challenges of parenting. He considers parenting to be a rigorous process that requires long-term endurance, and it entails repetitive procedures. To overcome this and become successful parents, parents should depend on God in whatever they do to children.


I feel that there is no better book about parenting than Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family. This piece of work presents a Christian worldview of parenting based on fourteen principles of the gospel that are likely to change how parents interact with their children.[1] I agree with the author that the “ownership” perspective of parenting is better than the “ambassadorial” one. The ownership viewpoint centers on what parents want from and for their children. In contrast, the ambassadorial perspective focuses on what God intends to do to children.[2] Thus, parents have the responsibility of fulfilling God’s will in the lives of children.     

Tripp’s book provides more than just a mere list of parenting rules. It emphasizes on the importance of God’s grace in the process of parenting.[3] I am made to understand that parents are instruments of God’s grace to children. The author says, “Sin makes us all more natural owners than ambassadors…….Sin causes all of us to find punishment more natural than grace”.[4] These statements help me to realize that it is important for parents to confess their sins in order to play the role of parenting effectively. Sometimes parents get sinfully cruel and angry. They beat children, and say bad things to them. Such sinful actions tend to cause more harm than good to children.        

Many books of parenting concentrate on how to correct the behaviors of children. This is not the case with Tripp’s work. The author points out the main source of the real problems, that is, the heart. I agree with him that parents usually focus on the process of changing the outwards behaviors of their children using good language, technology, and other mechanisms. They fail to target the heart from where the actions are initiated.[5] I like the way the author demonstrates that parenting is both a project and process. As far as he is concerned, God wants parents to lay down their lives for their children.[6] This means that they have to do everything possible in order to ensure that their children are comfortable.

Tripp describes the children of believers or Christians as “lost” sinners who have hard hearts.[7] I disagree with this assertion. It is hard to deny the fact that children can be sinful, and that they need Jesus Christ in their lives. However, unlike the author, the Scripture gives them a description which is positive. Children are considered to be “holy” and a “blessing.” Tripp also suggests that what parents do in the process of bringing up children should not be shaped or guided by the surrounding culture’s values.[8] As far as I am concerned, this argument is vague. Children are members of the society, and culture is a way of life in the society. Therefore, we cannot dissociate them from society. In as much as some elements of culture can be a negative influence to children, there are still some positive aspects of the same culture that parents can rely upon in raising morally upright children.

According to Tripp, his book is a “big gospel picture”.[9] I do not agree with him. While the book has fourteen main and overarching principles of parenting, it also has many minor principles. I fail to understand the significance of some trivial statements such as “you need to…” and “you must be…” that are used throughout the book. They can be a source of boredom. I also think that the writing style that the author has adopted is not effective. Most of the arguments advanced in the book are repeated. Rhetorical questions are also overused in the book. Additionally, the author has used many unnecessary words to put his point across.      


Tripp’s book is an outstanding piece that provides important information about parenting. It is a source of hope and encouragement for those who have realized that they need God’s help in order to become better parents. The way the author argues in the book suggests that he understands the weaknesses of parents well. For instance, he observes that parents do not have power to change their children.[10] However, they have power to facilitate change if they depend on God’s grace.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family is beneficial to the parents of the 21st century who do not understand what is best for their children. Modern parents think that parenting is all about giving children the best education, and ensuring that they pursue prestigious careers. What they fail to understand is that successful parenting is about being a faithful tool of God.[11] It is only God who can give good things to children. He wants to use parents in order to produce such things.

All in all, Tripp’ work is an excellent book. It is a book that one needs to read chapter by chapter in order to understand God’s will on parenting. I recommend the book to parents, and young couples. The book can help them to understand that their battles are the same as those of their children. However, the grace of their heavenly parent is sufficient in their lives. Their prime purpose is to share the grace with the children that God has given them.


Tripp, Paul D. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.

[1] Paul D. Tripp, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Radically Change Your Family (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 12.

[2]Tripp, 15.

[3]Tripp, 15, 49.

[4]Tripp, 16.

[5]Tripp, 61, 109.

[6]Tripp, 208.

[7]Tripp, 17, 90.

[8]Tripp, 114.

[9]Tripp, 13.

[10]Tripp, 60.

[11]Tripp, 192.

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