Dr. Dobson: Turning Hearts Toward Home. By Rolf Zettersten. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1989. 183 pp. Cloth, $10.99.
This reviewer is a long-time listener to Dr. James Dobson and his “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast. I have found his insights on the family to be very helpful and biblically based.
It was thus with great interest that I read this biography. I like biographies; they help me walk in someone else’s shoes. This book provides helpful insights into the life of Dr. James Dobson. It repeats and expands upon many of the stories about Dobson which have been aired on the radio broadcasts. Here is a man dedicated to prayer, Bible study, church, family, and serving God in all he does. His is a life that challenges others to serve God wholeheartedly.
There was a surprising element in the book for me. Dr. Dobson was so driven for a time that some people in his ministry found him a very rough taskmaster. While I suppose there were hints of this on the radio broadcast, I never really thought of Dobson as driven and hard-driving before.
While I greatly admire Dr. Dobson and his ministry, I cannot end this review without pointing out the one grievous fault I see in his ministry and in his biography as well.
While clear and biblical on family issues, Dobson is terribly unclear and unbiblical on the Gospel. He believes that Christians can lose their salvation and that it requires great diligence and care to “stay saved”! The following is what he told his son, Ryan, immediately after Pete Maravich died in his arms: “My message to you is Be There! Be there to meet your mother and me in heaven. We will be looking for you on that glad morning. Don’t let anything deter you from keeping that appointment …” (p. 179, italics his).
He then addresses the reader and says: “That message … is also the heart and soul of what I have to convey to this present generation. Be There! That must be our ultimate objective in living!” (p.179, italics his).
So, while this is a helpful biography, let the reader beware. This book garbles the Gospel and undermines assurance. I recommend it only for well-grounded believers.
Robert N. Wilkin
Grace Evangelical Society