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The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment Paperback – December 19, 2007
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Tim Challies is one of the finest young evangelical thinkers of our day. He combines keen insight with theological maturity and spiritual depth. The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment should help form the Christian character of a new generation of evangelicals. Indeed, we must hope so."
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Unfortunately, in our time, even among Christians, discernment is long in demand and short in supply. This is but one reason I'm so delighted to commend to you The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. Tim Challies reminds us that the Bible commands us to cultivate discernment, but he doesn't stop there. He tells us how, biblically."
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
"The many fans Tim Challies has won through his highly regarded blog will discover in this book the motivation that drives his incisive analysis of cultural events and trends-a keen respect for truth and a passionate commitment to biblical discernment."
—Nancy Pearcey, author, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity
"This book is simple, clear, well-written, accurate, and even insightful. I read it all. I liked it all. I will recommend it often."
—Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks
"I've simply never read a more thorough, practical, and biblically sound treatment of this subject. Anyone wanting to study biblical discernment should not miss this book."
—Donald S. Whitney, Associate Dean and Professor of Biblical Spirituality, School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible
About the Author
Spiritual discernment is not just useful for making major decisions; it also enables you to distinguish God’s truth from error, and right from wrong, in daily situations. This uplifting work teaches you how to apply wisdom practically so that all your conclusions will be consistent with God’s Word. Tim Challies is a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs anywhere. He is also editor of Discerning Reader, a site dedicated to offering discerning reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. A self-employed web designer, Tim lives with his family on the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario.
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I did have minor issues with the layout/logical flow in some places -- it just didn't make logical sense to me; concepts in some cases (especially later in the book) seemed repeated and I couldn't understand why. I think part of this may be that section/subsection formatting may not have come through that well in the Kindle edition so what was intended as a series of steps (??) came through looking more like unrelated concepts that were in fact highly related (??). This was a minor frustration, but enough I took off a star.
Update February 2016: I have now heard several instances in which people have taken very seriously the issue of "self-forgiveness," and so I rescind my negative comments on this issue though it still doesn't resonate with me.
There is so much in this well written book for which all Christians can say amen and thanks to the author: for highlighting the growing lack of discernment in North American Christianity, the need to be in a church where discernment is practiced and developed, as well as the author's passion for the truth of Jesus Christ and what this means in the end for each individual's destiny. Thus, in all this he builds a fine, strong case for Biblical discernment.
I was truly with him when as he begins stating that Biblical discernment is an acquired, trained skill set of mature Christians as Hebrews 5:14 wonderfully teaches. This leads me to challenge the book's seemingly contradictory statement later on that such discernment is rather a gift, citing 1 Cor. 12:10 as evidence. This certainly in the context of this chapter is paired with prophecy. The ability to distinguish between false and true prophets is demonstrated by 1 John 4:1-3. All Christians are to be about this, but as this book suggests, some might have a better skill in this area than others. The much more salient, and teachable fact here is from Hebrews 5, where this is an outcome of regular, habitual training from a discerning Servant of the Word. Although Challies covers this point well in his book, this seeming contradiction distracted this reviewer.
Like a discerning hearer of sermons will attest, some of the time what is not said is more important in discerning the truthfulness of the preaching than what was said. This applies in the following criticism of this book. A significant usage of this word "discern" is not considered in this book, from 1 Cor. 11:29: "For he who eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not discern the body." This is significant discernment to many Christians, especially Lutherans. Thus, Challies' Calvinism dictates that he not address this area of discernment. Likewise, such incarnational and sacramental discernment is not addressed in this otherwise fine work, as further one would have liked to see the topic of one's center of theology addressed, as well as Law-Gospel distinction. These are certainly areas of discernment, which some might relegate to non-first order doctrines, as Challies speaks of them. The author might respond that these are covered under his discussion of first, second and third order doctrines. However, the contention here would be, who determines what is vital and what isn't? This is where the debate is for discernment. This certainly is settled for each of us individually by discerning what is at the center of theology and Scripture? This book avoids this major point.
Thus, this fine work on discernment will not address the highest order doctrinal issues for much of the Christian spectrum, but for all it will and does provide a passionate and edifying defense and exhortation for the church of today to be more discerning as it should. His abuses shown of this area are exemplary and much appreciated.
A book to be read, discussed and taken seriously by the Christian church.