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The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment Paperback – December 19, 2007
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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, 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.
Tim Challies, the self-employed web designer and blogger extraordinaire is a man with a heart for discernment, and he believes we shouldn't leave the discipline to those who are in full-time ministry. We should all desire spiritual insight and wisdom.
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Crossway, 2007) contains almost 200 pages of helpful advice for the Christian leader or layperson who wants to succeed in the area of discernment. Challies begins by issuing a call to discernment, laying out the reasons why the absence of discernment can prove spiritually fatal and why the presence of discernment is a sign of spiritual life.
Challies challenges readers to actively pursue growth in spiritual discernment, which he defines as "the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong" (61). Challies answers common objections to discernment ("Isn't it wrong to judge?") and then makes a strong case for why we should think rightly about God. Challies believes that thinking rightly about God will help us think biblically about everything else.
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment contains several chapters that are extremely helpful for laypeople. In "The Will and Discernment," Challies exposes some of the incorrect ways Christians go about trying to discern God's will for their lives, and then he offers sound, biblical advice that frees Christians up to make choices within God's will and not stress over the details.
In "The Dangers of Discernment," Challies lists some common pitfalls that discerning Christians must avoid, including the tendency toward witch-hunting or oversimplification of the issues. The book ends with some practical steps for discernment with Challies using the lyrics of a Christian song as an example.
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment might be Tim Challies' first book, but Tim writes with the wisdom and insight that he has been cultivating for years. The fact that a book of this caliber could come from a person outside of full-time ministry is a testament to his devotion to the Word. It should be the goal of every pastor to make not only disciples, but discerning disciples and Tim Challies is an example of a disciple worthy of emulation.
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.