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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 and Centennial 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."
―Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, 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; Finding Truth; and Love Thy Body
"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
"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, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Family Worship; Praying the Bible; and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
About the Author
- Publisher : Crossway (December 19, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1581349092
- ISBN-13 : 978-1581349092
- Item Weight : 8.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.46 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #103,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Personally, I think the evangelical church as a whole lacks in the important discipline of spiritual discernment. Instead of sound doctrine faithfully preached many evangelicals are treated with church growth gimmicks, a psychologized man-centered gospel, and sadly outright heresy that seems to be tolerated by those who should know better. At times it seems the term "evangelical" has lost its meaning.
What's the average person to do with such variation among those who label themselves evangelical Christians?
Learn to be spiritual discerning and that's exactly what Challies lays out in his book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.
Rather than regulating discernment to a certain "holy man class" Challies challenges ordinary Christians to learn the discipline themselves by first defining what it is, by studying truth (so you know what error looks like) and finally by giving the reader a case study.
The case study in particular resonated with me as a biblical counselor. At times, throughout my counseling career I've heard people say, "I just need to forgive myself."
The question Challies would ask is, where in the Bible do you see a need to forgive yourself?
Forgiveness of course is a huge gospel issue. Without forgiveness for our sins we have no hope for eternal life so the topic itself is critical but it still begs the question, is it biblical to forgive oneself?
Challies works through this example by going to the Bible and sorting through the passages that deal with forgiveness (there are other steps in the process like prayer) and only then does he reach a conclusion.
This is something that any Christian with a Bible and a concordance can do (and often should because truth matters).
Hint for those who want to cut to the chase. Forgiving oneself is a psychology concept not a biblical one.
I rate the book 5 stars because of its practically and how it fills what I believe to be a great need in the church today.
“Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.”
He aims to show that the Bible calls Christians to judge rightly and encourages the practice of spiritual discernment, “the skill of thinking biblically about life”. In pursuit of his goal, the author discusses the Biblical mandate to be discerning, describes its challenges, benefits, and dangers, and outlines characteristics of and practical steps toward becoming a discerning person.
“There are no Christians who are mature but undiscerning.”
“We can only know God’s will when we first know God’s truth, for what God desires and requires of us must always be consistent with his character.”
The scope of information is appreciated, particularly the author’s attempt to relate Spiritual discernment to Spiritual maturity (poorly pursued) and the Will of God (commonly misunderstood). After the early chapters, however, there is a slight but noticeable decrescendo in the convincingness of the discussion and the author misses an opportunity to directly exposit key passages (ex. Matthew 7:1-5). Nevertheless, the book is a solid introduction to the topic that I recommend to those who have never read a book on spiritual discernment.
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.
Many great examples are given throughout the book. No slamming of any person as some writers do. He keeps to the subject through out the book.
Get steps to follow when prayerfully discerning something.
Each chapter builds on the next. Learn what the bible says about discernment as well as how to be discerning using bible verses.
Very good teaching!!!
Top reviews from other countries
Early on, Challies states his purpose in writing the book is "to show that discernment is a discipline, and like other disciplines such as prayer and reading the Bible, it is one that all Christians should seek to practice and should seek to practice deliberately". And his intended audience are "average Christians living in a culture and in a church where it so often seems that anything goes". This book is a cry to arms for "all those who believe that it is the duty of every Christian to think biblically about all areas of life so that they might act biblically in all areas of life".
To assist the reader to be a person of discernment, Challies first defines what it is and then demonstrates how it is to be done. After examining the words for discernment and their derivatives in the Hebrew and Greek, he states that "discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong". Towards the end of the book, there is a helpful final chapter demonstrating how discernment is to be done. Through the illustration of a case study, Challies holds up the idea of self-forgiveness against the light of Scripture to evaluate whether the Bible commands us to engage in the practice of forgiving ourselves for our sins. Those wanting to further their ability to discern will benefit from the appendix of additional resources and the accompanying study guide.
In closing, I want to leave you with another thought from Challies, underscoring the importance of discernment: "Discernment functions as the church's immune system, protecting the body from false teaching. When discernment is attacked and destroyed, a flood of opportunistic false teaching is waiting to attack through the weakened defenses. Nobody dies from lack of discernment or by not believing in discernment. Rather, a lack of discernment leaves people to wither under the attack of false doctrine. A lack of discernment leaves Christians unable to protect themselves and others, and allows sin to flood in."
We live in "an age when many consider spiritual immaturity a mark of authenticity.. associate doubt with humility and assurance with pride". We need to be discerning or run the risk of a church swarming with spiritual adolescents. Do you want to be discerning? Are you lacking in discernment? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you need to read this book. May His Church be strengthened as you engage in the discipline of spiritual discernment.