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Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health Paperback – May 4, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Christians today are busier than ever before, doing the "spiritual" work they feel called to out of devotion for God. But are these earnest followers of Christ actually living their faith in a manner that is pleasing to Christ? Whitney (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life; How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?) effectively challenges this "busy hands, empty heart" epidemic. Whitney poses intensely introspective questions to aid Christians as they gauge their own level of spiritual health. Do they have a driving thirst for God, as well as behavior dictated by God's holy standards? How loving to others and sensitive to the Holy Spirit are they? Do they experience genuine grief over personal sin and a willingness to forgive repeat offenders? Whitney also discusses the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditating upon Scripture, taking communion and fellowship with others of like faith, showing readers how to transform these often automatic enterprises into faith-building activities. He advises Christians to spend more energy enjoying God and developing a Christlike nature, rather than accomplishing ever-accelerating goals. He notes that seekers must be acutely aware that following Christ is a lifetime commitment and that they should resist the temptation to seek "spiritual" shortcuts to intimacy with God. This timely text is full of gentle admonitions to unearth deeply entrenched habits and dig for the treasure found only in a carefully honed relationship with God.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"...An updated version of some of Johnathan Edwards' best work, this book poses the questions we need to ponder..." -- Mark Dever, Pastor, Capital Hill Baptist Church, author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church
"...For believers who long for Revival, these are questions to which we'll regularly return. What a tool...!" -- Ron Owens, author of Return to Worship and They Could Not Stop the Music; Music and Worship Consultant for the International Mission Board, SBC
"...the questions the he supplies for this assessment not only help us examine our spiritual health, but...impart divine nutrition..." -- Bryan Chapell, Ph.D., President - Covenant Theological Seminary, Author of Christ-centered Preaching
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As one might expect by the title, Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, this book presents the reader with ten criteria that can point towards spiritual health. The crux of the matter, the theme that flows throughout the book, is this: is your character becoming more like Christ's? Here are the ten questions the reader faces:
1. Do you thirst for God?
2. Are you governed increasingly by God's Word?
3. Are you more loving?
4. Are you more sensitive to God's presence?
5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
8. Do you still grieve over sin?
9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?
Each of the questions is approached and evaluated in the light of Scripture and in a way consistent with Reformed theology. In the introduction Whitney writes "In our day, as in theirs [the Puritans], the timeless process of discerning one's spiritual health involves questions and tests. My purpose in writing these pages is to act as a physician of the soul - to ask questions and suggest spiritual tests that can, by the help of the Holy Spirit, enable you to self-diagnose your spiritual health." This book bears a great resemblance to the writing of the Puritans in the sense that they were continually searching their hearts before God to discern where sin had taken hold of their lives. Their honesty and diligence in this matter was clearly influential in Whitney's writing.
There are a couple of places where the author could have taken a misstep but did not. When I saw that a chapter was dedicated to sensitivity to God's presence I began to wonder how the author would approach this topic, and was glad to see that it bore no resemblance to the practices of Brother Lawrence and the other mystics that are so popular today. Instead he introduces the six ways we should understand the Bible's teaching on God's presence and how the believer is to practice them.
Far from being yet another self-help or an easy-answer, ten-step book, this one is deep and penetrating. Reading this book and meditating on the questions will be sure to move believers towards a deeper relationship with Jesus. I highly recommend it!
This book is not new. Its copyright is dated 2001. The author, Don Whitney, is a pastor and seminary professor in the Southern Baptist tradition although it was clear to me that his is a Reformed Baptist background. He attended Law School for a time at the University of Arkansas before following a call to the ministry.
As the title suggests, Whitney poses 10 questions that any believer ought to be asking him/herself to diagnose their spiritual health. Those 10 questions, which also serve as the chapter headings, are:
Do you thirst for God?
Are you governed increasingly by God's Word
Are you more loving?
Are you more sensitive to God's presence?
Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
Do you delight in the Bride of Christ?
Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
Do you still grieve over sin?
Are you a quicker forgiver?
Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?
At the outset of this review, I mentioned that for the first third or so of the book, I was finding that there was nothing particularly challenging in what I was reading. That ought to have been a cue to me that my pride and arrogance was getting in the way of very useful instruction. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit gave me a good nudge because while the book is not a difficult read, nor is it particularly long (141 pages in the paperback version) it really is gently packed with some extraordinarily penetrating challenges, provided you are willing to accept the examination of your spiritual health. Many of the answers I had to these questions were not ones I like, so the real benefit to this book will be not the questions, but rather the response I have to the answers.
Just as we ought to respond in serious ways to the make the changes in our physical lives when we our doctors diagnose that we are gaining a bit too much weight and need a combination of changes in our diets and exercise regimine, there ought to be a serious response to the results of our spiritual diagnosis that flows from Whitney's 10 questions. Therein will be the benefit as we realize the benefits of our Progressive Sanctification.
While I read this book individually, I suspect that it could be useful for paired, or small group study, particularly in the context of the formation of accountability.
Definitely a book worth reading.