Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ” by Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley
Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow
Pastor Gavin preached a couple Sundays ago about our need to pursue unity in Christ despite the many differences that might exist within the church. But what about when those differences have to do with moral issues? The good news is that Scripture speaks to those situations when believers don’t see eye to eye concerning matters of conscience (1 Cor 8, 10; Rom 14-15). The bad news is that many of us have only a cursory understanding of some of these important biblical ideas such as the human conscience, causing another brother/sister to “stumble,” and Christian liberties.
This is where Naselli and Crowley’s book, “Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ,” comes in. They present a much-needed, thorough, yet clear and easy to understand treatment of what the Bible teaches us about our conscience. Their definition of the conscience is pithy and concise: “The conscience is your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong.”
The organization of the chapters works well. They survey all of the relevant passages to explain what the conscience is, they help us think through how we ought to respond to and calibrate it, and then they expand the discussion to how to love others well who might have differing opinions.
The book’s clarity of thought comes out in a number of ways. For example, the authors utilize effective illustration for understanding certain ideas (e.g. the conscience is like an on-off switch rather than a dimmer). There are several lists (e.g. 12 principles on how to disagree with other Christians) and charts/figures that I’ve returned to as resources (e.g. there is a chart that summarizes the multiple perspectives in Romans 14-15.)
Finally, as I read through this book for myself and learned more about what the Bible had to say about the conscience and Christian liberties, it helped me to appreciate the servant heart of Christ. Christian freedom is not license to do whatever you want, but the freedom to give up your own privileges and benefits for the good of others (1 Cor 9:19).
“Some subjects in Christianity are so fertile, so abundantly promising and useful on so many different levels, that studying them reaps a harvest far beyond expectations. It’s like buy one, get ten free. Conscience is one of those subjects. It touches on salvation, progressive sanctification, church unity, evangelism, missions, and apologetics. Yet hardly is a topic more neglected in the Christian church.
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