Conscience – defining it, training it, and loving those who differ

I preached a sermon a couple years ago on 1 Corinthians 10. The sermon was about how to seek the good of others in debatable matters of Christian liberty or conscience. As I studied this topic for the sermon, I remember thinking, “I wish there was a user-friendly resource about the Christian conscience. A book I could go to for good definitions and summaries on what the Bible says about the conscience.” Well, it is now a few years since the sermon, but I found the book! It is called, Conscience – what it is, how to train it, and loving those who differ, by Andrew Naselli and J. D. Crowley.

This book is important because matters of conscience are a part of our lives day in and day out. And matters of conscience will be a part of our lives on an ongoing basis because we are constantly encountering new issues to think about and we are continually rubbing shoulders with people with whom we disagree. Here are the major questions the book seeks to answer,

  • What exactly is the conscience?
  • What should I do when I violate my conscience?
  • How do I adjust my conscience?
  • How do I relate to another Christian when our consciences disagree?
  • How do I relate to people in other cultures when our consciences disagree?

The book is divided into three sections: (1) describing the conscience (ch. 1-2), (2) how to deal with your own conscience (ch. 3-4), and (3) how to relate to others when your consciences disagree (ch. 5-6). The book explains two great principles of conscience and how they should work in daily life. First, God is the only Lord of conscience. And second, you should always obey your conscience. The authors define conscience as, “your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong.” As such, “it produces different results for people based on moral standards, it can change, and it functions as a guide, monitor, witness, and judge.”

Here are a few things I liked about the book,

  • It is thoroughly biblical and very practical. The principles in the book will take a lifetime to apply.
  • It has great summaries and definitions derived from an excellent word study of conscience.
  • The book contains good examples from real life and clear illustrations to make the truths understandable.
  • I found the treatment of Romans 15 to be excellent – with a very helpful chart to organize the truths. This is worth the price of the book.
  • And I loved how the authors distilled the biblical teaching about conscience into 12 principles about how to disagree with other Christians on disputable matters…but I will let you read the book to discover these!

All in all, I would recommend this book to everyone. A great guide to the Christian conscience, both biblical and practical.

Link to Purchase: Amazon

I received a copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

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