Do you ever wonder why Christians can disagree on what seems like, well, everything? How we can possibly live in harmony with one another despite all these differences? If so, one book you’ll definitely want to check out is Conscience (Crossway, 2016) by Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley. This is one of the most practical, informative, and thought-provoking books that tackles this very timely and important issue facing believers today.
Looking at its concise title, it isn’t hard to guess what this book is about: all things conscience. Our conscience is something we all have and we are all aware of, but we rarely think too deeply about. And, as the subtitle reveals, Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley set out to help us understand what our conscience is, how to train it, and how to love those who differ.
Everyone has different beliefs and past experiences that influence their conscience, as Naselli and Crowley point out. These differences can be rooted in both religious traditions as well as cultural upbringing. No matter where someone’s beliefs come from, our job as believers is not to regulate everyone else’s opinions according to our conscience, but rather to regulate our consciences by the Word of God. The book clearly and graciously gives directions for accomplishing this daunting task.
How many differences in thought do we see among young people (as well as grown people) in the church today? Girls and guys in our ministries come from a plethora of backgrounds and circumstances, all of which influence the way their consciences operate. One girl may have been taught that it is unwholesome to wear jeans in public. Another guy may have grown up thinking that it is a sin to listen to any secular music whatsoever. Someone else may have been told that it is morally wrong for a boy to get his ears pierced.
Our job as ministry/spiritual leaders is to help our students navigate these issues by understanding how to calibrate their consciences according to what the Bible says — and as a student pastor, I can attest that this rarely (if ever) easy!
Thankfully, in this book, Naselli and Crowley give clear insight into every passage of Scripture that deals with the conscience (literally, all of them). Their thoughtful and clear commentary on these passages, primarily on Romans 14, helps give leaders a biblical basis to help both themselves and students inform their consciences with the Word of God.
Jordan Raybon is a husband, father, student pastor, and rare native of Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to pursuing an M.Div. at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he is also working on his first book which will release later this year. He and his wife, Morgan, are expecting their first child, David, to arrive in August.