Should Christians celebrate Diwali or Onam (if you’re from Kerala), or Christmas? Should women wear a bindi, or wear ornaments, or not? Arranged marriage or love marriage? Can Christians agree to disagree on issues the Bible doesn’t speak directly on? Andrew Naselli and J.D Crowley’s book Conscience will be the book to give you a framework on how to think through these issues.
The writers set out to define what conscience is, which is “the consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong”. There are two foundational principles of the conscience, which are
- God is the only Lord of conscience
- You should generally always obey your conscience.
The writers survey the NT use of the word ‘conscience’ and explain its meaning in each passage. Chapters 3 and 4 talk about what you should do when your conscience rightly condemns you, and what you should do when your conscience wrongly condemns you, providing several examples for each. The last two chapters talk about how to relate to Christians whose conscience disagrees with you on a tertiary issue, and how to apply the principles of conscience in cross cultural missions.
I love this book for several reasons. First, the writers make their argument from Scripture and not their own ideas. Second, the examples and diagrams are very helpful to understand the argument of the book. Third, the writers point us to the gospel as the solution for a defiled conscience, for both believers and unbelievers, as well as how to magnify the gospel when you relate to other Christians with whom you disagree. Finally, the last chapter is very helpful when thinking through cross-cultural church planting.
This book is a must read for pastors to give discernment as they try to foster unity in their churches, and a must read for church planters in cross-cultural settings. It is also very helpful for church members as well. Please take the time to read this book, and recommend it to your friends.