And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Discernment part 1


For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:8-11

Every year it seems there comes a flood of pseudo-Christian books to bookstores everywhere. I had been asked my opinion and review on one of these tomes, The Shack by William P Young. Honestly, when it comes to The Shack most of my opinion has been influenced by friends who have read it, and by reading book reviews from reliable sources. When I tried to share what I have found with inquirers, some found it difficult to hear what I had to say from my sources. This has left me with the impression that they had a hard time grasping what understanding had to accompany the book. It appears they did not want a critique, just for me to join together in their reading. I find reading a spectrum of books to be good for growth, we all need to read books. But what alarms me is how often people read without discernment. Some books must be read, others should be feared, and still some need to be read with the understanding that they require discernment. The only redeeming factor in reading some of the “bad” books suggested to me may be that many read and instantly forget what they have read. The alarm remains though, that although we may not remember what we have read, we are subtly influenced by everything. That being said, I again emphasize, we must read with discernment.

Think of these books, The Shack, The Purpose Driven Life, Your Best Life Now, Christless Christianity, 90 Minutes in Heaven, 28 Minutes in Hell, Experiencing God, The Prayer of Jabez, Desiring God, Knowing God, The Left Behind Series, and The Pursuit of Holiness. Now, which ones are overtly Christian? Which have Heresy? Which ones do you question? Which are man centered and which are God centered? All of them have sold thousands if not millions. Which ones give you a sense that something is just not right? Which ones are using scripture? Which ones use scripture correctly and not in the authors bent of context?

I run us through this dialog to suggest and espouse, we need discernment. Discernment runs the same course as common sense and intersects at many points with pure wisdom. The problem is that many do not consider these needs before reading. They read based on suggestion, opinion, and top ten lists. I find this to be a lack of discernment. Paul in writing to the Philippians (1:8-11) Prayed that the church would have two things, Love and discernment. Discernment is key to holding fast and not being swayed by pop culture pseudo-Christianity. We must be like the Berean brethren who held even Paul accountable. We need to see if something is excellent, not just good. We need sincerity and be without blame, that is being pure and without fault. We are at fault if we believe lies that we should have known better, just ask Eve.

That being said, I am still going to peruse The Shack. But rather than a full fledged book review, I believe it is more prudent that we take time to discuss and explore spiritual discernment. At the end of this article I will note some great websites for reviews of The Shack and other books, as well as giving a short bibliography on qualified books regarding discernment.

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