Conscience: What it is, How to train it, and Loving those who differ, by Andrew Naselli and J.D. Crowley

This is the most helpful book I have read in a long, long time. Maybe that’s because we probably don’t hear enough biblical teaching on conscience. Maybe that’s because I have on occasion experienced the brunt of a legalistic mindset. Maybe that’s because over the years I have been guilty of not understanding the role of conscience. Maybe a combination of all the above.

The helpfulness of this volume is illustrated by the chapter titles. “What is Conscience?” “How Do We Define Conscience from the New Testament?” “What Should You Do When Your Conscience Condemns You?” “How Should You Calibrate Your Conscience?” “How Should You Relate to Fellow Christians When Your Consciences Disagree?” You see?

Naselli and Crowley root much of their presentation on exegesis of Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10. This is the main reason I would highly recommend it; their counsel is clearly guided by Scripture. They tackle the surrounding issues such as freedom and legalism, as well as giving specific examples of where evangelicals often disagree as a matter of conscience such as alcohol, entertainment, tattoos, etc. Another strength is the many charts. The 22 illustrations throughout the book help the reader to visualize the distinctions and definitions being discussed.

As I read through Conscience I couldn’t help but remember when a brother invited me to lunch to share his concern for me and my ministry. What was the matter that could destroy my ministry? What was the matter that was potential sin in our church? The movies I watch, which are PG, PG-13, and the rare R (mostly war or history). Of course, he couldn’t name a specific movie that had “crossed the line” but he was concerned enough to broach the subject with me. Thankfully, God helped me speak to him about the freedom we have to draw some lines in different places. Just because I may be ok with watching a particular film that may make him uncomfortable doesn’t mean I’m living in rebellion against God. We should all have a standard, yes, but enforcing our standards of secondary matters on everyone else is exactly what Paul teaches believers not to do.

I only share that personal anecdote to say – this book is really helpful and much needed!!!