Book Review: The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment Part 2

challies-bookRecommended: A much-needed call to exercise discernment

Tim Challies is a well-known name among the Christian blogosphere.  Challies provides readers with insightful and sometimes provocative articles daily at, as well as snippits of interesting stories around the internet. But he is perhaps best known for his controversial review of the equally controversial book, The Shack (his review can be read here), a review that shows us why he is more than qualified to write on the topic of discernment.

In part one of this review, I provided a somewhat brief overview of the content of the book. Now, let’s dig into what we can learn from its pages.

As one should expect from a book on this subject, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is packed with Scripture. Challies not only uses a lot of Scripture to support his arguments, he uses it well and with humility. In doing so, he shows himself to be someone worth listening to, as he practices what he preaches.

I found the book to be incredibly convicting and challenging, in part because I don’t know that I’ve always really understood the full implications of a lack of discernment. It’s safe to say that we all know people in our churches and (likely) families who are not terribly discerning, nor do they necessarily care to be. This fueled an increased desire to help protect those who are less discerning, but to do so with grace. It’s not easy to do, and too often, because I tend to be particularly blunt, I am seen as less than gracious at times.

I particularly found the dangers of discernment to be eye-opening because they are things that I have been guilty of, particularly extending guilt by association (if Pastor so-and-so reads this book and quotes from this teacher, then he must be a heretic). This is a tricky thing because on the one hand, we should not judge too harshly or too quickly, but we also need to be sure that we’re turning to teachers that are of good character and biblically sound. This, again, is an area on which I was convicted as, at least in my experience, it’s fueled by nothing more than pride. I have been slowly learning that I need to be very cautious about coming to a conclusion about any particular author or teacher. That doesn’t mean that I excuse wrong teaching, it just means that I need to not be quick to go shooting someone without doing my homework (ie examining what they say against Scripture).

What I appreciatd most about this book is the admonishment that all true, pure and excellent doctrine will point to Jesus.

This is really the key to discerning false teaching from true: Who is ultimately glorified? Is it Jesus or man? If it’s man, then we must reject it. If it’s Jesus who is glorified, then we must joyfully embrace it.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is a much-needed call for Christians to be discerning in every area of their lives. It is my hope that as you read this book, you will find it edifying and profitable.

Buy your copy at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

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  • robin

    I would like to read this book, thank you for the review.

    • Aaron

      You’re most welcome – I hope you enjoy it