Naselli, Andrew David and Crowley J.D . Conscience: What It Is, How To Train It And Loving Those Who Differ. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016. 157 pp.
Some of my first exposure to the idea of conscience is from childhood cartoons. We have the famous words of Jiminy Cricket “Let your conscience be your guide” or how about when the angel and the devil appear on the shoulders of a character and try to convince the character to do something right or wrong. Are those proper views of conscience? Naselli and Crowley tackle this very question in their book Conscience: What It Is, How To Train It, And Loving Those Who Differ.
The book is setup up like a New Testament epistle, first Naselli and Crowley layout a theology of conscience and then they add practicality. In the first couple of chapters they sift through every New Testament passage concerning the conscience to come up with a working definition and implications of how the New Testament writers described conscience. In the remaining chapters they answer the following questions, what should you do if your conscience condemns you? How should you calibrate your conscience? How should you relate to fellow Christians when your consciences disagree? How should you relate to people in other cultures when your consciences disagree? There are also a couple of appendices worth looking through, one comparing Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10, and the other is conscience exercises for cross-cultural effectiveness.
Benefit for Ministry
Naselli and Crowley provide us with a systematic theology of conscience and provides an important refresher on the topic of conscience. The content is arranged in such a way it is easy to reference. I have used many of the principles and definitions in this book while teaching on the topic of conscience at home and church. Another benefit to ministry has been in the area of discipling. Coming alongside another believer and being able to explain why his mind is condemning him or how he needs to calibrate his conscience to conform to the Bible has been very useful.
The last two chapters are very useful in church culture and missions. Christians will disagree in the area of conscience—in Paul’s day it was meat sacrificed to idols, in our day it could be a myriad of options. So how do you handle the differing of conscience among believers or in another culture on the mission field? Naselli and Crowley provide some very useful principles, which are drawn from the lives of Peter, Paul and Jesus.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Conscience provides you with the necessary tools and knowledge to define conscience, train conscience and love those who have a differing conscience from you.