The devolvement of discernment

There’s one book I know I’ll be purchasing upon its imminent release: The Discipline of Discernment. Written by the Tim Challies of, it will be addressing the naked emperor of American Christianity – naivete. Perhaps naivete is too innocent for what passes as Christianity in our country today. Scripture assures us that by nature we would rather appoint and surround ourselves with teachers and leaders who allow us to claim the live we want rather than live those we should.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4.3-4)

A recent issue of Time magazine ran “Does God want you to be rich?” as the cover story. Joel Osteen now has a board game that after reading about it in entry, I’d have to echo, “I feel dirty.” Prominent evangelicals fall to moral sin. Large denominations debate side issues of theology.

We could all use some discernment. All that is preached, proclaimed, written and blogged is not truth. Or even helpful. What are we going to do about it? Let’s accumulate the “Top Ten Suggestions for Becoming More Discerning…” Comment away.

On this day...


  1. TJ says:
    The scripture in 2 Timothy becomes so clear these days. You have teaching that tells people everything they want to hear, but nothing that people NEED to hear.

    I read the Time Magazine article that you’re referring to. Hearing such extremes on the subject of prosperity makes me sick. I believe that prosperity is okay as long as our soul is prospering (3 john 1:2). If it’s unprofitable to gain the whole world and lose our own soul, then what needs to be taught heavily WITH teaching on prosperity is that the most important thing is that your soul is prospering. Matthew 6:33 says to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and THEN the things we need will be added to us. It’s okay to ask for God’s help in giving us wisdom to be financially stable and to be in a place where we are a blessing to others. But to make this teaching the core value of ministry is sickning. If the promise of financial blessing is the reason someone is serving the Lord, the priorities are screwed up. It’s what I’ve heard referred to as “not seeking His face, but seeking His hand.” I don’t want what He can give me – I want Him. When I have Him, I have everything. I wish I heard more of this teaching on Christian television.

    So here’s what I think one of the suggestions for becoming more discerning should be: “Use the Seeking first the Kingdom and His Righteousness mentality as our approach to discerning if what we’re doing and teaching is appropriate.

  2. K.T. says:
    Is it naivete or discernment?Are people not the religions they are because they feel through their own best determinations that the one they choose is the way to go?Or is that based on being naive?Who really has the answer to that?

    So prayer for clarity should definitely be on the list…..and prayer for an open heart.Prayer for GOD to show us the path of most resistance but also glory in his name.

  3. Mark W says:
    I see that K.T. has already added prayer to the list, and TJ began with what I might term “Christ centeredness” – though depending on some other factors, it might be hard for a truly naive Christian to really know what a Christ centered mentality looks like. I’ve seen people do some pretty stupid things in the name of Christ centeredness. The reason? Their “center” for Christ was unfortunately off base.

    Here are a few ideas for the list that shouldn’t get negelected:

    1) READ!: …and not just the scriptures. Read commentaries on the scriptures. Read Christian history – from 1st century AD through to the 20th century. Borrow that BIG book of theology that Jeff held up last Sunday. Equip yourself with knowledge -“Unless we learn from the past, we are destined to repeat it.”

    2) LISTEN: Before making judgments about others ideas, beliefs, positions on various issues, really hear them out. Follow their reasoning. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t react until you’ve tried to understand a different persepective.

    3) REASON: Use your God given ability to follow the dictates of true logic. Statement “A” cannot both equal “B” and not equal “B”. Use the tool of careful reasoning to built your positions. Use reason to test the positons of others before “going along” with something because it sounds good on the surface.

    4) BE WILLING TO ADMIT FAULT: We’re all human and fallible. Everyone will, at some point, fail to use good discernment. The best discernment in that situation is to admit the mistake, make amends, and learn from it.

    5) CARE!: Discernment isn’t some kind of detached game that we play, acting as if we have all the answers. Discernment is a way to really engage in those things and with those people whom we care about. Discern well so that you can make a difference.

    Well, those are some things off the top of my head. Perhaps not all of them really apply to what you wanted. Use them as you see fit…and let me know what you think!

    Great post!

  4. dean says:
    this might sound like laziness or a cop-out, but if used along with the other so-far excellent suggestions above, “seeking wise counsel” goes a long way toward ferreting out truth. while we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions and the stands we take, it is always helpful to listen to spiritually mature people whom we trust. i guess to complete this vicious cycle, one would already have to be a discerning individual to even know who the wise, spiritually mature ones are among us though. hmm… i think before i completely sell out to this suggestion, i better go ask somebody….
  5. Mark W says:
    Dean – that’s not a cop out at all. It’s true! I wish I’d thought of it…a lot actually. 🙂
  6. Carolyn says:
    Have you read Elton’s latest blog on this same subject?

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