Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review: Who Are You To Judge?

Who Are You To Judge? Learning To Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2002. Moody Press. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Who Are You to Judge is the most recent book I've read on the subject of discernment.

Here is how the book opens,
The church is to be in the world as a ship is in the ocean; but when the ocean seeps into the ship, the ship is in trouble. I fear that the evangelical ship is taking on water. The world is seeping into the church so rapidly that we might well wonder how long the vessel can stay afloat. The church, which is called to influence the world, finds herself influenced by the world. If we as Christ's representatives can scarcely stay afloat, how can we expect to rescue a society that is sinking around us? We have bought into the world's values; into its entertainment; its morals, its attitudes. We have also bought into its tolerances, its insistence that we should never challenge the private beliefs of individuals, whether outside the church or within it. In the face of cultural pressures, we have found ourselves confused, hesitant to act, unable to give a loving but convincing witness to the world. (13)
Officially, we believe that without trusting Jesus as Savior people are lost; unofficially, we act as if what people believe and the way they behave really does not matter. No wonder our light has become a flicker and our salt has lost its savor. (16)
It hooked me from the beginning. It made me think. (Just like the Casting Crowns song "Love You With The Truth" makes me think. And those lyrics work well with this book, by the way. Truth matters. Love is called for, always called for, but, so is truth.)

Lutzer urges his readers to be discerning, to judge wisely. The first two chapters, "Why Are We Afraid to Judge" and "Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged" introduce the subject of judgment or discernment. They serve well as a general introduction. These chapters share some essentials that I believe every Christian needs to know and consider carefully. The nine chapters that follow focus on specifics: "When You Judge Doctrine," "When You Judge False Prophets," "When You Judge Miracles," "When You Judge Entertainment," "When You Judge Appearances," "When You Judge Neopaganism," "When You Judge Ghosts, Angels, and Shrines," "When You Judge Conduct," and "When You Judge Character." The book covers plenty.

Some chapters remain relevant and almost timeless. Other chapters feel a bit more dated, highlighting the fact that it was written twelve years ago. Did I agree with every single sentence, every single paragraph, every single chapter, probably not. Did I agree with most things generally speaking, probably.  In other words, I agreed more than I disagreed.

I liked this one. I liked that it requires you to think, to choose, to decide. I liked that it values truth above all else. I liked the place it gives Scripture. I liked that it emphasizes that what we think matters, that how we live matters. The book is practical in many ways. For example, in the chapter on entertainment, he suggests three tests: the content test, the control test, and the clock test. This book challenges you to change, encourages you to want to change. That doesn't make it easy, by the way.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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