Conscience: What it is, How to Train it, and Loving Those who Differ by Andrew Naselli & J.D. Crowley – A Brief Review

When’s the last time you were doing something and as soon as you did whatever it was you were hit with that instant feeling of guilt? What if that thing was just something that you do everyday? Or something that you happen to need to do every month, but feel guilty every month? Mark Dever tweeted a few years ago, “Conscience cannot make a wrong thing right, but it can make a right thing wrong.” This idea is what the book Conscience by Naselli and Crowley is about – what is the conscience and why we should take heed to its nudgings.

Grounded in Scripture, Naselli and Crowley have a firm foundation for their writing on the conscience and what it is and give excellent advice for how to train to conscience to be better aligned with what the Scriptures teach. It is a remarkably readable book with lots of depth and practical application. Written from a mixed perspective of a New Testament professor (Naselli, at Bethlehem College & Seminary) and a cross-cultural missionary (Crowley, working in Cambodia) these two come together to give the conscience a full biblical treatment, along with how to train the conscience and what to do when your conscience tells you something is wrong (hint: listen to your conscience!). Even when it comes to something that is not against the Bible, Naselli and Crowley strongly urge us to listen to what our conscience has to say (as long as it is not condemned in the Bible) so that we do not sin against our conscience; because to do what your conscience tells you is wrong is to do wrong, until you are able to take the time to properly align your conscience with what the Scriptures say to be true.

A quote that stood out to me, in relation to Paul and  how to act around others, is, “Around Jews he was happy to be strict. Around Greeks he was happy to be free. He didn’t count his freedoms or his comfort as the highest priority but always asked himself these two questions: 1) How does this particular action affect other believers? And 2) How does this particular action further the gospel of Christ?” (96). Let us learn to ask these question in all circumstances.