Christian Discernment and Freakonomics: Seeing Through the Dazzle

I am often amused at the juxtaposition of books that come across my desk. Today I point out two new acquisitions to our library which make for a rather unlikely pairing. If, however, the former is correct, then the latter is all that much more important.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt argues that “if morality represents how people would like for the world to work, then economics shows how it actually does work.” Incentives, cheating, fabrication, self-interest, convenience, randomness, and power are all addressed in terms of how they influence economics and therefore how they effect society. He argues that we live in a age where nothing is as it seems. Everything has a hidden side. Informed decisions, then, are next to impossible since someone else always has the upper hand.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies answers the question that John MacArthur poses in the foreword, “With such a broad patchwork of competing ideas all clamoring for mainstream acceptance, how can the average person in the pew be expected to know what is truly sound, safe, and biblical?” In placing the discipline of discernment in connection with biblical truth and theology, the church’s corporate witness, and personal sanctification, Challies offers a great word on how to discern one’s way through such a freakonomic world. He writes:

Discernment is not a pursuit that stands on its own in the life of the Christian. Rather, it is inexorably connected to others. Those who wish to be discerning must have a posture of discernment. The must commit to reading and studying the Bible, to participating in the local church, and to pursuing the character traits of a Christian. The lives of these people will display the proof of discernment in their obedience to the Bible and in their maturity as Christians.

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