Slow To Judge: Sometimes It’s Okay To Listen, by David B. Capes
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
This is the fourth book I have reviewed as a part of the Refraction series , and like the preceding volumes in this series, it fulfills its purpose of providing immensely thoughtful and worthwhile insights on subjects of importance that are often neglected by Christians. In this particular case, the author reveals his purposes towards the end of this short book, and they ought to be among areas of pivotal importance for all contemporary believers to work on: the wisdom of a listening heart, the necessity of correction in the church, the danger of judging by appearances, the importance of respect, love, forgiveness, and humility among believers, the damage done by the labels we give to others, the peril of pride, the blessing of openhearted hospitality, the need for authentic tolerance, and purpose of the church’s mission to the world. Although there are some quibbles I would have with this book, most notably the extent of borrowing it is acceptable for believers to take in worship practices from the outside world of unbelievers, the general points of this book are immensely worthwhile.
At around 150 pages in length, this is a book that discusses at its core an issue of particular importance for contemporary believers. For one, this book honestly deals with the reputation of believers for being judgmental in contemporary society, and demonstrates how it is possible for Christians to be slow to judge but retain their firm commitment on beliefs, and grow to be understanding towards others, with a desire for reconciliation and a tendency to see human beings as far more complicated than labels tend to allow. While the book is critical at contemporary tendencies to seek to enforce ungodly standards of morality, the book also points out that the reputation many believers have for being harsh and judgmental towards others, unloving, and full of prejudice and unwilling to get to know and respect others for who they are as being well earned. This may be hard for some readers to take, but for those readers who are prepared to be gracious and interested in getting to know where others are coming from, this book provides strong and biblically-based advice on how to deal with a post-Christian world that in many ways resembles the pre-Christian world of the Hellenistic period in which the New Testament was written.
Among the more worthwhile aspects of this book, of which there were many, is the way in which the author discusses his own background in interfaith dialogue and what it requires to be useful. The author makes no apologies for the fact that tolerance requires discomfort, and that part of being a genuine Christian means being loving and respectful to others who may happen to rub us the wrong way because they are different. Tolerance is not required in dealing with people who are like us and who are easy to get along with. It is those with rough edges, whose perspective and behavior are somewhat alien to us, to whom we must show tolerance and understanding. It should also be noted that this is not an optional matter for believers–it is required as part of the duty and obligation we owe as part of our Christian walk, that we love others as ourselves, and treat them kindly and respectfully even when we do not understand or agree with them fully. Given the way in which this book forcibly yet lovingly and biblically deals with uncomfortable and important matters, this is a book that despite areas of disagreement is one that I warmly recommend for those believers who want to take the issue of judgment seriously and to do it well.
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