Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Disciplines of a Godly Young Man

If you enjoyed Disciplines of a Godly Man, then you will likely enjoy Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, for the latter is largely a reprint of the former with a handful of illustration changes to engage a younger audience (approximately high school through college-age).

Primary Differences:

Ultimately, there is very little that distinguishes Disciplines of a Godly Young Man from Disciplines of a Godly Man. Although Disciplines of a Godly Young Man omitted chapters from its predecessor, it did not introduce new, relevant content in its place. (For example, marriage and fatherhood are removed from the section on relationships, a fitting place to discuss relating to parents and siblings.) Since there isn't really any new information (even the subtitles are the same, for the most part), I would simplify and purchase the latter as it will be useful to its reader for decades as opposed to a decade...unless you think that this new cover and title will have greater reading appeal to the young man in your life. ;)

As for the book content, both books contain concise chapters with practical advice and encouraging illustrations that will likely hold the attention of many readers. The Hughes utilize much Scripture and are theologically sound. Furthermore, they quote and recommend good reading material. These books would be helpful as a jumping off point for further reading and/or small group discussion. To this end, they contain helpful "Food for Thought" and "Application/Response" sections at the conclusion of each chapter.

The  Disciplines… books maintain a narrow focus, emphasizing the things one must do to discipline himself for godliness. This narrowness provides a helpful challenge to the reader but can give the appearance of laying out a list of "laws" as opposed to genuinely getting to the heart of the matter and applying the Gospel.  As a result, I would recommend that those reading  Disciplines… have a solid understanding of the Biblical process of Gospel-centered change. (How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp is an excellent resource on this subject.)

I think the  Disciplines… books will be beneficial for many men. However, it is important to know what type of guy will be reading this book. I would not recommend it to everyone! Personally, I am tempted to be more critical of this type of book in my current season of life because I can get so easily discouraged by all that I am not doing. A book like this that mostly gives me all the "to dos" without proclaiming the truth of the Gospel  and reiterating God's work in me poses a definite temptation to crushing despair.  I must continually remind myself that Jesus lived the perfect life that I should have lived and died the death that I should have died so that there is no longer any condemnation for me in Christ. In this season, I must also remind myself that God will be faithful to complete the good work which He has begun in me. While there is a chapter at the conclusion of the book titled the "Discipline of Grace", it is lacking of the Gospel presentation of the previous two sentences. This book could crush an already discouraged young man who is not well-grounded in the truth of the Gospel and God's role in sanctification. (A better solution might be to have such an individual read Discipline of Grace or Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges. ;)

All-in-all, I think many men will continue to be challenged by the Hughes and will benefit from a careful reading of either of these books.

*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

Other books mentioned in this post:

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