A Call for Discernment

A Call for Discernment

False teaching has plagued the church since the time of the Apostles. But never before has it had such an easy entrance through modern media and technologies. False doctrines that once took years to take hold now sweep through entire denominations in a few short months. God’s solution is discernment. In this book, Jay Adams explains biblical discernment, how to determine what is truly biblical, and lays out a plan for growth in the exercise of biblical discernment. How strong are your discernment skills?

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Jay Adams’ classic book on discernment is hands down the most helpful and insightful study of the subject available. It has long been a favorite resource of mine, and I recommend it heartily to readers who share my concern about the woeful state of discernment among today’s evangelicals.

Dr. John MacArthur, Grace Community Church


In A Call for Discernment, Jay Adams sounds a needed call for Christians to become more discerning. Christians must refine and remold their learning to align with Christian fundamentals and beliefs. “That is why the psalmist in Psalm 1:1, 2 was concerned, at the very beginning of the psalter, to set forth the two ways: God’s and all others.” (p. 20)  This sounds peculiar to modern ears – God’s way vs. all others – but it is a necessary understanding to becoming more discerning. After presenting poignant examples of the prevalence of lack of discernment among Christians, Dr. Adams encourages readers that, as Christians, we all have some discernment and can grow to be more discerning. He then explains how to do so. I recommend this book highly – you will benefit greatly from it.

Dr. John Babler, Chairman, Department of Biblical Counseling, Mid-American Baptist Theological Seminary


Adams begins with this observation, “Today, the church is confused…false teaching and heresy abound.” What unfolds is classic Adams. Definition of the problem, exegesis, exposition, and then implementation. Adams lays out the biblical basis for his challenge to be discerning. Then he works through a good skeleton of the Old and New Testaments, giving an expositional summarization of the craft of discernment. Finally, he provides a model any Christian can follow to develop discernment.

Dr. Howard A. Eyrich, Fellow and Member of the Academy, ACBC
Director of DMin Biblical Counseling, Birmingham Theological Seminary


Adams rightly identifies the most common problem that pastors and counselors face in the counseling room—a lack of spiritual discernment in their counselees. In this helpful resource, Adams defines not only the nature and purpose of spiritual discernment but what God’s expectations are for us in this noble task. In his typical fashion, Adams lays a foundation of sound doctrine on which he provides practical resources to help his readers develop discernment. I couldn’t recommend this book more highly!

Dr. Samuel Stephens
Director of Training Center Certification, ACBC


We live in a contemporary society that has access to a huge depth of information but is increasingly lacking in genuine discernment and wisdom. Educational experts paint morality in various shades of gray. Jay Adam’s book, “A Call for Discernment” exposes the need for biblical discernment, clearly delineating between good and bad, right and wrong, wisdom and foolishness, black and white. The practical insight from this book cuts through such moral confusion. I highly recommend it to every Christian!

Dr. John D. Street, The Master’s University & Seminary
President, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC)


Here is a call more needed today than the day it was written. The wisdom to make needed distinctions is largely absent in contemporary Christianity. Spiritual dullness overwhelms pulpits and pews. A Call for Discernment is a needed correction. Jay identifies the problem from Scripture and provides both a biblical solution and a program for developing discernment.

Rev. Kevin M. Backus, Ph.D.
Pastor, Bible Presbyterian Church, Grand Island, NY
Fellow and Board Member, ACBC


We are living in days when some who would call themselves biblical counselors seem to have lost the ability to be discerning about the psychologies as belief systems and the methodologies that spring from them. This book is needed now more than when it was first written.

Dr. Ernie Baker, Pastor of Counseling Supervision at First Baptist Jacksonville
Chairman of the online BA in Biblical Counseling, The Master’s University


Scripture underscores the importance of knowing right from wrong and truth from error. We love each other by “speaking the truth” to one another, helping each other grow up in Christ so that we will not be deceived by error. Jay Adams clearly proclaims the sanctifying and life-giving nature of discernment. This is a must-read for anyone who is seeking to love others with truth.

Dr. Andrew Rogers, Director, Overseas Instruction in Counseling


A Call for Discernment was not merely another “good read” for me. It was life-changing. My journey with that book in hand was one of the richest seasons of growth for me as a young pastor! I cannot recommend it more enthusiastically.

Dr. William Miller Hill
Executive Director—Equipping Nationals Worldwide


While originally published in 1987, A Call for Discernment demonstrates the ongoing relevance of Jay Adams’ work. A Call for Discernment is a clarion call to the church to take up the whole of the Christian worldview and to delineate those doctrines and practices which amount to capitulation to the world.

Rev. Michael Burgos
Provost of Forge Theological Seminary


The need for discernment in the church has not changed in the past generation since Jay Adams sounded his clarion cry in this book. Nor has it changed in the past several thousand years. Satan is a liar and a deceiver (John 8:44 2 Cor. 11:3). Jesus warned that false prophets would infiltrate the church and lead many astray (Matthew 24:24). While the names of the deceivers may change from generation to generation, their methods and their lies remain the same. Adams begins by warning about the lack of discernment in the modern church and then gives practical steps by which the reader can grow to be discerning. One of the great strengths of the book is the careful explanation of many crucial passages of Scripture. All who read will benefit.

Dr. Jim Newheiser
Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte NC
Executive Director, The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship


In our current culture, going that extra mile to ask, “But what does God’s Word have to say about this?” is often met with resistance and tactics to discourage us from doing so. Sadly, this is all too frequently mimicked in evangelical circles as well. In A Call for Discernment, Jay Adams packs a punchy wake-up call to all believers to joyfully take up this noble task of discernment that leads to living by God’s truth and speaking His truth in love. It is simply not an option for any of us lest we drift into “dullness.” If you want to grow in discernment and how you handle God’s Word in everyday life, pick up this book, read it carefully, and apply it. Jay Adams doesn’t just tell you what to do, he shows you how to do it.

Tim Keeter, Project Manager and Chief Engineer, Dynetics; ACBC Certified Counselor


Jay Adams’ concern for life-changing truth among churches and Christians comes through in this short book on biblical discernment. I’m a pastor and counselor who ever needs help thinking well about God, the world, and myself. Adams’ book challenges me in my own “call for discernment.

Rush Witt, D.Min. 
Acquisitions Editor and Manager New Growth Press

Whether you are a layperson or a pastor, you will find practical help in this book as Dr. Jay Adams tackles an immensely important topic. Written in an easy-to-understand way, Dr. Adams is direct and packs much truth into a small book. He will teach you practical strategies for developing the skill of discernment as empowered by the Holy Spirit, and you will walk away with a greater understanding of the Bible.

Mark Shaw, Founder, The Addition Connection
Director of Counseling, Grace Fellowship Church, Florence, KY


As I meet with struggling Christians, I see the level of biblical discernment in Christians is often alarmingly shallow. Many Christians are not able to navigate the most elementary issues to which the Bible speaks with absolute clarity. Jay Adams has provided a resource that not only unveils the dangers of a lack of discernment, but goes further and provides a step-by-step plan for Christians aiming to develop discernment. He not only gives a detailed plan but also gives examples, so the reader understands what discernment is like and how to go about developing it. If you’re a Christian lacking discernment, get this book and put it into practice. If you’re a Church leader and want your church to be more discerning, get a case of these books, teach a class, and get your people to put this book into practice. You won’t regret it!

Dr. Ben Marshall
Executive Director, Freedom That Lasts, ACBC Fellow


In A Call for Discernment, Dr. Adams urges Christians to embrace God’s truth instead of basing our beliefs on popular opinions or personal preferences. Readers will find his practical approach to the subject both encouraging and refreshing. If you desire to learn how better to differentiate between truth and error, this is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Dr. Matthew Akers, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary


Jay Adams clearly identifies the pressing crisis of lack of discernment among believers. Whether it is humanistic teaching, name it and claim it theology, secular psychology, pyramid schemes, or popular thinking that my own internal narrative becomes my personal truth, the modern church often lacks the ability to know what is objectively right and wrong, and consequently how to live out God’s truth. Instead of thoughts and philosophies that oppose God being exposed as God commands, many Christians today strive to integrate worldviews that are in clear opposition to the Word of God. Such thinking and practice is often deceitfully framed as gracious and loving. While Adams is clear in expressing the need for discernment, he is also precise in biblically defining the concept and providing the biblical/practical means of strengthening personal and corporate discernment. Pastors, elders, and all believers would be wise to read, study, and discuss together this important book.

Daniel R. Berger, Pastor Faith Fellowship Church, Clarence, NY
Director, Alethia International Ministries


The church today is “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes,” as the Apostle Paul said. What’s worse, too many don’t even know the church is in such a bad state. In his usual frank yet engaging style, he tackles this problem.  A Call to Discernment answers the questions, “Why is the church like this?” “How did it get to this point?”  “What can we do about it?”  “How can I keep myself from the same fate?” He shows you how you can become a discerning, thinking Christian. If you want discernment, read this book!

Tim Pasma, Pastor, LaRue Baptist Church, LaRue, Ohio
ACBC Fellow and Board Member


Thirty years ago, A Call for Discernment impacted my thinking and ministry. Today, it remains my favorite Jay Adams book. I’m grateful for this updated edition and pray the Spirit will use it to help a new generation grow in the essential skill of biblical discernment.

Paul Tautges, pastor, biblical counselor, and author of Counseling One Another


My father-in-law, Dr. Jay E. Adams, dedicated this book to me when he first wrote it back in 1986. I read it back then and just read it again. What a biblical, timely, and refreshing challenge! My father-in-law clearly identifies the perennial need for discernment, shows what discernment is, that God wants his people to develop and exercise it, and gives helpful suggestions on how. I heartily recommend this book for your growth in discernment!

Bill Slattery, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Moore, SC;
Executive Director of the Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute