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How do you know it's God?

The Theology and Practice of Discerning a Call to Ministry

How do you know it's God?

The Theology and Practice of Discerning a Call to Ministry

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Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334060383
Number of Pages: 272
Published: 30/05/2021
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm

Much of the conversation and concern of churches and of Christian individuals is centred around Christian discernment or knowing God's leading in decision-making. The language we use around these moments is fluid, and often feels inadequate - ask someone how they 'know' what God might be saying in a given situation and they may well reach for the phrase 'I just know'. In "How do you know it's God?", Lynn McChlery draws on ethnographic research amongst those in different kinds of 'discernment' processes, along with theological, spiritural and psychological insights to try and understand this phenomenum of 'insight' - or 'just knowing'.

Challenging the perception that such intuition needs to be marginalised and removed from discernment conversations, McChlery suggests that instead intuition can and should be intentionally matured both individually and in communities; and that it can be verified, articulated and recorded in forms appropriate to its own mode of insight. It is a vital new contribution to the scholarship for all practical theologians researching ecclesiology, vocation, group dynamics in churches, and communal decision-making processes of any kind.

Acknowledgements vii

Introduction 1

Part 1: Listening to Experience

1. Discerning a Vocation to Ministry: Assessment Conferences 9

2. The Voices of the Vocational Assessors 27

3. Individual Discernment: Listening to Ignatian Spirituality 55

4. Communal Discernment: ‘It Seemed Good to the Holy Spirit and to Us…’ 78

5. ‘Knowing More Than We Can Tell’: Brain Lateralization and Human Perception 105

Part 2: Listening to Theological Traditions

6. Discernment in Newman 127

7. Discernment in Barth 149

Part 3: Experience, Theology and Discernment

8. Intuitive Knowledge and Discernment 175

9. Discernment in Vocational Assessment 201

Conclusion 231

Bibliography 236

Appendixes 243

1 Interview Questions 246

2 Frequency of Responses 247

3 Task Emphasis Method 251

4 A Lexicon for ‘Intuition’ 254

Lynn McChlery

Revd Dr Lynn McChlery is Minister of Auchterarder Parish Church, Perthshire, Scotland.

"Truly well-observed, this rare study lifts the veil on the subtle workings of vocational discernment in the church. 'Who would you trust with your spiritual life?' Paying careful attention to each aspect - ecclesial and personal, evidential and intuitive, professional and spiritual - McChlery develops a finely textured portrait of a uniquely searching process. The application of Ignatian wisdom to this delicate decision-making responsibility brings real depth and authority to her research. Her book will be of real service to all involved in vocational assessment in the church." -- Margaret Whipp

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