Conscience, the Puritans, and forming our minds today – a talk with Richard Topping

The Pulse Podcast is about living abundantly wholeheartedly.

It includes feature topics, interviews, and weekly biblical studies.

This episode is a talk with the Rev. Dr. Richard Topping about conscience, the Puritans, and forming our minds today.

You often hear people talking about having a clean conscience, a guilty conscience, or something eating away at their conscience. On a popular level ‘having a conscience’ usually means that living according to some kind of moral compass. Literally, it’s a word which means ‘with knowledge.’

In this talk we explore conscience from a faith-based perspective; what a group of Christians from the 16th and 17th centuries called the Puritans can teach us about conscience; and how we might think more constructively about shaping our minds for the living of these days.

Richard Topping is the President and Vice-Chancellor of the Vancouver School of Theology. He has served as President/Principal for the past eight years. He is also Professor of Studies in the Reformed Tradition. He is the former Minister of the Church of St Andrew and St Paul in Montreal where he served for over 12 years. Richard is married to Amy and they have two sons, Karl and Paul. Richard is a combination of faithfulness, intelligence, and good humour. As a result, he is a blessing to all of us.

We talk about:

  • Defining conscience
  • Being mentally shaped by our moral environment
  • Who were the (often misunderstood) Puritans?
  • Having ‘good confidence’ alongside ‘guilty conscience’
  • The modern concept of relativity and how this shapes conscience
  • Reflecting intentionally about conscience in a climate of increasing moral autonomy
  • The importance of self-examination and growing in holiness
  • The role of the Holy Spirit in the formation of conscience
  • A joyful conscience
  • How perpetual distraction impairs our ability to think about significant things in a sustained way
  • How we are all shaped by something (even if we don’t realize it)
  • The importance of spiritual formation in today’s church, especially as we become a minority presence in our culture



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