I have never read any books on theology before Dug Down Deep, so I wasn't real sure on what to expect. But since it was written by Joshua Harris, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.
"Dug Down Deep is my revealing theology in my own simple way -- not too polished, sometimes awkward, less than scholarly, hopefully gracious and faithful. Even though these are deep truths, I don't pretend to be swimming in the deep end of the pool. I'm splashing in the shallow end. But if my splashing can inspire you to dive in, I will have succeeded."
Joshua humbly teaches his readers to build their lives on truths that last, along with many other lessons by giving examples from the Bible and his own personal stories. I was motivated by many things that I read and found the book very interesting. Some of my favorite things were how he explained that we're all theologians, how we need to look past our mirror-faces and stop treating God as a Divine Butler (even if we don't mean to), and how just the way we pray can reveal how we view our relationship with God.
With the down-to-earth writing style, Joshua makes his book understandable and east to relate to. Though, there were a few concepts that I personally didn't agree with, you don't pick up a book on theology and expect to see eye to eye with the author on everything. Overall, I enjoyed Dig Down Deep very much and would recommend it to almost anyone (because of some topics covered, I feel like the reader should be a bit mature). I would give this book four stars out of five.
"I've come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God's nature -- what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him -- affects every part of your life.
Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong."
Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. All expressed opinions are uncensored and uninfluenced by them.
This book is a total disappointment. It's billed as a systematic theology but is not. It's theological but at such a low level it's insulting. The author himself, I feel, is really the problem. Don't get me wrong, he isn't a heretic (I don't think) he's just a very low level teacher and a walking cliche factory. He gets a lot of hype but is totally unsatisfying for a mature believer. This book is the same. It's getting hyped but not really very satisfying for a mature believer. This book is only fitting for the naive and still not very good for them. Sorry, Joshua Harris disappoints again.
Thank you to Multnomah/Waterbrook for sending me a free copy of this book for a review.
The evangelical world seems to operate on a pendulum. Trends come and go. What was once considered very important can fall by the wayside and that which was deemed secondary or even antithetical to the work of the church can be brought to the forefront. For example, I remember growing up in a church where hymns were on the way out. "Contemporary" worship was considered necessary if we were to reach the lost. In recent years, though, the beauty of these old hymn texts has been realized and there's been a resurgence of interest in keeping them a part of our traditions. Creative minds have delved deep into those abandoned hymnals, and forgotten songs have been resurrected (some with a new tune).
This same swinging back and forth has been true of doctrine. For many, studying doctrine has a negative connotation, conjuring images of theological word-battles, boring lectures, and thick books you need to read with a dictionary by your side and a couple years of Latin under your belt. Even the word "doctrine" has a musty feel to it. Some of these concerns are understandable. I remember heated debates late at night in my dorm at college. Interesting as they may have been, they usually left both parties feeling attacked (or even smug if they believe they made their case more effectively). Usually not a picture of iron sharpening iron or brothers (and sisters) in Christ building one another up.
More recently, doctrine has come under fire in the name of post-modernism. The argument goes something like this: Since we all have different experiences and perspectives, and since these shape our beliefs, how can we really know what truth is? Taking this a bit further, some have argued that there really can be no absolute truth (a tautological problem in and of itself). The end result is: Believe what you want and I'll believe what I want. No one's right and no one's wrong. Right doctrine, in a world like this, simply can't exist.
Maybe that's why the pendulum of evangelicalism is once again swinging back to seeing the importance of theology and right belief. In recent years, the young, restless, and reformed movement has been on the upsurge, and along with it has been a resurgence in studying theology. And it's not just for Bible students and seminarians anymore. Mark Driscoll (with Gerry Breshears) has a book out on doctrine, and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology has been reduced and reformatted twice (correction - three times) to reach a wider audience. Into this world, comes Joshua Harris (who many remember from I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame. [As a side note, I once sat in the lowest level of my college library to read that book from cover to cover in one sitting because there was a girl I was interested in dating who told me, "I don't date; I only court"]).
Dug Down Deep is not a verbose, overly detailed systematic theology text though. It's actually more like a conversation that a straight-up study in theology. Harris writes with a pastoral concern for the big topics within the realm of theology (the nature of God, the nature of Scripture, the nature and work of Jesus, justification, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, and the Church). Interwoven throughout these chapters is the account of Harris' own journey in which he learned to dig down deep. The "meat" of the theology is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it oversimplified. He does a good job of providing a sensible balance for most Christians. The book is almost a work of apologetics for Christians who grew up in the evangelical church. It's as if Harris (and Driscoll and others) are writing to young Christians today and saying, "Yeah, you're right. The church has dropped the ball. We didn't get deep. We didn't give you the 'whole counsel of God' as Paul talked about (Acts 20:27). We blew it, but here's our attempt at correcting that problem. Doctrine is important, so please take this seriously."
In my opinion, Dug Down Deep would be a great book study for high school or college students. The theology presented is solid, and Harris provides support when necessary. This book will serve as an excellent conversation starter, and since it doesn't read like a textbook, I think the less-than-motivated crowd who still needs to know this stuff will benefit tremendously.
Jesus tells a story that many church-goers are familiar with - the Wise and the Foolish Builders. Two men are doing the same thing - building a house. They both hear the same things - the words of Jesus. And they both experience the same circumstances - the rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on each house. The thing that was different was their foundation. One built on the rock and the other built on sand.
Josh Harris' book Dug Down Deep is written to help people examine on what foundation they are building. He points out that what we believe about God - our theology - has a huge impact on how we build our lives.
On page 10 of his book he writes these words: "Theology isn't for a certain group of people. In fact, it's impossible for anyone to escape theology. It's everywhere. All of us are constantly "doing" theology. In other words, all of us have some idea or opinion about what God is like. Oprah does theology. The person who says, "I can't believe in a God who send people to hell" is doing theology. We all have some level of knowledge. This knowledge can be much or little, informed or uninformed, true or false, but we all have some concept of God (even if it's that he doesn't exist.) And we all base our lives on what we think God is like.
With that thought in mind Harris talks about our theology and what we believe about God. He uses words like doctrine, inerrancy, atonement and justification, yet puts them into a practical context to highlight what they mean and why they are important to our understanding of who God is.
I think he really nailed the value of how we see God on page 39. Harris is explaining the importance of how our view of God affects how we live and how we react to the things that happen in. He writes this: "What makes it difficult for us to see the truth about God, I think, isn't his overwhelming immensity but our overwhelming self-centeredness_instead of looking through the window of God's self-revelation and seeing Him, we find it easier to admire our own reflection or to place on Him the constraints of our own existence. We judge Him by our standards of justice, fairness, power and mercy."
Harris does a good job in his book of explaining these different aspects of God through the use of scripture, other writers thoughts and personal illustrations. In the opening chapters he talks about his own theology growing up and how he needed to grow in his own understanding of God. His book would be a useful tool for individuals to read or for group study.
Read Dug Down Deep to grow in your understanding of who God is and how you look at Him
Christians don't know what they believe any more. They don't know what God says or how to be committed to Him any more. Let's face itâ€”Christianity in America has changed and it's not for the better. In Dug Down Deep Joshua Harris addresses this subject and gets to the meat of the problem.
Be preparedâ€”Joshua uses such words as theology, orthodoxy and sanctificationâ€”words we have not heard in the church setting for way too long. He discusses how so many Christians are living life on the surface and not digging any deeper. And let's face itâ€”he's right. We live in a time when people don't want to be bothered with what they believe. "Just believe in Jesus and nothing else matters."
Is it any wonder that we are losing our youth or the ones who stay in the church are not effectively living the Christian life? Loving Jesus is a great start but just because we are saved by grace does not mean that God does not require something of us. Its time we get back to the basics and dig down deep. We need to see what we believe and why it matters; and then go live it. Get your shovel and come join me.