Which one do we need: orthodoxy or humility? Both says Joshua Harris! In fact, we don't have the luxury to choose one at the expense of the other. Or as the subtitle of this volume published by Multnomah says, we should be "holding the truth high without putting people down." So what does that leave as the goal? What he calls humble orthodoxy.
This is actually a reworking of the last chapter of his Dug Down Deep. If I were forced to choose I would prefer that volume to this one as I really enjoyed reading it. Still, this book has something to say and I need to hear it.
Our tendency to be a Pharisee, our latent idolization of self, our propensity to be so impressed with who we are and what we know, he exposes with care. He says, "The message of Christian orthodoxy isn't that I'm right and someone else is wrong. It's that I am wrong and yet God is filled with grace." Ouch!
He demonstrates how at our core we are about God being on our side. That is a world of difference than wanting to be on God's side. If it is about God being on my side, then I will argue and fight till my last breath. Sadly, at that point our lives are no longer about God and His glory. We live for what he calls "the tiny kingdom of self." In that setting, of course, "Knowledge puffeth up."
We have the wrong focus to make correct theology, as critically important as it is, the goal. Our Lord is the goal. Any other goal is inferior and little more than misspent effort. If correct theology is the goal I can so easily look down on others who I know has less theology than me. I know I have fallen in that trap before and am glad I had Mr. Harris to take me to task for it.
He attacks "arrogant orthodoxy" as actually falling short on the orthodoxy scale rather than the other way around. He sees true theology as telling me that repentance must start with me. Well, he has us there!
He sees a interlocking link between orthodoxy and humility. More orthodoxy leads to more humility and more humility leads to more orthodoxy. When our pride grows, what, then, does that tell us about our orthodoxy? That is a painful, yet particularly helpful, insight.
As much as I want to have my theology right, there is enough remaining sin in me to keep me humble, he says. You can speak for yourself, but that really describes me. A critical spirit, though a spirit quite at home in our age, is pure nonsense in a sinner like me. I must defend my faith without reducing myself to a critical spirit that denies on many levels the very faith I defend.
He also says: "Friend, the truth is not about us. It's not self-determined. It's not an accessory. It is about God." That will help us not develop a Christian subculture with all the weirdo that can accompany it. He also says: " In eternity we'll see the silliness of self-righteousness and quarreling over the nonessentials." That sums it nicely for a book well worth your time to read.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 .
The biggest surprise about this book is its size. When you think of a book titled Humble Orthodoxy, you would think that it would require a couple hundred pages at least to even get warmed up on the topic. Humble Orthodoxy weighs in at 80 pages long, including a study guide. But do not let that fool you. This book is definitely worth your time.
This is now the second book by Joshua Harris I have read, with the first one being Dug Down Deep. It is because I read Dug Down Deep that I was even interested in this book. Josh's writing has definitely evolved throughout the years from the time he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye and that should not come as a surprise in that most writers get better as they continue writing and maturing. I do not say that because I believe some of Josh's earlier books were not right on or anything like that but just to say that reading his stuff now is enjoyable and challenging. He writes with an understanding and grasp on topics which he is then able to put in terms that anyone can understand. His readers do not need to have a graduate degree to understand. Along those lines, Humble Orthodoxy is a short, but not watered down product that could benefit Christians of any age.
Humble Orthodoxy is a challenge to believers to hold the truth of God high and not look down on those who might not understand what we do. It is very easy for those who profess to be Christians to get puffed up in their knowledge and understanding and thus wind up looking down on those who have not attained their knowledge. The Pharisees had this problem throughout the New Testament and they are also the ones who Jesus butted heads with most often. But, it was not necessarily the knowledge itself that is bad, but how we present our knowledge. "Orthodoxy refers to right thinking about God" (p. 1) and this book spends all of its pages presenting the fact that in our thinking about God, right thinking, we need to make sure we are living rightly with our knowledge. "Truth matters_but so does our attitude. This is what I mean by humble orthodoxy: we must care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility" (p. 5).
The book is divided into 4 different chapters: Your Attitude Matters, With a Tear in Our Eye, Repentance Starts with Me and Living for God's Approval. Each of these areas points to humility from a different perspective but helps paint the ultimate picture of how humility should be the main characteristic of our thinking about God. If Jesus Himself did not consider equality with God something to be grasped for, then we as His followers should portray that same humility in our own lives. The only boasting that should come from a Christian is in the cross of Christ. Any other boasting is uncalled for and will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of those who are not followers of Christ. It is extremely difficult for Christians to live as Christ with pride in their lives.
Joshua Harris, in Humble Orthodoxy, does a great job at calling Christians to live humbly and remain humble as they grow in their knowledge of God so our lives can openly and fully portray Christ. With that said, I want to close with a couple quotes from the book:
"If being right becomes more important to us than worshiping God, then our theology is not really about God anymore. It's about us."
"That is humble orthodoxy. It's standing for truth with a tear in our eye."
"When we know the truth about God - His love, His power, His greatness, His holiness, His mercy - it doesn't leave us boasting. It leaves us amazed. It leaves us in awe of truth. It leaves us humbled in the presence of grace."
"We don't have to be jerks with the truth. We can remember how Jesus showed us mercy when we were His enemies. We can demonstrate a humble orthodoxy, holding on to our identity in the gospel. We are not those who are right; we are those who have been redeemed."
With that, I will bring this review to a close. It is difficult to write a long review on a shorter book without giving too much away. I hope I have been able to whet your appetite just a bit for this book. As I said, it is a short book but well worth the couple days it will take you to read it. Also, this book would be great for a small group study and even a Sunday school so look into it.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.
I am recovering from the legalistic, and yes attitude of the pharisees that permeates the independent fundamental movement toward fellow believers that are in different denominations. I had been praying for God to show me balance but I could not quite grasp it. This book does an excellent job . Thank you!!!
I never knew 61 pages could be so good and powerful until I read through this book.
Joshua Harris gives a good, swift kick with, 'Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down'.
With lines like,
"The error and sin of others never give me license to ignore the Word of God. Even when people in our culture are sinning, slandering, and tearing down truth, I have no excuse for ignoring God's commands."
"Orthodoxy shouldn't be a club to attack someone else. It should be a double-edged sword that starts by piercing our hearts, laying them bare before God so that we can say, "Forgive us, Lord."
He definitely has a very well thought out, very much needed message for today's Christians.
I can tell you that I needed this book a lot. I've gone through a "cage stage" before (read the book and you'll know what I'm talking about ;) ) and God used that time to humble me. He's shown me that while it's important to know truth, it's also important to remain humble as we seek to apply it.
I would encourage Christians of all ages to read this book, but not just read it. Seek to apply the wisdom God gives through it. Let's live humbly in truth with "a tear in our eyes".
*Note: this book was given to me for free by Waterbrook Multnomah for reviewing purposes.
The book Humble Orthodoxy is about the need to act in humility when it comes to your desire to act like a Pharisee. In other words, those who "think" their version of Christian doctrine is vastly superior to others and therefore feel the need to slam or belittle or tear other Christians down.
And it's certainly a needed subject, especially with the rise of many conservative websites and bloggers who feel the need to discredit and shame several key Christian celebrity pastors.
But with all of the depth and exploration you could tap into on this subject, this book is extremely thin... and little. In fact, it's more of a booklet, or a freebie you'd expect to find in the church lobby or in your Easter basket.
Author, Joshua Harris explains exactly what this "new book" is. It's the last chapter of his amazing book "Dug Down Deep." Now, I love Dug Down Deep, I bought a copy of it for my church library and I recommend it to people all of the time.
Well, apparently those closest to Harris told him that this last chapter would make a good book topic, particularly a "booklet" that could be given to people. And so with the help of another writer, the two of them transformed this "last chapter" of a great book, into a .... few more chapters and bound them together in a hardback mini book.
To be honest, once I skipped to the back and found out what it was, I stopped reading it. I have already read Dug Down Deep and I don't need a refresher in doctrinal bullying. But I again, I certainly feel this subject matter is important, I just wish there was more there.
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for this free review copy.