10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2013
Three years ago, I wrote that "Humble Orthodoxy," the final chapter of Joshua Harris' book Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last, was worth the price of the book all by itself. Evidently, I wasn't alone in thinking so!
By popular demand, Harris has finally expanded and expounded the contents of that great chapter into its own book, and I'm so glad he did! Humility is sadly lacking in modern discourse, particularly in the realm of theological convictions. While the abundance of attention being given by evangelical authors to getting our doctrine right is a good thing, far less attention has been given to how we ought to contend for the faith.
Does God care about the attitude with which we stand for truth? Of course he does! Yet, as Harris points out, "orthodoxy has gotten a bad reputation." We Christians are not exactly known for our compassion and humility when it comes to defending our beliefs.
Something has to give. As Harris argues, that something is our pride. We need to stop seeking the approval of men, and start living for the only approval that matters---God's. When we understand that our deeds merit nothing but damnation, and that God's approval is based solely on the obedience of Christ, we cannot be arrogant. This is the heart of true orthodoxy, and it can only be realized in true humility.
We don't have to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both, and, in fact, each leads to the other. Humble orthodoxy changes the way we relate to others. Instead of puffing ourselves up through comparisons with those we see as more sinful, we should see God's grace as something to be extended to others. Harris writes, "Instead of looking down on the unorthodox, how can we NOT want to humbly lead them toward the same life-giving truth that has changed our lives?"
This book is tiny---its 61 pages weighing in at under five ounces---but exhibits an incredible economy of words. Nearly every sentence is worthy of highlighting... no filler material here! Throughout its four chapters, Harris gives examples from Scripture of men who exhibited humble orthodoxy, and shows readers how to develop this godly character in our own lives.
There is quite a bit of overlap with the last chapter of Dug Down Deep, but there is easily enough new material to make this book stand on its own merits, even if you have read the "Humble Orthodoxy" chapter that led to it. Its small size and easy readability means this book lends itself to many repeat readings, something I'll be certain to take advantage of whenever I need a good dose of conviction about my pride (which is often!).
This is also a perfect little book to give away to young Christians and new theologians, whose "newfound zeal for truth often makes them dangerous," as Harris points out. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open down the road for deals on bulk purchases of this book to go in the giveaway box in my office. It's important to note, though, that as this book is primarily concerned with exhorting readers toward humility rather than establishing orthodoxy, this book alone would not be sufficient to help a new believer achieve humble orthodoxy. To get a good grasp on what orthodoxy is, they will need to consult other resources. For this purpose, Harris' earlier book remains one of my top recommendations.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Humble Orthodoxy. Reference it frequently. You won't regret it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In 2010 Josh Harris released Dug Down Deep, a book concerned with sound doctrine. He encouraged the reader to unashamedly embrace that much-maligned word theology and to "dig deep into a faith so solid you can build your life on it." In the final chaper he called Christians to a "humble orthodoxy" and many considered this the book's greatest strength.
Today's marks the release of Harris' new book Humble Orthodoxy. This is a short volume that takes the content of that final chapter and expands on it. Though there is a good bit of overlap between the two, Humble Orthodoxy stands on its own merit.
Harris' desire in this book is to encourage Christians to hold the truth high without putting people down. He calls for Christians to be guided by both truth and love, to be guided in equal measure by orthodoxy and humility, qualities that are complementary, not in opposition to one another. As J.D. Greear says in his foreword, "Getting doctrine right is a matter of life and dead, but holding that doctrine in the right spirit is essential too. A great deal of damage is done by those who hold the truth of Christ with the spirit of Satan."
The book begins by setting the context and explaining the dilemma. "One of the problems with the word orthodoxy is that it is usually brought up when someone is being reprimanded. So it has gotten a bad reputation, like an older sibling who is always peeking around the corner, trying to catch you doing something wrong. ... I don't know any other way to say this: it seems like a lot of the people who care about orthdoxy are jerks." And here he begins to suggest the solution: a humble orthodoxy, caring deeply about truth, but defending and sharing this truth with compassion and humility. "Whether our theological knowledge is great or small, we all need to ask a vital question: What will we do with the knowledge of God that we have?" The Bible does not allow us to choose between orthodoxy and humility, but insists that we need both in equal measure, and assures us that through the Holy Spirit we can be humbly orthodox. I have always loved this quote from John Stott which speaks to this very thing:
Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God's revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself `the spirit of truth,' and his first fruit is `love." There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.
Harris lays out two alternatives to humble orthodoxy. The first is arrogant orthodoxy, where our doctrine is correct but we are unkind and unloving, where we are self-righteous and spiteful in our words, attitudes and behaviors. "If anyone thinks arrogant orthodoxy doesn't exist, he's never read the comments section of a Christian blog." Touche. The other alternative is humble heterodoxy where a person abandons orthodox Christianity but does it very nicely. The temptation for Harris, for myself, and for most of those who will read this review is toward the first of these alternatives, to pursue orthodoxy at the expense of love. "You and I need to contend for the truth. But there's a fine line between contending for truth and being contentious."
The driving passion behind our pursuit of biblical orthdoxy is "not to prove ourselves more right or better than someone else but to better worship the holy God, the one who forgives and accepts us for Christ's sake alone." He looks to Tim Keller and says "if we make a good thing like correct theology the ultimate end--if being right becomes more important to us than worshiping God--then our theology is not really about God anymore. It's about us. It becomes the source of our sense of worth and identity. And if theology becomes about us, then we'll despise and demonize those who oppose us."
Thus the solution to arrogant orthodoxy is not less orthodoxy, but more. The more we know of God, the more we love and trust him, the more humble we will be before him.
This is a book that I would love to put in the hands of a lot of people I have encountered over the years. First and foremost, though, it is a book I needed to read. It is a book I need to read again. It is a book I plan to read regularly. It rebuked, encouraged and challenged me in very helpful ways. If you have a blog or you regularly peruse blogs (especially if you comment on them), if you just plain love theology and desire to believe what is right and true, then do yourself a favor and read it as well.
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2013
With a book on humility, one of the few of its kind, how can you give it anything less than 5 stars? I almost get the feeling that if I rate it less than 5 stars, I am showing an utter lack of humility. This is the conundrum I am facing. To disqualify myself, I am nothing on the level of Joshua Harris. I have tremendous respect for him and I've loved his previous works, however this was simply too short. It $9.99 for what is essentially a series of blog posts.
In humility, how can you charge $10 for that? I feel really awful saying that, but that's my only BIG gripe with the book. I feel ripped off. In humility, maybe it's my fault I didn't read how many pages were in it before purchasing. I'll be sure to pay attention next time.
The information in the book is great. It's basically 4 extended blog posts titled:
1. Your Attitude Matters - You could have the right doctrine, but if your attitude sucks then you are shaming the gospel.
2. With a Tear in Our Eye - Approach people not with swords in our hands, but tears in our eyes...for them, for their souls...in humility.
3. Repentance Starts with Me - It's easier to boast of doctrine than to live what you believe. So we should start with repentance and humility.
4. Living for God's Approval - What blocks our genuine biblical humility is often a desire for the approval of people. Live for God's approval.
I really feel bad rating a book on humility as less than a 5, but I don't think charging 10 bucks for 4 long blog posts in this economy is exactly the epitome of humility. Maybe I am wrong and the Lord will chastise me, but until then ... if you just really look hard at the 4 points I provided, that's the book. 5 stars for content, minus 2 stars for length in relation to price. Charge $4.99 and it's perfect.
UPDATE: Pastor Josh (author) actually responded graciously to my review, which was much appreciated. As I understand, the price is not set by the author. I'll reiterate that the content is phenomenal, just that the relative pricing was my issue. My expectation was set by the price, not the content---hence my perceived disappointment. This could be my issue personally, and may not be a factor for others. God Bless Pastor Josh.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2013
Everyone thinks they are right, especially when it comes to doctrine. And because we truly believe we're right, we make a point of letting other people know. However, here's the question. What is the best way to approach another person regarding this topic? One thing is of most importance. We are all clay and God is the master. If we remember this, we will approach those who need to learn about correct doctrine with the knowledge that we are not above anyone else. Superiority should never be an issue.
This is the discussion Joshua Harris has in his book Humble Orthodoxy. Knowing biblical doctrine is extremely important, but so is how that doctrine is delivered to others.
He begins the book by looking at the attitude. It all starts here. If there's an attitude of superiority because of an increase in knowledge, the message will not be received as it could have been if the deliverer of the message realized his own inadequacy before God. Humility is a must.
II Timothy 2:23-25 gives a recipe for defending doctrine without being arrogant: "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
When we decide to put our own egos aside and think about God with all he has done for us, we will more easily have an attitude of love for the person we're talking to. We won't want to use doctrine as a weapon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2013
When you see this book on a shelf you will be tempted to dismiss it because of its diminutive size. Don't. Packed into every one of the pages is straight to the point wisdom about how Christians should conduct themselves without becoming the modern day equivalent of Pharisees: right in doctrine but unable to make an impact with the truth because of prideful attitudes and arrogant presentation.
This is a useful book for any Christian who cares about proper belief (which should be all Christians) but I can especially see it being useful for those in the blogging world. If you maintain a blog (or regularly comment on blogs) and write about issues related to Christianity, it can be easy to use that platform to pummel those with opposing views without giving any thought to humility or patience or charity. Harris provides a much needed corrective to the vitriol often seen on Christian blogs where brothers and sisters in Christ effectively destroy their witnesses in an effort to score points.
A final thought on the length of the book. Yes, this is a short book but I like it that way. Harris could have made this book much longer if he had desired to do so. By keeping it short it forces everything to stay very practical and to the point. You won't find a lot of deep theological ruminations in this book. It is meant to be a timely and easy to digest book about a practical issue related to the Christian life.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2013
This book by Joshua Harris proved to be an excellent read. Josh tackles one of the most prevalent issues, in my opinion, in today's Christian world. He discusses whether or not it is ok to take a stand for Biblical truth, as well as the method that is best to do it. In today's world, there is such a battle with the presentation of truth. Most Christians present truth out of a position of arrogance and egotism. They make their stand not so much to help someone who has been deceived, but rather to boast about their own biblical knowledge. Josh calls this type of orthodoxy "arrogant," and not godly. He does make it clear, however, that we must make a stand for truth. In our world today, we are told that if we believe what others do is wrong, we are nothing more than hateful bigots. Josh exposes this lie for what it is by saying that, "Love for God and love for neighbor require us to oppose falsehood. There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person." Josh is clearly stating that when we present the truth that has been given to us by God, we must speak the truth in love always!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
Pride seems to manifest itself in many ways in my life. But one place I tend to see pride in my own heart time and again is when it comes to doctrine. I think most of my theology is correct. I assume you do as well. That is one of the reasons why Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris is such a needed book for me (and probably for you).
In 2010, Harris wrote Dug Down Deep, a book on why theology is important. The last chapter of that book now serves as the basis for Humble Orthodoxy. It has been taken and expanded on to make its own book. The point of this book is that while we do need to stand for the truth of God, we shouldn't be a jerk while we do it. Harris says,
"We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people" (3-4).
I cannot tell you how many times I have related to people when the subject of certain doctrines came up, with arrogance. Still to this day, I think I have a much stronger argument biblically. But I really do not think I pleased the Lord in those conversations. In most of those situations, I found myself in the pursuit of truth . . . for truth's sake. Not for the glory of God. And certainly not for the good of other people. Again, Harris diagnosis many of my intents when he writes:
"That must always be the driving passion behind our pursuit of biblical orthodoxy. Not to prove ourselves more right or better than someone else but to better worship the holy God, the one who forgives and accepts us for Christ's sake alone . . . If we make a good think like correct theology the ultimate end--if being right becomes more important to us than worshiping God--then our theology is not really about God anymore. It's about us. It becomes the source of our sense of worth and identity. And if theology becomes about us, then we'll despise and demonize those who oppose us" (25-26).
That is not what I want. Do you? I want right theology. I want to teach truth. I want to hold the gospel and other biblical doctrines with security. I do believe the Bible is written in such a way that we can understand it and apply it to our life. I just don't want to do any of these things so that I look better or smarter than someone else. I want to love people while I teach the truth.
When I received this book in the mail, I quickly realized that I could read it in a few hours at most (it is only just over 60 pages). But I also realized that the implication of this book will never be so easy. It will probably take me a lifetime to fully understand. His point at the end of the book is very fitting and helpful to close out my thoughts:
"Something that helps me in my pursuit of humble orthodoxy is to remember that one day in heaven there will be only one right person. It won't be me. And I'm sorry to say so, but it won't be you either. It will be God" (54).
I received a copy of Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris from Multnomah for review.
on May 13, 2015
In the absence of truth, error abounds, and it is in this proliferation of false ideas that a great threat to the gospel message is found. For unless this encroachment of falsehood is countered, the truth of salvation is blurred. Thankfully, many have answered the call to stand for the pure teaching of the scriptures. These men and women refuse to compromise and vigorously fight to preserve the faith once and for all passed down to the saints. Now while we should be thankful for such efforts, there has been an unfortunate reputation gained by some in the orthodox community. Rather than speaking the love in truth, some individuals use it as a hammer to crush others. So while the truth is spoken, it is communicated with a mean spirit and an arrogant heart. Joshua Harris seeks to address this troubling development in his book, Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down.
A right attitude is critical to communicating the truth of God's word, yet it is often difficult to maintain. Believers are tempted to pride and still struggle with the flesh as much as any other Christian. Therefore it is easy to think highly of oneself as knowledge and wisdom are gained. Now while there is no guarantee of others listening with open ears, it is still vitally important for believers to fight this urge to pride and cultivate a heart of humility. Within the series of short chapters, the author works through the book of 2 Timothy and speaks to the proper way of preaching the truth. With a right heart and a humble spirit, it is possible for believers to long for God's glory and weep over the lack of understanding in others. In the end, speaking the truth in love is explained and readers are challenged to put it into practice.
Originally printed at the end of Joshua Harris' work, Dug Down Deep, this short book is an expansion of the ideas cultivated in that final chapter. With powerful content and a study guide to help with application, this work is both truth explained and truth applied. The only hindrance this book holds is in its price point. At a suggested retail of $9.99, the work contains only 61 pages of content in a book that stands roughly half the height of other hardback books. The remainder of the pages are end notes, title pages, and a study guide. In this regard, the volume would have been better served as a download or pamphlet (it is roughly the size of a research paper). Still, the content is worth reading more than once and serves as a great guide for those who struggle with pride in the preaching of God's word.
on December 30, 2014
Having a correct understanding of doctrine does not entitle us to be jerks with our knowledge. On the other hand, we should not be wishy-washy with truth for the sake of being nice and accepted. It is vital that we both know the truth and be humble about it. Josh Harris writes more in-depth about this topic in his book “Humble Orthodoxy”.
This was a very short book, having only roughly 60 short pages of reading content. It is certainly reasonable to finish this book in one sitting.
Josh defines orthodoxy as thinking rightly about God. Too often we pursue knowing about God simply for the sake of having knowledge. When the goal of our orthodoxy is to gain knowledge only, then we become prideful and arrogant. When the goal of our orthodoxy, however, is to gain knowledge so that we might better worship God, then we should be humbled by His holiness and mercy. We need to stand firm on the core truths of the gospel, but we need to do so with grace and gentleness. Simply proving others wrong does not please God. We also need to avoid quarreling over non-essential truths (2 Tim 2:23-25). In the end, it’s not about what we know, but it’s about our attitude in light of what we know.
Things I liked about the book:
I appreciated Josh supporting his writing with Scripture. Actually, it would be more accurate for me to say that Scripture is the foundation of his writing. I like his way of quoting Scripture and then summarizing it in his own words or re-wording a passage in order to help display its relevance to today. It was very easy to see how his main points were coming directly from the Scriptures referenced.
Josh helped me understand that good orthodoxy or good doctrine should lead to humility. When we truly understand doctrine (such as the attributes of God as an example), it should result in us realizing the seriousness of our sin. When we have a solid understanding of the truth in the Bible, we will have nothing to boast about. He made an excellent point that our knowledge is a “dependent knowledge”, meaning that we can only understand anything because God has graciously given us the ability to understand and retain knowledge. Knowing that our knowledge is a gift from God, we should be reluctant to use it to tear others down.
Things I did not like about the book:
I think the book could have been more effective if Josh had written more stories about actual experiences people had regarding the topic. For example, he could have interviewed people who were impacted in a positive or negative way by the orthodoxy of others. Interviews like this could have helped readers better understand how the concept of “humble orthodoxy” has played a tangible role in other lives.
“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.”
“There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person.”
“if we make a good thing like correct theology the ultimate end – if being right becomes more important to us than worshiping God – then our theology is not really about God anymore. It’s about us.”
“Do you want to keep your orthodoxy humble? Try to live it… Don’t measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by your practice of what you know.”
While I did not find this book ground-breaking, I did find it very helpful, applicable, and humbling. I also believe that the practice of humility discussed in this book can and should be applied to all types of knowledge, not just doctrinal knowledge.
I would suggest the following when approaching this book: read the book, underline or mark important sentences or passages as you read, then frequently (or before you read a book about doctrine) pull out this book and review the passages you marked. Reviewing will take just a few minutes and be a good way to remind oneself to remain humble as he/she learns and gains knowledge.
on April 18, 2014
I imagine you can vividly recall engaging someone in a theological discussion, and that someone was a jerk to you (intentional or not). I also imagine that someone can remember discussing Bible doctrine with you, and you were a jerk to that someone. And neither scenario is good; neither scenario pleases Christ, This is why Joshua Harris wrote Humble Orthodoxy.
Pride is an awful thing, especially in light of how believers use biblical facts and doctrine. Two Scripture passages state this clearly: I Corinthians 8:1 and II Timothy 2:23-25. Harris uses those verses, among others, in Humble Orthodoxy to remind Christians that while knowing the Bible's facts is perfectly fine and good, it is wrong when we look down our noses at others because of what we know. Or as Josh quaintly states in the first chapter, "Many Christians rebuke as Jesus, but forget to love as Jesus." (paraphrased) And that's why, as is emphasized in the same chapter, the apostle Paul never encourages Christians to seek to win an argument...but rather hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in spite of all the clear teaching and exhortations found in Scripture, we [Christians] manage often to be jerks to other believers and unbelievers when that same Scripture is brought up in conversation. And notice how I didn't say "come off as". We plainly are jerks sometimes!
Another Chapter 1 point ties well into a Chapter 2 concept (With A Tear In Our Eye). How often are we aware that everything we know as believers is a result of God's grace? When was the last time any of us mediated on that? The truth is biblical knowledge is dependent knowledge. Consider that along with the very gospel, which no one ever has nor ever will earn, and yet we act like we've earned knowledge from the Bible. Nope, never. I agree with Harris when he claims that Christians tend to use their Bible knowledge to build up their own individual kingdoms, rather than God's. We beat others who are supposedly less educated over the head, rather than humbly sharing the truth we've learned only by the Spirit's enablement. The Bible is not an academic textbook, but rather divine words that can only be spiritually discerned. And we have the audacity to flaunt our gleanings in the faces of others?!
It's hardly as though standing on the truth of God's word shouldn't be done. Paul made it abundantly clear to Timothy that doing so was his job [as an elder], as well as the job of God's people. We should definitely confront error. The caveat is whether speaking that truth is done in love and to honor Christ, or for our own glory.
And what foolishness that is anyway... to think that we can achieve glory for ourselves because we know something about the glorious word of God! Instead we ought to be concerned about our faithfulness, reformation, confession of sin, embodiment of the truth, and so on. Nothing gives us the right to think or believe that we're intellectually or spiritually superior to anyone, because everything godly about us is a gift from God. And not to mention, in the end only God is right about everything. It's interesting that Josh illustrates how the multitudes of redeemed will in eternity someday be apologizing to one another for how wrong we got things while on earth. In the end, it won't matter who got it right about baptism, worship music, or anything else that stirred up controversy. You encounter all these striking thoughts in Chapters 3 and 4 (Repentance Starts with Me & Living for God's Approval).
I appreciate very much what Josh Harris has to say about doctrinal humility in Humble Orthodoxy. We [Christians] could all use a greater dose of humility in light of the scriptural things we know, and how the Spirit has enabled us to live. And we need this humility on a daily basis, not just when we feel like it. Otherwise, we will be jerks to those whom we claim to love, those with whom we work, and strangers. The last thing we need to be is an obstacle to others who've yet to come to Christ because we're swollen with pride of knowledge! We must be mindful of this always, and strive to be humble with our orthodoxy. Pick this book up, and be appropriately challenged in the same way I was.