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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too cool for me, September 10, 2011
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This review is from: Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last (Paperback)
I like Josh Harris. I've read three of his books: Kiss Dating Goodbye, Lust, and Stop dating the church. Reading Josh Harris is like watching Roger Federer play tennis, easy on the eyes, very natural, and fluid. I purchased this book (like many other books) based on the recommendations by my favorite pastors and church leaders. If the book is commended by Piper, Dever, Packer - well it's good enough for me.

Unfortunately this book may not be for me. After reading half-way through the book I realized that the great attraction to this book is the personal biography of Harris that bleeds through every other page of the book. The humor laced throughout the book had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion! But I must admit that the personal biography took away from the purpose of the book which is to marvel at God, to sink our anchors deep into biblical truth. I noticed how often he references girls, his past attraction to girls, girls he knew, guys he knew, that said this or that, and the over the top referencing of sex. It may be that Harris knows that our attention span is that of a gnat. He knows this because in our post-modern world Facebook and social media has trained our minds to hold attention for more than a few minutes. So Josh may feel the need to reel us back in by these graphic (albeit not always sexual) scenarios.

It reminds me of preachers who preach memorably because of the illustrations they use. Unfortunately some illustrations are so good that you focus on the illustration more than the biblical truth. I felt this way when I read this book. It was sprinkled a bit too much with pop-culture. Instead of illustrations he brings back the reader's attention by sprinkling references to his past sinful life (e.g. see opening of chapter 6 "I'd watched a pornographic video once before when I was thirteen years old. I had found the VHS tape while baby-sitting at the home of a Christian family. The parents were gone. The kids napping ...")

I am not saying Josh is purposefully using these scenarios to stumble young Christians but he is trying to be transparent. But my concern is that too much can sometimes be counter-effective.

There are very good parts to this book. In chapter 5 "God with a bellybutton", Harris does a good job summarizing historical Christology has developed. He establishes a much needed warning about feeling and thinking. He says, "if you want to feel deeply, you must think deeply."

In chapter 9 his advice on understanding spiritual gifts is helpful and biblical (see 1Tim 3 on how the church confirms a man's calling). Don't look for a gift that is mentioned in the list, but serve the church and don't over-spiritualize your gift. You may already be doing it in your daily work. Just serve and let others confirm what you may or may not already know.

When Harris' teaches he does it very well.

Maybe this book will be like Calvin's institutes in that it underwent several revisions. For the next revision possibly limit the stories and illustrations and cut to the teaching of biblical truth. Let your teaching of God's Word captivate us and not the past-sin references.

I like Josh Harris' gift to communicate truth. God is using Josh Harris in a great way to serve the body of Christ.

I would heartily recommend others (Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith; Ryrie, Basic Theology; or Stott, Basic Christianity).
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