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Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters Hardcover – January 19, 2010
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Kevin DeYoung Reviews Dug Down Deep
Kevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of Just Do Something and The Good News We Almost Forgot. He is the co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church, both of which won the Christianity Today Book Award for the church/pastoral ministry category. Read his guest review of Dug Down Deep:
I didn’t know Joshua Harris could draw cartoon monsters. I didn’t know his father, homeschool pioneer, was once a prodigal, guitar playing hippie. I didn’t know Harris was obsessed with Ira Glass and fascinated with the Amish. And I didn’t know that the crazy dream about the filing cabinets and Christ’s forgiveness--a Bunyanesque story we’ve used in worship before--was a real dream, and that Josh really dreamt it.
All this I learned in Harris’s new book, Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters. More importantly, I learned (or, perhaps, was reminded) that Harris is a skillful writer with a knack for making complicated truths accessible. This is not a book that breaks new ground in systematic theology; which is no knock on Harris, because he doesn’t intend to break new ground. Instead, he wants to dig deeper into the familiar ground right under our feet.
Many people know Harris as the guy who likes to talk about dating. First, he kissed it goodbye, then he said hello, then he tackled lust, and most recently he told us to stop flirting with the church and become a member already. See a theme? But if you think Harris is just a dating guru, you’ve really missed what he’s become in the past ten years. By God’s grace, Harris is now a humble husband and father, church pastor, sought after conference speaker, and, for the first time in five years, an author with a brand new book. Dug Down Deep still showcases Harris’s ability to spin a good yarn and connect with his audience through personal narrative and vulnerability. But it is also full of solid truth--simple, biblical teaching on God, Jesus, salvation, sanctification, and the Holy Spirit. Dug Down Deep is Harris’s attempt at "humble orthodoxy." It’s a winsome call for Christians to care about theology, understand theology, and not beat people up with theology.
Joshua Harris is a gracious man with a love for truth. Not surprisingly, then, this book is full of truth, delivered with grace. If you or someone you know is tired of swimming in the shallow end of the pool, Harris will be a gentle hand pulling you into deeper waters. If you find theology (and those who love it) distasteful, this book will offer good doctrine with a spoon full of sugar. Teens, young adults and those attracted to a Christianity too cool for convictions will do especially well to read this book.
Joshua Harris has put the cookies near the bottom shelf. And that’s good, because they’re real good cookies, and he serves them up warm and ready to eat. --Kevin DeYoung
Praise for Dug Down Deep
"More than forty years of quadriplegia has underscored to me the matchless value of knowing—really knowing—the doctrines of the Christian faith. Dug Down Deep reveals how biblical doctrine provides a pathway to understanding the heart and mind of God. If you're looking for 'that one book' that will push you farther down the road to faith than you've ever journeyed before, Dug Down Deep is it. I highly recommend it!"
—Joni Eareckson Tada, author; founder and CEO, International Disability Center, Agoura Hills, CA
"In Dug Down Deep my longtime friend Joshua Harris explains the basics of Christian theology in a way all of us can understand. He is a humble man and teaches humbly. If you are tired of hyped promises and want essential truth, this book is for you. As religious fads come and go, the truths in this book will last."
—Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz
"When the apostle Peter says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…casting all your anxiety on Him," he implies that humble people are fearless. They have the courage to stand up for truth humbly. I love the term "humble orthodoxy." And I love Josh Harris. When they come together (Josh and humble orthodoxy), as they do in this book, you get a humble, helpful, courageous testimony to biblical truth. Thank you, Josh, for following through so well on the conversation in Al Mohler's study."
—John Piper, author of Desiring God; Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis
"Via vivid autobiography, Pastor Harris takes readers on a personal journey into the biblical theology that, belatedly, he found he could not manage without. A humbling, compelling, invigorating read."
—J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God
"Josh says that this book is his 'reveling in theology in my own simple way.' Having read it, I can say that it is also a popular defense of the importance of theology and, at the same time, an introduction to it. I enjoyed reading it. And my mind immediately began to go to how I could use this book. Josh has given me a new tool! It is interesting, well written, and excellently illustrated. Josh has succeeded again in giving us a book that is clear, engaging, direct, solid, easy to read, sound, God centered, balanced, humorous—and it even has pictures!"
—Mark Dever, author; Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC
"Dug Down Deep is an incredible book! It's a tangible and incarnate look at theology. I would give it to any young Christian who wants to understand their faith."
—Lecrae, hip-hop artist
"As two young guys who have been deeply blessed and influenced by Josh's books and example, we couldn't be more excited about Dug Down Deep and how God is going to use it to transform a generation. It's a gripping and honest read. In it we learned things about our older brother that we had never, in twenty-one years, been told before! But more importantly, we learned things about our Savior that caused us to fall more deeply in love with him and his Word. Get this book. Read it. And join us on a journey to rediscover what has always been true."
—Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things
"At Boundless, we've enjoyed watching young adults cultivate a fresh desire to go 'further up and further in' as followers of Christ. Few writers fuel that desire quite like Joshua Harris. With humility, humor, and honesty, Dug Down Deep shows the difference that a foundation can make—how vulnerable you can be when it's weak and how transformed you can be when you're willing to go deep."
—Ted Slater, editor, Boundless.org; Focus on the Family
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Top customer reviews
Personally, I really appreciated his chapter on the Holy Spirit. Coming from a liturgical/charismatic/evangelical background, I could relate so much to a lot he had to say. He summed up my feelings on the matter well and reassured me on some things that I still struggle with based on my mixed experiences with Spirit teaching.
I also appreciated the chapter on Humble Orthodoxy. He reminds us of something that Rich Mullins once said. "God is right, the rest of us are just guessing." We are all saved by grace. We have all been wrong. We need to share the truth and the love of Christ, but not in a prideful, spiteful way. As Paul taught Timothy, "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness."
He spends 28 pages on his father accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior (chapter 7). Far too many pages for me.
After that the book becomes boring. I couldn't finish reading it.
I don't recommend this book.
One of my favorite things about the book is that Josh intertwines stories with a mini-theology lesson throughout each chapter. It could be a story from his personal life or a story that gives a good analogy of something he's trying to teach, but no matter what, it helps the theology stick. You walk away not just remembering a bunch of big words, but you've also got a decent grasp on what they mean without feeling like your brain is going to shutdown from information overload.
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).