When the book first arrived in the mail, I was slightly disappointed. Here was an opportunity to read a new book by Josh Harris, author of Dug Down Deep and I Kissed Dating Goodbye; son of Greg Harris, one of the founders of homeschooling; and brother to Alex and Brett, the founders of the Rebelution movement. Nice.
I didn't realize when I requested it that it maxed out at 61 pages.
However, determining to make the best of it, I started in yesterday afternoon. And in spite of my reluctance it was more than worth it.
Joshua's premise starts with the idea that many Christians who know their orthodoxy can be quite arrogant in their presentation style. This isn't a book encouraging Christians to be unsure of themselves; on the contrary. Harris says "But we don't have the luxury or the biblical permission to be uncertain about those things God has been clear on." He does want us, however, to be a little more gracious, even while we're uncompromising.
So how do we strike a balance between a humble attitude and orthodox beliefs?
I know that humble orthodoxy sounds hard. In fact, it is hard. But ask yourself, what are the alternatives to humble orthodoxy?
I can think of two that are quite popular today.
To begin with, there's arrogant orthodoxy. It's possible to be right in our doctrine but be unkind and unloving, self-righteous and spiteful in our words and behavior...
Another popular option is humble heterodoxy. Heterodoxy is a departure from orthodoxy. So a person who is humbly heterodox...can't bear to offend unbelievers or the general culture and seems open to almost any teaching in the name of inclusion, kindness, and open-mindedness. ~Humble Orthodoxy, by Josh Harris. Chapter One.
The first chapter defines what humble orthodoxy is, and why it matters. Chapter two hits hard on those who promote their beliefs with arrogance. Chapter three discusses repentance from arrogance, and chapter four ends with a look at what humble orthodoxy is both on a practical and an eternal level.
Yes, some of it struck hard. It's so, so easy to be arrogant, perhaps not always in presentation, but in the heart attitude. We're so great because we've discovered this wonderful truth about God. And those poor people who haven't gotten it yet? Well, we'll explain it to them, and that will clear it all up.
The fact is, God gives us all different levels of understanding at different times. It's not the explaining and helping others that's wrong. It's not even recognizing what we've learned. What's wrong is when we think we're so great for understanding it, when we should be praising God for granting us the understanding.
I would err more on the side of arrogant orthodoxy than humble heterodoxy. I like answers. They're secure things, absolutes in a life that has so many unknowns. And it's not wrong to like answers, nor to believe that we can know our doctrine for sure. It would be wrong not to believe in absolutes. But it's wrong to bludgeon other people until they're bloody in our attempts to share it. Truth offends; truth divides; but we must be very sure that it is the principle from God that offends darkness, and not our presentation of that principle.
When I began the book, I expected it to encourage the reader to focus more on humility than orthodoxy. But Harris strikes a balance right down the middle. He does not say that orthodoxy should be thrown out for the sake of humility. He's not preaching against the idea of sound doctrine. He's rebuking both sides equally and lovingly, and his call needs to spread across the body of Christ.
We must be sure of our beliefs. Rock-solid, unshakably sure. And we must be humble in presenting them, realizing that it's only through God that we were brought out of darkness and into His glorious light.
A good little book; applicable to all Christians, and definitely an essential read.
*I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to post a favorable review.*
P.S. Been doing some heavy theological thinking lately, as I'm sure you've noticed! :) We'll break the trend next week, and bring on the fiction.