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Dug Down Deep

Joshua Harris, author of such books I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl has written a much different, inherently valuable book on the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. He has packaged them in a way that is both accesible and enriching. Early on in the book, he tells the story of his upbringing by saying, "The bottom line was that my parents faith wasn't really my faith...I knew the Christian lingo but my heart wasn't in it" (4-5). He went onto play the blame game for a while pawning off his criticisms of the faith to others all the while never actually engaging the big questions of faith. As Harris moves on in the early chapters, he makes the point that not only does everyone have a theology, but having a theology is emminently practical. Harris writes, "Messed-up theology leads to messed-up living" (12). There is a direct connection between what we believe and how we live, for knowledge and affections are consequential to living rightly or wrongly.

Overall, I thought this book was very good in weaving together narrative elements of Harris' life with basic rock solid biblical truths that anchor our faith. At one point in speaking about the Scriptures, Harris writes, "I would say that most Christians believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. But until this authority actually changes the way we live-how we think and act-talk of the authority of Scripture is nothing but a bunch of religious lingo" (63). The beauty of this statement is that faith can never be divorced from works, for our good words should always flow out of a life in service to Christ. Many people in our culture have high ideas about the Bible, morality, and religion, but very few are actually transformed by their beliefs.

I thought the most insightful chapter was the one entitled Humble Orthodoxy. Later in the chapter Harris writes with a view to the right kind of orthodoxy by saying, "That is humble orthodoxy. It's standing for truth with a tear in our eye" (213). What Harris is getting at is that being firm in the truth requires believers to stand against sin in the lives of others while showing mercy. It's being a faithful friend to others in dark times, while not being scared to confront iniquity. This type of orthodoxy is not only conducive to holy living, but is actually what Christianity is supposed to be about.

On a side note, this book has as its presupposition many of the ideas that evangelicals take for granted such as inerrancy of the Bible, penal substitution, Calvinistic understanding of grace, and a good emphasis on the story of the Bible as it relates to Jesus. There is nothing inherently wrong with these views, but the book does not give full weight in fleshing some of these concepts out. I was hoping for a more fully orbed discussion of the atonement, but I still realize that the goal of the book was not to be a theology of the cross.

Much thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah Press for the review copy of this book.


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