Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris
Joshua Harris, Pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland is well known for his writings on the Christian faith that span the gamut from dating to theology. His new book, Humble Orthodoxy is a short work aiming to bring together the twin ideas of humility and truth. In too many cases, a desire to firmly hold onto the truth carries with it an arrogance that smacks of contempt for other Christian traditions. Knee-jerk reactions run the spectrum from vitriol against Arminianism, infant baptism, Catholic tradition, and worship music. This little book by Josh fills a void that is needed. Rather than harping on individual doctrines or just humility, Josh wants us to think of the posture in which we hold our theological viewpoints.
He writes, “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” (4)? Is knowledge made to be an instrument to pummel people who disagree with us or is it a way to love and serve the Lord Almighty? Josh goes onto elucidate two avenues to humble orthodoxy that are not so helpful: arrogant orthodoxy and humble heterodoxy (6-8). The arrogant orthodox kind is quick to hold onto right doctrine but act in an unkind and rude manner to others. Whenever an opposing viewpoint is presented, someone who lives out arrogant orthodoxy will immediately respond with anger and harsh words. On the other side, the person who is holds a humble heterodoxy is quick to point that he doesn’t believe every historic belief but is inclusive and open-minded. He is sure to not blame others or offend the sensibilities of the culture, but is more willing to appear humble and kind. The problem here is that of a watering down of doctrine for the sake of accommodating to the culture’s norms and values. Bearing up under Paul’s wisdom in 2 Timothy, Joshua leads us to see that Paul was encouraging Timothy to be a bulwark for the orthodox faith while opposing others with gentleness. There is a real connection here between right belief and right practice that shapes the way a believer should bear witness to his Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the chapter With a Tear in Our Eye, Josh points out that the elevation of theology for knowledge sake ultimately leads to ruin because we begin to build an edifice of our own image rather than worshiping God (26-27). Idolatry comes in many forms, but the idolatry of knowledge destroys the desire to serve God with humility rightly. So what is the right response? Josh quickly points out the death of God’s sin is ‘the most humbling, human-pride smashing message in the world’ (29). Recognizing the depth of God’s love for sinners, and the reality that we could not do anything to merit God’s acceptance, points us away from pride and to the Savior. Furthermore, holding our truth about the Christian faith with humility involves repenting over our own prideful sin, coming to others asking their forgiveness and moving forward with grace.
I greatly enjoyed this book. I think this book will be of great encouragement for anyone desiring to live a more vibrant and holistic Christian life.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah Books and the Blogging for Books program for providing a copy of this book for review.