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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Literary Review: Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris

I haven't blogged in nearly two months. Life, as my (ahem) regular readers will know, sometimes gets the best of me and stands firmly in the way of my blogging ambitions. With that said, I can't think of a much better book to read - or to write a blog/review for - than Humble Orthodoxy, by Joshua Harris.

As you might determine from the title, Humble Orthodoxy is a book about an aspect of Christian faith. If you are a Christian, you need to read this book. Notice that I don't say, "You should read this book." You need to read this book.

If you are not a Christian, I would strongly suggest you read this book. If nothing else, it will help you understand a facet of faith that every Christian struggles with to a lesser or greater degree.

In his foreword, J. D. Greer throws down this same gauntlet, "I challenge you to study them (the truths that the author presents herein), not in the way a seminarian studies doctrine, but in the way you might study a sunset that leaves you speechless."

For my own account, I don't believe there was a single page in Humble Orthodoxy that did not challenge me, convict me, stir my heart, teach me, or nudge me toward a more meaningful relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone by revealing too much, but I will share a few thoughts that Mr. Harris has given to us through his heartfelt consideration and communication of why Humble Orthodoxy is one of the most important needs in the global church today.

On page one, Mr. Harris defines orthodoxy as a word referring to right thinking about God. One of the constant struggles all Christians face is defining and communicating the truth about Christianity. If you're reading this and know anything at all about the Christian faith, you can probably quote an example where orthodoxy has played a part in an ugly incident. I've personally had discussions with other Christians where I have been "gobsmacked" regarding their understanding of what I believed were such basic tenets of Christianity that I didn't think anyone could miss their meaning. And I have been guilty of using orthodoxy as a "hammer" in an effort to correct them.

And therein lies the problem. In our world today, orthodoxy is not popular. With so many denominations, Christianity poses a puzzle to believers and non-believers alike. If, we say, the truths of Jesus Christ are immutable, then why is there a need for so many denominations? No one likes to be told they are wrong but if you are going to step forward as a believer in Jesus, you cannot redefine what that means so that you are comfortable in your position. By definition, if you have made a profession of faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus then you have agreed to accept the orthodox beliefs that He lived, died, and rose from the grave to communicate to us.

If orthodoxy is right thinking about God, what is Humble Orthodoxy? In short, Mr. Harris defines it (p. 5) as caring deeply about the truth; defending and sharing it with compassion and humility.

In Humble Orthodoxy, Mr. Harris takes us through a number of real-world examples of what that means - what that looks like. There is a way that he writes about this important aspect of our faith that reaches deep inside of us and reveals things that may not be comfortable for us to see - but that we desperately need to see.

On page 29, Mr. Harris writes:

Truth can be known. And what the Bible teaches should be obeyed. Just because we can't know God exhaustively doesn't mean we can't know him truly. Just because there is mystery in God's Word doesn't mean we can pretend God hasn't spoken clearly in the Bible.

This book is what I refer to as a highlighter book. As you might guess, that means my review copy is now liberally painted in florescent yellow. Whether you are a new believer, have been a Christian as long as you can remember, or are a card-carrying atheist, this is a tremendous read. Humble Orthodoxy is not a long book; absent the praise, foreword and a handy study guide in the back, it is a mere sixty-one pages. But I believe it could well be the most important sixty-one pages you read outside of the Bible itself.


In order to comply with FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers (WMP) provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I would personally like to state that, to my knowledge, WMP does not restrict my review submissions based on whether I submit a negative or positive opinion, and that this is as fair and unbiased a review of Humble Orthodoxy as I can present after reading the book from front to back. As someone with limited time to read and review books, I will state that I do as much as I can in advance to determine if any book I choose to review will be - at least - something I find interesting to read.