Which one do we need: orthodoxy or humility? Both says Joshua Harris! In fact, we don’t have the luxury to choose one at the expense of the other. Or as the subtitle of this volume published by Multnomah says, we should be “holding the truth high without putting people down.” So what does that leave as the goal? What he calls humble orthodoxy.
This is actually a reworking of the last chapter of his Dug Down Deep. If I were forced to choose I would prefer that volume to this one as I really enjoyed reading it. Still, this book has something to say and I need to hear it.
Our tendency to be a Pharisee, our latent idolization of self, our propensity to be so impressed with who we are and what we know, he exposes with care. He says, “The message of Christian orthodoxy isn’t that I’m right and someone else is wrong. It’s that I am wrong and yet God is filled with grace.” Ouch!
He demonstrates how at our core we are about God being on our side. That is a world of difference than wanting to be on God’s side. If it is about God being on my side, then I will argue and fight till my last breath. Sadly, at that point our lives are no longer about God and His glory. We live for what he calls “the tiny kingdom of self.” In that setting, of course, “Knowledge puffeth up.”
We have the wrong focus to make correct theology, as critically important as it is, the goal. Our Lord is the goal. Any other goal is inferior and little more than misspent effort. If correct theology is the goal I can so easily look down on others who I know has less theology than me. I know I have fallen in that trap before and am glad I had Mr. Harris to take me to task for it.
He attacks “arrogant orthodoxy” as actually falling short on the orthodoxy scale rather than the other way around. He sees true theology as telling me that repentance must start with me. Well, he has us there!
He sees a interlocking link between orthodoxy and humility. More orthodoxy leads to more humility and more humility leads to more orthodoxy. When our pride grows, what, then, does that tell us about our orthodoxy? That is a painful, yet particularly helpful, insight.
As much as I want to have my theology right, there is enough remaining sin in me to keep me humble, he says. You can speak for yourself, but that really describes me. A critical spirit, though a spirit quite at home in our age, is pure nonsense in a sinner like me. I must defend my faith without reducing myself to a critical spirit that denies on many levels the very faith I defend.
He also says: “Friend, the truth is not about us. It’s not self-determined. It’s not an accessory. It is about God.” That will help us not develop a Christian subculture with all the weirdo that can accompany it. He also says: ” In eternity we’ll see the silliness of self-righteousness and quarreling over the nonessentials.” That sums it nicely for a book well worth your time to read.
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