A good friend of mine recently posted a quip on Facebook, “Drag someone kicking and screaming to the truth, and they will hate you and the truth.” He’s an atheist, and I think he has it right.
That’s the main thrust in “Humble Orthodoxy”, Joshua Harris’s new release. It’s a little book that packs a big punch. Orthodoxy is “right thinking about God.” Unfortunately, however, the battle for orthodoxy has caused great divide and great loss. “Humble Orthodoxy” pits two extremes against one another.
On one side is arrogant orthodoxy, that position that seeks to be right at all costs. The question Harris poses is this: Does correct orthodoxy “necessarily lead to being argumentative, annoying, and arrogant?” (p.3) JD Greear wrote in the Forward that he wonders if Christians too frequently tend to “hold to the truth of Christ with the Spirit of Satan.” On the other side, however, is humble orthodoxy – caring deeply about truth, but defending and sharing it with compassion and humility (p.5).
The defense of the truth is like a tense walk on a tight-rope across a great canyon. We must walk straight, but we must also walk carefully. An oft-repeated question in the book was, “Can we defend the truth without being jerks?” How can we be “right” humbly without asserting arrogant “rightness”?
One section of the book that I found most helpful came at a time when Harris forced us to look inside our hearts and ask difficult questions when we disagree theologically – let’s say on Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Citing the prayer of the Pharisee (who puffed up in pride) and the sinner (who beat his chest), we can ask, “Does my attitude look more like that of the Pharise’se, or the sinner’s?” Can I ask – while I may disagree with a friend – “is what I believe influencing how I live? Does it truly matter to me? Or am I only seeking to be right?” We ought to be less concerned with whether others are being faithful to God’s truth and more concerned about whether we are being faithful to God? (p.33)
In the end, “when it comes to orthodoxy, it’s not about you or me.” (p.15) Instead, it is about God’s glory, for it is His truth in the first place, and is a gift from Him to us. “There’s a fine line between contending for the truth and being contentious.” (p.12) You can either live a life that either reflects the beauty of God’s truth, or one that obscures it. Which will you choose?
Humble Orthodoxy receives 5 stars from me. It was a much-needed read at a highly appropriate time in my life. Apparently, "Humble Orthodoxy" is the final chapter in Harris's "Dug Down Deep." I didn't know that when I read it, but it doesn't change my opinion of its worth.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Blogging for Books (Multnomah Publishers) in exchange for my unbiased review of it. All opinions are mine. I was not threatened or coerced in any way to provide a positive review.