It seems incredibly inappropriate to criticize a book that focuses so heavily on humility… which is why I’m glad Humble Orthodoxy has basically nothing to criticize.
I consider myself a pretty well-abled critic. So, I don’t say this lightly; the book is fantastic.
The title of Joshua Harris‘ book, Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth Without Putting People Down, does a fine job explaining what the book is about (based largely on 2 Tim 1:13-14 and 2 Tim 2:23-25). The following statement sums up the book quite well:
Here’s what I believe: truth matters…but so does our attitude. This is what I mean by humble orthodoxy: we must cared deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility. [pg.5]
Harris is committed to the importance of orthodoxy, right theology, and proper understanding about God and His gospel:
We don’t have the luxury or biblical permission to be uncertain about those things God has been clear on. We haven’t been asked to cut and paste God’s truth to fit out tastes. That’s why what we put in and what we leave out are so important. [pg.15]
Love for God and love for neighbor require us to oppose falsehood. There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person. [pg.11]
At the same time, as the entire book argues, he affirms that we must hold right doctrine with humility.
But not only does His argument assume that these two–orthodoxy and humility–are not antithetical, he goes on to argue that they have a causal relationship:
Humility leads to orthodoxy, and orthodoxy leads to humility. … If we’re truly humble, we’ll acknowledge that we need truth from God. … Humility will lead us to accept God’s words and his explanation for the world and our need for salvation. And in the same way, if we truly know and embrace orthodoxy, it should humble us. [pg.32]
Hence the solution to arrogant orthodoxy, then, is not less orthodoxy. It’s more. [pg.30]
It’s a mere 61 pages. In print it’s about the size of my hand; and it’s printed in a large font. You could finish this thing in one or two hours. But… you might want to read it more slowly than that. The book is incredibly convicting and full of wisdom. Here are some excellent points Harris makes which I’ve organized thematically:
We ought not make theology or right thinking about God an end in itself:
We often take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing. We take something that is meant to help people, and we use it in harmful ways. … We argue for the glory of God in an unglorious manner. [pg.ii, Tullian Tchividjian’s book recommendation]
Humble orthodoxy means making defense of orthodoxy about God not us:
If we make a good thing like correct theology the ultimate end–if being right becomes more important to us than worshipping God–then our theology is not really about God anymore. It’s about us. It becomes the source of our sense of worth and identity. And if theology becomes about us, then we’ll despise and demonize those who oppose us. [pg.26]
We tell ourselves that we’re fighting for orthodoxy and for biblical faithfulness, but in subtle ways our heart struggle becomes about our identity, our rightness, our purity, our truth. And it becomes less and less about who God is and his glory and his name. [pg.23]
That must always be the driving passion behind out pursuit of biblical orthodoxy. Not to prove ourselves more right or better than someone else but to better worship the holy God. [pg.25]
Humble orthodoxy does not mean lack of conviction or theological content:
We shouldn’t … apologize for believing that God has been clear in his word. … It’s possible…to overreact to arrogant orthodoxy with…believing others are arrogant if they think that Bible teaches anything clearly. [pg.29]
Orthodoxy should not merely be something we desire other’s to embrace, but something that changes our own lives:
Are we giving as much energy to obeying God’s word personally as we are to criticizing its detractors? [pg.36]
To say this differently, do we adhere abstractly to orthodoxy but adhere practically to functional heterodoxy?
Don’t measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by your practice of what you know. [pg.37]
Seeing that orthodoxy is truth that God has graciously revealed to us, we must not hold to it in arrogance:
How can we be arrogant about a truth that is completely outside of anything we’ve done? If we had earned the gospel, we could be arrogant about it. If we had somehow created the truth, then we could copyright it and control other people’s access to it. But the truth is a gift from God to us. [pg.20]
To come from a different perspective, remembering the errant beliefs which we’ve moved from will help remind us to be humble in our dealings with others currently holding the same and/or similar beliefs. This is because anyone, including me and you, who has any ounce of orthodoxy has such solely by the grace of God.
Overal – 5
Content – 5
Values – 5
Readability – 5
Worth reading – 5