Review of “Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down”

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Published: 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Adapted from the material of a chapter in a previous book, “Humble Orthodoxy” takes a fresh look at a tension common in Evangelicalism today- how do we defend the core tenants of the Christian faith while maintaining a humble, loving attitude to those who are knowingly or unknowingly disassembling the central claims of orthodox Christianity?

The message of this book is timeless, and I hope it will help foster fresh dialogue within the Church. The speed of cultural and theological shifts in the Church is increasing, and Harris claims the underpinning question of our resulting debates is “about whether we can reinvent theology and belief.” Those of us who claim to be orthodox in belief risk being harsh in our response to those whose beliefs are either forming or divergent in specific areas. We must orthodox in belief and humble in all our relationships, or as Harris says, “we must care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility.” And there is only one way to do so: live in obedience to God, and practice the repentance that always accompanies obedience.

I found the section on examining our heart to determine “whose approval are we going to live for?” to be graceful and helpful. Harris states that we typically take at least of three responses: we overreact to the previous generation’s error and quibbles; we try to impress our secular culture; or, we simply disengage our culture. Each of these responses is misguided, and Josh says the only correct response is to “…do our best to present ourselves for approval—not to our place in history, not to our culture, not to our Christian peers, but to God. We are his servants. Only his approval matters.”

This will make an excellent book for a Sunday School class, especially for high school or college age students who have recently or will soon be living among a wider number of people with divergent views. Being placed in new social contexts can throw us off our balance; it is very important to be rooted in the essentials of our faith and know how to be graceful on ancillary issues of faith and practice. This book can be a helpful way to begin a deeper discussion on how to be discerning and loving at the same time.

Correct doctrine and correct behavior do not go hand in hand unless God is the author of the changes in the heart. Harris urges us to examine our heart and ask whose approval we are really seeking: unless we are committed to obeying God and seeking His approval, even our best efforts of orthodox belief and practice will fall short of the humility we are called to show to others.

I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review

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