Book Review: Humble Orthodoxy

“Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down” by Joshua Harris

Three years ago, I wrote that “Humble Orthodoxy,” the final chapter of Joshua Harris’ book Dug Down Deep, was worth the price of the book all by itself. Evidently, I wasn’t alone in thinking so!

By popular demand, Harris has finally expanded and expounded the contents of that great chapter into its own book, and I’m so glad he did! Humility is sadly lacking in modern discourse, particularly in the realm of theological convictions. While the abundance of attention being given by evangelical authors to getting our doctrine right is a good thing, far less attention has been given to how we ought to contend for the faith.

Does God care about the attitude with which we stand for truth? Of course he does! Yet, as Harris points out, “orthodoxy has gotten a bad reputation.” We Christians are not exactly known for our compassion and humility when it comes to defending our beliefs.

Something has to give. As Harris argues, that something is our pride. We need to stop seeking the approval of men, and start living for the only approval that matters—God’s. When we understand that our deeds merit nothing but damnation, and that God’s approval is based solely on the obedience of Christ, we cannot be arrogant. This is the heart of true orthodoxy, and it can only be realized in true humility.

We don’t have to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both, and, in fact, each leads to the other. Humble orthodoxy changes the way we relate to others. Instead of puffing ourselves up through comparisons with those we see as more sinful, we should see God’s grace as something to be extended to others. Harris writes, “Instead of looking down on the unorthodox, how can we not want to humbly lead them toward the same life-giving truth that has changed our lives?

This book is tiny—its 61 pages weighing in at under five ounces—but exhibits an incredible economy of words. Nearly every sentence is worthy of highlighting… no filler material here! Throughout its four chapters, Harris gives examples from Scripture of men who exhibited humble orthodoxy, and shows readers how to develop this godly character in our own lives.

There is quite a bit of overlap with the last chapter of Dug Down Deep, but there is easily enough new material to make this book stand on its own merits, even if you have read the “Humble Orthodoxy” chapter that led to it. Its small size and easy readability means this book lends itself to many repeat readings, something I’ll be certain to take advantage of whenever I need a good dose of conviction about my pride (which is often!).

This is also a perfect little book to give away to young Christians and new theologians, whose “newfound zeal for truth often makes them dangerous,” as Harris points out. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open down the road for deals on bulk purchases of this book to go in the giveaway box in my office. It’s important to note, though, that as this book is primarily concerned with exhorting readers toward humility rather than establishing orthodoxy, this book alone would not be sufficient to help a new believer achieve humble orthodoxy. To get a good grasp on what orthodoxy is, they will need to consult other resources. For this purpose, Harris’ earlier book remains one of my top recommendations.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Humble Orthodoxy. Reference it frequently. You won’t regret it!

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