humble-orthodoxyHumble orthodoxy: holding the truth high without putting people down by Joshua Harris is a potent little book. I think it should be recommended reading for all ministry trainees, all theological students, all pastors, all Christian academics. In reality, every Christian who struggles with, or gives into, pride should take the time to read this book. It’s a short book. It’s a simple message. It’s shaped by the gospel of God’s amazing grace. It reveals how truth must be accompanied by love and humility. This message is so easy to learn, but it seems so hard to put into practice. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. God is in the business of changing and renovating prideful people. As Harris writes:

We don’t have to be jerks with the truth. We can remember how Jesus showed us mercy when we were his enemies. We can demonstrate a humble orthodoxy, holding onto our identity in the gospel. We are not those who are right; we are those who are redeemed.  (p61)

This little book is filled with pithy statements – the kind worth pasting on our bathroom mirrors or the back of the toilet doors – somewhere where we won’t miss them. These are truths worth reminding ourselves of regularly. Humble orthodoxy is shaped by the Scriptures:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  (Matthew 7:3-5)

…knowledge puffs up while love builds up.  (1 Corinthians 8:1)

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,  (2 Timothy 2:22-25)

Rather than summarise the message of this book in my own words, I’ll simply highlight a number of quotes that will give you much of the picture:

Orthodox truths are the plumb line that shows us how to think straight in a crooked world.  (p3)

We must care deeply about the truth, and we must also defend and share the truth with compassion and humility.  (p5)

One of the mistakes Christians make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.  (p6)

Paul didn’t just want to beat his opponents in an argument; he wanted to win them to the truth.  (p14)

We don’t have the luxury or the biblical permission to be uncertain about those things God has been clear on.  (p16)

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.  (p21)

Genuine orthodoxy – the heart of which is the death of God’s Son for undeserving sinners – is the most humbling, human-pride-smashing message in the world.  (p29)

Are we giving as much energy to obeying God’s Word personally as we are to criticising its detractors?  (p36)

Don’t measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by the practice of what you know.  (p39)

There’s a difference between having a critical mind that carefully evaluates and having a critical spirit that loves to tear down.  (p44)

The truth is not about us. It is about God.  (p46)

In eternity we’ll see the silliness of self-righteousness and quarrelling over non-essentials. But we’ll also see with piercing clarity just how essential the essentials really are.  (p57)

I needed to read this book. I wonder whether you do too?

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