I fondly remember attending seminars by his father, Gregg Harris back in the 80’s – and I remember him frequently telling stories about Josh and showing slides of a mop-haired young boy. So it’s a bit weird to be reading this book – something like running into the adult versions of little kids you knew decades ago. Has so much time really passed?
If the definition of a good book is one that makes you think and process, then Dug Down Deep is a very good book for me right now. Love Josh’s heart, his stories, his humor. And some of his points that I would have given the simple nod to years ago I now find myself doing a double take on.
The word orthodoxy literally means “right opinion.” In the context of Christian faith, orthodoxy is shorthand for getting your opinion or thoughts about God right. It is teaching and beliefs based on established, proven, cherished truths of the faith. These are the truths that don’t budge. They’re clearly taught in Scripture and affirmed in the historic creeds of the Christian faith. Orthodox beliefs are ones that genuine followers of Jesus have acknowledged from the beginning and then handed down through the ages. Take one of them away, and you’re left with something less than historic Christian belief.
Orthodoxy is the irreducible truths about God and his work in the world.
So here’s my double take. Which historic Christianity? Catholic? Greek Orthodox? Syriac? Coptic? Protestant? Which historic form? Which branch of the tree?
It depends on which Christian you’re talking to, doesn’t it?
Proponents of each historic form of Christianity would adamantly argue that theirs is a (or the) legitimate, authentic, and yes, orthodox, form of Christianity – each containing what for them are the “irreducible truths” of Christianity.
When I saw those words, “irreducible truths,” the thought that immediately came to mind – in fact I wrote them in the margin, and I don’t usually write in the margin of most books – “irreducible by whom”?
It takes a certain brand of nearsighted hubris (available on just about all religious shelves; I know – I’ve bought and sold it for years) to define as “irreducible” truths the set of creedal propositions coming out of, for instance, Alexander Campbell and company in 19th century America and the consequently dubbed the “Restoration Movement.” Or the set of propositions coming out of Calvin’s Institutes and subsequently dubbed “Reformed Theology” (which is essentially where Harris is coming from, I’m gathering). Or even the Vineyard Statement of Faith coming out of John Wimber’s movement, for that matter. Catholics can, at least, claim the primacy of being on the scene sooner – though they would have to take that up with their Eastern Orthodox neighbors, along with historic Syriac and Coptic forms of Christianity.
Who has the right irreducible set of truths?
And is finding that correct irreducible set of truths that Harris defines as “sound doctrine” really what it is all about? Is this the final litmus test through which we must pass to achieve heaven and eternal salvation? Is this the shibboleth we must correctly pronounce to pass over the bridge of death safely to the other side?
Harris has indeed “dug down deep,” but do we in fact need to “dug down deeper”?