‘Humble Orthodoxy – Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down’ by Joshua Harris is a relatively new release, having been published on the 2nd April 2013, by Multnomah Books. I have the Kindle edition, which is available at Amazon and is linked to at the bottom of this review – other editions are linked to from that page. It is a relatively short work at just 96 pages, so it won’t take an extended commitment to read it.
The foreword is written by J. D. Greear, a senior pastor at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina and author of ‘Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.’ The foreword is only short, which given the overall size of the book is probably a good thing, however it is a good quick read. I quite liked his thoughts concerning the Pharisees and Pharisaism, both of which are still in existence today.
In my youth as a young Christian (which is not always the same), having come to an understanding of the doctrines of grace, I found myself being very much the opposite of what this book calls for – a humble orthodoxy. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me as I was surrounded by plenty of Reformed Christians who behaved in the same way. Thankfully, over time, the Lord has been slowly transforming me by His grace and showing me a better way. Perhaps it would have been good for me to have had this book back then at the beginning of my Reformed walk – I may have been spared acting out with such displays of arrogant Pharisaism that I thought then were the very proofs of my orthodoxy.
I don’t believe that we ever completely leave the spirit of Pharisaism behind, not entirely. I see it rising to the surface on far too many occassions to think I can be free of it entirely in this fallen world. However it is no longer displayed with pleasure, though I continue to see it so wherever I look in Reformed circles – at least that’s how it appears to me. It has been a source of much grief in my own life over the years, not only personally, but through what I have seen displayed both individually and corporately throughout my experience of the Christian life. So this book when I first happened across it was one I was very keen to grab and read. I bought it for my ebook library and immediately began to read it.
Right from the beginning of the book, with the recommendations from various Christian leaders and with the short foreword already mentioned, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed with the thrust of the book. Humble Orthodoxy is certainly a good way to paraphrase the right approach to holding the truth, proclaiming the truth and defending the truth. But it is not only a good way to paraphrase it, it is a good and proper way to live it also.
There is no call to hold a lesser view of the Truth or a lesser version of the Truth, but to seek it out and to hold it and defend it. It is the attitude and manner in which that is done, that is the thrust of this book. I like the picture of doing so as with a tear in the eye, as living a humble orthodoxy in all areas of the Christian life, whether among God’s people or among unbelievers. Humble orthodoxy is what we should be seeking and maintaining at all times and in all places. Humble orthodoxy begins with knowing our proper place before God, seeing ourselves as God sees us and then living accordingly. With this mindset, which comes through the experience of knowing ourselves through the eyes of our gracious Lord and Saviour, will also come the right attitude towards others and ourselves. We will acknowledge and live in such a way that shows we haven’t ‘arrived,’ but are continuing on the journey towards a more humble orthodoxy. The experience of a dependant and an experimental Christian life in this fallen world propells us forward towards a more humble orthodoxy each and every day.
This is a book, being as small as it is, that will make a very useful tool for reminding me to pull my head in and to remember my proper place before the Lord and others. It will be re-read over the years and Lord-willing become a godly corrective whenever I need such to be applied. There is also a helpful study guide at the end of the book which can be used individually or as part of a group.
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