Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters

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Overview

What will you build your life on?

With startling transparency, Joshua Harris shares how we can rediscover the relevance and power of Christian truth. This is book shows a young man who rose quickly to success in the Christian evangelical world before he realized his spirituality lacked a foundation—it rested more on tradition and morality than on an informed knowledge of God.

For the indifferent or spiritually numb, Harris's humorous and ...

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Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters

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Overview

What will you build your life on?

With startling transparency, Joshua Harris shares how we can rediscover the relevance and power of Christian truth. This is book shows a young man who rose quickly to success in the Christian evangelical world before he realized his spirituality lacked a foundation—it rested more on tradition and morality than on an informed knowledge of God.

For the indifferent or spiritually numb, Harris's humorous and engaging reflections on Christian beliefs show that orthodoxy isn't just for scholars—it is for anyone who longs to know the living Jesus Christ. As Harris writes, "I've come to learn that theology matters. It matters not because we want to impress people, but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. Theology matters because if we get it wrong then our whole life will be wrong."

Whether you are just exploring Christianity or you are a veteran believer finding yourself overly familiar and cold-hearted, Dug Down Deep will help you rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture. As Harris challenges you to root your faith and feelings about God in the person, work, and words of Jesus, he answers questions such as: 

   • What is God like and how does he speak to me?
   • What difference does it make that Jesus was both human and divine?
   • How does Jesus's death on the cross pay for my sins?
   • Who is the Holy Spirit and how does he work in my life?

With grace and wisdom, Harris will inspire you to revel in the truth that has captured his own mind and heart. He will ask you to dig deep into a faith so solid you can build your life on it. He will point you to something to believe in again.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Dug Down Deep

"More than forty years of quadriplegia has underscored to me the matchless value of knowing—really knowing—the doctrines of the Christian faith. Dug Down Deep reveals how biblical doctrine provides a pathway to understanding the heart and mind of God. If you're looking for 'that one book' that will push you farther down the road to faith than you've ever journeyed before, Dug Down Deep is it. I highly recommend it!"
—Joni Eareckson Tada, author; founder and CEO, International Disability Center, Agoura Hills, CA

"In Dug Down Deep my longtime friend Joshua Harris explains the basics of Christian theology in a way all of us can understand. He is a humble man and teaches humbly. If you are tired of hyped promises and want essential truth, this book is for you. As religious fads come and go, the truths in this book will last."
—Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz

"When the apostle Peter says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…casting all your anxiety on Him," he implies that humble people are fearless. They have the courage to stand up for truth humbly. I love the term "humble orthodoxy." And I love Josh Harris. When they come together (Josh and humble orthodoxy), as they do in this book, you get a humble, helpful, courageous testimony to biblical truth. Thank you, Josh, for following through so well on the conversation in Al Mohler's study."
—John Piper, author of Desiring God; Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis

"Via vivid autobiography, Pastor Harris takes readers on a personal journey into the biblical theology that, belatedly, he found he could not manage without. A humbling, compelling, invigorating read."
—J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God

"Josh says that this book is his 'reveling in theology in my own simple way.' Having read it, I can say that it is also a popular defense of the importance of theology and, at the same time, an introduction to it. I enjoyed reading it. And my mind immediately began to go to how I could use this book. Josh has given me a new tool! It is interesting, well written, and excellently illustrated. Josh has succeeded again in giving us a book that is clear, engaging, direct, solid, easy to read, sound, God centered, balanced, humorous—and it even has pictures!"
—Mark Dever, author; Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC

"Dug Down Deep is an incredible book! It's a tangible and incarnate look at theology. I would give it to any young Christian who wants to understand their faith."
—Lecrae, hip-hop artist

"As two young guys who have been deeply blessed and influenced by Josh's books and example, we couldn't be more excited about Dug Down Deep and how God is going to use it to transform a generation. It's a gripping and honest read. In it we learned things about our older brother that we had never, in twenty-one years, been told before! But more importantly, we learned things about our Savior that caused us to fall more deeply in love with him and his Word. Get this book. Read it. And join us on a journey to rediscover what has always been true."
—Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things

"At Boundless, we've enjoyed watching young adults cultivate a fresh desire to go 'further up and further in' as followers of Christ. Few writers fuel that desire quite like Joshua Harris. With humility, humor, and honesty, Dug Down Deep shows the difference that a foundation can make—how vulnerable you can be when it's weak and how transformed you can be when you're willing to go deep."
—Ted Slater, editor, Boundless.org; Focus on the Family

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601421517
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/19/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of local churches. A passionate speaker with a gift for making theological truth easy to understand, Joshua is perhaps best known for his runaway bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he wrote at the age of twenty-one. His later books include Boy Meets Girl, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), and Stop Dating the Church. The founder of the NEXT conferences for young adults, Joshua is committed to seeing the gospel transferred to a new generation of Christians. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.
 
www.joshharris.com
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Read an Excerpt

1
MY RUMSPRINGA
"We're all theologians. The question is
whether what we know about God is true."
 
IT'S STRANGE TO SEE an Amish girl drunk. The pairing of a bonnet and a can of beer is awkward. If she were stumbling along with a jug of moonshine, it would at least match her long, dowdy dress. But right now she can't worry about that. She is flat-out wasted.
 
Welcome to rumspringa.
 
The Amish, people who belong to a Christian religious sect with roots in Europe, practice a radical form of separation from the modern world. They live and dress with simplicity. Amish women wear bonnets and long, old-fashioned dresses and never touch makeup. The men wear wide-rimmed straw hats, sport bowl cuts, and grow chin curtains—full beards with the mustaches shaved off.
 
My wife, Shannon, sometimes says she wants to be Amish, but I know this isn't true. Shannon entertains her Amish fantasy when life feels too complicated or when she's tired of doing laundry. She thinks life would be easier if she had only two dresses to choose from and both looked the same. I tell her that if she ever tried to be Amish, she would buy a pair of jeans and ditch her head covering about ten minutes into the experiment. Besides, she would never let me grow a beard like that.
 
Once Shannon and her girlfriend Shelley drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a weekend of furniture and quilt shopping in Amish country. They stayed at a bed-and-breakfast located next door to an Amish farm. One morning Shannon struck up a conversation with the inn's owner, who had lived among the Amish his entire life. She asked him questions, hoping for romantic details about the simple, buggy-driven life. But instead he complained about having to pick up beer cans every weekend.
 
Beer cans?
 
"Yes," he said, "the Amish kids leave them everywhere." That's when he told her about rumspringa. The Amish believe that before a young person chooses to commit to the Amish church as an adult, he or she should have the chance to freely explore the forbidden delights of the outside world. So at age sixteen everything changes for Amish teenagers. They go from milking cows and singing hymns to living like debauched rock stars.
 
In the Pennsylvania Dutch language, rumspringa literally means "running around." It's a season of doing anything and everything you want with zero rules. During this time—which can last from a few months to several years—all the restrictions of the Amish church are lifted. Teens are free to shop at malls, have sex, wear makeup, play video games, do drugs, use cell phones, dress however they want, and buy and drive cars. But what they seem to enjoy most during rumspringa is gathering at someone's barn, blasting music, and then drinking themselves into the ground. Every weekend, the man told Shannon, he had to clean up beer cans littered around his property following the raucous, all-night Amish parties.
 
When Shannon came home from her Lancaster weekend, her Amish aspirations had diminished considerably. The picture of cute little Amish girls binge drinking took the sheen off her idealistic vision of Amish life. We completed her disillusionment when we rented a documentary about the rite of rumspringa called Devil's Playground. Filmmaker Lucy Walker spent three years befriending, interviewing, and filming Amish teens as they explored the outside world. That's where we saw the drunk Amish girl tripping along at a barn party. We learned that most girls continue to dress Amish even as they party—as though their clothes are a lifeline back to safety while they explore life on the wild side.
 
In the documentary Faron, an outgoing, skinny eighteen-year-old sells and is addicted to the drug crystal meth. After Faron is busted by the cops, he turns in rival drug dealers. When his life is threatened, Faron moves back to his parents' home and tries to start over. The Amish faith is a good religion, he says. He wants to be Amish, but his old habits keep tugging on him.
 
A girl named Velda struggles with depression. During rumspringa she finds the partying empty, but after joining the church she can't imagine living the rest of her life as an Amish woman. "God talks to me in one ear, Satan in the other," Velda says. "Part of me wants to be my like my parents, but the other part wants the jeans, the haircut, to do what I want to do."1 When she fails to convince her Amish fiancé to leave the church with her, she breaks off her engagement a month before the wedding and leaves the Amish faith for good. As a result Velda is shunned by her family and the entire community. Alone but determined, she begins to attend college.
 
Velda's story is the exception. Eighty to 90 percent of Amish teens decide to return to the Amish church after rumspringa.2 At one point in the film, Faron insightfully comments that rumspringa is like a vaccination for Amish teens. They binge on all the worst aspects of the modern world long enough to make themselves sick of it. Then, weary and disgusted, they turn back to the comforting, familiar, and safe world of Amish life.
 
But as I watched, I wondered, What are they really going back to? Are they choosing God or just a safe and simple way of life?
-
I know what it means to wrestle with questions of faith. I know what it's like for faith to be so mixed up with family tradition that it's hard to distinguish between a genuine knowledge of God and comfort in a familiar way of life.
 
I grew up in an evangelical Christian family. One that was on the more conservative end of the spectrum. I'm the oldest of seven children. Our parents homeschooled us, raised us without television, and believed that oldfashioned courtship was better than modern dating. Friends in our neighborhood probably thought our family was Amish, but that's only because they didn't know some of the really conservative Christian homeschool families. The truth was that our family was more culturally liberal than many homeschoolers. We watched movies, could listen to rock music (as long as it was Christian or the Beatles), and were allowed to have Star Wars and Transformers toys.
 
But even so, during high school I bucked my parents' restrictions. That's not to say my spiritual waywardness was very shocking. I doubt Amish kids would be impressed by my teenage dabbling in worldly pleasure. I never did drugs. Never got drunk. The worst things I ever did were to steal porn magazines, sneak out of the house at night with a kid from church, and date various girls behind my parents' backs. Although my rebellion was tame in comparison, it was never virtue that held me back from sin. It was lack of opportunity. I shudder to think what I would have done with a parent-sanctioned season of rumspringa.
 
The bottom line is that my parents' faith wasn't really my faith. I knew how to work the system, I knew the Christian lingo, but my heart wasn't in it. My heart was set on enjoying the moment.
 
Recently a friend of mine met someone who knew me in early high school. "What did she remember about me?" I asked.
 
"She said you were girl crazy, full of yourself, and immature," my friend told me.
 
Yeah, she knew me, I thought. It wasn't nice to hear, but I couldn't argue. I didn't know or fear God. I didn't have any driving desire to know him.
 
For me, the Christian faith was more about a set of moral standards than belief and trust in Jesus Christ.
-
During my early twenties I went through a phase of blaming the church I had attended in high school for all my spiritual deficiencies. Evangelical megachurches make good punching bags.
 
My reasoning went something like this: I was spiritually shallow because the pastors' teaching had been shallow. I wasn't fully engaged because they hadn't done enough to grab my attention. I was a hypocrite because everyone else had been a hypocrite. I didn't know God because they hadn't provided enough programs. Or they hadn't provided the right programs. Or maybe they'd had too many programs.
 
All I knew was that it was someone else's fault.
 
Blaming the church for our problems is second only to the popular and easy course of blaming our parents for everything that's wrong with us. But the older I get, the less I do of both. I hope that's partly due to the wisdom that comes with age. But I'm sure it's also because I am now both a parent and a pastor. Suddenly I have a lot more sympathy for my dad and mom and the pastors at my old church. Funny how that works, isn't it?
 
At the church where I now pastor (which I love), some young adults remind me of myself when I was in high school. They are church kids who know so much about Christian religion and yet so little about God. Some are passive, completely ambivalent toward spiritual things. Others are actively straying from their faith—ticked off about their parents' authority, bitter over a rule or guideline, and counting the minutes until they turn eighteen and can disappear. Others aren't going anywhere, but they stay just to go through the motions. For them, church is a social group.
 
It's strange being on the other side now. When I pray for specific young men and women who are wandering from God, when I stand to preach and feel powerless to change a single heart, when I sit and counsel people and it seems nothing I can say will draw them away from sin, I remember the pastors from my teenage years. I realize they must have felt like this too. They must have prayed and cried over me. They must have labored over sermons with students like me in mind. I see now that they were doing the best they knew how. But a lot of the time, I wasn't listening.
-
During high school I spent most Sunday sermons doodling, passing notes, checking out girls, and wishing I were two years older and five inches taller so a redhead named Jenny would stop thinking of me as her "little brother." That never happened.
 
I mostly floated through grown-up church. Like a lot of teenagers in evangelical churches, I found my sense of identity and community in the parallel universe of the youth ministry. Our youth group was geared to being loud, fast paced, and fun. It was modeled on the massive and influential, seeker-sensitive Willow Creek Community Church located outside Chicago. The goal was simple: put on a show, get kids in the building, and let them see that Christians are cool, thus Jesus is cool. We had to prove that being a Christian is, contrary to popular opinion and even a few annoying passages of the Bible, loads of fun. Admittedly it's not as much fun as partying and having sex but pretty fun nonetheless.
 
Every Wednesday night our group of four-hundred-plus students divided into teams. We competed against each other in games and won points by bringing guests. As a homeschooler, of course I was completely worthless in the "bring friends from school" category. So I tried to make up for that by working on the drama and video team. My buddy Matt and I wrote, performed, and directed skits to complement our youth pastor's messages. Unfortunately, our idea of complementing was to deliver skits that were not even remotely connected to the message. The fact that Matt was a Brad Pitt look-alike assured that our skits were well received (at least by the girls).
 
The high point of my youth-group performing career came when the pastor found out I could dance and asked me to do a Michael Jackson impersonation. The album Bad had just come out. I bought it, learned all the dance moves, and then when I performed—how do I say this humbly?—I blew everyone away. I was bad (and I mean that in the good sense of the word bad ). The crowd went absolutely nuts. The music pulsed, and girls were screaming and grabbing at me in mock adulation as I moonwalked and lip-synced my way through one of the most inane pop songs ever written. I loved every minute of it.
 
Looking back, I'm not real proud of that performance. I would feel better about my bad moment if the sermon that night had been about the depravity of man or something else that was even slightly related. But there was no connection. It had nothing to do with anything.
 
For me, dancing like Michael Jackson that night has come to embody my experience in a big, evangelical, seeker-oriented youth group. It was fun, it was entertaining, it was culturally savvy (at the time), and it had very little to do with God. Sad to say, I spent more time studying Michael's dance moves for that drama assignment than I was ever asked to invest in studying about God.
 
Of course, this was primarily my own fault. I was doing what I wanted to do. There were other kids in the youth group who were more mature and who grew more spiritually during their youth-group stint. And I don't doubt the good intentions of my youth pastor. He was trying to strike the balance between getting kids to attend and teaching them.
Maybe I wouldn't have been interested in youth group if it hadn't been packaged in fun and games and a good band. But I still wish someone had expected more of me—of all of us. Would I have listened? I can't know. But I do know that a clear vision of God and the power of his Word and the purpose of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were lost on me in the midst of all the flash and fun.
-
There's a story in the Bible of a young king named Josiah, who lived about 640 years before Christ. I think Josiah could have related to me—being religious but ignorant of God. Josiah's generation had lost God's Word. And I don't mean that figuratively. They literally lost God's Word. It sounds ridiculous, but they essentially misplaced the Bible.
 
If you think about it, this was a pretty big deal. We're not talking about a pair of sunglasses or a set of keys. The Creator of the universe had communicated with mankind through the prophet Moses. He gave his law. He revealed what he was like and what he wanted. He told his people what it meant for them to be his people and how they were to live. All this was dutifully recorded on a scroll. Then this scroll, which was precious beyond measure, was stored in the holy temple. But later it was misplaced. No one knows how. Maybe a clumsy priest dropped it and it rolled into a dark corner.
 
But here's the really sad thing: nobody noticed it was missing. No search was made. Nobody checked under the couch. It was gone and no one cared. For decades those who wore the label "God's people" actually had no communication with him. They wore their priestly robes, they carried on their traditions in their beautiful temple, and they taught their messages that were so wise, so insightful, so inspirational. But it was all a bunch of hot air—nothing but their own opinions. Empty ritual. Their robes were costumes, and their temple was an empty shell.
 
This story scares me because it shows that it's possible for a whole generation to go happily about the business of religion, all the while having lost a true knowledge of God.
-
When we talk about knowledge of God, we're talking about theology. Simply put, theology is the study of the nature of God—who he is and how he thinks and acts. But theology isn't high on many people's list of daily concerns.
 
My friend Curtis says that most people today think only of themselves. He calls this "me-ology." I guess that's true. I know it was true of me and still can be. It's a lot easier to be an expert on what I think and feel and want than to give myself to knowing an invisible, universe-creating God.
 
Others view theology as something only scholars or pastors should worry about. I used to think that way. I viewed theology as an excuse for all the intellectual types in the world to add homework to Christianity.
 
But I've learned that this isn't the case. Theology isn't for a certain group of people. In fact, it's impossible for anyone to escape theology. It's everywhere. All of us are constantly "doing" theology. In other words, all of us have some idea or opinion about what God is like. Oprah does theology. The person who says, "I can't believe in a God who sends people to hell" is doing theology.
 
We all have some level of knowledge. This knowledge can be much or little, informed or uninformed, true or false, but we all have some concept of God (even if it's that he doesn't exist). And we all base our lives on what we think God is like.
 
So when I was spinning around like Michael Jackson at youth group, I was a theologian. Even though I wasn't paying attention in church. Even though I wasn't very concerned with Jesus or pleasing him. Even though I was more preoccupied with my girlfriend and with being popular. Granted I was a really bad theologian—my thoughts about God were unclear and often ignorant. But I had a concept of God that directed how I lived.
 
I've come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God's nature—what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him—affects every part of your life.
 
Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong.
-
I know the idea of "studying" God often rubs people the wrong way. It sounds cold and theoretical, as if God were a frog carcass to dissect in a lab or a set of ideas that we memorize like math proofs.
 
But studying God doesn't have to be like that. You can study him the way you study a sunset that leaves you speechless. You can study him the way a man studies the wife he passionately loves. Does anyone fault him for noting her every like and dislike? Is it clinical for him to desire to know the thoughts and longings of her heart? Or to want to hear her speak?
 
Knowledge doesn't have to be dry and lifeless. And when you think about it, exactly what is our alternative? Ignorance? Falsehood?
 
We're either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he's about, or we're basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions.
 
We're all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.
-
In the days of King Josiah, theology was completely messed up. This isn't really surprising. People had lost God's words and then quickly forgot what the true God was like.
 
King Josiah was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. People call Jeremiah the weeping prophet, and there was a lot to weep about in those days. "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land," Jeremiah said. "The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way" (Jeremiah 5:30–31, NIV).
 
As people learned to love their lies about God, they lost their ability to recognize his voice. "To whom can I speak and giving warning?" God asked. "Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it" (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV).
 
People forgot God. They lost their taste for his words. They forgot what he had done for them, what he commanded of them, and what he threatened if they disobeyed. So they started inventing gods for themselves. They started borrowing ideas about God from the pagan cults. Their made-up gods let them live however they wanted. It was "me-ology" masquerading as theology.
 
The results were not pretty.
 
Messed-up theology leads to messed-up living. The nation of Judah resembled one of those skanky reality television shows where a houseful of barely dressed singles sleep around, stab each other in the back, and try to win cash. Immorality and injustice were everywhere. The rich trampled the poor. People replaced the worship of God with the worship of pagan deities that demanded religious orgies and child sacrifice. Every level of society, from marriage and the legal system to religion and politics, was corrupt.
 
The surprising part of Josiah's story is that in the midst of all the distortion and corruption, he chose to seek and obey God. And he did this as a young man (probably no older than his late teens or early twenties). Scripture gives this description of Josiah: "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left" (2 Kings 22:2, NIV).
 
The prophet Jeremiah called people to the same straight path of true theology and humble obedience:
 
Thus says the LORD:
"Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)
 
In Jeremiah's words you see a description of King Josiah's life. His generation was rushing past him, flooding down the easy paths of man-made religion, injustice, and immorality.
 
They didn't stop to look for a different path.
 
They didn't pause to consider where the easy path ended.
 
They didn't ask if there was a better way.
 
But Josiah stopped. He stood at a crossroads, and he looked. And then he asked for something that an entire generation had neglected, even completely forgotten. He asked for the ancient paths.
-
What are the ancient paths? When the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah used the phrase, he was describing obedience to the Law of Moses. But today the ancient paths have been transformed by the coming of Jesus Christ. Now we see that those ancient paths ultimately led to Jesus. We have not only truth to obey but a person to trust in—a person who perfectly obeyed the Law and who died on the cross in our place.
 
But just as in the days of Jeremiah, the ancient paths still represent life based on a true knowledge of God—a God who is holy, a God who is just, a God who is full of mercy toward sinners. Walking in the ancient paths still means relating to God on his terms. It still means receiving and obeying his self-revelation with humility and awe.
 
Just as he did with Josiah and Jeremiah and every generation after them, God calls us to the ancient paths. He beckons us to return to theology that is true. He calls us, as Jeremiah called God's people, to recommit ourselves to orthodoxy.
 
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 the 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:
 
There is one God who created all things.
God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Bible is God's inerrant word to humanity.
Jesus is the virgin-born, eternal Son of God.
Jesus died as a substitute for sinners so they could be forgiven.
Jesus rose from the dead.
Jesus will one day return to judge the world.
 
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.
-
When I watched the documentary about the Amish rite of rumspringa, what stood out to me was the way the Amish teenagers processed the decision of whether or not to join the Amish church. With few exceptions the decision seemed to have very little to do with God. They weren't searching Scripture to see if what their church taught about the world, the human heart, and salvation was true. They weren't wrestling with theology. I'm not implying that the Amish don't have a genuine faith and trust in Jesus. But for the teens in the documentary, the decision was mostly a matter of choosing a culture and a lifestyle. It gave them a sense of belonging. In some cases it gave them a steady job or allowed them to marry the person they wanted.
 
I wonder how many evangelical church kids are like the Amish in this regard. Many of us are not theologically informed. Truth about God doesn't define us and shape us. We have grown up in our own religious culture. And often this culture, with its own rituals and music and moral values, comes to represent Christianity far more than specific beliefs about God do.
 
Every new generation of Christians has to ask the question, what are we actually choosing when we choose to be Christians? Watching the stories of the Amish teenagers helped me realize that a return to orthodoxy has to be more than a return to a way of life or to cherished traditions. Of course the Christian faith leads to living in specific ways. And it does join us to a specific community. And it does involve tradition. All this is good. It's important. But it has to be more than tradition. It has to be about a person—the historical and living person of Jesus Christ.
 
Orthodoxy matters because the Christian faith is not just a cultural tradition or moral code. Orthodoxy is the irreducible truths about God and his work in the world. Our faith is not just a state of mind, a mystical experience, or concepts on a page. Theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy matter because God is real, and he has acted in our world, and his actions have meaning today and for all eternity.
-
For many people, words like theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy are almost completely meaningless. Maybe they're unappealing, even repellent.
 
Theology sounds stuffy.
 
Doctrine is something unkind people fight over.
 
And orthodoxy? Many Christians would have trouble saying what it is other than it calls to mind images of musty churches guarded by old men with comb-overs who hush and scold.
 
I can relate to that perspective. I've been there. But I've also discovered that my prejudice, my "theology allergy," was unfounded.
 
This book is the story of how I first glimpsed the beauty of Christian theology. These pages hold the journal entries of my own spiritual journey—a journey that led to the realization that sound doctrine is at the center of loving Jesus with passion and authenticity. I want to share how I learned that orthodoxy isn't just for old men but is for anyone who longs to behold a God who is bigger and more real and glorious than the human mind can imagine.
 
The irony of my story—and I suppose it often works this way—is that the very things I needed, even longed for in my relationship with God, were wrapped up in the very things I was so sure could do me no good. I didn't understand that such seemingly worn-out words as theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy were the pathway to the mysterious, awe-filled experience of truly knowing the living Jesus Christ.
 
They told the story of the Person I longed to know.
 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent writing.

    Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris is a practical theology. It takes the matters many find confusing or weighty and relates them in a clever narrative style. With chapter titles ranging from 'God with a Bellybutton' to 'The Invisible Made Visible,' the attitude of the book is clearly conversational. Somehow the author is able to quickly deliver on deep topics in only 185 pages.

    Like - I love the writing. His theology is spot on and his shepherd's heart is clear but the way Harris writes is truly entertaining. On several occasions I laid the book down and just thought to myself what a great writer Joshua is.

    No Like - I have no complaints.

    Is it for you? - I would strongly recommend the book on two fronts. Dug Down Deep may be a fascinating introduction to Theology for those with little to no theological education. It would give the novice a framework of understanding that can later be filled in with books like Grudem's Theology. For those with a formal education this book is a refreshing review. It ties it together and attempts to force all of the theories into the realm of flesh and blood. Everyone should read this book.

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  • Posted December 20, 2010

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!

    This is a book that I wish I could've read 30 years ago! Joshua Harris does a great job of making deep truths easy to understand. I am giving this book out as a gift as often as I can! Love, love, love it and the fact that it made we want to read the Bible even more!

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "Dug Down Deep"

    Do you wonder why you believe what you believe? Do you have more head knowledge than heart knowledge about God? If so, this is the book for you! Joshua Harris uses practical stories and Scripture to point out how each of us can come to know God more deeply, thereby becoming a better Christian. Chapters like, "Ripping, Burning, Eating," "God With A Bellybutton," and "Changed, Changing, To Be Changed" pull the reader in, as each chapter begins with a wonderful quote setting the tone for what you are about to read. His easily understood principles and encouragement make it easy to find yourself in a deeper relationship with God.


    This is the first book I have read by Joshua Harris, but it won't be my last! I found his writing style pulled me in just as Max Lucado's does. The book is great for a personal Bible study, but would also be wonderful for groups. There are many discussion points here, and either way you read it, you will want to talk with someone about what you learn.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good stuff

    This was just an outstanding book all around. I am an old-school Max Lucado fan and I found this book to be very much written in the same style of what I have read by Lucado. Josh Harris has developed the same knack of teaching through story telling and getting some major points of theology across in a simple and easy to understand manner. I enjoyed reading his personal stories and his humor was refreshing.

    I particularly liked the last two chapters in the book the best - which I took very personally. Josh makes the very sobering point that our goal should not to be able to win a debate or an argument - but to present the gospel in love. Theology should be a tool in that endeavor - not in being puffed up with personal knowledge.

    Finally there are lot of nuggets of wisdom in this book. I found myself writing down a lot of quotes from both Josh and others (like C. J. Manhaney) while reading this.

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great deep and conversational book!

    The following book was received from WaterBrook Multnomah to read and review.

    I have enjoyed books by Joshua Harris in the past, recently Stop Dating the Church! So, when I saw this new book by him available to read and review, I very happily signed up. And I am very glad I did.

    "I've come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live." pg. 10

    The book Dug Down Deep is a book about "Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters." This book was about theology and doctrine, but also somewhat an autobiography of Joshua Harris. Mixing these two subjects together, made this book enjoyable, but at the same time challenging (In the best way!).

    While reading this book, I began to think many things (These are some of my personal thoughts while reading)...

    What do I believe?

    Does it truly make a difference in my daily life?

    Am I truly enjoying a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus?

    Or am I just living life on the surface?

    Am I truly living a life that aims to glorify God?

    I loved how this book helped me to think about these things and realize that I always want to be growing in my relationship with Christ and growing to be more like Him. And the more I learn about Him and His Greatness, the more I realize how much I need Him active in my personal life!

    "We live in a world that endlessly longs for personal, physical, relational, and political change. People search for change everywhere. But ultimately, only the gospel of Jesus Christ offers real hope for radical, lasting change because only through faith in Jesus can a person's nature be changed." pg. 149

    This book talks about many deep, theological topics (Like justification, adoption, and sanctification) in a way that makes the common reader understand and not feel overwhelmed or inadequate to be reading such a book. I personally love books about theology and found this book to help me grow in my understand of our amazing Savior!

    Dug Down Deep really encouraged me to make sure that I know what I believe, believe it to be true, and live it every day! I personally enjoyed Chapter 3, Near But Not In My Pocket, the best!

    I slightly disagree with Joshua Harris' theological views in Chapter 9, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, on the gift of speaking in tongues, an issue that is well debated in the Christian church, in general. However, the fact that we slightly disagree on this topic does not deter me from reading books by Joshua Harris in the future, because I truly do believe that his heart is in the right place and the fundamentals of his Christian doctrines of grace are correct and biblically sound.

    Overall, I would highly recommend this book and found it to be highly encouraging, as I have found with all the Joshua Harris book I have read.

    Thank you again to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book to read and review!

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    I loved it !

    I loved this book from the very first page. As a matter of fact my daughter and I read it together. She loves it too. So that goes to show you that this book is for Christians of every age. I love how Joshua gets down to the nitty gritty of knowing what you believe.I had so many thought provoking "God" moments while reading this book. My fave was when he was talking about when Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say I am?". Think about it for a second...who do you say Jesus is? Man, I started getting all these thoughts running through my head like, Who do I say Jesus is with my life? I call Him Lord with my lips but is that what my life says? If you are looking for a great read that will have you rethinking some details that you thought didn't matter; then this book is for you. You should buy it ... like right now... I'm serious... its great!

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    Great Book! Faith Changing!

    I received this book to review and as I sat down to read it...I just knew it was going to be awesome. I have to say I actually enjoyed reading most of this book. Mr. Harris uses language that makes you feel as though he were sitting in front of you speaking. He doesn't sound "uppity" at all.

    If you are someone who is either just beginning to learn about your faith or someone who has had faith for a while but really felt as if something was lacking...I would suggest this book. Mr. Harris uses illustrations from his own life..so all throughout the book you get this feeling of "I'm really not alone....someone else has been through the exact same thing...". I really feel as if this book has helped me to be more in touch with myself...with my spiritual self...and with God. I feel like I "know God" better..and that helps me to better understand my faith.

    Some phrases from the book that I took the time to put a sticky note near:

    " My friend Curtis says that most people today think only of themselves. He calls this "me-ology." I guess that's true. I know it was true of me and still can be. It's a lot easier to be an expert on what I think and feel and want than to give myself to knowing an invisible, universe-creating God. "

    " We have grown up in our own religious culture. And often this culture, with its own rituals and music and moral values, comes to represent Christianity far more than specific beliefs about God do. "


    " I learned that God's purpose for me is inextricably tied to his purpose for his people. My faith isn't all about me. It isn't only about my story and my journey. Being a Christian is about us belonging to God and to each other and then together fulfilling God's mission in the world. "


    Wow!! How on Earth someone could ignore statements like that...is beyond me. Mr. Harris delivers a powerful message in terms that even the person just beginning to walk in their Christian faith or people of below average intelligence could understand. This book will appeal to a broad range of people...and it will change lives.

    This review was originally published at: http://www.handshouseandheartfull.com/2010/01/dug-down-deep-book-review-by-joshua.html and I received a free book to review, nothing else.

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  • Posted January 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring New Book!

    I have been a fan of Joshua Harris since I Kissed Dating Goodbye. His book Stop Dating the Church did nothing short of changing my view of God's plan for the church. I have all of his books and frequently lend them out and recommend them to friends. When I heard he was writing a new book, I was thrilled to read it. Dug Down Deep soared beyond my expectations.

    Parting from what he is known for, Harris digs into the topics of orthodoxy, theology, and doctrine. Many authors would form these topics into dry, dusty textbooks, but Harris did nothing close to this. Dug Down Deep relates doctrine to everyday life. Harris explores such things as theology proper, God's sovereignty, and Christology. He shares how he built his life on truth, on a proper knowledge of God.

    Dug Down Deep is subtitled "Unearthing what I believe and why it matters." This is a highly personal book. Harris writes in a warm, engaging manner. I found it hard to put this book down. I wish I could give this book to everyone I know-believers and unbelievers alike. It is hard to resist the deep-rooted faith Harris has found. Buy a copy; you will not regret the fresh fire you find while reading Dug Down Deep.

    This book was provided for my review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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  • Posted January 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Dug Down Deep, by Joshua Harris

    As someone who grew up in the church just going through the motions, I was eager to read Joshua's account of finding a deeper relationship with God. However, when he spent the first 36 pages telling me ad nauseam why I should read the book, I couldn't help thinking that I would, if he'd just get on with it.

    Luckily, when he did "get on with it", he had much of value to say. It is important that we each develop a personal relationship with God by delving into, meditating on, coming to understand scripture, and then putting it into action in our daily lives.

    My favorite chapter in the book, however, wasn't about Joshua, but instead detailed his father's conversion story. It was very like my own, and yet very different as well. It was a wonderful reminder to me of why I cherish God, and how much he cherishes me.

    The publishers recommend this book for new believers and long time believers who may have fallen into a spiritual rut and have perhaps grown immune or indifferent to scripture. I concur.

    I would like to thank Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book to read and review.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    Dig In

    Dig in to Joshua Harris' newest book, Dug Down Deep.

    This book sparked my interest right from the start when I read this quote,

    "All of us are constantly doing theology...we all have some concept of God (even if it's that he doesn't exist). And we all base our lives on what we think God is like...I've come to learn that theology matters...because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live" (10).

    As Harris shares his own journey throughout the book, it will inspire you to look at your own theology and figure out what beliefs you are building your life on. As he reminds us, we are called to be like the wise builder (Luke 6:46-49) and build our lives on the Rock.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to dig in and dig deep into what they believe.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Dug Down Deep

    It had been a while since I'd thought about Josh Harris - you know, the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" guy. True, I'd just reread that book a few months back, but the thought "what's he doing now" just never crossed my mind. Sorry Josh, it's just true.

    But with Dug Down Deep, Josh Harris has my attention once again. Except this time he's not pontificating on relationship issues. Instead he's bringing us back to the core of theology, to the most basic and orthodox of beliefs, to make sure that his readers are Dug Down Deep in their Christian walk with God.

    In the book, Harris traces his own journey towards a deep and fulfilling relationship with Christ while elaborating on simple doctrine put in simple terms. Harris takes theology off the top-shelf and makes it easily accessible to the lay reader. But he also recounts his path towards understanding that top-shelf matter, and why it is important to understand.

    At base, Josh deconstructs all the theological terminology and puts it in these terms: While we were forced to be apart from God because of our sin, God wanted to be in relationship so badly that he was willing to sacrifice his Son in order to restore that relationship.
    Josh calls us back to a humble orthodoxy, to not just believe the right things, but live and preach them with humility. In other words, we are to stand strong in our commitment to sound doctrine while being gracious in our words and interactions with others. For anyone wanting to get to know core theological doctrines better, this is a book you want to pick up. As a student of Christianity, nothing regarding doctrine that Josh spoke about was new to me. Yet it provided a clear and lucid refresher of those terms of basic doctrine. If you pick up this book, you will not be disappointed. Buy it here!

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The book of theology I would have written

    It seems like I'm always just a bit too late with getting my ideas out into the real world. If I were going to write a book about theology, a book about the basic essentials of the Christian faith, a book that would be readable my anybody in my congregation - this would be that book. Josh Harris has taken the core beliefs of the faith and put them into a very readable form. I don't believe he's "dumbed down" these doctrines. Rather, he's put them into the language of most of the people of my congregation.

    Harris also does a very good job of incorporating these key doctrinal concepts into real life, something for which I am very thankful. When I first began my "trek" into discovering the doctrines of grace, I'm sure I made my theology seem very academic. I'm hoping that over the years, I've softened the seminary approach and developed a much more pastoral approach to helping people see that we "do" theology every day of our lives. This is what Josh Harris has done in this book. He takes you along with him as he reminisces about this same process of discovery. Having served as a pastor for several years now, he too has learned that pastoral aspect of making sure what you preach moves into the realm of real living. I especially enjoyed the chapters, "Ripping, Burning and Eating" (a chapter all about the doctrine of Scripture) and "God With A Bellybutton" (solid, plain teaching on the reality of the incarnation).

    Out of this entire book, I think the final chapter, "Humble Orthodoxy," defines what Harris is doing here. He could have written (or been aided by another author) a book that lays out the doctrines of grace from a Calvinistic point of view, thumbed his nose at everyone and said, "There, this is the truth. Take it or leave it." But that's not Harris (at least, as I know him through all I've read of him and from him). I think Jesus would be pleased with this effort - Josh has captured the truth, presented it well, done it all the while conveying a sense of love that he wants you to experience as you follow Christ, and he's done it humbly.

    Well done, Pastor Harris. Well done.

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