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Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down

Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down

4.2 9
by Joshua Harris

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We don’t get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both.
Orthodoxy, for the faithful, evokes what’s cherished and beautiful and eternal. Yet in our day, orthodoxy is too often wielded like a weapon, used to bludgeon others with differing points of view. The word has become associated with behavior like argumentative,


We don’t get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both.
Orthodoxy, for the faithful, evokes what’s cherished and beautiful and eternal. Yet in our day, orthodoxy is too often wielded like a weapon, used to bludgeon others with differing points of view. The word has become associated with behavior like argumentative, annoying, and arrogant.
It’s time for God’s people to demonstrate both right thinking and right attitudes. We are called to embrace and defend biblical truth. But that truth includes repeated commands to love our neighbor, love our enemy, and be clothed in gentleness and respect.  
In Humble Orthodoxy, bestselling author Joshua Harris examines New Testament teachings about the calling of believers to a love-infused courage that ignores foolish controversies, patiently endures evil, and champions truth with generosity of spirit. Without this kind of humility, Harris asserts, we become like the Pharisees—right in our doctrine, but ultimately destroying the cause of truth with our pride.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Humble Orthodoxy

“I suppose the opposite of humble orthodoxy is arrogant orthodoxy—a rather ugly pairing of words since ‘orthodoxy’ takes us to King Jesus, who is ‘gentle and humble in heart.’ Defending orthodoxy, a perennially urgent responsibility, so easily degenerates into our defending ourselves and our opinions, a perennially deceptive form of idolatry. May this short book by Joshua Harris encourage many to love and articulate the truth with the same tears of compassion that Jesus shed over the city.”
—D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, and author of The Intolerance of Tolerance

“When many years ago I first heard my good friend Josh Harris talk about the need for ‘humble orthodoxy,’ the phrase resonated with me immediately. Because, as Calvin said, the heart is an idol-making factory, we often take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing. We take something that is meant to help people, and we use it in hurtful ways. Sadly, many thinking Christians do this with doctrine. We argue for the glory of God in an unglorious manner. Josh knows this and is on a mission to change the tone of our theological conversations and put doctrine in its rightful place—as a servant to all but a master to none. He understands that if we dot all our doctrinal i’s and cross all our doctrinal t’s but have not love, we will be nothing more than ‘a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.’ Thanks for this, Josh. A much-needed message for our time.”
—Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and author of Jesus + Nothing = Everything

“When I think of the words ‘humble orthodoxy,’ I think immediately of Josh Harris. In this book you will find not merely an expert calling us to an abstract idea. You will find the heart of a man who demonstrates humility and conviction, mostly in ways that he doesn’t see himself (or he wouldn’t be qualified to write this book). Humble Orthodoxy will show you, with authenticity and vulnerability, what it means to realize that, left to ourselves, we are all arrogant heretics. But the Spirit of God can crucify our pride and our unfaithfulness. I heartily commend this good, practical book.”
—Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and author of Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

“I love the message of Humble Orthodoxy. It further fueled the fire within me for a passionate commitment to truth that would put me on my knees instead of puffing me up. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. I pray that God will use the message of this book to topple tall towers of pride that are so out of place in the church of Jesus Christ. May pure worship flow from humble orthodoxy!”
—Jason Meyer, pastor of preaching and vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
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Random House
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Read an Excerpt

Your Attitude Matters

A few years ago I was in Seattle with an old friend who had written a popular book about his personal reflections and experiences with the Christian faith. He began telling me about the e-mails he was getting from readers. He said the harshest ones were from people who presented themselves as “caring about doctrine.” Their e-mails were vitriolic, pointing out the theological errors and inconsistencies of what he had written.

My friend isn’t a pastor or a Bible scholar. He’s a poet and a storyteller. That’s part of what makes his writing appealing.

Honestly, he did get some things wrong in his book.

I think he knows that. But I saw how hard it was for him to admit that he might have a problem with orthodoxy when
the information was coming from people whose words and attitudes were ugly.

The word orthodoxy refers to right thinking about God. It’s about teaching and belief based on the established, proven, cherished truths of the faith. These are the truths that don’t budge. They are the plumb line that shows us how to think straight in a crooked world. 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 have been acknowledged by genuine followers of Jesus from the beginning and handed down
through the ages. Take one of them away, and you’re left with something less than historic Christian belief.

But one of the problems with the word orthodoxy is that it is usually brought up when someone is being reprimanded.
So it has gotten a bad reputation, like an older sibling who is always peeking around the corner, trying to catch you doing something wrong.

I think every generation of Christians faces the temptation to buck orthodoxy for just this reason. Even if we know
something is true and right, we don’t like others telling us we have to believe it. And if our own pride weren’t influence
enough, the temptation to abandon orthodoxy intensifies when its advocates are unlikable and meanspirited.

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

I don’t know any other way to say this: it seems like a lot of the people who care about orthodoxy are jerks. But why? Does good doctrine necessarily lead to being argumentative, annoying, and arrogant?

Humble Orthodoxy

My friend Eric says that what Christians today need is humble orthodoxy. I like that phrase. Christians need to have a strong commitment to sound doctrine. We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people. Whether our theological knowledge is great or small,
we all need to ask a vital question: What will we do with the knowledge of God that we have?

Will it lead us to an ever-growing desire to know and love the Lord? Will it practically affect the way we think and
live? Will we have the courage to hold on to the truth even when it isn’t popular? And how will we express our beliefs?
With humility—or with pride?

I don’t want to be like the people who wrote angry letters to my Seattle friend. At the same time, I don’t want to
be like some well-intentioned people I know who are careless, almost unconcerned, about Christian truths. They never
make others feel uncomfortable about their beliefs, but that’s because they believe hardly anything themselves.

Do we have to choose between kindness and a zeal for truth? Does embracing deeply held beliefs require that we let
go of humility?

And this brings us to a bigger question: Does any of this matter to God? Does God’s Word speak to the priority of
both humility and orthodoxy? Or is this all just a matter of personality—some people are nice, some people care about doctrine?

Here’s what I believe: truth matters…but so does our attitude. This is what I mean by humble orthodoxy: we must
care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility.

We must care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility.

God has given the saving message of the gospel to his people through his Word, and we must be willing to fight for
its integrity and faithful transmission. We are to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” ( Jude 3). In other words, we need to care about orthodoxy and right thinking about who God is and how he saves through Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy matters.

But at the same time, God’s Word commands us, “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matthew 22:39). Jesus even told
us, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). And 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ ” In other words, genuine love and humility of heart before God and other people are essential. Humility matters. We don’t get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both.

Meet the Author

Joshua Harris is a bestselling author and the lead pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.

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Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
AuntieMsUniverse More than 1 year ago
Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris is a book that strives to challenge today's Christian to hold the truth of God high without putting people down. While I completely agree with this direction of thinking I am just not sure that Mr. Harris accomplished the task. I do have to admit from the beginning of this review that I am not a fan of Joshua Harris. After reading his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and seeing the trouble it has caused in some religious circles I decided to treat this author with kid gloves. I tried to give this author a second chance with this book Humble Orthodoxy because the topic is something I strongly believe in. It was very near the beginning of the book when I realized that this book may not be what I had hoped. When Joshua Harris begins talking about his friend who was a new Christian and an author and how his book received some negative feedback from Christians I started to cringe. It seemed to me that Joshua Harris backed a book written by a friend without really checking for content or Biblical accuracy. Then when Christian started voicing their concerns to the author about the problems with the book Joshua Harris took the stance of defender because he believed these voiced concerns to be personal attacks. Joshua Harris freely admits that the content of his friends book is indeed theologically flawed yet this author backed it anyway. Why? I do agree that the Christian community has a problem when it comes to holding the truth of God high while not putting others down but standing and saying when something is wrong is not the same as putting someone down. In this case of Joshua's author friend and even Joshua himself I believe that often times when we get called on our mistakes we get our feathers ruffled and pride gets in the way of true growth. We take the stance of someone being attacked and read things with a tone that reflects our wounded pride rather than the tone that may have been intended. From holding press conferences to do damage control from his dating book because people were taking the book to literal and using it as a guideline for their lives to this book where Joshua blurs the lines between personal attacks and standing up for your faith it seems to me this author is still very immature in his faith. While this book does make some valid points about a very serious issue in the American church I believe that Mr. Harris' viewpoint on speaking out about your faith and orthodoxy as it pertains to today's church may need further refining. I do want to say though that while this may not be one of my top ten favorite authors that doesn't mean that reading this particular book won't give you some points to start thinking about when it comes to your own faith and how you portray it to the world around you. Just remember to read with a discerning eye and be clear about what motivations may have prompted or clouded this author's thinking for this particular book.
rm58 More than 1 year ago
Humble Orthodoxy: holding the truth high without putting people down Joshua Harris got the idea to write on the subject humble orthodoxy from a specking engagement that he did on the subject. At first it would only be a chapter in his book Dug Down Deep. After he got so much response on the topic he decided to partnership with Eric Stanford to write a book on it. Stanford used the chapter on humble orthodoxy from the book along with Harris’s sermons to create this book, complete with a study guide. The definition Harris gives for orthodoxy is, “right thinking about God. It’s about teaching and belief based on the established, proven, cherished truths of the faith.” These are the basis for Christianity such as: There is only one God. He is triune; the father, son, and Holy Spirit.  His only begotten son, Jesus is our savior.  He was born of a virgin, etc.  According to Harris the word orthodoxy sometimes gets a bad rap when people use it as a tool to reprimand.  Harris questions if, “good doctrine necessarily lead to being argumentative, annoying, and arrogant?”  He makes it very clear if we are going to teach like Jesus, then we need to love like Jesus. This is why we need to humble ourselves.  Mean spirited people teaching the word of Christ; have been the reason so many leave the church. Harris is able to parallel’s these types of attitudes to the ones of the Pharisees in his day.  We need a equal portion of both humbling and orthodoxy, “ We must care deeply about truth, and we must also defend and share this truth with compassion and humility.”   Stanford intergraded scripture along with stories in the discussion. This is the perfect book for a discussion group. I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for doing this review. I was not required to write a positive review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
SavvyMomma More than 1 year ago
"Humble Orthodoxy" by Joshua Harris with Eric Stanford that essentially discusses how a Believer can share the Word of God with others, engage in religious discussion, and spread their knowledge of Biblical principles in a way that creates a positive energy for both the speaker and the person(s) receiving the message. Too many times to Christians get labeled as "pushy" or "know it alls", because we simply aren't sensitive to the actual delivery of our message.  It's so important, especially in the world that we live in, to be able to share our love of God, and the principles that we believe in with others - especially those who are non-believers. This book discusses how we can "hold the truth high without putting people down". Essentially, delivering the message of Christ in the same way that Jesus would have done himself - humbly.  I thought this book was interesting, and offers some great points with regard to staying humble. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sharing Biblical wisdom, and wants to be more effective in delivering that message to others. 
ThomasRFellerJr More than 1 year ago
"The message of Christian orthodoxy isn't that I am right and someone else is wrong. It's that I am wrong and God is filled with grace...How can we be arrogant about a truth that is completely outside of anything we've done? If we had earned the gospel, we could be arrogant about it. If we had somehow created the truth, then we could copyright it and control other people's access to it. But the truth is a gift from God to us. It has changed us only because he extended his mercy to us." In this short book, Joshua Harris attempts to balance the difficulty task of orthodoxy - or believing in ultimate truth - with humility - or lack of arrogance (about said truth). The book is an easy read - only four chapters totaling 61 pages, but it is a worthwhile read. Harris does a great job of calling all to task - from those who would bend the truth the fit a modern age or "reach the lost" to those who hold so fast to truth that they seem to forget part of that truth is to "love your neighbor" (Mark 12:31); my guess is regardless of your theological position, denominational affiliation, or political persuasion there is something in this book that will cause you to shout "Amen!" and something in this book that will offend and (hopefully) convict you. One quote that brought me to my knees in worship was, "When we know the truth about God - his love, his power, his greatness, his holiness, his mercy - it doesn't leave us boasting. It leaves us amazed. It leaves us in awe of truth. It leaves us humbled in the presence of grace." I find myself even now reflecting on the awesomeness of God! This past week in Bible study I was having a conversation with someone that eventually led to discussions of the role of The Law and the nature of grace and salvation; at one point in the conversation I looked at this person and said, "This is so exciting! Why is it that when we come to church on Sundays we don't get excited about this?" I found this week more times than I can count instances where I was reminded of the truth about God and his ways and I was awed and humbled as I sat in the presence of His grace. One final quote that also has had me thinking is the following: "Some Christians, driven by a desire to reach lost people, cross the line from trying to reach our culture and start trying to impress our culture. And when a person is motivated by a desire to impress this fallen culture, very quickly all that God has to say becomes, instead of a precious truth, a hindrance. The Christians who go this way become slaves to the trends, to the values, to the ideals of a spiritually lost culture." Without getting on a soapbox and preaching a sermon here, I have to say one of ways I see this statement living out is in how many churches choose to "do church", in particular the constant battle over music in church. Many would be wise to reflect on the words Harris writes here and answer the question, "Do I seek to reach or do I seek to impress?" The answer may surprise us. Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone and everyone - particularly because it is so short (though that doesn't mean it's not deep). For the record, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.
hmweasley More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Humble Orthodoxy.  I was intrigued by it from the start, but even so, I ended up liking it more than I thought I would initially.  It's a short book (only four chapters), so it's an incredibly quick read. It touches on some things that I feel like should be common sense, but I know from what I've witnessed it too often isn't.  I've seen a lot of Christians who are so caught up in "being right" that they often overlook the fact that we're supposed to love everyone and treat them with respect.  I thought this book did an amazing job at explaining why both orthodox and humility are important to Christians and why neither one can be overlooked.  It's definitely something that a lot of people need to read. I did have one small problem with the book, but it was so miniscule that I won't even bother to mention it.  It was more of a personal thing than anything else, and I had pretty much sensed that it would be there.  Still, even with that I extremely enjoyed the book as a whole.  The author said so many great things that all Christians, no matter what their denomination is, need to hear. I think this book discusses one of the biggest issues among Christians today, and I would highly recommend that all Christians read it.  It really does put things into perspective.  In my own experience, I think humility is something often overlooked by many Christians, and this book really helps show why it is so important.  (I'm sure orthodoxy is too, but I haven't seen it as much in my own experiences.)  If I could, I would find a way to have everyone read Humble Orthodoxy. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Theophilusfamily More than 1 year ago
  The very title of this book, Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris and Eric Stanford, made me think  I needed to read it.  The subtitle, Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down convinced me, because this strikes at the heart of every Christian.  In our day, this is one of the Church's greatest needs. We need Humble Orthodoxy.   Have you ever met the doctrinally sound man who manages to be repellent and unkind even when he is presenting the beauties of the Gospel? This is the attitude Joshua Harris calls "Arrogant Orthodoxy."  How about the very friendly, understanding man who listens well and speaks about God's acceptance, yet never makes anyone uncomfortable by checking their beliefs against Scripture?This is the attitude Joshua Harris calls "Humble Heterodoxy."  I know these extremes well, as do all of us probably.  Timothy and Paul did too. That is why Paul wrote the letter of 2 Timothy, full of instruction on doctrine as well as the Christ-like attitude the orthodox must hold. We need to first understand that it isn't about us, about being right. It isn't our Truth we are defending. It is about the Truth God has given us, and the Redemption He gives.  Timothy's legacy is our legacy: handling the word of God rightly.  In short, Doctrine is Truth God has given us to defend, and we have to do so in a manner worthy of Him.  If you only remember one thing from this book, it perhaps should be this line: It is possible to defend the Truth of Christ in a way that drives people from Him.  If that doesn't make you repent and mend your ways, what will?  Of course, just knowing that is not enough.  We must know that the same Gospel we are defending provides us with the ability to wage war to save souls, not destroy perceived enemies.  Then, by the power of Christ, we can be Humbly Orthodox.  Thank you to the authors and to Waterbrook's Blogging for Books program for sending me this book!
J_Alfred_Prufrock More than 1 year ago
This is a small book that packs a huge punch. Rather than spend a really long time building to important truth, Josh Harris gets right to the point. As Christians, we can be so "right" that we are in fact wrong. It is easy to fall in love with the orthodox doctrine of Jesus. Harris shows that it is just as important to fall in love with the people that God has created.I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  
mojo_turbo More than 1 year ago
The book Humble Orthodoxy is about the need to act in humility when it comes to your desire to act like a Pharisee. In other words, those who "think" their version of Christian doctrine is vastly superior to others and therefore feel the need to slam or belittle or tear other Christians down.  And it's certainly a needed subject, especially with the rise of many conservative websites and bloggers who feel the need to discredit and shame several key Christian celebrity pastors.  But with all of the depth and exploration you could tap into on this subject, this book is extremely thin... and little. In fact, it's more of a booklet, or a freebie you'd expect to find in the church lobby or in your Easter basket. Author, Joshua Harris explains exactly what this "new book" is. It's the last chapter of his amazing book "Dug Down Deep." Now, I love Dug Down Deep, I bought a copy of it for my church library and I recommend it to people all of the time. Well, apparently those closest to Harris told him that this last chapter would make a good book topic, particularly a "booklet" that could be given to people. And so with the help of another writer, the two of them transformed this "last chapter" of a great book, into a .... few more chapters and bound them together in a hardback mini book. To be honest, once I skipped to the back and found out what it was, I stopped reading it. I have already read Dug Down Deep and I don't need a refresher in doctrinal bullying. But I again, I certainly feel this subject matter is important, I just wish there was more there. Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for this free review copy.
JFHoyer More than 1 year ago
Jerks Don't Present Jesus Well     “I don’t know any other way to say this: it seems like a lot of the people who care about orthodoxy are jerks.”  I wish I could say that observation by Harris was out of line.  Unfortunately that has also been my experience – and too often I have also represented that remark.    “Humble Orthodoxy” comes at an important time and should be a powerful resource for the church as it attempts to reach a rapidly changing culture.  Harris strikes a great balance, warning against being arrogant jerks with orthodoxy on the one hand, or giving way to a squishy heterodoxy on the other.  He effectively mines 1 & 2 Timothy for Paul’s guidance to that pastor as he tried to reach a similar culture for Christ.  Just as first century Christians were instructed to “rightly handle the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) so too Christians today need to also humbly handle God’s Word.    Harris points out that “some Christians, driven by a desire to reach lost people, cross the line from trying to reach our culture and start trying to impress our culture” becoming “…slaves to the trends, to the values, to the ideals of a spiritually lost culture.”  Again, on the other side, some Christians “…turn their back on culture altogether.  They lock themselves in their little Christian subculture…and make their focus impressing other people within their little Christian clique.”    The answer to all this is not less orthodoxy, but more – standing firmly on the truth of God’s Word, but doing so in deep humility, bathed in God’s grace for undeserving sinners.    Harris includes an excellent 4 section study guide for individual or group use.  Pastors and church leaders will find this a great 4 week small group resource for a topic every Christian church should be looking at very carefully as our culture continues to walk away from the organized church.    I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review.