Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

I’ve been tempted to read books by Josh Harris ever since I went to high school with a guy by the same name. I had high expectations, and in many ways Harris’ book “Dug Down Deep” both lived up to and failed to live up to those expectation.

In “Dug Down Deep,” Harris admonishes readers to make theology a higher priority in their lives. “What we know about God shapes the way we think and live,” Harris writes. “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.” 

With several references to Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” (bringing back many memories for those of us who had to read it over and over again in college), Harris’ book becomes a mini “Systematic Theology” written for Christians not normally interested in extensive research. Consequently, Harris uses more stories and less Scripture.

For many, Harris’ words will be sweet reminders of truths they already know. Others will be bored with the theology presented because they also already know the basic. And hopefully, many Christian young in their faith will learn many new truths. No matter how readers view the theology presented, Harris’ words should spur them on to a greater desire to know theology, to know the reason for their faith. Harris’ compelling argument for the need to have a solid knowledge of doctrine and theology makes his book work on so many levels. 

While not a textbook by Grudem, “Dug Down Deep” navigates the foundations of the Christian faith, among them being sin, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.

Harris’ discussion of the Holy Spirit may raise the hairs on the backs of some readers. Harris makes it clear that, while he does not adhere to some of the manipulative and false teaches of some Charismatic churches, he does believe in and practice the speaking of tongues. His belief may discredit him to some or at least disappoint certain fans. To his credit, though, Harris emphasizes the common denominator of both sides of the argument: opening your life to the Holy Spirit so that He can change you, use you, and bless you. Harris even references another writer who does not believe in the modern existence of tongues.

My feelings also clashed with the book when I got to Harris’ chapter on the church. I would have been encouraged by more on why its important to attend church and become a part of a community, but, instead, Harris focuses on the Great Commission and the missions side of church, which made me feel inadequate about the gifts that God has given me that glorify Him but don’t necessarily involve missions. There were a few other things I wasn’t sure what to think about, but I won’t mention them here.

Bottom line for me, personally: I got a lot out of the first few chapters encouraging the seeking out of solid theology, but the rest of the book was old news — been there, done that. But I’m sure there are plenty of others out there that need this book. As for me, Harris just made me want to skip his book to go read Grudem.

* Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

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