Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"dug down deep" by joshua harris

I had mixed emotions when I first heard about Joshua Harris’s new book. First, I thought it sounded interesting. Titled Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters, it struck me as something I should be doing as well—getting beyond the surface to really examine the beliefs I claim. Then I read the back cover copy and realized that it was going to deal with “scary” words like doctrine, theology, and orthodoxy. Any time I hear the word “doctrine,” I automatically flash back to my exceedingly boring junior year Bible class: Bible Doctrines. Today, I couldn’t tell you a thing that we learned in that class precisely because I didn’t learn anything—I merely memorized information for the tests and then promptly forgot it. And “orthodoxy”? I couldn’t have told you what it really meant, just that it conjured images of old, ornate European churches that focused on ritual. (I think I was confusing “orthodoxy” with the Eastern Orthodox Church!)

Fortunately, Harris’s book isn’t at all boring, scary, or confusing. Sure, sometimes I had to stop reading at the end of a chapter and spend time processing what I’d just read, but never did I think, “This is too hard,” or, worse yet, “I’m so bored!”

In the first few chapters, Harris makes a convincing argument for “why it matters”: “because God is real, and he has acted in our world, and his actions have meaning today and for all eternity” (p. 15). He goes on to say that doctrine is important because it helps us know Jesus and understand how to relate to him (p. 31).

Using personal stories and engaging illustrations, Harris then dives into core doctrines of the faith, but he does it without using the “-ology” words that so bored me in high school. He packs so much good information into this book that I can’t begin to discuss it all, so I’ll just touch on a few things that really resonated with me:
  • The entire chapter on sanctification is great. My favorite portion was Harris’s description of indwelling sin, a.k.a. “the flesh.” He uses cartoon figures to illustrate our relationship with the flesh before and after salvation. It’s entertaining, but more importantly, it’s clear and memorable.
  • I grew up in a conservative Christian community where, at least in my recollection, the Holy Spirit was … well … not really mentioned. Couple that with my charismatic friend who “weirded me out,” and I never really had any desire to learn about the Holy Spirit. I realize now that my knowledge of God is rather lopsided—I know a lot about God the Father and God the Son but not much about God the Spirit. Harris devotes an entire chapter to the Holy Spirit, explaining his view that neither the charismatics nor the fundamentalists (or whomever the opposites of the charismatics are) have it all right. No matter our view on tongues and prophecy, we need to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is living and active! Reading this chapter helped me see where I’ve been closed-minded, and I now long to know more about the Spirit. (I hear Francis Chan has a good book on that subject ...)
  • I've heard the question, "What's your spiritual gift?" more times than I could count. So I found Harris’s statement about gifts refreshing and incredibly practical: “ … you don’t need a badge to be useful. Just serve. It’s not about you and your gift; it’s about serving the needs of others and glorifying Jesus through your life” (p. 186).
  • Those familiar with Harris’s book Stop Dating the Church know that Harris is passionate about encouraging believers to join a local body. So the fact that he devotes a chapter to the church shouldn’t surprise anyone. As a 20-something who has just recently begun thinking about church membership, I thought this chapter was convincing, convicting, and motivational.
To sum it up, Dug Down Deep is an excellent book. Read it, chew on it, and read it again. You won’t regret it!

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. You can pick it up here.


  1. Miss Becky!!! Josh talked about your review on his website!!! Pretty cool!

  2. Thanks for the heads up Kensy! This just made my lunch break a little better :-)

  3. Hi Becky,

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