So what exactly does the title of Joshua Harris’ “Humble Orthodoxy” mean? Well, in a sentence: “Speak truth in love.”
In fact, that sentence also provides a pretty good summary of what the book’s about. There’s a lot to unpack in those four words, and Harris does so in a way that’s accessible, engaging and, largely, lives up to the very “truth-in-love” challenge the book delivers.
Traditionally, Christians are often known for being much better at the first half of that sentence than the latter. We’re excellent at telling people what we believe and why you should believe the same. And at our Bible-thumping best, we have a unique talent for pointing out others’ alleged shortcomings and letting them know how they fail to measure up — to God’s standard, and, implicitly or explicitly, to those who have chosen to live by it. There may be some truth there, but there’s often not a whole lot of love. (Even if we manage to justify those critiques as being delivered for the recipient’s good.)
Harris challenges — or, perhaps better, encourages — readers to focus more on the latter half of the sentence, the love part. What are the things that really matter, and what are the things that are purely divisive? When things need to be said, what is the best way of saying them? Is the result of our words to tear others down, or to build them up? To push them away, or to draw them nearer?
Of course, the book also reveals the challenge in actually living this approach. Harris stresses that speaking truth in love doesn’t mean ignoring or withholding truth. But truth in Harris’ book is truth as Harris sees it. The things he stresses we must stand for our things that not all Christians would necessarily agree with. It’s important to speak truth, but it’s more important to first know truth. And simply calling something truth doesn’t make it so.
But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, and Harris’ book provides a good foundation for beginning that difficult journey.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)