I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47-48, NIV)
In Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris (senior pastor of Covenant Life Church) shares his journey of discovering the rich, importance of doctrine and theology. Doctrine and theology – no matter how they are viewed today – are vastly important and inescapable.
Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong… We’re all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true. (11)
And with that, the book takes off on the course of a systematic theology, though you’ll find no dry, dusty doctrine here. This is more of a street-level systematic, where Harris leads the reader through doctrines such as theology proper, the authority of Scripture, Christology, atonement, salvation, sanctification, pnuematology, and ecclesiology.
Those unaccustomed with doctrinal study will find this to be a welcome primer. This is a great resource from which to discover the beauty, breadth, and wonder of doctrine. However, students of the Scriptures will find Harris’s skimming of the surface a little frustrating.
The author is content to write on topics that only go as deep as the general consensus is willing to go, and shares very little that go well beyond the surface. He hints at issues beyond the surface (speaking in tongues and charismatic gifts being the most obvious), but chooses not to engage them directly. J. Gresham Machen once wrote, “the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight” (Christianity and Liberalism, p. 2).
While I would contend that the issues avoided by Harris don’t do any disservice to the work as a whole, it prevents any robust dialogue from taking place on these topics. One is simply left hungering for more.
Perhaps that is, after all, the author’s intent – to give the reader enough of a taste of doctrine that they go searching for more. If that is the case, then for this reader, it accomplishes that goal.
The final chapter turned out to be my personal favorite. In that chapter (titled Humble Orthodoxy), the author gives great encouragement to approach orthodoxy and doctrine and theology with humility.
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. (223)
In fact, Harris writes that the primary means by which we keep our orthodoxy humble is to seek to live out our beliefs.
Don’t spend all your time theorizing about it, debating about it, or blogging about it. Spend more energy living the truth you know than worrying about what the next guy does or does not know. Don’t measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by your practice of what you know. (226)
This book is a welcome resource for anyone ready to take the first step in learning doctrine, and a helpful reminder for those who have studied it more in depth.