Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dug Down Deep

Dug Down Deep is Joshua Harris' break away from books with a dating, or as the case may be, non-dating (ie. courting) theme.  Harris is primarily know for his first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which challenged the standard approach for finding a spouse.  In his latest book he turns his eye towards theology, "unearthing what I believe and why it matters."
Unlike tradition books on theology, Harris mixes in a great deal of narrative in order to give real word examples and applications for the issues that he discusses.  This approach however can have varying effects depending on what type of reader you are: 1. It can make the information more accessible or 2. It can make we wish he would just get on with the point he is trying to make.
As I read through the book there were several things that I really connected with, especially in the opening chapters.  In the first chapter he describes the practice of Rumspringa that is employed by the Amish.  This is a time of freedom given to teens in Amish community.  During this time they are allowed to live like the rest of the world; they are given the opportunity to decide if they want to stay Amish.  While Harris didn't grow up Amish, he describes his own journey of growing up in a Christian home and having to make the choice of staying committed to the way of Christ or pursing his own way.
As the book moved more into the theological elements I noticed something about many of the things I was underlining or highlighting: they weren't from Joshua Harris.  Throughout the book, Harris cites J.I. Packer and  John Piper extensively. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with citing these excellent sources, but I felt that little was added to the points that they made, making it feel like the theology was someone else's while the stories connected them to them were Josh's.  I also have to take issue with the fact that baptism (how we get connected to Christ) and communion (how we stayed connected to Christ) don't appear until 20 pages before the book ends (and even then are only given a brief two paragraphs to explain each of them.
Overall I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.  Dug Down Deep clearly challenges the reader to not simply be a Christian, but to explore, investigate, and examine the things we say we believe.  Each generation must look closely at deepest held beliefs to ensure that they are true to God's word and not simply traditions that have developed over time. However there are several points of theology at which I disagree with the author. Yet as he points in his final chapter, we must have a "humble orthodoxy."  I appreciate Harris' book and hope that his calling to dig into theology will be heard.

This book was provided by Multnomah Publishing for review.

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