Call me a nerd (it’s okay, really), but I love theology. The study of religion has always been intriguing to me, but I admit that it’s been a struggle to find books that have a proper amount of theological rigor without being too dry that I can’t stay awake or too specialized that I find myself looking up every other word in the dictionary. Finally, Joshua Harris delivers a book that packs a theological punch but with clear—and sometimes beautiful—explanations, and even a doodle or two.
Dug Down Deep is the story of Harris’s personal quest for truth through Scripture, as well as a calling to all of those who want a personal relationship with Jesus to embrace theology as the way to better understand God. And he acknowledges that this may not be the popular path to spiritual enlightenment, but it is the true path. In his conversational style, he puts it this way: “I know the idea of ‘studying’ God often rubs people the wrong way. It sounds cold and theoretical, as if God were a frog carcass to dissect in a lab or a set of ideas that we memorize like math proofs.”
I appreciate how Harris doesn’t try to make Christianity sound appealing by trying to make it fit our world. Instead, he makes Christianity sound appealing by rooting it in Biblical truth. He says, “Our faith is not just a state of mind, a mystical experience, or concepts on a page. Theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy matter because God is real, and he has acted in our world, and his actions have meaning today and for all eternity.”
He also unapologetically calls a sin a sin. In a world where kids are growing up believing that nothing is really their fault and that if something “feels good,” it must be good, this is a bold but welcome claim. He says that we “live in a world that has effectively pretended away sin. . . . We don’t call sin ‘sin.’ We excuse it, overlook it, and rename it.” He goes on to claim that we blame-shift and play the victim card instead of admitting our sins. “If you pretend, blame, and excuse all sin away, sanctification gets replaced by therapy. It becomes a vague, self-centered pursuit of self-improvement. And all we’re left with is the hope of new drugs, new therapy, and better circumstances so our better self can emerge.” Now I’m not dismissing the validity of therapy or medication when really needed; that would make me one big hypocrite! (Just ask my therapist.) And I don’t think Harris is saying that either. But without God at the center of your life, no therapy or drugs in the world will be able to produce pure joy, which is something we all seek, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Harris presents hard truths coupled with the inspiring message of the Good News of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. His “humble orthodoxy” made me think, feel, smile, and solidify my beliefs. He’s someone I would love to spend two hours with at a coffee shop, just visiting about his life’s journey—and maybe even doing a bit of theologizing too. You know, just for fun.
I was interested to read that Alex and Brett Harris are his brothers. I bought their book Do Hard Things for my pre-teen last year and was impressed with their “rebel against teenage rebellion” approach to life. Joshua Harris is also the author of the runaway bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, as well as three other titles. He is also currently senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Visit WaterBrook Multnomah for more info about Dug Down Deep, including how to pick up your own copy. It’s definitely worth the read!
This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.