If you don’t believe that humility is an issue within the church in the United States, simply troll through some blogs or message boards. Harsh and nasty words abound, even in defense of good theology. Snarkiness can be the rule of the day. It is almost as if because we believe ourselves to be right that we can then be rude, mean, unkind, not gentle (and the opposite of all the other fruit of the Spirit as well…).
Joshua Harris has written a book that addresses the question of humility in theology very well. Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down (Multnomah, 2013), is a short little book (83 pages if you include the study guide, notes, and acknowledgements). However, the message is an important one, and it can be read in just one day. The book is divided into four chapters. In chapter one, Harris deals with our attitudes in defending our theology. Too many professing Christians have fallen into either arrogant orthodoxy (being right in doctrine but being unkind and unloving) or humble heterodoxy (being a really nice person but abandoning some historic Christian beliefs. Instead, Harris calls for Christians to hold tightly to orthodox teaching, but to hold it in humility.
Chapter two calls Christians to self-examination. Is my view of self overinflated? Do I identify more with the publican standing in the temple, beating his breast, and crying out for mercy to God, or am I pharisee, praising God that I am not like those “sinners” around me? Chapter three then moves into repentance. Am I willing to make things right and repent of my arrogance? Will I take the lead in this area even as those around me continue to be prideful? Harris observes, “Don’t measure yourself by what you know. Measure yourself by your practice of what you know” (37). Finally, Harris closes with an appeal to live for the approval of God alone, as those who rightly handle the Word.
This is a short book. Don’t expect deeply profound theological truth. Do expect a quite simple but timely call for Christians to refocus on those things that truly matter. Humble Orthodoxy is a great reminder for all of us to hold tenaciously but tenderly to the truths of the gospel. I would urge you to read this book and then reflect of the message that it contains.