Dug Down Deep – Joshua Harris
Harris was raised, and homeschooled, in a conservative evangelical family and came to prominence through his editorship of a national homeschooling magazine published in North America. Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters is Harris’ attempt to make sense of what he believes and how he came to believe it.
All of this makes Dug Down Deep a deeply personal piece of writing. Each chapter begins with a autobiographical anecdote and, in these sections, Harris is self-depreciating and candid with regards to his own weakness and spiritual growth. Much of this material is used to present his spiritual immaturity as a teenager and twenty-something and the way in which Christ challenged him to move deeper into the things of God.
It is this approach, Harris’ uses autobiographical material to trace his spiritual development, which makes Dug Down Deep an interesting and unusual book. In Harris, we see something of the systematic theologian as he tackles profound truths in a, well, systematic way.
There is weighty doctrine here; Harris unpacks the transcendence of God (chapter 3), the authority and inerrancy of Scripture (chapter 4), the doctrine of the incarnation (chapter 5), the implications and benefits secured through the cross (chapters 6 and 7), the doctrine of sanctification (chapter 8), the person and work of the Holy Spirit (chapter 9) and the doctrine of the church (chapter 10).
And in all of this, Harris’ influences, J.I. Packer, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller and, of course, C.J. Mahaney (former Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church), are present and visible.
In addition to the systematic theologian, we also see abundant evidence of Harris, the Pastor: deep (and difficult) truths are unpacked and presented in an accessible, engaging and deeply practical way. Even as Harris wrestles with weighty doctrine, there is careful attention to application and the way in which truth must take hold and be worked out in our lives. Indeed, Harris makes precisely this point,
Knowledge about God that doesn’t translate into exalting him in our words, thoughts, and actions will soon become self-exaltation [...] If we stand before the awesome knowledge of God’s character and our first thought isn’t I am small and unworthy to know the Creator of the universe, then we should be concerned.
There is, therefore, a collision between the profound and the practical and it is this which makes Dug Down Deep so unusual and successful.
Harris’ conversational style is disarming and engaging and I can imagine people reading this who would never contemplate wrestling with, say, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology or John Piper’s Desiring God. This is the great success with Dug Down Deep: that Harris has succeeded in presenting deep and weighty truths in a way which is both accessible and eminently readable. And Harris achieves all of this without neutering the sense of awe, conviction and holy exhilaration which must come when allowing the deep truths of God to thus penetrate our souls.
I urge you to get hold of a copy of Dug Down Deep and allow the great truth of the gospel to take hold of you.
Click here to purchase Dug Down Deep.