Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dug Down Deep, a Review

This isn't a book on systematic theology proper. It's more like a mixtape of biblical truth that I've found personally significant. Dug Down Deep is my reveling in theology in my own simple way--not too polished, sometimes awkward, less than scholarly, hopefully gracious and faithful. Even thought these are deep truths, I don't pretend to be swimming in the deep end of the pool. I'm splashing in the shallow end. But if my splashing can inspire you to dive in, I will have succeeded.
In 1997, Joshua Harris broke into the scene with his book on dating, appropriately titled I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  I'd heard of it, but never had a desire to read it, nor anything else by this author.  As I saw it, he was one of those Christian authors that wrote on one and only one subject matter, and it just happened to be one I was uninterested in.  However, back in September I requested a copy of Harris' book on systematic theology called Dug Down Deep, primarily because of the book's style.  Harris chose to tackle the subjects through transparent memoirs (as opposed to exhaustive biblical analysis), and I thought his journey sounded interesting.

In some ways, this book could have been written by Donald Miller (author of Blue Like JazzSearching for God Knows What, and several other books), as the tone of the author was very reminiscent.  Harris begins Dug Down Deep with a thought-provoking question: what are you building your life on?  He then goes on to talk about Jesus' parable in Matthew 7, comparing the man who built his house on the sand with the man who built his house on the more solid foundation: rock.  Harris argues that building on the rock takes work, it takes some digging, but in the end, after the wind and the rain and the storms, the house remains standing.  He explains,
In the past I thought the point was simply that being a Christian is better than not being a Christian. And I suppose on a very rudimentary level, that is what it means. But I never thought about the specifics of what digging down to the rock represents.
This was the impetus for the book.  He grew up in the church and found himself lacking any biblical depth.  He was familiar with theology, doctrine, orthodoxy, and the like, but at the same time, they meant very little to him.  They were just old sounding words that old people used.  For the remainder of the Dug Down Deep, Harris opens up with humbling honesty, explaining how he came to understand certain elements of theology.  Some of the essays included are about the Father, the Son, the Spirit, the Word, sanctification, justification, the church, orthodoxy, and a few others.  And if you're anything like me, some of those words sound boring (i.e., orthodoxy), but Harris points out (reasonably) that they shouldn't, and he explains why.
Knowledge doesn't have to be dry and lifeless. And when you think about it, exactly what is our alternative? Ignorance? Falsehood? We're either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he's about, or we're basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions. We're all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.
When I finished Dug Down Deep, I had several passages highlighted and underlined.  The chapter on sanctification is definitely worth the read, as I found it thoroughly fascinating and incredibly awe-inspiring.  Another recommended chapter is the last one, where Harris writes on humble orthodoxy, bringing home the point  of how crucial it is to remain humble in our lives.  This is something I think many of us should read and take to heart, as pride is ever so subtle and we must be on guard.  These are just two of the eleven chapters presented in the book, and all are well thought out and stimulating.

Dug Down Deep is a very accessible book.  It offers deep thoughts and unfathomable truths about God and His character, but Harris attempts to explain them as clearly as he can.  I think the book would be a great tool for new believers, but I think the impact would be even stronger with those who've walked with God for a while, especially the ones that have grown frustrated with their fellow believers or their own faith.  Really, the book is relative even to those outside of the fold, those that have questions about life's journey and the roads we travel on.  Overall, I really enjoyed Joshua Harris' Dug Down Deep.  Maybe it's where I'm at in life, but Dug Down Deep resonated with me.  I found it encouraging and refreshing, and I think it's a book that many people could read and  get something out of it.

FTC Thingy: This book was provided to me free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I received no goods other than the ebook, and had I been offered any other goods (like, say, chocolate chip cookies) I would have been tempted to take the bribe.  Nevertheless, I wasn't offered, nor did I ask.  As such, the opinion expressed in this review is entirely my own and has in no way been affected by my lack of receiving free, home-baked chocolate goodies.


Anonymous said...

wonderful review. one certainly deserving of some chocolate chip cookies.

so, i'm slow, but when did you change the background here? I like it, too, but please tell me it hasn't been months.


logankstewart said...

Thanks, L. I messed around with the background about a month and a half ago or so, and the header, too. I occasionally get a wild idea to tinker, and I wanted something a bit moodier for the Dead Seasons.

Carl V. said...

That sounds good, and the quotes you've included really pique my interest. I grew up catholic until about 6th grade and after that grew up in the pentecostal faith. I've been in church and around people of faith my whole life and I do agree that you can sometimes have a lot of head knowledge but still not have your house built on the rock of the revelation of Who Jesus really is and what is Word really means for our lives.

In this climate we live in, one where I am frequently heart sick over the lost, especially those who are vocal about not believing in God to the point of ridiculing those who do, a deep foundation is not only important, it is vital to surviving.

Good review, Logan. So glad you decided to give this book a try.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Thanks! If you liked these quotes, then you should definitely check out the rest of the book. It's excellent and quite poignant.