5 Questions with Josh Harris
This morning I posted a review of Josh Harris’ new book Dug Down Deep. This afternoon I’ve got this brief interview with Josh in which we discuss the book.
Who is the audience for Dug Down Deep and why would you like them to read it?
I had a couple different groups of people in mind as I wrote the book. First, I wrote it for people like me who have grown up in church and immersed in Christian religion but who, as I did, lack a solid rooting in Biblical truth. Usually such people are indifferent toward or even turned off by doctrine. My goal was to show them how essential theology is to truly knowing God. I wanted to keep it simple and accessible.
I also wrote with the hope that Christians would give the book to unbelieving friends to introduce them to basic Christian belief. A big part of the reason I wrote the book is so that I could share give it to people I meet as a way to share the gospel. You can’t really do that with a book called “Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is).”
Why did you choose to write about theology from a personal perspective, through the lens of your own spiritual growth and development?
I wanted the book to be as engaging as possible for people who aren’t used to studying biblical doctrine. And I wanted to show that theology is for living. It’s for real people and real life. Hopefully my story will show that doctrine isn’t just for scholars and academics—it’s for twenty-somethings who want a deeper relationship with God; it’s for young moms who feel overwhelmed by diapers and laundry—it’s for everyone.
To be honest, I had to fight the urge to write to impress fellow pastors. Sharing from my own journey as a young adult helped me keep writing to people who are new to theological terms and concepts. I remember being at that place. It’s not always enjoyable to have someone tell you all the things you should know—it can be helpful to have someone come alongside you and share what they’ve learned and why it has made a difference in the living of their life. I hope Dug Down Deep does that.
What is a chapter you would like to have included but that had to be left out, for one reason or another?
The first draft of the book’s outline was much longer than the final eleven-chapters I wound up with. But many of those were getting into secondary issues (how Christians relate to politics and engage with culture for example.) Those are important, but I decided that I wanted to stay focused on gospel-essential doctrines—God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the atonement. I stuck to the basics.
But then after Mark Dever read the book he said “Why didn’t you include a chapter on eschatology?” I think that probably would have been a good idea. But I feel good about how the book turned out. I wasn’t trying to be comprehensive. It’s not a systematic theology. I’ve referred to the book as a mix tape of specific doctrines that have transformed my life.
What was the greatest challenge in writing this book and what proved to be the greatest blessing to your own soul?
This is the first book I’ve written since I began serving as the senior pastor of Covenant Life. Fitting writing into my responsibilities at church was a challenge. My fellow-pastors really carried a lot during that time and I’m indebted to them for their support. I don’t have the same capacity as some of these guys who pump out books and preach three times a week. I felt very weak and inadequate and overwhelmed many times along the way. Holding the book now, I remember moments of literally being on my face feeling hopeless and crying out to God for help. But he met me over and over. And those private moments of seeing him provide are very meaningful to me.
It has been five years between your last book, Stop Dating the Church, and this new one. When should we next expect to see your name on a book?
I really don’t know. There are no plans right now. And I only write if my fellow elders and my wife all tell me they have faith for me to tackle a new project. So it will probably be awhile. My kids want me to write a children’s book. I think that would be fun. I’d love to write and illustrate a book for kids. But right now I’m just enjoying that “done writing” feeling a little longer.