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When Josh Harris Slapped Me Across the Face

Josh Harris slapped me across the face. He did it through his book Humble Orthodoxy and a little story that is adapted from the words of Jesus in Luke 18. He tells the story “to challenge those of us who trust in the rightness of our doctrine and look down on others.” In other words, people like me.

One day two men went to church to pray.

The first man was a shallow, uninformed evangelical. Everything about him shouted of squishy theology. He didn’t know or use big theological words. He watched Christian TV and thought it was deep. He bought books from the inspirational section of the bookstore. He attended one of those megachurches where the sermons are short and the worship leaders look like American Idol contestants.

The second man who went to pray was different. He was a Christian of theological depth and substance—this was obvious by the heavy study Bible he carried with him. He only read books by long-dead theologians. He subscribed to the podcasts of all the solid, gospel-centered expository preachers who didn’t tell funny stories or make jokes in their sermons. He felt cheated if a sermon was less than an hour long.

This second man began to pray. He said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—doctrinally ignorant, theologically clueless, superficial in their saccharine-sweet evangelicalism. I thank you that you have made me what I am: true to good doctrine, uncompromising on teaching, orthodox to the core.”

But the first man would not even look up to heaven. Instead he beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

He follows up with this application: “If you consider yourself a person who takes doctrine seriously, do you see yourself in this story? Has a humble gratefulness for God’s mercy been replaced by a pride in all that you know? Are you prone to have contempt or a sense of superiority toward those with less knowledge? I believe Jesus would confront our misplaced confidence just as he did the self-righteousness of the Pharisees in his day.”

This is just one of the reasons I intend to read the book on a regular basis


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