Josh Harris: Seven Thoughts

The internet is abuzz (it’s always abuzz about something isn’t it?) about the repudiation of the Christian faith, the apostacy Josh Harris and subsequent separation from his wife. Since you are reading this on the internet I will assume that you can find all the details you need there and so I shall not repeat them here.

What is a Christian to make of all this? Well, there’s much. For one thing, we need to reclaim the language of apostasy and understand what that means in the dying days of Western civilization. I’m not going to do that here. But I do offer seven things to consider:

  1. Listen to, that is, read and heed, those Christians who have finished their race. In other words, spend more time reading the teachings of dead Christians who lived a life of holiness and who taught truth. These often have much more value than those of the present, and their subsequent lives will not disappoint. The argument that those who have died do not have enough relevance to our situation today can be dispelled by actually reading them. Anyone who says that John Owens has nothing to teach us hasn’t read him.
  2. Do not overestimate the spiritual vitality of celebrity Christians. It may be easy to think that Christian celebrities have actually earned their status. The worst of them may believe they have earned it, but the best would shudder at the thought. In either case, God raises some up and not others.
  3. Do not underestimate the spiritual peril of celebrity status. Celebrity has it’s own dangers. A well-known (and revered) Christian often speaks with more authority than he should. A celebrity Christian can be shallow, ill-informed, and outright wrong, but his words will carry much more weight than someone who is out of the public eye. Fame does not confer wisdom or knowledge, or correct information.
  4. Be angry, but do not sin. Anger is a normal response to anyone who builds a brand, gains a following, then abandons the followers and repudiates his teachings. Be skeptical about a person’s honesty, when the issue is a moral failing before it is a spiritual or doctrinal one. Moral failure is the predecessor to apostacy. Be angry because this will cause some to stumble: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:1–2. There are people who were genuinely helped by Harris’ books, who are today questioning him and everything he stood for. It is only the Christian celebrity who, upon committing apostasy and fleeing into the arms of the welcoming world, will receive accolades, praise, and book deals. He will be acclaimed as “brave” when he is really choosing the easiest and most cowardly choice of action possible (Matthew 7:13-14).
  5. Seek to be faithful, not famous; never confuse the two. Remember that for every Christian celebrity, there are many more average Christians who live lives faithful to Christ. Seek to be one of them. Remember too, that with abundance of everything, even fame, comes responsibility: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48.
  6. Do not insulate yourself from other Christians. No one is to be “above the fray.” For Galatians 6:1 to work, a Christian has to have those in his life who can speak to him about sin and error. Celebrities are often surrounded by sycophants who enjoy basking in the light of their friend far to much to actually be a friend.
  7. Watch yourself. Nothing that has happened in this unhappy episode is out of the range of possibility for anyone else (1 Corinthians 6:12).



From John Newton’s Cardiphonia:. This book strongly influenced poet Hannah More, of the Clapham Sect, the group (Wilberforce was a member) that was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom.

Romans 7:21 (ESV)

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

“But, blessed be God, though we must feel hourly cause for shame and humiliation for what we are in ourselves, we have cause to rejoice continually in Christ Jesus, who, as he is revealed unto us under the various names, characters, relations, and offices, which he bears in the Scripture, holds out to our faith a balm for every wound, a cordial for every discouragement, and a sufficient answer to every objection which sin or Satan can suggest against our peace. If we are guilty, he is our Righteousness; if we are sick, he is our infallible Physician; if we are weak, helpless, and defenceless, he is the compassionate and faithful Shepherd who has taken charge of us, and will not suffer any thing to disappoint our hopes, or to separate us from his love. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are but dust, and has engaged to guide us by his counsel, support us by his power, and at length to receive us to his glory, that we may be with him for ever.”


John Newton, Richard Cecil, The Works of the John Newton, vol. 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 439.

Why There Are Not Many Strong Christians

Boice on thinking

“We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge. Why is the church weak? Why are individual Christians weak? It is because they have allowed their minds to become conformed to the “spirit of this age,” with its mechanistic, godless thinking. They have forgotten what God is like and what he promises to do for those who trust him. Ask an average Christian to talk about God. After getting past the expected answers you will find that his god is a little god of vacillating sentiments. He is a god who would like to save the world, but who cannot. He would like to restrain evil, but somehow he finds it beyond his power. So he has withdrawn into semiretirement, being willing to give good advice in a grand-fatherly sort of way, but for the most part he has left his children to fend for themselves in a dangerous environment.

Such a god is not the God of the Bible. Those who know their God perceive the error in that kind of thinking and act accordingly. The God of the Bible is not weak; he is strong. He is all-mighty. Nothing happens without his permission or apart from his purposes—even evil. Nothing disturbs or puzzles him. His purposes are always accomplished. Therefore, those who know him rightly act with boldness, assured that God is with them to accomplish his own desirable purposes in their lives.”
James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive & Readable Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 25–26.