Christians can unfortunately be jerks to others with what they’ve learned from the Bible. Joshua Harris has something to say about that in Humble Orthodoxy.
I imagine you can vividly recall engaging someone in a theological discussion, and that someone was a jerk to you (intentional or not). I also imagine that someone can remember discussing Bible doctrine with you, and you were a jerk to that someone. And neither scenario is good; neither scenario pleases Christ, This is why Joshua Harris wrote Humble Orthodoxy.
Pride is an awful thing, especially in light of how believers use biblical facts and doctrine. Two Scripture passages state this clearly: I Corinthians 8:1 and II Timothy 2:23-25. Harris uses those verses, among others, in Humble Orthodoxy to remind Christians that while knowing the Bible’s facts is perfectly fine and good, it is wrong when we look down our noses at others because of what we know. Or as Josh quaintly states in the first chapter, “Many Christians rebuke as Jesus, but forget to love as Jesus.” (paraphrased) And that’s why, as is emphasized in the same chapter, the apostle Paul never encourages Christians to seek to win an argument…but rather hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in spite of all the clear teaching and exhortations found in Scripture, we [Christians] manage often to be jerks to other believers and unbelievers when that same Scripture is brought up in conversation. And notice how I didn’t say “come off as”. We plainly are jerks sometimes!
Another Chapter 1 point ties well into a Chapter 2 concept (With A Tear In Our Eye). How often are we aware that everything we know as believers is a result of God’s grace? When was the last time any of us mediated on that? The truth is biblical knowledge is dependent knowledge. Consider that along with the very gospel, which no one ever has nor ever will earn, and yet we act like we’ve earned knowledge from the Bible. Nope, never. I agree with Harris when he claims that Christians tend to use their Bible knowledge to build up their own individual kingdoms, rather than God’s. We beat others who are supposedly less educated over the head, rather than humbly sharing the truth we’ve learned only by the Spirit’s enablement. The Bible is not an academic textbook, but rather divine words that can only be spiritually discerned. And we have the audacity to flaunt our gleanings in the faces of others?!
It’s hardly as though standing on the truth of God’s Word shouldn’t be done. Paul made it abundantly clear to Timothy that doing so was his job [as an elder], as well as the job of God’s people. We should definitely confront error. The caveat is whether speaking that truth is done in love and to honor Christ, or for our own glory.
And what foolishness that is anyway… to think that we can achieve glory for ourselves because we know something about the glorious Word of God! Instead we ought to be concerned about our faithfulness, reformation, confession of sin, embodiment of the truth, and so on. Nothing gives us the right to think or believe that we’re intellectually or spiritually superior to anyone, because everything godly about us is a gift from God. And not to mention, in the end only God is right about everything. It’s interesting that Josh illustrates how the multitudes of redeemed will in eternity someday be apologizing to one another for how wrong we got things while on earth. In the end, it won’t matter who got it right about baptism, worship music, or anything else that stirred up controversy. You encounter all these striking thoughts in Chapters 3 and 4 (Repentance Starts with Me & Living for God’s Approval).
I appreciate very much what Josh Harris has to say about doctrinal humility in Humble Orthodoxy. We [Christians] could all use a greater dose of humility in light of the scriptural things we know, and how the Spirit has enabled us to live. And we need this humility on a daily basis, not just when we feel like it. Otherwise, we will be jerks to those whom we claim to love, those with whom we work, and strangers. The last thing we need to be is an obstacle to others who’ve yet to come to Christ because we’re swollen with pride of knowledge! We must be mindful of this always, and strive to be humble with our orthodoxy. Pick this book up, and be appropriately challenged in the same way I was.