If we had more Joshua Harrises, progressive Christianity would cease to exist.
If you’re in the know, lately there has been quite the buzz around Joshua Harris and his departing from the Christian faith. Most famous for his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris has unintentionally fashioned himself in the image of a puritan since that point.
Despite the saddening news of his loss of faith, I do commend him, as we all should. I wish it were not so that Harris lost sight of his first love, Christ. The circumstances and trials that brought him to this point must have been burdensome. Christian, do not be too hard on Harris, for one does not know where one will stand after passing through the furnace of God’s testing.
It’s when we dare to challenge our beliefs and ask the hard questions that we start to grow closer or further away from God. In hard times our faith is tested. When we look at the suffering of orphans in third world countries, when we look at a widow crying at the grave site we can be tempted to ask God; where is your sovereignty?
In these fiery trials we find if we’ve been building a house of gold or a house of sticks which will be destroyed in the consuming fire of a just God.
The reason I commend Harris is how he handled his departing. As I mentioned in my last article, A Warning Against Progressive Christianity, the progressive Church is full of those who made the same journey as Harris. The main difference between Harris and the progressive Christian is one denounced God and left the faith, the other molded God into the god they wanted, thus making an idol.
For example, Harris struggled with how Scripture taught on homosexuality. He has since renounced his opposition toward the union and has made steps of amends with the LGBQT community. He did not try to manipulate the scripture as the Rob Bells or Jen Hatmakers of the world, he simply didn’t agree. Instead of trying to change the Bible, he walked away.
This approach is the appropriate response. For Harris’ sake this is the healthiest way to go about leaving the faith. For example, if Harris decided to embrace a more progressive view of Christianity he would become intertwined with it. The false belief would slowly rot his mind, morals, and take him slowly further from God. He would then have to walk through a theological maze back to God to undo the lie of the progressive doctrine. On the other hand, completely rejecting the faith leaves him just on the other side of belief.
One day, Lord willing, he might turn back. As the prodigal’s son realized his folly, Harris might do the same. In Paul’s words he was, “handed over to Satan”. Now, I’m not going to dive into the idea of, falling away or the possibility of losing one’s salvation. Is this a plausible result of Harris’ decision, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I will error on the side of grace; hoping one day God will restore his hardened heart.
The Church is at a crucial point in history. A.W. Tozer makes a point in his book, Worship, about the falling away of the Church. He goes on to explain that each generation sets the stage for its successor. If we allow a false doctrine behind the walls of the church it will grow and begin to destroy it from the inside out.
What we’re seeing in this time period is the fallout from the Boomers. A rebellious generation embracing postmodernism has created a younger generation of postmoderns. Like the Israelites mixing in idol worship, we see the Church mixing in idol worship in the form of postmodernism, which has birthed the progressive Christian doctrine.
On the point of Harris’ announcement of leaving the faith. Here are some take-aways:
Joshua Harris has made the appropriate choice considering his lack of faith. Obviously, we would like to see all believers hold fast, but he could have done more damage by trying to hold onto Christianity and embracing the progressive doctrine to solve his answers.
I believe Joshua Harris stands closer to returning to God than a progressive Christian. As I mentioned earlier, a progressive will have to deconstruct what they have come to believe walking a hard road back home. All the while Harris is under no pretense that the God endorses liberal doctrine. It’s more so for him he does not agree with or believe in the God of the Bible; thus he’s leaving. Perhaps, he will one day see that God is good and is sovereign and return.
Ultimately, we would have a healthier Church if more behaved in the manner of Harris when they have doubts that drive them from the faith. My hope is that all will cling to the Christ amidst the storm and accept by faith his ordinances. If one does not desire to hold on to Christ, then do as Harris has done.
If one chooses to change Scripture they’re running further from God than those who denounce the faith.
To the Joshua Harrises of the world, my hope is in your reconciliation. I pray all who have wandered, near or far, may still hear the call of our Father.