This is the second big story I’ve heard this year about this new trend among influential evangelicals. This time it’s Joshua Harris. If you found this article, then you know who he is or, at least, who he was. I am not going to speculate as to why he and his wife separated or as to why Harris departed from Christianity. I simply want to make a couple observations. First, according to Harris’ own words, it is the shifting of his own view of Jesus that played some role in his separation from his wife. This seems to be a pattern. When an influential Christian leaders departs from the faith, it is almost always accompanied by marital infidelity. Infidelity, here, means simply unfaithfulness in marriage, not necessarily the explicit act of cheating sexually.
While Harris seems to speak about finding grace in many places, I am not sure he is aware of what grace is. Marriages don’t end and people are not unfaithful to those they have committed their lives to if they know grace. If grace is not portrayed by longsuffering, patient-endurance, self control, forgiveness, and selflessness, then it is not grace and Harris now, as with in his books, has shown that he has no idea what grace really is. This grieves my own heart. I am not grieved because he left the faith. I am grieved because Harris’ Christianity was a sort of religion that was entirely contradictory to the Bible and he may, for the first time, be experiencing the work of God in his life in a recognizable way.
I want to address those who are reading this and every other article that has, like wildfire, emerged in response to the news and built on to the previous article. What we are seeing in the church is the result of the works-based religion that has been so prominently taught in the two or three previous generations. I remember sitting in youth group. I remember making a commitment with the other students to “kiss dating goodbye.” I also remember that this was one of the reasons I thought Christianity was a joke growing up. Harris’ books made a claim that was opposite of the Bible’s claim. While human-centered religion teaches us that we can gain something by doing things a certain way, the Bible is clear throughout its message that its intention is to show us our imperfections under the Law so that we recognize our need for Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. We still misunderstand when we claim that we should be repentant in order to gain some sort of forgiveness from God or people. Even that is our doing something in order to gain something for ourselves and is self-righteousness- the opposite of grace. It is self-centered religion. That is what we have been handed.
Contrary to this, the Bible teaches us that we are all guilty of sin before God. We can’t do anything to delete that sin or to keep ourselves from sinning again. It is impossible because our nature is unrighteous. The Bible’s goal is not to make us into well-behaving people. It is not to give us six or seven or eight ways to remain sexually pure. The Bible reveals our sin. God brings His people to repentance. Repentance is not the root. It is the fruit. I pray, if this catches your eye, please spend some time exploring what true Christianity is. There is so much self-condemning religion in the world. What we need is a redeemer. Use the links below. Explore. Read, watch, or listen. Soak it in. Subscribe to this blog. I am praying for each of you. I pray that God brings His people to recognize Him for who He is, not for what we think we might gain.