Joshua Harris – Dug Down Deep?

By | August 6, 2019
“Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done,
To spend your life in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun.
With one foot on the platform
And the other foot on the train,
I’m going back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain.
There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun,
And it’s been the ruin of many young poor boys.
And god, I know I’m one.”
-The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun,” 1964

What follows are Joshua Harris’ own words. I do not believe any commentary from me is needed.

“To Emma Grace, Joshua Quinn, and Mary Kate

Your father loves you very much. One day when you’re older
I hope you’ll read this book and realize that I wrote it for you.
I have no greater hope for each of you
than to see you build your life on Jesus.”

-Joshua Harris, “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters,” 2010.

“The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.”
By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.
Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this,
but I’m not there now.⁣⁣”

-Joshua Harris, Instagram post, 2019

“Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong.
We’re either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he’s about, or we’re basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions.”

-Joshua Harris, “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters,” 2010.



All quotes below are taken from “Dug Down Deep,”  Kindle Edition, by Joshua Harris.

“I know what it means to wrestle with questions of faith. I know what it’s like for faith to be so mixed up with family tradition that it’s hard to distinguish between a genuine knowledge of God and comfort in a familiar way of life.”

“The bottom line is that my parents’ faith wasn’t really my faith. I knew how to work the system, I knew the Christian lingo, but my heart wasn’t in it. My heart was set on enjoying the moment.”

“For me, the Christian faith was more about a set of moral standards than belief and trust in Jesus Christ.”

“It’s strange being on the other side now. When I pray for specific young men and women who are wandering from God, when I stand to preach and feel powerless to change a single heart, when I sit and counsel people and it seems nothing I can say will draw them away from sin, I remember the pastors from my teenage years. I realize they must have felt like this too. They must have prayed and cried over me. They must have labored over sermons with students like me in mind. I see now that they were doing the best they knew how. But a lot of the time, I wasn’t listening.”

“For me, dancing like Michael Jackson that night has come to embody my experience in a big, evangelical, seeker-oriented youth group. It was fun, it was entertaining, it was culturally savvy (at the time), and it had very little to do with God. Sad to say, I spent more time studying Michael’s dance moves for that drama assignment than I was ever asked to invest in studying about God.”

“Would I have listened? I can’t know. But I do know that a clear vision of God and the power of his Word and the purpose of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection were lost on me in the midst of all the flash and fun.”

“There’s a story in the Bible of a young king named Josiah, who lived about 640 years before Christ. I think Josiah could have related to me—being religious but ignorant of God.”

“For decades those who wore the label “God’s people” actually had no communication with him. They wore their priestly robes, they carried on their traditions in their beautiful temple, and they taught their messages that were so wise, so insightful, so inspirational. But it was all a bunch of hot air—nothing but their own opinions. Empty ritual. Their robes were costumes, and their temple was an empty shell. This story scares me because it shows that it’s possible for a whole generation to go happily about the business of religion, all the while having lost a true knowledge of God.”

“My friend Curtis says that most people today think only of themselves. He calls this “me-ology.” I guess that’s true. I know it was true of me and still can be. It’s a lot easier to be an expert on what I think and feel and want than to give myself to knowing an invisible, universe-creating God.”

“Love for God and love for neighbor require opposing falsehood. There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person. Sometimes love demands that we say, “This philosophy, no matter how plausible or popular, is not true. This person, no matter how likable, gifted, or well-intentioned, is teaching something that contradicts God’s Word; therefore, it is untrue.” Paul modeled this type of love-infused courage—courage that was willing to contend for God’s unchanging truth that has once and for all been “delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).”

“It’s regrettable that human sin can distort sound teaching just as it can mess up anything else that’s good in the world. But should this cause us to abandon the pursuit and defense of biblical truth?”

“I think this is what Paul was telling Timothy to do when he said, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16, NIV). It’s not enough to get our doctrine straight. Life and doctrine can’t be separated. Our lives either put the beauty of God’s truth on display, or they obscure it.”

“Our lives are like houses. And each one is built on some foundation of belief. The question is whether what we believe is true—whether it will withstand the flood of suffering in this life, the torrent of death, and the final judgment before our Creator. Jesus said that an unshakable foundation for life is found only in knowing him, in believing his words and living by his truth. The most important question any of us can ask is, Am I building my life on who Jesus is and what he has done? Is my life built on the rock of a true knowledge of God?”

C.J. for the irreplaceable part you played in this story.

John (Piper) for urging me in Al’s (Mohler) basement to turn the humble orthodoxy message into a book. Mark (Dever) for lunch and help with the table of contents.



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Mr. Jesperson

Upon reading all of these quotes, I am now more skeptical then ever that even one word of it was actually written by this man. Ghostwriting is the norm in today’s corrupt Christian culture. So much for letting your yes be simply ‘yes’ and no simply ‘no.’ We have these celebrities selling their own version of a gospel and making a lot of money on a plain, simple lie. Going in front of a camera and telling everyone that you have written a book when you have not is still a lie. Doing this for Mammon and fame compounds that simple evil with more evil. Men like this are unrepentant self-promoters with is still another evil. The fact that he covered up abuse to protect his own reputation is all the evidence we need to convict this jerk in the court of public opinion.

This Josh has learned how to play the game from his father. This whole Christian celebrity machine is just a wicked substitute for the real gospel and for a real, genuine faith. It appears likely that Josh, for whatever reason, has decided to stop playing this game and is changing tactics. Perhaps he is about to come out as gay, as some are suggesting, or perhaps his wife left him because narcissists make the worst spouses. Whatever the reason, he is still as unrepentant as ever about his shameless self-promotion. I have yet to see a single white-washed septic tank like this actually return the money he made off of false pretenses and publicly repent of being greedy, lying and abusing his own flock. Until that happens I am not prone to giving any of these con-artists any benefit of any doubt any more than Jesus or John the Baptist did to the Pharisees and Sadducees.

This is not a new con. Josh reminds me of Marjoe who, to his credit, got tired of putting on an act and decided to go out with a bang by making a documentary showing his falsehood behind the scenes. The documentary won an award:

Janice McKenzie

Dear Todd and team, this piece is right on accurate. Your quote from Josh Harris that if we get our theology wrong, our whole foundation is wrong explains why he left the faith. I have said for years that if I thought Reformed Theology, based on the Westminster Confession, was true, I’d leave this faith. Josh is really Kissing Reformed Theology Good-bye and NOT Christianity. He just doesn’t understand that, yet. He’s coming out of years of brainwashing. . I pray Josh will settle his mind down and get into the literal reading of the Word. Thank you all so much.

a former Carlisle ARBCA church attendee

There’s a good article about this here:
I think this is a pretty calculated move by Josh Harris to promote himself. I’m sure he has another book in mind after he takes the requisite time to reinvent himself. He grew up in publishing and promotion. It’s what he knows. I don’t know whether he was ever really committed to anything but promoting himself. We’ll never know. But at least he has made it clear to everyone that he is in a very different place.

Thanks, I pray that Joshua Harris goes to prison for illegally covering up child sexual abuse.

He’s not shy about admitting he’s done so.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

Amen to that. It is not what you claim you believe that makes you righteous, but what you actually do. This is such a clear teaching of Jesus that people who do otherwise, you have to wonder if they have ever really read the red letters like they are something important to understand…

Mr. Jesperson

Have you not heard of the standard practice in Christian celebrity circles of ghostwriting? That is how people like this leverage their fame to make most of their money. In most cases, not a single word was written by the celebrity, but they go on these tours promoting a lie for fame and as much Mammon as they can get out of it. These words I read do appear to come from someone who really believes, but has no name recognition so he is paid a paltry sum in order to to do all of the real work. It is likely that whomever actually wrote all of these words, if they are still alive, likely still believes them. It is highly unlikely that Josh wrote them. And if he did not write them why should he actually believe any of them?

Barnum Bailey was right, “a sucker is born every minute” and we have been suckered in most of the books we have actually read that claim a particular “Christian” writer. Unless the author was a writer before they became famous, it is unlikely that the actual celebrity knows anything about writing, grammar and composing prose that makes sense and is readable, and the like. I do not doubt that a substantial number of them are simply illiterate. Once your income exceeds 6 figures, it is much easier and cheaper to hire a writer for a four figure number and then spin the lie up on the circuit of lies in front of all kinds of “Christian” shows. I think you and many others have been duped. I was once one like that. I once bought a book by Pastor Cho who is now in prison for stealing money from his own, largest mega-church in the world. When it comes to anything “Christian” that can be bought, buyer beware…

a former ARBCA church attendee

I’m well aware that contemporary “Christian” books are all about making money and are not necessarily written by their presumptive author. In this particular case, I’m fairly sure that Gregg Harris did write his early works. I’m less sure that Josh Harris wrote his Dating book. His father is more likely to have been responsible for that. Since Josh has spent a considerable time in public speaking, apparently successfully, he must have a passable understanding of writing and communication. I was simply suggesting that his latest announcements are more likely part of a scheme to promote himself in the future (one piece of which will likely be a book project) rather than a straightforward and transparent announcement of his personal struggles.

Stopped Listening; Started Watching Years Ago

The basement life…I don’t buy it. This is a guy who has had a lifetime of living a public life. Just leave him alone while he may, in the end, find a private life. John Adams, from the book by the same name: “The more I see of public life the more I desire a private one.”


I’d actually love to hear your thoughts on Josh’s announcement. I didn’t know who he was, although I was familiar with his dating book, until a friend posted about his recent announcement of divorce and walking away from Christianity, it seems at least partially fueled by his feelings on the homosexual community. I’m kind of stunned to read his words from a previous book, listed here in your post. This should be such a frightening reminder that we can be so easily deceived. I shudder to think I could be so convinced of my own trust in Christ one minute and then reject that truth the next. May God have mercy on not just Josh Harris, but all who claim the name of Christian.

a former Carlisle ARBCA church attendee

I think it’s helpful if we all recognize that we could be wrong and none of us has a monopoly on “Truth.” We all have somewhat different conceptions of what “Christian” means. We can all be deceived and we can also be deceiving whether intentional or not. At least Josh is being somewhat honest about it.

Thanks for your comment. Josh Harris is a serial liar who continues to harm others by conspiring to cover up child sexual abuse.

That’s been proven in court, in my view, and he was also stupid enough to admit to it in a Washington Post article.

Not that it matters, yet I still think Harris would still be hawking his Evangelical Christian brand if his wife hadn’t wanted a divorce.

Josh Harris is not honest about anything, and he belongs in prison.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

a former Carlisle ARBCA church attendee

I agree in general, but at least he’s letting everyone know that he’s no longer in the “Christian” camp rather than continuing to serve as a pastor who does not believe what he preaches.

I understand. I’m genuinely glad that Josh Harris is now making no pretense at being a Christian or even a decent human being.

I believe that he would still be a fake Christian pastor if his wife hadn’t finally decided to dump him, thus ruining his “Christian dating guru” brand.

As of a just few weeks ago, Josh Harris lied in an interview by falsely implying that he had reported credible child sexual abuse allegations to the police, as opposed to covering them up.

The point I’m trying to make is that there is nothing honest about Joshua Harris.

He’s just a giant piece of spin and something else that starts with an s.

I wish that people would invest energy in praying for the child sexual abuse victims whose lives he’s devastated instead of expressing sympathy for Josh Harris.

However, I have no business telling anyone else what to pray for of course.

Let Josh hide in Canada for now. God will see justice done.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

a former Carlisle ARBCA church attendee

Couldn’t agree more about the spin. Josh is a master of spin and it will be interesting to see how he reinvents himself. I’m guessing the statements he issued are all part of his long range plan.
Unless rules regarding statute of limitations are changed, I doubt he’ll be in court.

Thanks, Maryland has no statute of limitations for major felonies, and that’s where Josh’s abandoned mega church is located. Conspiring with others to cover up child sexual abuse is likely a major felony. That’s fortunate for Josh Harris’ victims.

The chances of Josh Harris being in a courtroom anytime soon do seem especially slim, as he’s likely to try and acquire Canadian citizenship as soon as possible. That would make it harder to have him extradited to the US.

Or subpoenaed to appear as a witness in a civil trial in the US.

But I have hope and faith that Josh’s luck will eventually run out.

I’m also very glad that Josh Harris is embarrassing and undermining his entire extended family. His father and two of his brothers seem pretty ruthless about protecting their “Christian brands” too.

Gregg Harris, Josh’s father, had to settle out a Sherman anti trust suit, because he tried to blackmail a business rival in the home schooling industry.

The church in which he was an esteemed leader has also been plagued by allegations of covering up sexual abuse, to my knowledge.

His twin brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, started a movement/cult revolving around their perceived status as model Christian teenagers.

To my knowledge, neither one of them has called out their daddy or brother for the relevant unethical and possibly illegal acts that these men have committed in part protect the family brand and its wealth.

Harris is also an assumed name. Greg Harris changed his original name, which I do not presently remember, when he switched from being a liberal hippie to an Evangelical Christian.

Josh was actually not born a Harris!

I know all this about the name change, because a former pastor of the Harris family unwisely blabbed about it on a blog years ago.

I hope that people kiss the entire Harris family goodbye. They are, and always have been, just wolves in wolves clothing, in my opinion.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Mr. Jesperson

Thanks for the additional info about the extended family members. The fruit really does not fall far from the tree.

Mr. Jesperson

I agree with this too. We give way too much focus on our celebrities and forget the little guy that Jesus clearly states needs to be our focus. “What you have done to the least of these you have done to me!” – Jesus We need to pray for the little guys instead of praying for those who boldly prey on their own sheep.

Mr. Jesperson

Amen again. There is such blindness about what a good Christian leader actually is and what he does and what a white-washed septic tank like this man has actually done when opportunities came that actually tested the man’s true character. We do not need to judge motives, we can all see what he has done. And that is what Jesus said to do, judge our leaders by their fruit.