We at FamilyLife do not usually comment on the fall of public figures, within Christian circles or the culture at large. However, because Josh Harris has appeared in several of our print and online resources, we are compelled to address his falling away from faith.
On July 17, Josh and his wife, Shannon, announced their divorce. Less than two weeks later, Josh posted on Instagram:
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.
Given what we know from his years of public ministry, and what he taught about how one becomes a Christian, we can only interpret this statement as a renunciation of faith. This is troubling, and while it would be wrong to make ourselves the judge of whether Josh is or ever truly was a believer, we cannot disregard what he is now saying. For one to proclaim the gospel and then later deny it is appalling and tragic.
But things like this don’t happen in a corner; many will feel the fallout—the Harris’s three children, their friends, their church, and the many people who have been affected through Josh’s teaching and writing. Compassion compels us to pray for them, that God will deliver them from hurt and protect them from following Josh into error.
Personally, when a Christian leader falls, regardless of the nature of their fall, I am driven to examine my own spiritual state, to “take heed lest [I] fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Their fall is my alarm. So, as I’m watching this painful story play out, I have to ask: Is my faith slipping in any way? Am I toying with any ideas, habits, or relationships that threaten to pull me from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3)?
Even the mighty fall. To some, Josh Harris was mighty. He had great influence on their spiritual formation. I hope and pray they know that the Almighty still stands.
A few years ago, as I was walking to my car after church one Sunday morning, a lady stopped me. She was clearly distressed. “Someone broke into my car during church,” she said, “and my purse is gone!”
I took her back inside where she could sit down, gather her thoughts, and call the police. While she was on the phone, another lady who had overheard us came up to me and whispered, “Why would she leave her purse in her car?” And I thought, This isn’t a time to criticize, it’s a time to help.
I feel the same toward those who are in a crisis of faith.
I have no idea what has gone on in Josh Harris’s personal life and home life that brought him to this place. But I know this: It is not my place to judge him, and certainly not to condemn. Mine is to pray for him. His credibility has taken a hit, perhaps never to be regained. But he is still a man with an eternal soul. I long to see him come into—or back into—the fold.
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