Joshua Harris, C.J. Mahaney’s successor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has risen almost as fast in reformed circles as his mentor. Josh has learned how to play the SGM game well as he follows in C.J.’s footsteps. The first endorsement in Mahaney’s masterpiece Living the Cross Centered Life is written by Josh.
“Every Timothy needs a Paul. C.J. is mine…and this book contains his life-message. It is my handbook for pursuing a cross centered life. Read it yourself and let God realign your life.”
Joshua Harris, Pastor and Bestselling Author
How did Josh and “his Paul” first establish their relationship? Here’s an interesting excerpt from Homeschool World written by Josh and published in 1997. (http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs15-joshuaharris.html)
Joshua Harris writes:
“I can hardly believe it – I’m leaving home. Three months from now I’ll be packing up my little Civic Wagon and saying goodbye to my parents and five younger siblings. I don’t think the weight of it has really hit me yet. I’m used to going away on short trips. “See you next week!” This is different. I’m going away forever (at least as far into forever as I can see) to start a new life on the other side of the country.
The move is bittersweet. I know it’s God’s will and my parents fully support it, but it’s still hard. I get teary-eyed over funny things – my little brother barging into my room each morning, coming home from work and seeing my mom framed in the window, chatting on the phone with a friend. The scenes seem to play in slow motion, reminding me that I’m leaving them behind.”
Josh, who hails from Oregon and was always homeschooled, explains that he is moving to the East Coast where God is leading him in a new direction. Here is Josh’s explanation regarding his move (from the above link).
“My parents both grew up in homes where the television was constantly on. It was on during dinner, it was the background noise throughout the day. When my folks got married they decided they would raise their kids in a TV-free home. The move I mentioned earlier is to Gaithersburg, Maryland. For the past year God has been leading me in a new direction. He’s been drawing my heart to the local church. So I’m laying down my pursuit of magazine publishing to learn how my gifts can be used in the context of a local body of believers. The pastors at Covenant Life Church will be discipling and training me. It’s sort of an “apprenticeship” in ministry. The tough part in all this is that Covenant Life is several thousand miles away from my current home in Gresham, Oregon.
I could not have pursued this venture without my parent’s willingness to see God’s will done. Our family’s comfort is not their primary concern. I’m their son, but first I’m God’s servant. That example has been an inspiration. The humility my mom and dad have shown in allowing me to pursue this new direction is equally inspiring. I listened while my father told the pastor I’ll be serving under that there are some things he can’t teach me. “I believe you can instruct Josh in ways he wouldn’t get if he stayed here.”
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for raising me in the fear and admonition of the Lord; for modeling by example what it means to serve Him. And finally, for being my cheering section as I set out on this adventure of life.”
Josh Harris’ final destination after driving cross country in his little Civic Wagon was the home of C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney. You see, he moved in with them for about a year after arriving in Maryland so that C.J. could “mentor” him. It was during this time that Josh’s highly touted book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was published and heavily promoted, especially in the homeschooling community. I was homeschooling my young daughters when this book came out in 1997, and I remember how it was pushed at the annual homeschoolng conference. Fortunately, my daughters were too young for me to worry about their dating, and I never purchased the book. Although I understand Josh’s good intentions in writing his first book, it has caused some definite problems, as the following Wikipedia article explains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Kissed_Dating_Goodbye).
This Wiki article includes the following excerpt:
“Harris’ solutions to the problems he sees have generated a bit of controversy in the Christian community. In an interview with Family Christian Stores, Joshua Harris indicated that “people have taken the message of ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and made it something legalistic — a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times… .”
On November 20, 2005 Harris gave a message to the church at which he is Senior Pastor, entitled “Courtship, Schmourtship: What Really Matters in Relationships.” In this message Harris acknowledged problems with how the singles related in his church. Harris indicated that there was a “lack of freeness between men and women in cultivating friendships.” He also used the words “standoffish” and “tightness.” In the message, Harris also indicated that it was “OK” for single men and women to go out for coffee by themselves, apparently correcting misconceptions some singles had in his church. These problems have been addressed on Harris’s web page, including the page entitled “Clarification on Dating and Courtship.”
Aren’t you so relieved that Josh gave the “OK” for single men and women to go out for coffee by themselves — an apparent misconception some singles had in his church (you know, the one founded by C.J. Mahaney).
When I was homeschooling, I remember hearing about one of the movement’s leaders – Gregg Harris (Josh’s father). Now you know why Josh’s book was so heavily promoted. His dad saw to it that his son was recognized coast to coast in the homeschooling world. Folks, that’s really a no-brainer!
Here’s how Gregg describes himself on his own blog (http://www.blogger.com/profile/13475887217776089609):
“Gregg Harris is a Christian husband and father who serves as evangelist and local church-planting pastor. He is the father of Joshua Harris, best selling author and pastor, and Alex & Brett Harris, best-selling co-authors of Do Hard Things and co-hosts of www.therebelution.com. He is also the instructor for the Raising Kids to Do Hard Things seminar. Gregg currently serves as a church planter for Gresham Household of Faith in Gresham, OR (see www.ghofcc.org) and as the Director of Noble Institute (see www.nobleinstitute.org.) Gregg is internationally known as a pioneer advocate in the Christian home-schooling movement and author a best selling book, The Christian Home School. He resides with his wife Sono and their five youngest children in Gresham, Oregon. He is the husband of Sono Sato Harris, and the father of seven children, among whom are, Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joel Harris, Director of the Northwest Academy of Worship Music, Alex & Brett Harris, founders & co-hosts of TheRebelution.com web site, and three others still in their younger years.”
What a humble bio! Obviously, the Harrises never do anything mediocre — everything they write is a “best seller”.
In case you’d like to check out Gregg Harris’ church, here’s the link: http://www.hofcc.org/
This web site provides a brief overview of his church. See below.
“HOFCC was planted initially in August of 1998 in the home of Gregg Harris, an internationally recognized author and advocate of Christian home schooling and family restoration.
The new local church has been an attempt to institute several reforms of structure and doctrinal emphasis. From the very beginning, HOFCC has been age-integrated as a matter of principle. We choose to equip parents to train and include their own children in our church services rather than relieve them of their responsibilities by means of age-segregated youth programs. We do not offer a Sunday School, Youth Group or Children’s Church service. Instead, we maintain a family inclusive and family uniting culture that draws everyone of all ages into worship, Bible study and partnership in advancing the Gospel together. If we hope to see families serving God together as a team, they must be equipped together as a team. That is what a Christian family household is— a team of believers living and serving God together.”
HOFCC also claims to be “reformed in doctrine”, “charismatic in ministry”, and “evangelical in missions”. Sound familiar?
I recently heard Josh’s twin brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, on a Focus on the Family broadcast. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Alex and Brett are going around the country promoting their own book and movement called the Rebelution. Last summer they even put on a Rebelution conference in Louisville, Kentucky with Al Mohler’s wholehearted endorsement.
The Harris twins complain about how teenagers are turning out today. They have been guests on national news programs, among other media outlets, and to hear them talk you’d think that all teenagers are lazy, irresponsible, and absolutely clueless about life. Obviously, no one in the Harris family has ever been rebellious or irresponsible (sarcasm intended — keep reading). I’m so glad these teens FINALLY came along with all the answers at such a tender young age (more sarcasm) so they can rescue all the wayward kids out there and teach them how to “Do Hard Things”. Of course, they’ve got to buy the book and attend the conference. If you’d like to read about their “Rebelution”, check out this link:
Want to know the crowd with whom Alex and Brett associate? Check out their “crème de la crème” links on their web site: http://www.therebelution.com/
The Rebelution Links
- Albert Mohler’s Blog
- Between Two Worlds
- The Blazing Center
- Boundless Line
- Challies Dot Com
- Desiring God Blog (John Piper)
- Eternal Perspectives
- Together For the Gospel (the Fab Four)
- Worship Matters
- Girl Talk (Carolyn Mahaney and daughters)
- Solo Feminity (Carolyn McCulley)
And, of course, those endoring the Harris twins and their “Rebelution” are listed above.
What I found absolutely fascinating about this Focus on the Family interview with the Harris twins was their description of their father’s youth. Gregg was born in Ohio with severe health issues, but somehow he managed survive. His health issues got him teased in school. This was a young man who had so much against him. Gregg’s mom was a Christian; however, his dad was not.
At the age of fifteen, Gregg ran away from home and ended up as a long-haired hippie in Laguna Beach, California, making money playing his guitar for couples on the beach. He even hitchhiked across the country several times. Gregg met Jesus on the beach in California when two guys walked up to him and shared the gospel during the Jesus Movement. Gregg became a Christian, went back home to Dayton, Ohio and met his future wife, Sono. Sono, grew up in a non-Christian family but eventually led her family to Jesus Christ. Gregg was a semester away from graduating from college, but he felt called to go in a different direction. Josh never earned a college degree, but I believe his brothers stated they are currently in college.
There seems to be a problem here… We have Gregg Harris who ran away from home at fifteen and became a hippie and C.J. Mahaney who has confessed publicly that he was a drug addict. Looks like we have two hippies whose lives were in complete shambles during their formative years. As a result of their poor choices, they now believe they MUST “micromanage” their own lives as well as the lives of others.
I find it extremely difficult to relate to this out of control behavior exhibited by Gregg Harris and C.J. Mahaney because I never ever did drugs, nor did I ever rebel against authority by running away from home. One of the reasons I kept my life in balance during my teen years and beyond is because I was involved in a horrific accident when I was a month away from turning thirteen. It was my first time ever away from home without my parents. A friend invited me to travel to Myrtle Beach with her and her parents for the weekend, but we never made it…
Our GMC pick-up was struck HEAD ON by a car driven by a drunk driver. Both vehicles were traveling around 60 mph. My friend’s parents were thrown through the windshield and killed instantly, and my friend and I were pinned inside the truck. It took about two and a half hours for the rescue workers to cut us out of the mangled wreckage. Fortunately, I was unconscious the entire time.
My friend’s injuries were so severe that she was hospitalized for months and months. I suffered a serious skull fracture, broken bones in my left foot, a broken pinky (at the joint), deep gashes in my forehead, both above and between my eyes, and scalded patches of skin caused by the exploding radiator. By the grace of God, I was hospitalized for just six days.
After almost thirty-seven years, it’s still difficult for me to process the thought that one minute I was having a wonderful conversation with my friend and her parents and in a split second her mom and dad were gone! Can you imagine growing up through your teen years, as my friend did, without your parents?
One of the psychological struggles I faced during my recovery was having to wear a wig to school for the first semester of eighth grade. Because the surgeons had to lift my skull off my brain, the front half of my head had to be shaved. Back during the 1970s, shaved heads were NOT “in vogue”. The Hippie movement (which began in the 1960s — thank God I was too young to be influence by those weirdos!), continued on during the 1970s. Bald heads were out, and long hair was in!
I’ll never forget the time in P.E. when we were playing basketball, and I was going up for a rebound. My wig was about to fly off, and I had to decide whether I was going to grab the ball or the wig… Of course, I grabbed the wig!
The deep cuts around my eyes and in the middle of my forehead, along with the surgical incision that starts in the middle of my forehead and extends several inches into my hair, required around 50 stitches (seemed like more!). These ugly black stitches didn’t dissolve — each one had to be cut and then pulled out. When I feel my skull where the fracture was, it still gives me the creeps because it’s indented about one-fourth of an inch!
I was so self-conscious about my scars, but they reminded me of God’s faithfulness in sparing my life. I had three separate plastic surgery operations, with the last one occurring when I was a student at Duke. I went to see a world renowned plastic surgeon at Duke Medical Center, and he did an incredible job! While I still have scars, at least they are less noticeable, especially when they are covered with bangs.
As you can probably imagine, this traumatic life experience during my adolescence was quite a blow to my self-esteem during my formative years; however, it taught me an invaluable lesson about always having self-control. I learned at a young age that substance abuse, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is definitely a matter of life and death. As a young Christian girl (who accepted Jesus Christ at the age of eight), I learned to depend solely on Him because He gave me a second chance at life, and I’m forever grateful!
I don’t need people like Gregg and C.J. dictating to me how to live the Christian life; I don’t need Josh telling my daughters how to “kiss dating goodbye”; and I certainly don’t need Alex and Brett instructing my extremely responsible daughters on how to find purpose in their lives.
Remember… said instruction comes at a price from these opportunists, specifically through book sales and conferences.
Well, I hope this information has given you some insight into the background of Joshua Harris. His lastest book – Dug Down Deep – inspired the title of this post. Once again, the reformed crowd is touting Josh’s latest and greatest work as a MUST READ. Where will it end? It’s amazing how much free advertising Josh is getting from his Calvinista buddies. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and we’ll all make LOTS OF MONEY! Just Google Dug Down Deep, and you’ll see what I mean. I may write more on Josh Harris and his newly released book later. In the meantime, check out his promotional video for this book.