Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: The Naked Gospel

I just breezed through "The Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley and I have to say that I was genuinely surprised. I was surprised that I have never heard about this book before. Because this has to be one of the most powerful and grace filled books that you may ever read.

The whole book could be summed up pretty easily:

Jesus. Plus nothing.

The author, Andrew Farley, recalls his experiences with his 'evangelism addiction.' He says that he had to share the gospel with a stranger every day or he wouldn't be able to sleep at night. He tells stories of his fervent prayer and Bible study life and how he eventually found freedom from these (and many other things) in the person he thought he was following the whole time: Jesus.

He goes on to examine a large amount of presumptions that we have about what our relationship with Jesus is "supposed" to look like...and how over and over again we have added all these requirements to the gospel.

This isn't just some hippy book about some "secret gospel of Jesus" or anything like that. Though it may have been marketed in a mystique filled way...the subtitle is "the truth you may never hear in church," the reality of the matter is that the truth is right before your eyes the whole time. You just have a hard time seeing it through the religiosity.

The book is structured around a 10 question true/false quiz that Andrew Farley offers up in the first chapter..and I only feel it's fair to tell you that you may find yourself angered at first by some of the answers. If I'm honest, I didn't agree with him. But as he goes through and explains his position, you will find yourself being won over.

I had a strange feeling while reading this book. Like I was rediscovering something I had already known...but forgotten somehow. It was exciting. As I was reading, I started to notice myself thinking "Wow that sentence was really powerful," or "Ok, now that is a really solid point," over and over as I went. So I decided to dog-ear the pages that I thought were worth referencing later.

I ended up with 50. Here are a few examples:
"We're called to look within, to discover the life that is instinctive to us as new creations, and to live from that life. Imitating the actions of others, even the Jesus of the gospels, is nothing but a shallow mechanical act."

"Christianity isn't intended to meet humanity's ill-perceived need for religion."

"No amount of education will change the heart of a spiritually dead person."

"Too many Christians succumb to the Accuser while wrong attributing these attacks to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. There is no better tactic for Satan than to first tempt us, and then flood us with guilt by masquerading as the Holy Spirit."
You won't be won over by some smooth-talk, or new age shenaniganry (I like that word a lot all of a sudden), but because his opinions are firmly grounded in scripture.

By the time you're done reading this book, you'll have read nearly all of Galatians, Hebrews, 2 Corinthians and several other books from the Bible...just because of his quoting.

This has been the most unhyped gem of a book I've read in a long time. It does truly hold the power to make you aware of religious bondage in your life that you don't even know is there.

As Paul said, and Andrew Farley excellently reverberates, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." - Galatians 5:1