Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Snap: Andrew Farley's "The Naked Gospel"



By request I had a look at this book, which I'd rate as fair but overlong by 200 pages (out of 236). Andrew Farley's The Naked Gospel (TNG) is a manifesto on how Christians should stop being so anxious about performing good works and just live in Christ. There's a good point to be had in that the performance of good works should not be a chore, but should come from the Christian as naturally as water drips from a leaf. In that respect Farley is in accord with the Semitic Totality Concept (link below), which, if he knew about it, would have been a good weapon in his hands.

The down side: Farley is the wrong person to be writing this sort of book. By his own admission he is riddled with anxieties, and his tone assumes that everyone is as anxious about the performance of good works as he is. Sadly, those digesting his prose will probably assume that if Farley is being this anxious, then they are not being anxious enough.

Other than that, Farley's case is  mixed bag. Sometimes his exegesis is on target; at other points it is badly decontextualized. His commentary on the relevance of the OT law is not particularly good; while he is correct is saying it is an "all or nothing system" that is only the case for those who enter it as a covenant; that does not adhere when discerning the parts of it which are universal moral law. He also deals to breezily with the issue of rewards in heaven; I did not see (and do not believe I missed) a treatment of the parable of the ten cities and other passages which indicate a secondary judgment on works. His resolution of the famous "James vs Paul" tension is also subpar. On the upside, Farley's recognition of 1 John 1:9 as an address to libertine heretics, not believers in daily life, is a worthy gem.

In this light, I'll say one of the nicest things I can about TNG.

It's not a Joel Osteen book.

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