Reviewed by Dale Lewis
The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley
"I enjoyed reading and gleaning insights from this book, but I’m not willing to accept everything he has written as 'gospel.'"
The Naked Gospel will stir within you an aching desire to re-examine everything you thought you already knew about Christianity. Farley’s unapologetic style could be perceived as abrupt and dogmatic --- maybe even divisive --- which may rustle some feathers. This book requires discernment; you cannot accept everything he says without wrestling with the tough calls on certain tenets of the faith.
There is an underlying implication in The Naked Gospel that the church is deliberately hiding something from the common folks and the only way to fully understand is to go back to the Bible, purifying yourself of your spiritual journey’s background. Could the church have dumped a whole bunch of extras on a simple message and extremely muddied it up? It’s his calling to expose these wrongs. For the reader and believer, it requires unlearning and re-learning and the willingness to dig beneath the mud.
One of the positive emphases of his writings is on the biblical message of grace versus works. Farley makes sure readers understand Christians are not saved by anything they do but are completely saved and forgiven for sins by the death of Jesus. He alone has completed all of the requirements for sin’s debt to be repaid. This is the core message of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.
One of the troubling points for this reader is the author’s belief that the Law has "no place in the life of a believer." (pp. 233) The Law in The Naked Gospel is equated to the entire Old Testament as well as Jesus' moral teachings and commands. Farley states “understanding that the law has no place in the life of the Christian keeps us from the error of legalism . . . Life is radically different on this side of the cross.” I’m all for avoiding legalism in our faith walk, but will his words now give Christians the freedom to see the Old Testament as purely historical without any practical value?
Farley believes, via his experience, that many Christians opt for hoops
to jump through to impress God. He preaches the New Covenant contained
in these four statements: 1) our relationship to the law 2) our old selves;
3) our sins and 4) obstacles preventing closeness to God are now all gone.
There seems to be more in The Naked Gospel to be ignored than to be embraced.
This book encourages Christians to live by the Spirit rather than the Law. His writing on grace and forgiveness in Christ unmerited is clearly stated and very helpful. I enjoyed reading and gleaning insights from this book, but I’m not willing to accept everything he has written as “gospel.”