Saturday, December 24, 2011

A REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF ANDREW FARLEY’S THE NAKED GOSPEL


Introduction

The first time through The Naked Gospel proved to be a fairly quick read.  Andrew Farley writes very well, in a conversational style, which makes reading his book quite easy.  He is quite conversational, and one can feel as if one knows him already.  As this writer made his way through the book though, red flags began to flap in the breeze. 

If one were to fly an airplane from east to west on a 5,000 mile trip, but off by one degree, one would wind up way north or way south of the desired destination.  In the same way, if one fails to remember a common navigational equation—Heading = Course + Wind Correction + Intercept—one will again miss the desired destination.

The same thing is true in studying the Bible.  If one starts with a premise that is not supported by the Scripture, or if one starts with an erroneous understanding of what Scripture says, then the conclusions one comes to will be “off”.  More importantly, if one begins with an “opinion” rather than Scriptural truth, then the conclusion cannot be considered a Biblical position.

At the risk of alienating the reader at the outset, I have to be honest—my second reading of Farley’s book not only confirmed the concerns that arose the first time through, but a number of conclusions he arrived at cannot be considered Biblical positions.  Why?  They cannot be considered Biblical positions because they begin with a flawed premise or with his personal opinion rather than with the Scripture.  Additionally, a little more than half way through the book it seemed that his argument is more about feeling good about oneself as a believer, rather than the grace-infused gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scripture.

A Dusting of Error
The majority of what Farley writes is quite Biblical in its content—most of what he wrote is Biblical truth.  However, throughout the book, there is a bit of a “dusting” of error, rendering entire arguments ineffectual.  Farley’s past “church” experience—something his description left no doubt as to its being in the extreme—leads the reader to believe that he perhaps moved to the opposite extreme.  One extreme seems to have led to another—not unlike this writer’s personal experience growing up years, being told, “you shouldn’t feel that way”.  That particular extreme led me to stifling my feelings in my teen years and following, resulting in my being in a position where I did not know what I felt, as well as an unwillingness to “get in touch” with my feelings.  I went to the opposite extreme.

Another notable problem is that Farley is attempting to make understandable that which cannot be completely comprehended in this life.  There is still mystery that is veiled, only to be disclosed on the Last Day.

A Lack of Specificity
Farley makes a number of statements in the book, as if he has discovered something new.  At issue is the fact that he neglects to explain what his premises “look like”, he does not provide any “specificity” as to what he is attempting to convey, and he does not provide any Scriptural support for the statements.  In most instances, he utilized examples from the human experience to “prove” his “spiritual truths”, rather than using the Word.

Exegesis and Hermeneutics
Farley’s exegesis of the written text in many places is faulty.  The premises he articulates, for example, about Adam and Eve, John’s epistle, and James’ letter are, at best, inaccurate.  He does not properly interpret multiple passages of Scripture.  

Listening to a Heretic
Finally, of grave concern is the fact that Farley quotes from a recognized heretic to make his point that “religion is a headache”. (p. 32) Hannah Whitall Smith was a Universalist whose view of God was horribly skewed.  Many other people could have been quoted to make the point—including D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who preached a series of sermons on spiritual depression, discussing some of the issues Farley referred to in quoting Smith—but Farley chose to quote one who made it her goal to advance heresy.

The purpose of this paper is to examine a selected few of what appear to be problem areas in various sections, and I do so with one goal:  to point to God’s Word in order to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have provided alternate section titles in order to summarize the thrust of Farley’s teaching.

NEXT:  Farley Part II: How One Studies Matters

1 comment:

  1. Great points. Quoting Hannah Whitall Smith is basically like quoting Deepak Chopra whilst attempting to give the simple gospel. Farley's gospel is confusing, vague, and a doctrine of devils.

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