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Faith Q&A with Andrew Farley, Naked Gospel author

January 3, 2010

My interview (by email) with Andrew Farley, author of  The Naked Gospel.

Andrew Farley, a Lubbock pastor, TV host and Texas Tech University professor, knows that his take on sin and church rules in his new book “The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church,” will ruffle some Christian feathers. “The Naked Gospel” challenges believers to strip away the religion that surrounds Jesus and discover that “Jesus plus nothing” is the true Gospel. Farley responded to e-mailed questions from faith columnist Eileen Flynn.

Austin American-Statesman: In ‘The Naked Gospel,’ you address Christians’ obsession with sin and their fixation on rules such as the 10 Commandments. You make a provocative claim that Christians can dispense with these hang-ups and enjoy their new life in Christ. Does this threaten church leaders? What kind of feedback have you received?

Andrew Farley: For many, reading “The Naked Gospel” has been like getting an intravenous shot of God’s grace without the poison of “religion.” The book is designed to strip away the rules that we’ve added to Christianity and show that it’s truly about heartfelt, genuine relationship. The theme is “Jesus plus nothing,” and it definitely challenges Christians to rethink things that we’ve assumed to be true.

For example, we Christians seem to be obsessed with our sins — we hear so much preaching and teaching on sin that we end up disgusted with ourselves. Then it seems nearly impossible to qualify for meaningful intimacy with God.

But the reality is that our sins are very small to God. I don’t mean that behavior is unimportant. I just mean that the work of the cross so completely obliterated our sins that God is not taking them into account anymore. That’s a truth we Christians need to rest in to experience the closeness we have with God.

Consider this: Much of the Bible was written by murderers. Moses was responsible for a large portion of the Old Testament, and he killed an Egyptian in rage. David wrote the Psalms, and he manipulated to have a man killed in order to steal his wife! Finally, Saul of Tarsus (later known as the Apostle Paul) authored most of the New Testament after he had orchestrated the massacre of the early church.

God used murderers to write a good portion of the Bible. Now, how big are your sins? And can God use you? “The Naked Gospel” encourages Christians to look beyond our sins and realize that God has truly forgiven us and desires to relate to us in a personal and powerful way.

Admittedly, when some hear they can be free from religion and still enjoy Jesus, they call the idea “naive.” And when some hear that Christians are forgiven for all their sins — past, present, and future — with no strings attached, they actually get angry. They call that one a “license to sin.”

I call it the Gospel. If you’re not being falsely accused of promoting a “license to sin,” then you’re probably not teaching the Gospel. The Apostle Paul was falsely accused of speaking out against Moses and the law. And he had to constantly answer this question: “Well, then, why don’t we just go out and sin so that grace can increase?” We Christians should be accused of these things on a regular basis. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’re peddling a gospel of “Jesus plus something.”

So far, “The Naked Gospel” has received one of two reactions — people love it or hate it. I’ve been labeled this or that. I’ve even been told that the book will harm America’s churches. But I’ve also heard from lots of Christians who are saying, “It totally changed my life,” and “I’ll never be the same again.”

It’s very rewarding to see people go free.

As a young man, you devoted yourself to sharing the Gospel, but you write that you were miserable. What does it take for a Christian to find the kind of ecstasy in Christ that you now enjoy?

I found myself lying on the floor of my apartment, begging God for answers: “God, I’m doing everything they say to do. I’m reading my Bible four or five hours a day. I’m sharing my faith with everybody I meet. I’m at church every time the doors are open. But I still don’t feel like I’m growing spiritually. I’m stalled, and I can’t explain why. You say the truth will set me free. I’m anything but free!”

Back then, if I were honest and vulnerable, my sales pitch would have been, “Would you like to become a Christian and be miserable like me?” But today I’d wish my Christian experience on everyone.

I’ve learned some radical, Scriptural truths that were right there in the Bible, that I never knew existed.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 5:31 pm

    This fellow is peddling a dangerous “religion.” Remember Charles Dickens’ “Silas Marner”? William Dane, the villain of that piece, used the fact that he had dreamed that he had seen the words “calling and election sure” on God’s book, and he used that delusion to excuse every sort of vile act – he was already saved, after all. Even today, if you ask your favorite search engine to tell you where that phrase can be found, you’ll discover that dozens of ersatz pastors are using it to tell you that THEY have the pathway to heaven. Dangerous – as you pointed out.

    There’s something you didn’t point out, though, that needs to be brought out into the open. The phrase “Jesus plus nothing” is a code-phrase for the cult known simply as The Family. There’s a book about this group whose full title tells you what you need to know about it: “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” That group uses the concept of “Jesus plus nothing” to justify all sorts of … sorry for the repetition … vileness, but in the halls of power in America today.

    These folks have in the woodpile of their pseudo-theology such eminences of the past as Jonathan Edwards – the fellow who told his congregation, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you ….”

    As I said, dangerous. Mr. Farley can pretty it up all he wants to; it’s still dangerous – because it IS being used as a cover for all sorts of … there’s gotta be another word I can use here … nope: vileness.

  2. February 20, 2010 8:17 pm

    Wow- The first fellow to post a comment (Tom Davis) call’s Farley’s teaching “Dangerous” Be sure to check out Mr. Davis’s website- He apparently is a Male witch involved in Wiccan, which is modern day paganism or in other words thinly veiled satan worship! If that is noty a RINGING endorsement for Mr. Farleys book I don’t know what is!!!! Satan thinks it is dangerous! Buy an extra copy I say!!!!!

    You can tell as much about a man (and a book in this case) by his enemies as you can by his friends. God bless you Andrew Farley.

    • eeflynn permalink*
      February 20, 2010 11:33 pm

      Thanks for your comment. But you should know that Wiccans don’t believe in Satan. Christians do.

  3. Nancy Higgins permalink
    May 24, 2014 2:20 pm

    No, CHILDREN believe in Santa until a certain age…I am a Christian and cannot imagine how dull my childhood would have been without the excitement of Santa, Easter Bunny and even the tooth fairy. It;s called fun and excitement for children. All 7 of us sibs have wonderful memories of our childhood and were NOT let down at all when our parents told us Santa Claus was a myth…then proceeded to explain the true Santa—St. Nicholas.

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