It has been a long time since I have read a book that has been as thought-provoking as The Naked Gospel. I appreciate being able to sit down and read something that challenges my beliefs, yet isn’t insulting. I like to think that I’m a pretty liberal Christian, but I find that this book pushes even my limits, which is awesome. The Naked Gospel is causing me to grow in so many ways and I’m questioning previously unchallenged beliefs and coming away with strengthened resolve in some things I currently hold close, and with new ideas that are helping me grow in other areas of my faith.
There are a number of main points in Part 3 that Farley uses to further illustrate the point that we should be saying “out with the Old and in with the New” all while backing it up with scripture.
Farley starts off Part 3 by laying the foundation that Jesus’ teachings were for Jews, not Christians, and that the New Covenant came with the death of Jesus, not his birth.
This idea has the potential to drastically change the way Christians read and interpret the Bible. To say that Jesus’ teachings are for Jews, and not instructions on how Christians are to live is a pretty major deviation from traditional Christian theology, and not one that I’m quick to accept. I do like that Farley backs up everything that he says with scripture, but then scripture can be interpreted to say almost anything you want, so I’m still not 100% sold. It is definitely an interesting idea, and something that deserves more thought than I’ve presently given it.
Following those initial foundational points, Farley goes on to say that while the Old isn’t necessarily abolished, it has no place in the life of a Christian and that we shouldn’t be making our own covenant that is a mix of Old and New. Creating a mix allows us to avoid the “suffering under the stringency of the entire law,” but it also means we don’t “enjoy the bliss of unconditional favour.” Without giving ourselves fully to the guidance of the Holy Spirit within us, we will always find that there is something missing.
I’m one of those people that finds his Christianity to be a mix of the Old and New. And while I don’t suffer from any of the guilt associated with not being able to meet the expectations of a perfect law, neither do I think that we can just throw it all away. Many of the laws from the Old Testament create the very moral fabric of our society, and I don’t understand how the Holy Spirit wouldn’t guide us along similar paths. I don’t understand why we can’t keep some of the old laws, without the guilt associated with not living up to them.
The final main point to this part is Grace. “Grace isn’t just a treatment for sin; it’s actually the cure for sin!” Farley does an excellent job with his description of grace in this section. He explains that grace isn’t necessarily a response to sin, but rather something much greater. Grace was what allows “Jesus to produce through us what’s needed in the moment.” Grace is the opposite of guilt. Grace doesn’t leave room for guilt, or inadequacy, nor is it merely nothing more than mercy. Grace is the Holy Spirit inside of us. Grace is the New Covenant. Grace “deactivates our pride and when we remove the law from our lives, our self-effort is no longer prodded to control behaviour.”
Farley ends Part 3 with a section that is meant to give us a sense of comfort; that it is okay to feel shaken and uneasy by all of these new ideas he is putting forth. But also don’t feel like just because you’ve read it, that it makes it true. He reminds us to keep an open, yet critical, mind as you read, and keep an open dialogue with God through prayer; allow Him to speak to you as you read and grow. There are some amazing ideas in here, but I don’t think we should adopt them just because they are a cool new thing. Try them on for size, see how they fit, but don’t just accept them outright because someone wrote them in a book. Growth is a very important part of Christian life, and Farley puts forth some great ideas to get the brain thinking.
Now, despite my reservations about some of the idea’s Farley puts forth, I’m loving this book and would recommend it to all Christians. It is something that needs to be read with an open mind, and if you don’t agree with everything, that’s fine, but just opening your mind to the possibility can bring so much growth. It will expose your weaknesses so that you may better explore them, and help to strengthen your beliefs.
About the author:
By day, Christopher Neufeld can be found keeping the computers and networks running smoothly for a local school division in Winnipeg, MB. By weekend, he can be found at Central Baptist laying down some funky low-end grooves in the house band. He’s blessed with a beautiful wife, and together they are expecting a baby boy in October. Through this all he wishes he was (and one day will be) a pastor. He can be found writing atand on twitter at .