Friday, July 08, 2011

Book Review - God Without Religion by Andrew Farley

In God Without Religion Andrew Farley invites the reader to step away from the trappings of religion and enjoy the life of grace-filled freedom that God intended in the New Covenant.  Though this book is a very easy read it is packed with sound theology and solid exegesis of scriptures that confront many of the erroneous interpretations that have become commonplace in modern Christianity.  As Farley sees it many Christians are trying to live a mixture of two different covenants—the Old Testament law and New Testament grace which go together as well as oil and water when in reality we should only be under the covenant of grace in and through Jesus Christ. 

Farley takes issue with many of the practices that have become commonplace in modern Christianity such as tithing and following the Ten Commandments (of which he says in reality most folks only follow 9 because we don’t really keep a biblical Sabbath).  Our tendency is to fall back on the law because we don’t trust ourselves to the grace of Christ to lead us into freedom and thus we end up with something far less satisfying than what God has for us namely a rules based religion instead of a grace-empowered relationship with Christ.

While I could write more on the content I have posted a clip of Andrew Farley in which he sums up some of the main topics covered in God Without Religion. 

By the way I did a message not too long ago called BEWARE OF DOGS! where I specifically dealt with the tithing issue as well.  


Pi Man said...

Very interesting, Bro. (Good to see you blog again, too. It's been too long!) One thing that resonated with me is that I find that some lessons from the pulpit where Old Testament scriptures are referenced can be confusing at best and hypocritical at worse, when only the things that will support said message from the OT are presented! I mean, if JC really did not abolish the "law" and did in fact "fulfill" it, then indeed, our focus can be misguided if it "conveniently" pulls from the OT when it suits our cause, no? I'm not disputing its historical significance btw, but I am suggesting that what needs to be embraced and shared is the grace of the gospel as taught and lived by Christ, rather than the "pick and choose" methodology of which the author referenced and concurred with.Thanks for the post, Bro. Peace. TA

Christian Russell said...

No tithing? What about Hebrews 7. Tithing predates the law, therefore not bound by the law. Just an observation. I have not read this book, but I have read others with similar themes. Many take a message like this one and use it as a license for spiritual laziness. We know God's word says something much different. James 1:22-27 is a good example. I certainly believe in God's grace. Without it we gentiles would not be granted the privilege of calling God Father. But, if we take that precious gift, and do nothing but "rest" in that grace, I believe we "... receive the grace of God in vain." (2 Corinthians 6:1) I would simply define grace as giving you a gift that you don't deserve, earn, or inherit. None of us deserve God's grace, or His love, but he gives it anyway. What a humbling thought. Why then would one not give everything he has back in return? Not as a way to pay back that gift, if you did you could not consider it a gift but a loan, but as a way of showing your love and appreciation for all He has done for you. Faith without works (action) is dead faith. Just my brief thoughts. Keep up the blogs. I miss you man. We should do lunch at Mattina Bella. I know a guy. Later man! The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.

Crispin Schroeder said...

Christian, I am always up for lunch! I agree with you that our spiritual life is a response to God’s grace but I don’t believe that it has anything to do with following the Old Testament laws. As for the subject of Abraham and tithing Andrew Farley wrote:

“This argument doesn’t hold up for three reasons. First, Abraham’s gift to Melchizedek was entirely voluntary, not a required command from God. In fact, it was common practice in the Middle East after winning a battle to give a tenth of your stolen goods to a royal figure out of respect for their position. Second, Abraham gave this tenth only one time in his entire life. It was not regular or habitual giving to Melchizedek. If we Christians we to follow Abraham’s act as a model for our giving, it would only be fitting for us to give once in our lifetime. Lastly, note that Abraham offered a tenth of his spoils of war. In following Abraham’s model for giving, it would then be justifiable for Christians to engage in war with other people groups, take their belongings, and then put 10 percent of the loot on the church lawn.”—God Without Religion (P75)

As for Hebrews 7 I don’t think the point is about our need to tithe but rather how Jesus has become both the one acceptable offering as well as our high priest. The whole system of the temple, priests, animal sacrifices and tithing (which was the way the whole temple system was funded) has been done away with. Jesus is now the mediator between us and the father. We are his temple. He is the ultimate sacrifice that sets us right again with God. This is the scandalous good news! Now if we really come to realize this good news I don’t know how you could not be generous with your money, and possessions, and time, but it is no longer some kind of external following of the rules to be right with God because in Jesus we are as right as we will ever be.

I have probably heard more messages on tithing than on any other subject since I have been a Christian but I find it rather odd that Paul never once mentioned tithing to any of the churches he planted. I believe this is because he considered tithing the same way he considered circumcision—irrelevant under the new covenant.

I did a message on this subject a few weeks back that you can check out here:!/id336195507?i=94248478

Christian Russell said...

Man, it’s great to hear from you. We do need to catch up. Let me jump right in. Our faith is the most precious gift we have. It is a gift meant to be shared. Too many people, maybe even me on this blog, get so caught up on what amounts to semantics. We entangle ourselves in arguments that, in the long run, do nothing to add to our faith. 30% of all of the parables of Jesus revolved around money. The story of the widow’s mite, Jesus is sitting there observing who and what is being given. That in itself is fascinating. Why would Jesus, whose time on Earth is so precious, take the time to stop, sit down, and observe what was being given? I believe He was waiting for the opportunity to show His disciples what TRUE giving is rooted in, trust. The rich young ruler asked Christ what he could do to inherit eternity. He said he kept the law perfectly, but when Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor he went away sorrowful. Why? Because he could not trust that God would care for his needs. He thought he could do a better job if it. We see in Psalm 37:5 that commitment comes before trust. The rich young ruler might have even had good intentions with his money, maybe to give benevolently, care for widows and orphans, whatever. But the point is that he trusted himself and his riches more than God. Giving to God has always been about properly placed priorities. Remember Cain and Abel? What was Cain’s original sin? I believe it was stale religion, doing the same thing over and over until you reach a point to where God is a distant memory. Proverbs 21:2,”All the ways of man seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” It’s a trap we all can fall into. A.W. Tozer says there are three main places Christians find themselves: in a rut, rotting from the rut of stale religion that they created, or in revival relationship. I want the latter! That is why it is imperative for us to be vigilant concerning distractions to our faith. You know as well as I that we are born into war, a war for our very souls. Paul knew this. He wrote about it often. What do you think about 1 Corinthians 9:1-18? This is one of a few examples in his letters Paul uses the word “right”, as though he knows he can invoke it but chooses not to at the present time. I’m curious for your thoughts on that one. One thing I can say regarding the apostle Paul is that Old Testament scripture was precious to him.

“… and from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:15-17

I’m just glad we live in a country where we are free to speak, and act, and live as God would have us. May every word we speak be with grace, seasoned with salt. I’m looking forward to your thoughts.


Pi Man said...

I'll jump back in briefly if I may. (Hi CR- Tim here, aka Pi Man.) I don't think the author was saying, (nor is anyone saying)don't give back to God. The point is that whatever is given should be done so freely, from a joyful and thankful heart, and that it should not be done from an obligatory or lawful or regulatory frame of reference. You (me, anyone) cannot control how others will interpret to what degree they will give, from zero to all they possess. And that is not our concern (ultimately) or the point either. The point, again, is that this is a New and everlasting Covenant that fulfilled perfectly the Old. It's one from a changed heart that leads to a changed life. And that will be on a timetable relative and applicable to that individual and his/her relationship to God though Christ, without being forced or coerced otherwise. Good stuff and points of view to all here, btw! Thanks, TA

george Alvey said...

Glad you wrote on this book. I believe he is absolutely correct. I taught a Bible study on Romans last year(...well got through the beginning of Rom 8 so far) and although I already believed this conclusion regarding the law, the research, reading and consulting I did convinced me with as much certainty as I am capable of having. Douglas Moo's Commentary The Epistle to the Romans and his text, Encountering the Book of Romans are excellent. Andrew Womack"s Grace The Power of The Gospel and several others; Steve McVey Grace Walk and Witness Lee's Commentary r too

george Alvey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
george Alvey said...

Good review and much needed theology that I hope most Christians will get this message and receive the abundant life already give to us! Thanks Crispin

Crispin Schroeder said...

I posted a similar blog to this topic not long ago that might be relevant to this conversation:

Louis said...

I've always tried to come at it from the angle of just supporting your local Church. If someone loves their church and feels like the Church is making a difference, being a light, then they should feel honored to support it financially.

And conversely, if someone doesnt love their Church enough support it, then perhaps they need to figure out why.