Texas Tech Linguist's Naked Gospel Challenges Christianese Jargon, Causing Controversy
September 11, 2009
The new book, published by Harper Collins’ Zondervan became the company’s No. 1 in
sales on last week’s early Amazon.com release.
A Texas Tech University linguistics expert said that modern Christians may find
a better relationship with Jesus by stripping away buzzwords and churchy jargon added
through time and rinsing away Old Testament messages, such as tithing and the Ten
Commandments, which appear in modern Christian sermons.
“The book is a basic invitation to jettison religion and grab onto the original message,”
said Andrew Farley, an associate professor of applied linguistics and author of the
new book “The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church.” “As a linguist,
I looked at ‘Christianese’ jargon, and I examined that jargon in light of what the
epistles actually say. I’ve noticed modern-day Christians actually latch on to jargon
that makes them think ‘I must work for God,’ but find they can never do enough to
His pursuit in understanding the language of the New Testament is what led him to
write the new book, published by Harper Collins’ Zondervan and already the company’s
No. 1 in sales on last week’s early Amazon.com release. Farley, also a nondenominational
pastor, used his research in an honors seminar at Texas Tech titled “Early Church
and Contemporary Christianity in Conflict.”
Farley said that because of the mixed messages he had learned in church, he spent
much of his own young life in a fruitless pursuit of God’s acceptance with a set of
rules that seemed to doom him to failure.
“I think a lot of people have become disillusioned with their church, and they’re
looking for something that works Monday to Saturday and not just an hour a week on
Sunday,” he said. “A lot of the modern-day jargon that is tossed around in religious
circles clouds much of what I believe is the early church message. Through studying
the language of the New Testament, ‘The Naked Gospel’ is an undressing of religion
to find an early church message, what I call Jesus-plus-nothing.”
Farley admits his ideas have caused controversy with some, especially when they hear
him say that Christians don’t need the Ten Commandments law, that asking forgiveness
for sins is not necessary and insulting to Jesus, and that tithing 10 percent of your
income to a church is a Jewish tradition no longer required.
“Christians do not need the Ten Commandments as a moral guide, and in fact, Christians
need to get over their fixation with what is actually about 600 Old Testament regulations,”
Farley said. “Loving your God and loving your neighbor as Jesus asked us to do covers
all that. You’re not going to murder someone or cheat on your spouse if you love your
neighbor. And if you love God, you’re going to live an upright life.
“When it comes to forgiveness, Christians are already forgiven, as Jesus said on the
cross: ‘It is finished.’ And as the epistle to the Hebrews so clearly argues, it was
a ‘once for all.’ The idea is that if Christians realize they’re clean once and for
all before God, their identity as pure, forgiven people will result in good behavior.
Clean thinking leads to clean living – plain and simple.”
As to the 10 percent tithe, Farley explained that Old Testament law required religious
leaders to own no possessions or homes. He argued that today’s religious leaders own
homes and cars, and that today’s Christian message about giving is to give freely
without any pressure of any kind, and with an open heart – not a set amount.
“Being free from the Old Testament law means we are also free from the tithe,” he
said. “But if today’s religious leaders are teaching the 10 percent rule, they’re
teaching Old Testament Judaism, but they’re not living by it themselves. There’s an
inconsistency there. The true New Testament message is give from the heart as much
as you want. A lot of people when they first hear that say to me, ‘You’re going to
destroy America’s churches.’ I would rather teach truth and let the doors shut than
teach error and keep them open.”
Confronting the idea that the law has no place in the life of a Christian can be challenging
for many. But in his book, Farley claims that even an ounce of Jewish law in the life
of a Christian is ‘cheating’ on Jesus.
For more information, visit www.TheNakedGospel.com.
CONTACT: Andrew Farley, associate professor of applied linguistics, Department of Classical
and Modern Languages and Literatures, Texas Tech University, (806) 445-9739, or email@example.com