Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Heaven is Now by Andrew Farley

Someone sent me this book and asked that I look it over.  They had several ministerial friends reading it and loving it but they had read it and were not sure they agreed with it so much.  Here is my assessment.

Andrew's goal seems to be to inspire hope in the believer.  This is a great cause and a great theme for any book.  The Christian life is hard and daily, Gospel-centered, encouragement is needed!  However, I believe that while this book will probably give some a degree of "hope" I believe it is misplaced.

Heaven is not now.  Heaven is after this life.  I get where he's going by urging the Christian to trust the hope of Christ, but instead of pointing to Christ, Farley points to Heaven.  He says that our hope comes from pointing our lives towards Heaven.  WRONG.  Our hope comes from pointing our lives towards CHRIST!  HE is the Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3)!

Consistently through the book Farley refers to "Heaven speaking" and it is always some little thought meant to encourage.  The problem, some of the remarks are not Scriptural and all of them place the focus on Heaven and not the one who makes Heaven, Heaven.  Listen, if God is not in Heaven then I have no desire to be there.  So focusing me on Heaven is really pointless.  Focus me on God.  Focus me on my Savior who RESIDES in Heaven, then I will be encouraged to persevere in this world.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what I am talking about in both the instance of missing the scriptural mark and also of the misplaced emphasis on Heaven.

"The law doesn’t encourage or praise us. Being under law is like being married to an abusive perfectionist. Even if you please your spouse and only stumble in one way here or there, they treat you as if you’re a good-for-nothing, sorry excuse for a human being. They act like you’re guilty of disregarding everything they’ve ever asked of you: “whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles in one point is guilty of all” (James   2: 10)."

Farley, Andrew (2012-04-01). Heaven Is Now: Awakening Your Five Spiritual Senses to the Wonders of Grace (Kindle Locations 197-200). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

He is correct that the Law does not encourage us, but I disagree with the function of the Law towards the sinner being likened to an abusive perfectionist spouse.  The law is not an abusive perfectionist. it is perfect converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).  The law points to Christ. an abuser points to themselves. an abuser's goal is to exercise an evil control over the abusee, the law condemns the sinner (Romans 3:19-20; Romans 7:7) but points to the relief found in Christ (Mark 1:15; Romans 10:11). This is an awful illustration.  Unintentional as I am sure this probably was Mr. Farley places God in the role of the abuser since the Law is His. 

Let us not forget that the Law reveals our unholiness but it points to the Holiness of God and our need for Christ.

Following the Law leaves a person bankrupt and hopeless, but seeing the One the Law points to can lead to life!

Example number 2.
"Heaven wanted earth to see that, apart from divine intervention, there was no real hope."

Farley, Andrew (2012-04-01). Heaven Is Now: Awakening Your Five Spiritual Senses to the Wonders of Grace (Kindle Locations 211-212). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.
 No, GOD wanted man to see that, apart from divine intervention, there was no real hope.  It was the predetermined plan of God to send Christ (Acts 2:23; Romans 8:28-30)

I recommend avoiding this book.  Because of its obscure language, poor illustrations, and misapplication of Scripture in some places it may prove to be a very dangerous book to read.  If you are looking for an extra-biblical source to help you understand the Bible, there are far better works written on the subject than Farley's.

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