Christianity is not a matter of rules and regulations. Or jumping through the right hoops to please God.
Andrew Farley tried to do that and ended up nearly crazy.
As a young man Andrew Farley was consumed by the thought that God was disappointed in him. ,
He became addicted to evangelising on the street. He sometimes stood outside convenience stores until 4am, trying desperately to save someone.
“I’d stand up on the subway and preach to the entire train car, I was still empty inside,’’ he says.
He tried to keep the Ten Commandments and failed miserably.
He ended up losing his friends and hitting rock bottom, exhausted and burnt out. Doctors recommended pills or therapy.
Decades on, Farley has realized that he was a Christian legalist, He was trying to impress God by jumping through hoops.
It requires as much unlearning as learning, and a willingness to peel away the layers of religiosity.
Farley believes his faith is now more about love and freedom rather than rules.
He controversially suggests that Christians don’t need a moral code to instruct them how to live righteous lives.
“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 says.
“Loving your God and loving your neighbour 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 neighbour. And if you love God, you’re going to live an upright life.
“As a believer, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more; and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less. God just loves you. There is only one response to this kind of Love walking in it.’’
The gospel of prosperity is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Guilt about materialism has gone the way of belief in a literal hell. Pragmatism has replaced passion, and the Holy One has been homogenised.
Sociologist Robert Wuthnow, of Princeton University, wrote: “At one point theologians argued that the chief purpose of humankind was to glorify God. Now it would seem the logic has been reversed. The chief purpose of God is to glorify humankind. “