Sunday, 11 February 2018

She Is Free ... From What?! (A Book Review)

She is Free … From What??

*I received this book for free for review purposes as part of the Bake Books Bloggers program.*

I had a very difficult time reading this book as it was filled with SO. MUCH. WRONG! As a result, it took way longer to finish than it should have!

She is Free: Learning the Truth About the Lies that Hold You Captive, by Andi Andrew, is a book overflowing with shallow platitudes, prosperity gospel, mysticism, and statements bordering on heresy. What it lacks most is the true Gospel! I do not at all recommend this book and, should any choose to read it, do so with an open Bible of a reliable translation and a heart open in prayer!

Her introduction concludes with a lengthy quote from, for want of a better word, a paraphrase of Scripture called The Passion Translation. This so-called translation is one man’s paraphrase mixed with his own lengthy opinions interspersed throughout, under the guise of being actual Scripture (divinely inspired word of God). Apparently, he forgot about the verses indicating the curse that should fall upon the one who would choose to add or take away from the words of Scripture! See Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32. This certainly doesn’t deserve the descriptor “translation” and it is hugely concerning that, not only in the introduction but also throughout her book, she relies so heavily on this “translation”!

Another translation she relies on heavily is the Amplified Version. This is another dangerous translation. It claims to reveal what other translations conceal (though they conceal nothing). It adds meaning to the text that clearly isn’t intended by the text if you were to view the text in its complete context! It allows readers to choose their own meaning of the text, by including alternate meanings of words, instead of looking at the context to understand the meaning! It does have its benefits, making us think, or rethink, how a verse is translated and what it means, but should be used with caution and with another reliable translation next to it!

She likes to encourage her readers to read the Bible (good) but to do so “in a translation that comes alive to you” (p 51). I have a problem with this! The word of God is a living word!! A good, reliable translation is always alive!

I struggle to know where to start with what is wrong with this book (there is VERY little right with it)! Chapter 1, Trapped by Pain, we are told that if we just feel Christ’s love, the Father’s love, we are freed from our pain. That this is the gospel, the Good News that Jesus came to bring. That we “are reconnected to this love” (p 22). What? I thought that the gospel was that Christ came to DIE for us! To give us COMPLETE forgiveness of all our sins! THAT is the primary purpose of His coming, the primary Gospel. Everything else (being connected to His love) flows from that! But NOT ONCE does she indicate that! Not until chapter 7 is there ANY mention of our sins being what separates us from God’s love, from God, nor is there ANY mention of the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with God being the reason Christ came to die!!

Instead, we’re given a lot of “I just need to choose” or “When I simply become aware of His unending presence in my life, …” (p. 23). What about repentance, Andi?! Not ONCE is repentance mentioned!!  So we have this message that we can be set free from all the bad thoughts, feelings, memories we have but nothing about being set free from sin. In addition, she gives the implication that, once we’ve been set free from these negative things, we will be completely free always, never having a struggle again, never facing depression again, etc! As thought faith is a magic happy pill! So what happens if, one day, I’m freed from anxiety and depression and then a few months later, it all comes back with a vengeance? Was my faith than not a true faith? This is what she would seem to imply! This is a dangerous false doctrine that is embraced by proponents of the prosperity gospel. She seems to be a strong proponent of this false gospel.  And then later, in chapter 3, she says, “Having Jesus doesn’t mean we won’t have storms; having Jesus means we are unshaken by them”, contradicting what she said in previous chapters!!

“I’ve woken up to the reality that our spiritual freedom is fought for an won on the battlefield between truth and lies.” (p 24). Really?? Was it not fought for an won by the only one capable of this battle (Christ) on the cross??

She speaks of “our reality” showing that it is all really relative to our own desires, personalities, etc. Showing a complete disregard for the only actual reality – God’s reality! Instead, she’s embraced cultures view – reality is what we make it!

“…certain areas of my life hadn’t been perfected in His love! To be honest, I’m still working on it – we all are.” (p. 25) And this is a sad quote that shows she’s still not truly free, not in the way Christ truly came to free us – from our sins! She still has the pride to think it’s up to her! But, read Hebrews 12:2 – “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”! It is Jesus who perfects our faith! No amount of work we do will perfect it!!

Andi implies Christ is simply a presence that brings peace. But where does that peace come from? She doesn’t say! She misses the point of the person of Christ and what He accomplished on the cross! She gets SO CLOSE but, still, she misses it!

“Make room for Him in a way that works with how you are uniquely created to connect.” (p 33) What??? No!! This smacks loudly of the postmodern ‘we make our own truth’!!

She tells us to read the Bible daily and allow it to transform us. She misses the fact that we can’t transform ourselves, we can’t “allow” it to transform us. It will transform us but not because we allow it, rather because HE uses it to do so!

This all, so far, is just from the first chapter! Much of the rest of the book is the same! Her philosophy that seems to form the basis of this book seems rather existentialist! A dangerous philosophy for one who is supposed to be Christian! “We need only become more aware…”, “we simply need to work…”, etc.

Page 44 – another example of where she gets SO CLOSE and still misses the mark: “We have access to a God that sees us, knows our brokenness, and loves us anyway. …” She continues along the same line – that we are loved while still in our brokenness (by which I assume she means to include sin). BUT she never indicates that we need to leave that sin and brokenness behind! We need to leave our life of sin in response to this love of God!

She pushes the need to belong to a good community that demonstrates selfless love. Good! I agree! But no community can demonstrate such love purely, nor can they do so alone! Again, where is Christ in all of this?? Is the purpose of Christ simply to make us feel good about ourselves?? Because that’s what this book implies and sometimes outright states!

She often contradicts herself. For example, on page 39 she talks about being alone in the pit and God is just waiting to be invited to come in and join us, to be with us (so we’re alone until we invite Him in). But on page 47 she says we’re never alone! She’s right, there; we are not ever alone! But then be consistent and say that ALL the time!

We see a lot of “allow God”, “let God” and I wonder since when are we in charge of God??

Back to the prosperity gospel (health, wealth, and prosperity gospel), she states in multiple places that God doesn’t intend for us to experience pain, sickness, disease, or trial because “He is good, kind, and all things wonderful…” (p 49). But is she forgetting David, Job, and Paul to name a few? Or the countless godly people in this day and age who just never see healing on this earth (one famous example would be Joni Erikson Tada)?? I believe that the trials we face are part of His plan and I believe this is supported by scripture: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when  you meet trials of various kinds,…” (James 1:2 ESV) as well as Jesus promise to His disciples that life would be hard and full of trials!  She, rightly, states “God does not tempt us or entice us to sin, nor does He give us sickness or pain; it’s not in His nature…” (p 50). And I agree with this! He doesn’t give these things, He’s not the author of bad things. BUT He allows them and we need to believe, then, that they are part of His plan. To say that God has nothing to do with these things is to say that He is not in absolute control and to say that they serve no purpose in our lives! Again in chapter 9, “He sent Jesus to heal my body…” NO! He sent Jesus to heal our souls! Sometimes, to do that, it means our bodies will be broken or sick! That’s OK!!

As a side note, she does get certain Biblical facts wrong (specifically in chapter 3 when she was on a tour in Rome and went to one of the places Paul was imprisoned (not house arrest but actually prison before his execution). She implies, also, that the plan for Christ to come as a ransom was conceived after the fall into sin. However, I believe this plan was in place long before creation happened. I think the Fall was part of the plan because I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God!

There’s a lot of contradiction (which is common when you’re relying on false doctrine): we need to invite God into our lives; oh but God is always with us and we can’t be separated from Him; oh but if we’re willing and allow Him, he’ll come into our lives; and so on. We are not in control of God!!

“… I felt God say to me in all my inadequacy and insecurity, ‘I have confidence in you.’ “ (p 67) Yeah, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t God! God who is all-powerful, almighty, our creator is not one who will have confidence (which is actually defined as a feeling of belief or trust) in His creation!

“Jesus died willingly in order to connect with you…” (p 67). Again, NO!! He died willingly in order to pay for our sins!!!

“The Holy Spirit softly whispers to us, ‘You hold the key in your hands to let yourself out…’.” (p 78). There’s a good dose of works righteousness!! We can do it ourselves – the only purpose of God is to remind us we have the power to change ourselves!

At this point, I’m not even through chapter 4 yet. I could go on with more of the same. This is such a discouraging read because she is so close and yet so far from the true gospel! I’m going to leave my review at this point because it is just going to be way too long otherwise (it’s already quite lengthy)! I will say that, finally, in chapter 7 she admits that Christ came to save us from our sins! Chapter 5 has a good practical section that encourages reading the Word, prayer, and worship.

Based on this one book, I would argue that Andi Andrew is a false teacher who is leading thousands of people to hell in a pretty hand-basket. She teaches the prosperity gospel, works righteousness and a good dose of existentialism! This is not in line with Scripture!!

Nuggets I Like
Yes, there are little nuggets in this book that I like, even though I believe she’s a false teacher. Shoot, even Donald Trump says SOME good things!

Speaking of an example of a marriage gone dry: “The ring on your finger has become a rock instead of a symbol of covenant relationship. The truth is, if we don’t live with a sincere awareness of our walk, the same can happen with Jesus.” (p. 29)

“There is no substitute for the presence of God.” (p 29)

“At any moment of the day, in any season, you can step away for a moment, give yourself a time-out, and connect to the Father’s heart.” (p 41)

“At the King’s table we … are taught to live from love instead of for love …” (p 62).

“When I hold on to unforgiveness, I become bitter and deeply offended, and a little piece of my heart hardens to intimacy with God.” (p. 77)

“A life of radical forgiveness … is not possible without the grace and forgiveness of God in our lives.” (p 79)