Book Review – Naked God
I received a complementary copy of Naked God from Matthias Media as part of their Free For Bloggers program.
Naked God, by Martin Ayers, is an evangelistic and apologetic book aimed at exposing the assumptions of naturalism and taking those assumptions to their logical conclusion, and offering God, and the person of Jesus, as an alternative.
Part One, Chapters 1-6, describes the assumptions and beliefs of naturalism and takes these to their natural end. Ayers paints a picture of a life that is purposeless and meaningless, when founded on naturalism. He quotes from Richard Dawkins extensively when explaining the beliefs of naturalism.
Part Two, Chapters 7-11, examine the person of Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures, specifically the gospels. He also examines common misconceptions about Jesus and refutes these, quoting from the Bible but also regularly from C.S. Lewis.
Part Three, Chapters 12-15, look at the implications of beliving in Jesus and God. It discusses common objections to becoming a Christian, and talks about what becoming a Christian actually means.
It was in Part Three that I had some serious difficulties with what Ayers said, in three instances: two regarding sin, and one regarding hell.
On page 144, Ayers seems to be making light of getting drunk, and at least hinting that getting drunk is acceptable even for the Christian.
Sin is not about the ‘seven deadly sins’, or those things that are ‘naughty but nice’, like getting drunk or eating chocolate.
Ephesians 5:18 says “Do not get drunk on wine” (not that’s it’s ok to get drunk on beer either) and I cannot think of a single Scripture that supports the notion of getting drunk. The instances of drunkenness in the Bible lead to sin, as far as I can recall (such as Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19). Getting drunk impairs judgement and cannot be suggested to be appropriate for a Christian.
On page 148, Ayers states that anger is a sin.
God cares about wrongdoing far more than we can imagine. It’s not just murder that matters to him, because getting angry is wrong as well. It’s not just rape that matters to him, because lust is wrong as well.
Lust, as understood in a Biblical sense is an uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness. Lust is always wrong. Anger, on the other hand, is not always wrong. Ephesians 4:26 exhorts us “In your anger do not sin”, at least suggesting that it is possible to be angry and not sin. Jesus was angry when he threw the money changers out of the temple (Matthew 21), and we know that Jesus was without sin, so we know that anger does not equal sin.
On page 171, Ayers describes hell in a way that I believe is contrary to what the Bible states about God.
his (Jesus’) descriptions of hell focus on the absence of all that is good. This is because God is profoundly absent from hell, and is the source of all that is good.
While the residents of hell will not partake in God’s goodness, I do not believe that God is absent from hell. God is omnipresent. God is everywhere; there is no where we can go and not be in God’s presence (Psalm 139:7-12). God is present everywhere at all times. Instead of God’s goodness, hell will be the place where God’s wrath resides. Perhaps my views on hell are not the common ones however I know of no other way to reconcile the doctrines of hell and omnipresence.
On the whole, I didn’t enjoy the book. I found that the arguments would not convince someone who genuinely held these misconceptions particularly those in Part Three), although they would likely satisfy someone who was running through all the excuses they could think of as to why they shouldn’t become a Christian. I would also say that the level of the book would be suited to university students and professionals rather than those who were poorly educated. I didn’t find the book engaging and I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone I know. I am quite disappointed by this as it is the first Matthias Media book I’ve read that I haven’t enjoyed.