Well, where to begin….I will explain myself, but this was my initial reaction. Since this is meant for review I will try my best to condense it by addressing a few of the bigger issues (Wound up failing at brevity :-/).
The underlying foundations of this work are borderline dualistic/gnostic in nature (a false duality between the material being evil and the spiritual being good. Very Platonic in nature) and faulty in interpretation. Mr. Baraka’s initial arguments from the text are built upon an allegorical interpretation, where the author smashes his presuppositions or personal ideas into the text. It’s a prime example of proof-texting and eisegesis. That meaning the author will pluck out a verse from it’s immediate/intermediate context and make a case based on a few words that only make sense in his interpretation outside of the wholeness of the original context. One of the worst features of the book, in my opinion, is the fact that he does not back his work up with citations, but simply assumes that his readers will follow his every word as fact without question. Rob Bell did something very similar in his recent book “Love Wins”.
The primary problem with this book is Braka’s use of allegory in interpretation. While the Bible does contain much allegory and figurative language, it always interprets itself within the book, other areas of Scripture, or in exceptional cases can be found in an immediate historical context (i.e. Revelation 3:14-22). Similarly, to really understand the book of Hebrews you need to understand Leviticus, along with the rest of the Pentateuch. But here we find interpretations of many specific words that are not found in the historical-grammatical fashion of it’s time. He interprets the leopard in Revelation 13:2 to be an “adulteration of the Word to the degree that it takes on an infernal quality of Gehenna.” and somehow man and the devil are two and the same? (pg 8,11) Again, zero citation. You really have to stretch the Scriptures hard, and inject some additives into what doesn’t connect, in order for the majority of this book to make any sense. This is the peak of dishonesty and many of the claims found in here turn on itself, as the basis and teaching of this book is anti-Christ.
Probably the most annoying factor is that he does not represent the opposing view well at all. He tends to think that Christians worship a man. And that in so doing we are worshiping the creation rather than the divine. His basis of argument here is built off another passage out of context, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Cor 15:50) If you look at the context of this picked out verse (v.12-58) you will see that Paul is talking about the need for a physically resurrected body that is in the same manner as Jesus Himself (though we are not to become divine we do partake *or enjoy* His divine nature). The reason Paul was rejected at Mars Hill in Acts 17 was due to his proclamation of a physical resurrection. The philosophy of that time (much like Baraka’s) was platonic in nature, which thought the physical resurrection to be foolish. Only the spiritual was considered worthy of contemplation to both first century philosophers and seemingly here with Baraka.
Jesus, Iesous, Yeshua, Isa, Gott, Boze, or however you pronounce His name (He is not the God of the Jews only- Romans 3:29. And the “praise zeus” hypothesis holds no weight in the greek), is the eternal God, Who created all of creation (Col 1:15-20), yet took on corruptible flesh (John 1), did not sin (Heb 4:15). He was then crucified for our sin in our place and was raised after death as physically incorruptible. After this he touched and ate (Luke 24:39,42,43), so He never lost His human nature after He ascended. And afterward they worshiped Him (luke 24:52). So we do not worship a created being, but the eternal-transcendant Son, who took on created flesh and now lives with an infinite resurrected body. Again, the lack of citation from Mr. Baraka is extremely disheartening, and his work should be thoroughly questioned by his followers. He claims that the Trinity itself is a concept birthed at the council of Nicea under Constantine. This is another reason why he should be questioned (The term Trinity was birthed by Tertullian in the second century, and the concept is eternal (Gen 1:26, John 17:5, 2 Cor 13:29….Side note: God could not be eternally loving without His creation in such a unitarian view).
Trying to make this as short as possible (A book could be written on his historical and Biblical inaccuracies.), I wanted to address the issue of “vicarious imputation of righteousness”. This is the crux of the gospel, and I do hope that those who read this would consider the difference between religious duty and the amazing enjoyment of the grace that binds us to the Father through the gift of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Baraka said, “Yet the doctrine of the beast teaches us, we are saved by a grace that is not of works (obedience), but of grace (unmerited favor).” (pg. 26) The Scriptures speak of the good news that Jesus saves us from our sin. There is a major confusion (or intentional deception) in his mind that this unmerited favor implies that there is no need for holiness following salvation. Someone said it rightly, “Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.”
Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross (1 Cor 15:1-4). He was tortured, and nailed to that tree for our infinite crimes against the infinitely holy God of creation. This was to express His righteousness while simultaneously holding back justice, and granting His love and mercy as a gift to be received and not earned (Romans 3:21-23). The law is not obsolete, as Baraka assumes Christians believe, but it is a schoolmaster/guardian to lead us to Christ that we might be justified (ie. made right) by faith. Hebrews speaks of the law making nothing perfect, but it was always by faith that one is justified (Heb 7:19, Rom 4). But like he rightly states in James 2, faith without works is dead. This grace is not meant to say, “you’re saved, now go off on your own and do what you want.” This grace is meant to save and then work in and through those who are in Christ. He does not leave those He transforms alone like orphans, He is a good Father.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And Philippians 2:9,10 “…Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
I would strongly caution anyone reading this to fact check everything. My heart goes out to those who get so close to the kingdom, yet are halted by the false teachings of work righteous religion. Jesus is the only one who divides the line between religion and relationship, and He will manifest Himself to you if you will repent of your sin and trust in Jesus with who you are.
A few links to help along the way.
If you’re looking for an easily accessible entry point toward Biblical apologetics and teaching: