Release the Prisoners!

 

Andy Farmer, Trapped Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2016, 180 pp. $17.99

Thousands of Americans flock to Alcatraz, the penitentiary in San Francisco Bay. Of course, this intimidating fortress has since closed its doors to violent criminals and lawbreakers. Brave guests may choose to stand for a few moments in one of the tiny cells and imagine what it would be like to be locked up for years and possibly even serve a life sentence.

Imagine being incarcerated for a moment. Your freedoms would be severely curtailed. Your abilities would be stifled. Your options would be limited. Such is the life of an inmate.

While some may imagine the horror of being detained for an indefinite period of time, thousands of people experience this every day. A multitude of people live in a self-imposed prison – in bondage to eating disorders, pornography addiction, substance abuse and a host of other activities that leave them hopeless and discouraged.

Andy Farmer addresses the real problem of addiction in his new book, Trapped. The subtitle, Getting Free From People, Patterns, and Problems accurately describes the heart of this author as he offers hope and freedom to people who would otherwise continue to live in a prison house of sin and shame. Indeed, the purpose of the book is to point readers to a redemption story that can set them free.

The author presents several real life examples of people who face a self-imposed prison. He argues that redemption is possible; that hope is possible as people turn to Christ for deliverance.

Real redemption, Farmer suggests is:

  • Freedom from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13).
  • Freedom from slavery to sin (John 8:34).
  • Freedom from the sentence of death (Rom. 7:4-6).
  • Freedom from the guilt of our trespasses and sins (Eph. 1:7).
  • Freedom from the oppression of Satan (Heb. 2:15).
  • Freedom from the deceptive snares of the world (2 Peter 2:18-21).

Redemption, according to Farmer is “a holy freedom.” He adds, “The Bible gives us the wonderful news that we weren’t simply redeemed from sin, we were redeemed for God. We have been brought out of sin into the gracious and loving reign of our Redeemer King.” So true freedom is not a commitment to autonomy; rather true freedom delights in living for God and glorifying God!

This God-glorifying approach to life runs counter to the therapeutic model and secular approaches to counseling. The God-glorifying model in this book encourages weary travelers to embrace the grace of their freedom, embrace the identity in their freedom, and embrace their calling in their freedom.

Ultimately, the author seeks to lead imprisoned people out of their traps. The topic of addiction is addressed from a biblical perspective. Addiction is presented as a “full-bodied worship of an idol that controls and defines its subject.” Farmer shows how the “gospel of redemption is the only treatment that brings the power, change, and hope that can transform broken addicts into whole-hearted worshippers of God.”

Summary

There is much to commend here. At least three features make the book a necessary tool on every pastor’s shelf and every biblical counselor’s desk:

First, the book presents a realistic look at addiction from a seasoned pastor. Farmer acknowledges the pain of addiction, the guilt of addiction, and the bondage of addiction.

Second, the book includes a robust treatment that is Bible-saturated and gospel-centered from start to finish. When so many are rushing to the local counselor or therapist for worldly advice, Trapped offers real help that is grounded in godly wisdom.

Finally, the book is grace-enabled. The author is quick to point readers to the all-sufficient grace of God: “God promises that as you walk that way, he will give grace for change, light for the path, and mercy for stumbles along the way.”

My prayer is that Trapped will be an encouragement to many people; that they will experience the life-transforming effects of the gospel. May many prisoners find their freedom in Christ and be delivered from their bondage forever.  So release the prisoners! “For freedom Christ has set us free …” (Gal. 5:1a).

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

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