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PAGAN CHRISTIANITY: Has anyone read the Book?

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on June 23, 2008

So, has anyone heard of PAGAN CHRISTIANITY?:

 

Zane Anderson of the House Church Network recently published a helpful review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, by Frank Viola and George Barna. The review is entitled

Although Anderson is himself an advocate of the House-Church Movement, a it is refreshing to find a voice among them that avoids some of the more extreme conclusions reached by men such as Viola.

I’d greatly appreciate it (as others, from what I’ve studied, have not clearly be seen to my knowledge—even when I researched Viola’s site and investigated the arguments of others similarly holding to his views—like Steve Atterkson OR OTHERS–)

To be clear (and I’m sure you probably understand this), Whether or not one meets in a building is not as important as whether or not a church has the components that made up the NT church…….and some practices may’ve been cultural (i.e. greetings with holy kisses, footwashing, head-coverings, etc—-which are some of the things I didn’t see the Book adressed and made clear we should follow just as much as meeting in homes like the NT church—though I’m aware they did say at one point one may not be able to recreate EVERY practice in the NT Church). Some of the others are a must (i.e churches with elders/leadership, mutual submission, participatory/interactive meetings, sound doctrine, not having local fellowships at the cost of dissing other sound churches and isolating oneself, etc)……and the same thing goes for many of the councils/doctrines established as either HERECTICAL/DANGEROUS or ESSENTIAL/CENTRAL to the FAITH in EARLY CHURCH HISTORY. Becoming a Home Fellowship doesn’t mean all of that is thrown out, as that can be DEADLY too. __________________

Currently, I’m attending an institutional church that I’ve been involved with since I was 13…..and there has been much fruit from it since. However, I’ve been having many issues with my church too.

Paticularly, in regards to how the meetings are set up/church government…….plus the fact that the church has begun endorsing books by Rick WARREN and there seems to be a lack of discernment on the issue (moreso, choosing to be pragmatic in saying “It’s constantly gotten people’s attention and God has worked through it”, which I agree with—Proverbs 16:4—but at some point, one must make certain that they don’t test God when He may be working IN SPITE OF SOMETHING as opposed to BECAUSE OF IT)

Nonetheless, my main issue is whether or not the GOSPEL is being preached/lives are being conformed to the Image of Christ…..and many institutional churches are indeed doing just that, from large ones like that of John Macarther/John Piper to the Old Skool “store-front” church keep’n it REAL on the streets. Many of them are promoting atmospheres where people have intimacy with one another and the church is able to help everyone walk in their giftings/be edified. Moreover, they’re fighting hard against apostacy too…………so I don’t knock that and I’m not willing to throw out the BABY WITH THE BATHWATER.

Especially seeing that MANY HOUSE FELLOWSHIPS have had their fair share of trouble too….& I guess for me, the question would be “How to have the Best of Both Worlds?

Sometimes an attempt to have the best of both worlds also leads to the worst of both worlds.

Though even in that, may depend on what world one’s living in and from what specific part of the world they’re in & are trying to get.

Being in an institutional Church myself but also attending a House Church of sorts (As well as being affiliated with one that has sound theology/elders and deacons—nd researching/studying like crazy), IMHO, I’ve seen both sides of the issue……& I think there can be compromise. In the process of examing things, I just don’t want to be partial/not giving a fair hearing to things:

Quote:
Two Kinds of Wisdom 13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:16-18 (in Context) James 3 (Whole Chapter)

__________________

Pray that the info blesses to in some kind of way. To be clear, again, in light of how I’ve been studying much of the info regarding the House Church Movement ( www.lifemessenger.org & www.openheaven.com,

 or Steve Atkerson’s “Ekklesia”, http://www.ntrf.org/articles/index.php,
http://www.fellowshipofbelievers.org/radioarchive.html (which apparently is their broadcast/radio page, but nonetheless is cool since they’re also CHARISMATIC),

I thought the review by Zane was a must-keeper.

     Also,  from one of the Kats who did a PHENOMENAL JOB reviewing “PAGAN CHRISTIANITY” and the many stances raised by many within the HOUSE CHURCH Movement(http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/search/label/House-Church%20Movement, & http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/search/label/House-Church%20Movement 
 I own the book myself and have actually recommend it myself once or twice seeing that many of the same concerns it adressed I was having myself for a long time and seeing the effects in my own church ( #6), and though I’m for many of the stances they held to, some of them really bothered me (seeing that I see many redeeming points in the institutional church and I’ve been in both situations seeing good and bad everywhere). Some great places where one could do some reviews would be places such as this: http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/issue109/index.cfm?id=32&ref=ARTICLES_REVIEWS_461.

That site had many excellent points which I thought were of merit. As the author said,

Most of the book traces the origins of common church practices today. They succeed in showing what should be fairly obvious: many of our practices do not appear in the Bible, which in itself does not make them wrong. Barna and Viola argue, however, that many of these practices are harmful. However, they don’t always get the history right, and sometimes overstate the case. Still, they do have a point. We should question practices that get in the way of faithfulness.
It’s when you get to their solution that, in my view, the wheels fall off. Viola and Barna argue:

 

Quote:
The church in its contemporary, institutional form neither has a biblical nor a historical right to exist.” (p. xx)

Wow! There’s a bit of a jump to get to this point, and I’m not sure if I missed a step somewhere. It could be that Viola and Barna are correct, but I don’t think they’ve proved their case. Pointing out problems with a model means that the problems need addressing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire model must be scrapped.
It’s one thing to argue that there are problems with our existing ways of doing church. I’m fully prepared to accept this. It’s also okay to argue that models of church sidesteps these issues, but it could be that they end up encountering a whole set of other issues – as is the case. But is it possible for institutional models to be redeemed? Viola and Barna say no. I’m not so sure.

I’d much prefer to ask questions like these:

 

  • * Is there a way to use buildings missionally and in a way that expresses the true nature of the church?
  • * Can orders of service be structured so that the corporate nature of worship is emphasized, and performance is minimized?
  • * How can preaching and teaching promote spiritual growth and emphasize the giftedness of the body?
  • * How can churches move beyond being pastor-driven?
  • * How can our giving be channeled beyond maintenance to mission and care for the poor?
  • * How can we recover the biblical emphasis on baptism as initiation into discipleship, and communion as a robust communal celebration?
  • * How can Christian formation take place that is holistic?

These are excellent questions, and they may or may not lead to shutting down institutional churches. This book, I think, gets at the right questions, but ends up presenting the wrong (or at least insufficient) solution.
By the way, it’s theoretically possible to have discovered that pretty much everyone from the church fathers on got it wrong, and that you are right – but it’s highly unlikely. This is especially true in this case, because Scripture is largely descriptive (not prescriptive) in how churches can be shaped. Barna and Viola don’t make a sufficient case for anyone to say that almost everyone has got it wrong until now.

 


 

Again, all of that I thought was pretty on point. If you would hit up my website (which my email can be found there under the “CONTACT” section), I’d love to give out the other links/resources I’ve researched on the issue for awhile now—-including the many Book Reviews I found out there on “Pagan Christianity”. Personally, if I may say, you’d probably be better blessed investigating this: It’s by Dr. Joe Hellerman. His work is well researched and addresses many of the “pagan” influences on our faith. Dr. Hellerman’s contribution is a blend of good history AND respectful discourse, seeing the many accusations on Viola/Barna for not having historical evidence enough or leaving out those points which contradict theirs  (

 Other sites that have solid reviews on “PAGAN CHRISTIANITY”
 
 
 
 

http://jonathanbrink.com/2008/01/04/the-emerging-church-in-america/

http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2008/01/pagan-christian.html

http://brotherjohnny.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/the-order-of-worship-sunday-mornings-set-in-concrete/

http://guymuse.blogspot.com/2008/01/pagan-christianity-by-frank-viola-and.html

http://books.leadnet.org/2008/01/pagan-christi-1.html

http://brokenstainedglass.typepad.com/broken_stained_glass/2008/01/pagan-christian.html

http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/2008/01/18/pagan-christianity-frank-viola-and-george-barna/

http://yliapu.typepad.com/spiritualregurgitations/2008/01/pagan-christian.html

http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/wrapping-it-up/

Proverbs 18

2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding
       but delights in airing his own opinions.

 

 12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,
       but humility comes before honor.

 

 13 He who answers before listening—
       that is his folly and his shame.

 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;
       the ears of the wise seek it out.

 17 The first to present his case seems right,
       till another comes forward and questions him.

 

II Timothy 2:15

15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

 

Other reviews that seemed to have excellent questions:

Here’s another review that I found on the issue and that I was wondering what people’s thoughts were:

Their view of church practice is encapsulated in the title of their co-authored book, due to be released in January, Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices. When they say “Pagan,” they really mean it. With numerous footnoted citations, they explain that our church buildings, our churches’ orders of worship, our emphasis on preaching, our distinctions between laity and clergy, and much more–all of this is derived primarily from pagan Greek and Roman religious and cultural practices, not from the Bible. It’s a strong and sweeping indictment not just of modern churches, but of church practice through the centuries.

Their critical tone comes through clearly in statements like this, on page 61:

To put it another way, the church fathers of this period [the 3rd through 6th centuries] represent nascent (early) Catholicism. And that is what Calvin took as his main model for establishing a new order of worship. It is no wonder that the so-called Reformation brought very little reform in the way of church practice. As with the case with Luther’s order of worship, the liturgy of the Reformed church “did not try to change the structures of the official [Catholic] liturgy but rather it tried to maintain the old liturgy while cultivating extra-liturgical devotions.”
(The embedded quotation is from Hughes Oliphant Old, 1970, The Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship). Again I would emphasize that this is about church practice; Viola and Barna have little beef with doctrines coming out of “the so-called Reformation.” But they are unafraid to attack that practice at its strongest points.

Consider preaching, for example, which they essay to dismantle in a chapter subtitled “Protestantism’s Most Sacred Cow.” It is their thesis (see also here) that preaching in the New Testament is sporadic, delivered on special occasions to deal with special problems, extemporaneous and without rhetorical structure, and most often dialogical rather than monological–it was two-way, not one-way. What we think of as the “Christian” sermon came out of Greek Sophist practice. Its entry into the church was “the arrival of a polluted stream.”

(Perhaps ironically, my first encounter with this view of New Testament preaching practice came less than a week before I read it in this book, on links from this page at Facing the Challenge blog.)
Viola and Barna think sermonizing positively harms the church; for example:

  • It makes the preacher the “virtuoso performer,” so that congregational participation is “hampered at best and precluded at worst.”

 

  • It often stalemates spiritual growth; because it is a one-way affair, it encourages passivity.

 

  • It preserves an unbiblical “clergy mentality,” discussed in a prior chapter.

 

  • Rather than equipping the saints, it de-skills them.

 

  • It is often impractical: “Countless preachers speak as experts on that which they have never experienced…. In this regard, the sermon mirrors its true father–Greco-Roman rhetoric…. bathed in abstraction.”

It would not do to react with a knee-jerk to this. Viola has elsewhere in the book described the sheer life, joy, beauty, and growth of free and spontaneous house-church worship. Taken from the perspective of learning theory, sermons follow a weak educational model. Adults and children both learn through participation, through interaction, even through evaluation. Sermons really do run a strong risk of fostering passivity. I have said this in churches for years; and I have on occasion (with little success) advocated follow-up discussion groups to let church members work through the meaning of sermons together.

In our church, in fact, we practice this in a men’s Tuesday morning Bible study. We gather for breakfast and a couple of songs, there is a short message presented from the Word, and then we discuss it around tables. I have no way of measuring this, but I would be willing to guess more actual growth happens in that relational, interactive setting than on Sunday mornings. (Many church Sunday Schools follow a similar, quite effective model.)

For all my questions about its educational validity, I’ve concluded that preaching remains vital for communicating the centrality (and even the authority) of God’s word to God’s people. Still, the more interactive learning that churches practice, the happier I will be about it.

So I think the authors may be onto something valid here, and in many other parts of the book. That is, we might disagree with many things they say, yet there are still important things to learn from this book. I would not rush to judge everything Viola and Barna have said here (or in other chapters) as wrong. This is hardly a full endorsement of their theses, however. Throughout the book I kept asking myself questions like these:

  • If some of our architectural (or other) preferences came from the Greeks or Romans instead of the New Testament, is that necessarily bad?

 

  • If some practice is not found in the New Testament, but is also not proscribed (prohibited) there, even in principle, should we judge it as harmful? What is our basis for that judgment?

 

  • The authors acknowledge that it is not unbiblical to sit on chairs that were built by non-Christians, using extra-biblical designs and methods. Yet they seem to think it’s unbiblical to use proven, effective rhetorical methods that were fashioned by non-Christians. Why? Is not all truth God’s truth?

 

  • Their book uses a definite rhetorical structure that could quite feasibly be traced to Aristotle. Is writing different from preaching? Why?

 

  • Church historians point to the Pax Romana and the Roman highway system as having had a strong positive effect on the early spread of the gospel–so positive, in fact, that many see them as having been providentially prepared by God partly for that purpose. Could Greco-Roman rhetoric also have been providentially prepared by God, from outside the church, for God’s purposes?

 

  • To rely on music’s emotion-inducing effect is criticized in the chapter on worship. But was not music prominent throughout the Bible? Should we (could we?) assume it had no emotional impact in those Biblical settings? To strip music of heart impact would violate its very character.

 

  • Viola and Barna advocate a complete de-layering of distinctions between clergy and laity, preacher and preached-to. They must know, though, that every grouping of people eventually generates leadership from its midst; and the larger and more complex the grouping, the more important that leadership becomes. God absolutely, definitely worked through leaders throughout Scripture. What do they propose for the development of leaders and what should their roles be?

The changes proposed in this book would rock Christianity as much as Luther and Calvin rocked it some 500 years ago. So my final question for the authors is, do they have it in mind, in a sense, to complete what was left unfinished in the “so-called Reformation”?

I expect this book’s effect will be to strongly encourage the growing house church movement in the Western world, and to stimulate some thought and perhaps some minor changes in traditionally established churches. My fear is that it will also promote house-church judgmentalism toward traditionally established churches.

There’s a fine line between that and constructive, loving criticism. I was not convinced the authors always remained on the healthy side of that line. That’s a shame, because even though we might disagree with many of the book’s conclusions, there is nevertheless a lot of good we could glean from it. Pagan Christianity’s critical tone, unfortunately, may prevent many Christians from looking.

 

 

Also, here are some excellent questions regarding the issue of “PAGAN CHRISTIANITY” and counter-points that have come against it (most notably from Dan Kimball):

 

 

Again, I highly, highly recommend this book to read and actually loved the primary content of the book and the history and origins taught in the book. As you can tell, I disagree with the application and premise of what to do with knowing the origins of things. I also believe that you can’t have a church of 500 or 5,000 and be just as healthy and functioning biblically as a house church of 15 people. I also know house churches of 15 people who have leadership power and control issues and all the same weird things that can happen in a church of 1,000 . We can be unhealthy in a church of 15 or in a church of 1,500. Yet I also believe we can be in a healthy in a church of 15 or a church of 1,500. I personally prefer and believe in the larger growing church (for reasons I will explain in a future post) provided that there is examination of health and the very things Frank rasies in his book are regularly examined (as should be examined in a house church too). So I have questions I asked Frank and he responded and I will post Frank’s answers to these questions in a future blog post.

__________________
  • Do house churches really see conversion growth? Not in theory, but multiplying from new believers? Would you say that the established organized church with paid pastors, buildings etc. see more or less conversion growth than house churches? Is there any data about conversion growth in house churches and that compares with the larger structured churches? Or to be specific, how about in your own house church? How many were already Christians, how many conversions have you seen? Has your house church multiplied and launched new house churches over the many years you have been part of one as new disciples are made and conversion growth occurs? How many times? (I ask numbers here only to just to try and really grasp tangible understanding of this. I understand numbers aren’t reflective of health by any means) .
  • “”Looking into all the origins of what we do in churches and titles that Frank and George raise in Pagan Christianity, I love, love, love reading that. None of it surprises me or makes me upset that these origins are being written about. I wish every Christian would know the origins of why we do what what we do in our churches. For the past several years, both in our church and when I speak at conferences I also have been stressing that most of what we do in most church’s formal meetings on Sundays is not based from the Bible. How preachers preach, pulpits, suits, robes, the design of the buildings we meet in, pews, the title of “pastor”, the order of a worship gathering, bands etc. all were not practiced in the early church. I wish all Christians would know the origins of these things. If we all did, then we wouldn’t feel so restricted to “this is what church is supposed to look like” and fight about things, when we realize most of what we do (and normally fight about) is no where to be found in the Scriptures. I will comment more on this in the next post.


    So, reading Pagan Christianity and what it brings out about origins of what we do – is something I love reading. But where I differ from the argument the book makes, is that I don’t feel that the independent house church or organic church is the only answer to solving the issues of unhealth in a church. I have been in correspondence with Frank and I had some questions that he answered for me to post in Part 2.

    I am not against house churches or organic churches – I am against saying that you cannot function as a missional and healthy church unless you reject all forms of contemporary churches and go back to a house church/organic church model. I have heard often stories of people getting understandably disillusioned with the larger church. They then form a house church as a result of their disillusionment. I posted once about a pattern I have seen (this example was based on a real situation) about the disillusionment with larger churches.
    I am not against house churches or organic churches. But, I do have some questions about those who see the house church as the one true and only biblical approach for what church should be like. And I have many questions about house churches and their sustainability as well as their evangelistic and missional fruit. What I did, was that I asked Frank some of the questions I have and I will post his answers in the next post.
    Some of the questions I had for Frank were:

    • I fully do understand that you have uncovered a lot of things that established churches do that isn’t biblically based but developed through culture or are of “pagan” origin. But things like the printing press for publishing books, the internet, computers, cars for transportation, CD’s, MP3’s etc. were also not around in the early church. Yet we depend on them for getting to church meetings, we use these formats for teaching, reading, communicating, and writing books like Pagan Christianity. So just because something was not happening or formats used in the early church, I don’t see it necessarily as wrong for the church to use as we morph and change the change the format and ways we go about things as culture changes and time passes. However- this is provided we are watching fo r how the Spirit is changing people and disciples are being made and evangelism is happening as a result of whatever forms and structures we use – whether in a large church of 1,000 or with 10 people in a house church. I say this as a hyperbole and hyper-exaggeration to raise a point here, but why then in your house church do you not really go back and really model what the early church was like format wise? Why do you allow things with “pagan” origin to be part of your meetings and use electricity and have running water in the homes your church meets in when they didn’t have those in the early church? Why do you use Bibles that are formatted like “pagan” books that are paginated and bound with leather covers and have page numbers and verses and chapters (which weren’t in the original )? Why aren’t you using scrolls for reading Scripture like they had in the early church? Why are you using Bibles translated into into the “pagan” language of English – instead of in your church only reading the New Testament (from scrolls) written in Greek like in the early church? Why do you use the internet to communicate and share about your writings when that format was not in the early church? Does your church (or family) celebrate Christmas in any form – or do you follow through like Jehovah Witnesses totally ignore the practice of celebrating the birthday of Jesus’ birth and the date of December 25 since that date is of “pagan” origin and the early church did not celebrate Christmas in any form whatsoever? (Again, I am not serious about the specifics of these questions. I am trying to have some fun and play out the the logic of saying that forms and practices of a church that aren’t in the Bible or practiced in the early church are then not healthy or shoul d not be used in today’s church).
    • I agree there are many churches who do what you say in terms of the paid staff and pastors and doing all the work and the people of the church then become dependent on pastors and don’t exercise their gifts and then grow in healthy ways. But there are also many churches who do have paid pastors and do have buildings etc. – yet do empower and train people to be the “ministers” and shpeherds/pastors – not just in theory but in reality. Do you feel that a church can have paid pastors and staff and have sermons and large meeting and be healthy if paying attention to the priesthood of all believers and the church intentionally breaks the larger church into smaller meetings? Do you believe that a church can exist of 300 or 3,000 people with paid pastors, sermons, a pulpit (or music stand ) and have a missional emphasis and seeing believers living out the priesthood of all believers? Or does it always have to be a small group of 10 or 20 like you personally practice in a house church?
  • When I hear stories of how a lot of house churches were formed, a pattern seems to exist. They originally all met each other in a larger church, got dissatisfied with the larger church and left to form a house church. But then after they leave the larger church, their relational network dries up, because the primary way they originally developed relationships with the other Christians who joined their new house church came from when they met each other in the larger organized church. So as time goes by, most don’t grow with new people apart from those who were also formerly part of their for mer larger church (or another larger church). So those in the house church wouldn’t have even met or known each other if it wasn’t for the larger organized church, with paid pastors and buildings that they end up criticizing (many do) after they leave – and then they don’t really grow because their primary source of people was from the larger church that they left. Any response to this?
  •  

    To be clear, others have read some of the reviews and had this to say::

    Originally P
    The only problem is that most of those objections are based on an ignorance of the book’s arguments. I read the first edition a few years ago and have yet to read the new edition. But I’ve read all the articles on Frank Viola’s site “http://www.ptmin.org” and have the arguments down pat.=.

    In all sincerity,  I read the Book (new edition as well), and checked out Viola’s SITE too—-and before making any decisions, I also investigated those with counter-points as well who read the book extensively. And, IMHO, though many points in the book were accurate historically, alot of it was indeed off based when examined for consistency.

    Being intimately involved/researched in the house-church movement (and for that matter, simple/organic church, seeing that there was literally a faction/near church split on the issue not too long ago), I was familar with many of the same stances that Viola and others have….and in honestly reading them, I was troubled. One kat adressing this is named Pastor K (http://www.christiandiscussionforums…=104941&page=2 ) he can be found here:

    Examining the House Church http://thekingdomcome.com/examining_HCM])((As the opportunities to experience “church” in differing ways increase, people find themselves examining & testing the various models. There is the mega church with all of its hype & technology. There is the traditional church with its structured format of lecture. There is the house church with its supposed attempt to recover & revive the original model of doing church.

    And from the other side, there were those from Atterksson’s Group that gave their stances.
    Ekklesia: Biblical House Church

    But again, that’s just me….and I agree that many people haven’t given credit where it’s due when it comes to the many valid points they brought up (just as it is on the other side with folks praising it as if it was flawless). Many of the things Barna and Viola have made have been SOLID (and I greatly appreciate them), so If nothing else, IMPARTIALITY is the issue that matters most in these things—-testing all things, throwing out that which is bad and HOLDING to that which is GOOD.

    Proverbs 11:1
    The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.

    Proverbs 20:23
    The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.

    Quote:
    Quote:Luke 20:21
    So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

    1 Timothy 5:21
    I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
    1 Timothy 5:20-22 (in Context) 1 [/quote]

    (, 1 Thessalonians 5:18-22, Hebrews 5:11-17, Proverbs 14:15, Proverbs 19:2, Proverbs 18:13, Proverbs 18:15, Proverbs 18:17 ), and do as the Bereans did with Paul, as a preacher who gives God’s true message will never contradict or explain away anything that’s found in the Word (Acts 17:10-11)–

    Of course, I realize that no one in this discussion or who reads the book probably does so without some sort of level of subjectivity—so no one’s unbiased (and perhaps it’s due to some of my experiences and having material like Pagan Christianity/other sites similar to it brought up that I have a bit of pause with things—-for I grew up in the old “store front” church with my mom when she was single and got exposed to the Word, despite it being in a “building”, tithing, one man pastor, etc. Praise God for that church because without it we wouldn’t be where we are today—–but I often don’t see institutional models like this recieve props and often it seems like they’re all BROAD-BRUSHED.)

    I go to a Charismatic, Non-Denominational Word Church…and yet there was almost a huge church split due to how many were having issue with Pastors getting PAID—–and for that matter, TITHING, EXPENSES MADE ON BUILDINGS, LEADERSHIP/NOT HAVING HEIRARCHIAL structures, etc. That may seem inconsequential to you, but the side they were coming from were using SCRIPTURE to make their cases and call the chuch ungodly for doing things that seem contrary to it……even called our church the “Whore of Babylon” AND OTHER things as they went toward what seems akin to House Fellowships/Simple and ORGANIC Churchand the same in return with our church on them. For more info, go here ( #9, #14 , CHAOS in the CAMP: Does anyone know HOW TO HANDLE A CHURCH SPLIT??? , Charismatic or Not, IS THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH AS WE KNOW IT WRONG AT ALL POINTS??? , &

    For other places where good discussion/reference on the issue is given, go here:
    (CHARISMATIC HOUSE CHURCHES: Are there organizations like this out there to invest in? & Biblical Questions About Home Fellowships

    Many people were seriously hurt/damaged by it. And as an Intern in my church’s Youth Group —and whose best friend was close to the leader of the factions/divisions, guess who got caught in the middle of it and was having to navigate both sides of the problem (and at a “sound church” too)?

    Of course, for those who say that the book and the objections raised by others are invalid, there have been counter-arguments that can be found here (http://www.ptmin.org/pcobjections.htm), and in context (to the best of my knowledge), I said SOME of the arguments others brought up and that still seemed like many questions weren’t answered fully. Though of course, as Viola said on the site,

    Quote:
    What are some of those features which are native to her DNA? Features like the headship of Jesus Christ (He alone is the Head of the Body), face-to-face authentic community, the every-member functioning of the Body, mutual submission, the family nature of the church, the priesthood of all believers, etc. I’m speaking of the spiritual principles that embody the life of the church which are rooted and grounded in NT teaching. I sometimes call this “the organic expression of the church,” “gathering in NT fashion,” “meeting first-century style,” or “NT-style church.” Many different terms to describe the same concept, which is pretty broad.It’s important to know that this book intentionally, deliberately, and with forethought, does not discuss the above in any detail at all. In fact, we repeatedly say in the book that the whole question of the NT “organic church” will be dealt with comprehensively in the next volume. That’s where the discussion of solutions will be engaged. The book will also answer questions like: What is normative in the first-century church vs. what is culturally relative? Is there such a thing as a NT ecclesiology? Can NT principles actually work in the 21st century? And something I mention in “Pagan,” but never fully develop: What is a narrative ecclesiology? 

    From their site, ?” “What does an organic church look like, and how does it function today in the 21st century?” “What is the biblical basis for such a church?” “What about contexualization?” “How do we determine what was prescriptive vs. descriptive in the New Testament?”
    -,

    Many of His arguments are cool, but others do seem in need of either being expanded further or “tweaked” a bit. And the heirarchal issuue I read as well, alongside others as they’re common in SIMPLE CHURCH models/are not new. Many of the arguments presented have also been refuted with excellent counter-points adressing where Viola’s points weren’t consistent with either church history or biblical greek-translation…..and that it seems many times like Viola goes around like it wasn’t dealt with.

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    One Response to “PAGAN CHRISTIANITY: Has anyone read the Book?”

    1. Don said

      Other reviews and endorsements for “Pagan Christianity” can be found at http://www.paganchristianity.org

      The sequel comes out in August. I think it’s called Reimagining Church or something like that.

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