Pagan Christianity: Origins of Our Modern Church Practices

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Pagan Christianity: Origins of Our Modern Church Practices

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:07 am

I was chatting with my dad tonight and we got to talking about Christianity. He told me he just ordered this book. It sounds interesting. Here's a blog excerpt and quote from the book to give you an idea of what it's about:

Out of Ur blog at Christianity Today wrote:Viola argues in his preface that the "practices of the first-century church were the natural and spontaneous expression" of believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit that were "solidly grounded in timeless principles and teachings of the New Testament." Regrettably, he maintains, most practices of contemporary churches—including everything from having a professional pastor to meeting in a church building—are at odds with New Testament teachings.


In 'Pagan Christianity', Frank Viola wrote:"The church in its contemporary, institutional form neither has a biblical nor a historical right to exist."


I thought I invented the word "churchianity" a few years ago. The one and only time I ever met Stan Grenz, I was blessed to have dinner with him at a special church event in Vancouver. I didn't know much about him at the time, and I had no idea that he would die suddenly after I met him. I got to ask him some deep spiritual questions over dinner and remember using the word 'churchianity'. He asked me what churchianity meant to me and I looked over at the sanctuary and the rows of pews and said, "This! This is churchianity... going through the motions of standing up, sitting down, shaking hands with people next to you with your Sunday smile on, singing hymns, listening to the preacher, having coffee after the service, and rushing home for Sunday lunch as quickly as possible once it's all over... Going through all these motions every week, pretending to be in community with people you really don't know or want to get to know".

Amazon wrote:Book Description

Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions: Why do we "dress up" for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon every Sunday? Why do we have pulpits and pews? Why do we have church buildings, steeples, choirs, and seminaries? Where did these things come from? This volume makes an outrageous proposal: That most of what we Christians do in our churches has no root in the New Testament! It rather has its origin in pagan culture long after the death of the apostles. As shocking as that sounds, Viola proves his point by documenting every claim he makes. Fully footnoted, Pagan Christianity is the first book ever penned that documents the entire story of our modern church practices. If you are a Christian who is content with status quo "churchianity," then you will not want to read this book. It is reserved for those who are ready to embark on an eye-opening venture that challenges every aspect of their church experience as well as offering a better alternative.

About the Author
FRANK VIOLA is an internationally known speaker, a house church planter, and the author of six highly acclaimed books on radical church restoration, including Rethinking the Wineskin, Who is Your Covering?, God's Ultimate Passion and The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. Frank lives in Gainesville, Florida.


Some book reviews:

http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/iss ... EVIEWS_461
http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_ ... stian.html
http://nicholasfiedler.com/blog/?p=999
http://nathangann.com/?p=90
http://trevinwax.com/2008/01/02/book-re ... istianity/
http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/2008/ ... er-review/
http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/talls ... sti-1.html

Below the author answers questions and objections about the book:
http://www.ptmin.org/pcobjections.htm

Feedback/comments?

Mercuryotis
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Re: Pagan Christianity: Origins of Our Modern Church Practices

Unread postby Mercuryotis » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:12 am

If you are a Christian who is content with status quo "churchianity," then you will not want to read this book.


Yes I am content, because I don't think God demands a particular formula in order to endow his Grace upon a congragation. We were discussing recently a post about Cleaning toilets for Christ, as silly as it sounds, I think it would be more benificial if every church adopted a toilet cleaning program rather than desect its own practices to see which were unscriptural or pagan. The earthly church is not perfect and never will be perfect, but faith and humility are what is needed

"A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

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Re: Pagan Christianity: Origins of Our Modern Church Practices

Unread postby neilinphilly » Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:13 am

A Presbyterian (PCA) church that I attend has outreaches to the homeless, unwed mothers, gays, HIV+ people and international students, just to name a few. When I started attended there, I coined it as "churchianity." I was quickly and pleasantly surprised when it didn't fit my stereotype.

    Homeless people are integrated into the church, develop friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, have help with getting employment and education, etc. There are hundreds if not thousands of woman who have opted to have their babies rather than abort them. They can put them up for adoption and the church's para-ministry will facilitate the process.

    The para-ministry for those with same-sex attraction and their family and friends, was the first in the region. Hundreds of guys and girls have decided either not to go into gay life or decided to leave. Some are now even married.

    The HIV+ outreach is to those who are positive. They provide buddies, meals and medical care (the founder is a RN)

    Students come to the US and don't know anyone and are looking for a safe place. Many come to the church and find the international fellowship.

    They plant or help plant other biblical/evangelical churches around the region irregardless of the denomination as long as it's biblical.

Of course, they support long and short term missionaries, many of them being doctors and nurses who decide to serve in a needed domestic or foreign area which has a shortage of clinicians.

The amazing thing about this church is that there are many well-off people who attend. C. Everett Koop, M.D., is a member. There seems to be no class or race lines, especially when it comes to meeting others' needs.

The late pastor is the founder and was the president of the Association of Confessing Evangelicals. He, his predecessor and successor all always preach(ed) using exegesis within systematic theology and hermeneutics with everyday practical applications for loving God, others and ourselves. The way the Word of God is presented is intelligent, not just presented as some information that is solely taken by faith. There are Ivy League professors, physicians, attorneys, executives and other people who would only attend a place where the Word of God is taught with intelligence.

We'd all be surprised, even shocked, if we were committed and got actively involved with a bible-teaching church that appeared to be simply practicing "churchianity."

BTW, some people there wear ties and dresses (for example, some of the Ivy league professors who wear bow ties that they also wear to class). Jeans and long hair are welcome too. I've even seen some guys who've come dressed in leather and chains. No one avoided them. They were welcome to come and here the Good News. Some even converted to follow Christ and became part of the fellowship, grew as believers and became part of the church.

BTW, where else are you gonna find this in one place? And there are people who volunteer to maintain the facilities, including cleaning toilets and EVEN loving the unlovely.

musicmonkey
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Re: Pagan Christianity: Origins of Our Modern Church Practices

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:35 pm

A friend of mine, interpretisto wrote:Thanks for the link for "Pagan Christianity." Although I've not read it personally, it does look interesting. I can only comment on other readers' comments at this time. How does your dad like it so far? I'm thinking Catholics will not be impressed, but Anabaptists will walk away feeling pretty good. That is my gut reaction at this time.

What do you think about the main idea of this book?

I think man has to have a personal relationship with Christ, period. If that occurs in a Catholic Church with all of its history and tradition, fine. If that happens in a Vineyard Church with minimalistic surroundings, fine too. I don't necessarily find "pulpits, deep pile carpet and church buildings" to be pagan or anti-Christianity. Of course the early Christians didn't have these things as the religion was young, and of course deep pile carpeting took a while to grace us with its presence, lol.

As humans we do have a tendency to organize things, and we do like leaders. We did call great religious leaders in the past, "fathers." So, I don't know if the idea of a pastor or priest is so wrong. I don't know if the author actually calls in the end of the book, for all believers to leave "organized religion," but I would hope he doesn't. (Some critics have posted this.)

I will just have to read this book. So far, it's not at the local library, so I'll have to look for it at the book store. And read as much as I can over a latte.


In reply, I wrote:Thanks for the thought out reply. I don't know if my dad has received the book yet. He ordered it online. On the phone, I told him some of the criticisms some of my friends have told me and he said they need to read it first before coming to too many conclusions. I'll have to wait until he reads it before I get more feedback from him. For years, I've been using the word "churchianity" to describe something that I couldn't put my finger on but yet permeated throughout Christian church culture. I'm not sure what the main idea of the book is, other than maybe deconstructing everything we (Christians) think church is supposed to be or look like all the way down to the hierarchical structure, the services themselves, and yes, the deep carpet. (I'd add really bad artificial flower arrangements that smell like moth balls and remove the masculine).

From talking to my dad over the last few years, he has shared a few reasons why he and my mom go to house churches. I think a large part of it is that in a house church, it's smaller and so you get to know (and care for) each other more deeply. My parents seem to be getting more emotionally fragile in their elderly years, and a cold institutional church doesn't make them feel cared for or needed. My dad is not like a typical old man, he wants to be involved in things. He once said that once you are a certain age in some churches, they put you in a Sunday School class with other seniors and most of them are not nearly as passionate about spiritual growth as my dad is. I think he felt trapped with the "old folks" and wanted to be in a younger more dynamic spirit-filled environment.

As for religious leaders being called "fathers", that is plural, not singular. My dad definitely believes in shared leadership or "multiple shepherds" as the book points out. I recall him once saying that at the church they were going to, there was one pastor and he called all the shots. It was the pastor's vision that everyone had to support, even if it meant raising money to expand the parking lot while Darfur falls into deeper darkness.

I should add to the parking lot / Darfur thought that in a shared leadership environment multiple visions can be shared and brought to the table. I think often the wisest men are not the ones at the top of the pyramid. Often, it's the soft spoken man in the corner who hears God's true vision for the flock while the pastorate are off dreaming of big new parking lots. I don't think the goal of a church should necessarily be to increase the congregation size and build a bigger building. We're not building empires out of stone. I believe that God's kingdom is being built in our hearts and is best lived in smaller caring groups.

Let me know if you do read the book. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it and feel free to comment on this email. I may post it on godsman.net if that's alright with you.


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