The book really merits 5 stars if based solely on the historical data. But, I disagree with many of their conclusions and believe they skewed their research to promote their ideas. First, it appears that while they critique the Church fathers for introducing "pagan" concepts, they fully accept traditional Church doctrine and Bible canon that these same Church fathers were responsible for. What is pagan anyways? If I learn a business technique and apply it to a church model, is that pagan? If I have a background in secular science and connect scientific knowledge and the Bible in sermons, is that pagan?
While I'll concede that the Church has adopted secular mechanism, pagan to me signifies satan-driven worship and I'm not sure if all the traditions we have adopted are true pagan.
The authors failed to input in their writing that many of the Church fathers and great Christians were godly men and laid the foundation for our movement. Also, those institutional Churches have also discipled millions of godly men and women.
Ok, I'll concede that I have limited experienced in a home church, but I know of one first hand and that home church is limited in capabilities and resources to advance discipleship within its ranks or to spread the Gospel. On the other hand, I've attended a mega-church whose budget is in the millions and they support so many ministries to help the poor and disciple its members. Also, all churches I have attended have small groups that provide fellowship under the umbrella of church leadership.
Lastly, they deride Christian education for the purpose of ordination. Wow! I'm a reform minded guy attending a arminian minded church with no complaints because the clergy is solid theologically and under the leadership of a denomination. Ordination was a huge criteria I required when looking for a church. This book derides Christian education then in one section chastises a person for mis-interpreting the Bible to suit his needs. Strange.
All in all, this book spiked my interest in the subject and I will pray about it.
This book I would recommend EVERY Christian to read! We are to be glorifying God in everything we do and I think we have gotten off track on how God had and has planned for us to do that as His church! This is a great book to help explain where alot of our traditions of church come from and also brings in scripture to help clarify that is not how it was originally supposed to be set up as in the New Testament church! Have an open heart and mind when you read this! This is an excellent find! It will challenge your socks off!
I agree with Sapphire, "I do not agree with all the authors' conclusions and assertions, but I still strongly recommend this book" and add my name to those recommending this book.
Many in the Christian Church decry Christians taking part in Halloween celebrations (Easter sunrise services etc...) for its Pagan roots and yet put up a Christmas tree (taken from Paganism) as well as many other Pagan rituals - those people need to read this book.
So then what? Do we throw out those practices which are Pagan in origin? I would say - no, but we ought to know the origin of our Church traditions and rituals so as not to elevate tradition above God and His Word.
This book will put a light on the trivial things that cause division and upset in our churches, and that will upset a lot of people who have made tradition a first place thing and not secondary to Christ. People who will tell you not to read this book, but I contend this:
If you are not reading to challenge yourself but read and study only thos whose voice will affirm your current position - you are wasting your time, I will say it again you are WASTING your time and are singing to the choir - such behaviour does not produce spiritual maturity. Must we read everything contrary to our own beliefs? no, but we must not also swing too far in the opposite direction and read only those who affirm us. We must all challenge ourselves as our faith can and will stand up to it amd this book is an excellent place to start.
I will close my reivew with the same quote I started it with by Sapphire, "I do not agree with all the authors' conclusions and assertions, but I still strongly recommend this book." I am a pastor in a mid-sized church, we have a nice building, we have worship leaders, we follow many to most of the practices outlined in this book as Pagan in origin, but we do it for the glory of Christ, and so in my personal opinion we redeem those rituals for Christ - but I am keenly aware that the traditions of our church are secondary things which must be seen through the lense of Christ and are not to be elevated to first things - that would be idolatary.
Aside from the Bible, I only consider three books I have read to be deserving of my saying, "It changed my life." This is one of those three. I do not agree with all the authors' conclusions and assertions, but I still strongly recommend this book.
For years, I have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the large, institutional churches I've attended, yet noticed that I felt so enlivened at small-group gatherings where we could all edify each other and experience the Lord together. Yet, I experienced extreme guilt for feeling this way. "Pagan Christianity" liberated me by using the Word of God and history to *justify* what I've come to feel. It made me realize that I'm not crazy or wrong - I'm simply hungry for the type of church that God intended us to experience.
If you feel bitter toward church or are in a rebellious stage, do not read this book just to fan the flames. *But*, if you sense something missing from your church experience and are yearning for a more genuine church community, definitely read it. It will rock your world.