Pagan Christianity! Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesFrank Viola, George BarnaBarnaBooks / 2007 / Hardcover$14.99 Retail:4 Stars Out Of 5 139 Reviews
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David Brevard1 Stars Out Of 5May 14, 2008David BrevardThe enthusiastic reception of this book may be a statement about the weaknesses of many evangelical churches, but the book itself does little to prove it's thesis beyond spurious documentation misapplied. 1st century believers didn't worship in church buildings because Christians were persecuted, typically poor, and the Roman govt wasn't exactly amenable to erecting Christian houses of worship. To assert that meeting in small groups in house settings is the NT norm for the church for all time is ridiculous. To make an issue of wearing "your best duds" to church is nonsense. We wear our best because of Whom we're meeting with, namely our God and Savior. We don't just show up wearing khakis and a Hawiian shirt (unless that happens to be your best duds), but whatever your best is, wear it. You're meeting with God, after all.Questioning the sermon, the pew, etc. is missing the mark when addressing the problems of the modern evangelical church. Each church should be addressed on an individual basis, not just lumped into one big problem, the answer to which is to scrap the whole thing and meet in our houses.The opening example of the book (a family rushing off to church, yelling at each other in the haste, and then appearing happy to everyone when they get there) says more about that family than it does about church. This book also says more about the authors than it does the problem they attempt to address.I sympathize with those who have found their church experience deficient, but attempt to be a part of the solution by laboring in your church as a faithful Christian and churchman, not by staying home and inviting a few Christians to your house to talk about what you all think the Bible means. Think about it. Did the Holy Spirit allow the bride of Christ to be wrong about this for 2000 years? Somehow these authors have discovered the "real truth the church doesn't want you to know about"? We should know better than that.
Gary Berkley1 Stars Out Of 5May 6, 2008Gary BerkleyThis book trys to assert that the church's problem is the sermon, the pew, the steeple, etc. without exegeting much Scripture. Hey, I've had to sit through a boring sermon or two, but this is taking it a bit too far. Seriously though, I think the authors are just bitter toward their lawful church leadership and don't want anyone to rule over them (in the appropriate, servant-pastor way). They haven't made their case from Scripture in this book.You should always be suspect whenever anyone asserts that something that has been an accepted church practice for 2,000 years is really a great evil. As if the Holy Spirit has spoken to them, but not His people since Pentecost...Beware.
Rev. Doyle Peyton1 Stars Out Of 5July 8, 2008Rev. Doyle PeytonI think Barna would be ashamed to write a book like this. It's hard to believe he was once an apostle of church marketing trends.He seems to go which way the wind blows. This book lacks both biblical and historical credibility.
Bob Marlboro1 Stars Out Of 5July 9, 2008Bob MarlboroMuch is made by the authors that this book is going to expose the truth and shake up our understanding of modern church practices. Quite a claim.There is some useful information in "Pagan Christianity?" However, one must separate the chaff from the wheat. We are advised that the church building came into existence when Constantine adopted pagan practices, erecting elaborate monuments to the dead which over time evolved into the big cathedrals common in our day. Much is made of the term "go to church". with reference to the building. Since Protestants affirm that the church is really the people and not the building they meet in, the argument is hollow. The authors espouse meeting in homes or modified commercial spaces. I ask, "what difference does it make?" The meeting places of the 1C church were appropriate for that time, place, and culture. Modern church buildings are appropriate for ours.<br /><br />The church steeple, we are told, is analogous with man building the Tower of Babel. Is this the argumentation that is going to shake up modern church practices? Hardly.The authors espouse an "organic church". What that is we are not told. This book is another case of criticism without solution. Another book explaining what church life should be is forthcoming, but do we need these authors to "reimagine" the church for us? I would venture to guess that the proponents of this book were already sympathetic to this position, and generally dissatisfied with their church experiences. That's what will drive its' success.Theologically though, it is weak. In the end, it's much ado about nothing. No doubt, we should always be reforming and examining our practices in the light of Scripture, but "Pagan Christianity?" makes a mountain out of a mole hill.One last thing, they quote JC Ryle in the beginning of the book, but fail to point out that he was the bishop of Liverpool in the Anglican church. Guess that wouldn't look good, given their position!
Ron Delaney1 Stars Out Of 5July 3, 2008Ron DelaneyIn a previous review someone named Roger stated, "If you have some sort of stock in the traditional form of church, don't read this book. You will get angry, upset, and will probably be provoked to write a nasty review on a site like this to prevent other people from reading it."It's this kind of "conspiracy" mentality of those that praise this book that is troubling. Only those who are the minions of the institutional church could give this book a bad review, right? It couldn't be that it's full of conjecture and misinformation? No, that couldn't be it...Someone also asserted this work was attested to by theologians and scholars. Which ones? The position found in Pagan Christianity is no where to be found in the works of the great theologians or scholars of the church.This book plays loose with the truth, and the facts are subservient to the authors' purposes, which are to do away with the church and replace it with essentially home Bible studies.Truly sad. What we need is biblical churchmen who love the Lord and want to serve His people in the church--we should try to be a part of the solution to the problems in our churches, not simply withdraw from them.Take note of Mary's review and you'll see what I mean.