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What’s wrong with the church and how to fix it

Pagan Christianity, by Frank Viola and George Barna We’ve all heard Christian leaders proclaim, “At our church, we only do what the Bible says.” The irony is that they say it from pulpits that themselves find no basis in the Bible and in church buildings that have more to do with paga…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

, by Frank Viola and George Barna

We’ve all heard Christian leaders
proclaim, “At our church, we only do what the Bible says.” The irony is that they say it from pulpits
that themselves find no basis in the Bible and in church buildings that have more to do
with pagan cultures of the past than biblical roots.

If you really begin to examine
many of the key elements of the Christian faith as we practice it, you’ll find
little or no biblical basis for them. In
their book Pagan
, authors Viola and Barna address the laundry list of Christian
practices with a dubious biblical origin, including the sermon, the pastor,
ministers of music, and tithing.

The authors make what they is “An
outrageous proposal: that the church in
its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical
right to function as it does.”

Pagan Christianity is a book we need to read, if only to detox from
a lot of paradigms we’ve inherited and never questioned. The first review on Amazon says, “May very
well be the most important book written on the Christian church in the last two
millennia.” I think the guy is right. The research is thorough, and the inquiry is
honest. The reviewer concludes, “I know
how hard this read will be for many people, especially clergy members. Pagan Christianity will, no doubt, be a
most uncomfortable read for all those who believe the Body of Christ is an
institution. For the clergy member, the read will almost be impossible. At
every turn of the page… the flesh will flare up…”

Most of the 59 Amazon reviews
agree with the first reviewer. And many
of them found the conclusions quite liberating.
Hebrews 10:25 calls us to meet together for the purpose of
encouragement. If you’re not finding
yourself encouraged at your church, read this book and go join a church where
that does happen.

Comments (10)

  • Wow… sounds pretty intriguing! As a Messianic Christian, I can imagine some of what they will discuss, as I was outraged when I investigated Christmas, Sunday worship, Easter, and some of the most sacred beliefs I held growing up in the church. If you’re open to looking at these issues, I also recommend “Restoration” by Thomas Lancaster, and “From Sabbath to Sunday” by Samuele Bachiocchi. They may shake you up a bit :-). I’d be glad to dialogue with anyone about the foundations of these practices, as well.
    God’s word, the Torah, and feast days were all designed to bring us to remembrance of Him, and fellowship with others. We have definitely lost much of this in contemporary Christian churches. Community was designed to encourage, teach, help, and train each other upnot always just feel good.
    I am grateful to be in a congregation that embraces all of that (and joy!!).

  • Yeah, I’ll have to pick this up soon. Incidentally, many of the Racers (meanwhile, back at the ranch) are getting up and declaring that this is the most authentic church experience they’ve ever had.

  • We’ve been reading this book the last month and again, find it VERY encouraging that we’re not crazy after all. We were so miserable enduring the unbiblical forms of present day “church” structure. That with the book you recommended, Seth, “houses that change the world”. We’re back to houses again without bringing the church format into the home. There is so much ingrained in our thinking and habits. It’s really a keen effort to be led by His Spirit and not default to the known and familiar ways. That’s where LIFE is. And I can’t help but mention that one of the things we default to is our reference to “church”. When you said, Seth, “not…encouraged at your church.. go join a church….” I know what you mean. Yet we need reminding that WE are the Church and when we gather, there is “Church”.

  • As far as what Jeff was saying, When we left this weekend Christi and I BOTH felt that was the most authentic worship we had EVER been a part of. A band of brokenness loomed together by the Holy Spirit intent on finding community together so that they can bring Christ’s redemption to the world. That thread was OBVIOUS in the worship.

    It feel so safe to be finding our way to Holy Spirit community!

  • Yeah… GREAT book! I just started a couple of weeks ago, and totally found the reality of what I am living (in church) on every page! yuk!

    Phenomenal book… period!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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