Lord’s Library editors compiled this brief that offers a short summary of Pagan Christianity, a notable work by Frank Viola.
“Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola and George Barna is an engaging and thought-provoking exploration into the origins of many modern church practices, which the authors argue are more rooted in pagan tradition than in biblical Christianity. Through meticulous research and analysis, Viola and Barna examine the historical background of practices such as church buildings, the pastoral role, sermons, and organized church services, revealing that many of these elements were adopted from non-Christian sources throughout history. The book contrasts these findings with the simple, participatory, and community-oriented nature of the early Christian church as depicted in the New Testament. “Pagan Christianity?” serves as a call to modern Christians to reassess and potentially reform their church practices to align more closely with the practices and teachings of the early church. It challenges readers to rethink the structure and expression of contemporary Christian worship and community life, advocating for a return to a more authentic, organic form of Christianity. The book is a must-read for those interested in the historical foundations of church practices and for anyone seeking a more genuine expression of the Christian faith.
Pagan Christianity Summary
Pagan Christianity Summary: Points to Know Before Reading
The Book Provides a Historical Origin of Church Practices
Viola and Barna delve into the history behind various church practices, including the building and design of church buildings, the role of the pastor, the sermon, the weekly church service, and more. They trace these practices back to their origins, often finding that they stem from pagan traditions or were adopted from the Roman Empire and other cultures, rather than being rooted in the New Testament church practices.
And the Contrast with New Testament Church Life
A significant portion of “Pagan Christianity?” is devoted to comparing contemporary church practices with those of the early Christian church as described in the New Testament. The authors use scriptural references to paint a picture of the early church’s organic, community-oriented, and participatory nature. This contrasts sharply with the more hierarchical and passive nature of modern church gatherings.
While Calling Readers to Consider Reformed Theology
Viola and Barna’s work is not just a critique but a call to action. They urge believers to reconsider and reform their church practices to be more aligned with those of the early Christian community. The book suggests that such a reformation would lead to a more vibrant, authentic, and spiritually fulfilling expression of the body of Christ.
As Well as Highlighting the Institutional Church vs. Organic Church Expression
The authors make a distinction between the institutional church, with its rigid structures and practices, and what they see as a more organic expression of church life. They advocate for a return to simpler, more relational forms of worship and community, emphasizing the priesthood of all believers and the active participation of each member in the life of the church.
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