PAGAN Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices”
– by Frank Viola and George Barna
Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we “dress up” for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, choirs, and seminaries? This volume reveals the startling truth: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence in the first-ever book to document the full story of modern Christian church practices.
From the Publisher “Most contemporary Christians are massively ignorant as to how the church got to where it is today and of how much current church practice is due simply to accumulated tradition, with little or no roots in Scripture. This book provides a useful service in peeling back the layers of tradition, showing the origins of much that we today call “church.” Christians who want to be biblically faithful, regardless of their particular tradition or church form, can learn and benefit from the book.” Howard Snyder, Professor of History and Theology of Mission, Asbury Theological Seminary, author of “The Problem of Wineskins” and “The Community of the King.”
“Why do we ‘do church’ the way we do? Most folks seem to assume that our Christian religious trappings can be traced all the way back to the first century. But they can’t. The things we hold dear-sacred buildings to meet in, pulpits, sacramental tables, clergy, liturgies, etc.-were unknown among Paul’s assemblies. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY looks at our major church traditions and documents when and how they appeared in the ages long after the apostles. Haven’t you ever wondered why people dress up in their best clothes for the Sunday morning service? PAGAN CHRISTIANITY unfolds the answer to this and numerous other questions looming in the back of many folks’ minds. Reading PAGAN CHRISTIANITY will open your eyes to the fact that the ecclesiastical emperor really has no clothes on.” Jon Zens, editor of “Searching Together.”
“PAGAN CHRISTIANITY documents specific areas where contemporary church life violates Biblical principles. It is painful to read because it requires taking a journey beyond the comfort zone of our present paradigms. Whether you agree with all the conclusions the author draws or not, you will have no argument with his documentation. It is a scholarly work with an explosive conclusion. Particularly for those of us in the modern cell church movement, this is a valuable tool to force rethinking the meaning of the word “ecclesia.” The Holy Spirit is not pleased with churchianity as we practice it, nor is the watching unchurched world.” Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr., author of “Where Do We Go From Here?” and founder of the Cell Church Movement.
“This feisty book attacks the incipient paganism that has been absorbed into historic Christianity over the years. It exposes the syncretistic weak spots in what we assume to be basic in our way of doing church. Thoroughly iconoclastic, it is also at the same time a good apologetic for the house church movement which has strong restorationist impulses. My guess is that it will anger some readers and thrill others. I am one of the latter. Whatever, it won’t be too easy to dismiss as it is really well researched and substantiated. I think it is definitely worth the read even if I do think it is a tad purist in tone. Just don’t drop it-it is likely to explode.” Alan Hirsch, author of “The Forgotten Ways” and “The Shaping of Things to Come.”
“Driving out demons is easy – compared with changing habits and traditions of man that develop into idols, to give us what only God should give us: identity, security, destiny. As in a child, the original God-given conscience is clean and clear. Many new born Christians feel the same and have an automatic feel for what is right. But in the case of organized Evangelicalism in the West, they are swiftly taken into a religious system that basically believes everything that Mom and Pap says — and happily embrace “church practices” that are not in the Bible. Many just “know” at some point something is terribly wrong with Church-as-they-know-it. PAGAN CHRISTIANITY not only substantiates these ill feelings in millions of Christians with hard facts, but it provides us with a road map for the journey ahead. Once we know where we went wrong, repentance and finding the right way forward comes much easier.” Wolfgang Simpson, author of “Houses That Change the World.