I recently read Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna. In case you haven’t heard anything about the book, Pagan Christianity? looks at many of the most taken for granted church practices in protestantism and argues that they come not from Scripture or the teachings of Jesus, but from pagan practices that were co-opted by Christians.
I found the book to be interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging. But I often got pretty frustrated with the basic premise that was, to me, applied too broadly and without nuance. To over simplify my understanding of the premise of the book: Anything that has become part of the practice of the church that did not come directly from Jesus and the New Testament is bad. (Like I said, I may be overstating it or oversimplifying the argument, but that is the best I can do in a nut shell.) Nevertheless, the authors make some excellent points about how much of what we do today in the church encourages a view of active clergy and passive laity. This is a huge problem!
In any case, I was intending to write a review of it in a week or two, in part in order to create the space to wrestle with some of the thoughts I had about the book as I read it. However, yesterday I read Dan Kimball’s review of Pagan Christianity, and it says what I would have tried to say much better than I would have said it. Kimball promises a second installment where he will post Viola’s response to the questions that Kimball raises at the end of the post. Kimball also references several other reviews in his post. If you have heard about Pagan Christianity? and you are interested in reading a review that is sympathetic yet critical, I would highly recommend this review.
For those of you who may have read this book, what are your thoughts about Pagan Christianity?