A Book You Should Read....or Not!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to recommend....or not recommend a book I am reading. I am not sure whether or not to really recommend this for a couple of reasons. The first being that I am not completely done with it, so it could take a horrible turn before I finish. The other reason is that this book is causing me to have more questions about things that I already had questions about (and if you've read any of my previous posts, you realize that the theme of my life is becoming QUESTIONS!). So I'll say this, if you already have some questions or discontentment specifically with the Church as we now know it, then this book will only stir your questions. So you may NOT want to read it.....though discontentment and questions aren't necessarily bad.

So what is this book that has so upset the Matt-ian apple cart? It's called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. It is quite honestly a history book, which automatically sounds completely boring, but it is presented in a really easy-to-read fashion. The premise is that the Church of today not only doesn't look like the first century Acts 2 church, but it even more looks like a smorgasborg (a word that is way underused for the record....I'm actually really excited that I just used it!!!) of Pagan religions that preceded it. Viola is a big proponent for what he calls "organic" or house churches. He uses history to support his beef with the institutionalized church, and it is obvious he has a bone to pick. Though the material is quite unbiased, it is still really interesting to see the progression (or regression I guess is how Viola sees it) of what we practice today.

I really wish some of you, my faithful readers and friends (I'm looking at you DAD and Josh!!!), would read this book so I could discuss it with you. What I am not doing with it is drinking this guys kool-aid. I try to read everything with a balanced perspective (as best I can, wading through my own personal biases.) What I am trying to do is allow this to stretch and challenge my thinking. My honest desire here....and by here I mean in life....is to honor God. I don't say that in some self-righteous vain....I really mean it. Right now, the biggest question for me for the church, and for my life, is "Is this really what God designed? Is this really the way things should look? Does this really honor Him?" Pagan Christianity forces this issue.

So run right out and grab yourself a copy of the book....or don't and stay content in your safe, sanitary little bubble world of unchallenged thought and wasted life while the dangers and wonders of a vibrant, exhilarating, and close spiritual walk with Christ pass you by leaving you with nothing but pointless ritualistic traditionalism and meaningless, empty religion.......just kidding...no really....I'm pretty sure THIS book doesn't carry that much weight.. ..but it is challenging.....the Bible....now there's a book that could do all the aforementioned transformations!

Next post....we'll go for something fun..or funny....or both...try to get away from all the seriousness...it's just to heavy sometimes!!


Welcome to the club! "Questioning things" is where I live.

I try to approach things honestly and not go on gut feelings or old biases.

But along with that let me say that I carry a hefty skepticism too. For me to change my mind about some point of theology usually takes a long slow process.

But I would love to read this book. I'll put it on my need to read list right next to Francis Collins' "The Language of God".

May 2, 2008 at 3:50 PM  

The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
It’s also available on Amazon.com. Frank is also blogging now at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com

July 31, 2008 at 10:53 AM  

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