Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

A Conversation with Frank Viola, Part I (Pagan Christianity)
subversiveinfluence.com ^ | Feb. 11, 2008 | Bro. Maynard

Posted on 02/12/2008 2:42:11 AM PST by ovrtaxt

A Conversation with Frank Viola, Part I

3544 words by Brother Maynard on February 11, 2008

pagan-xnity-banner.jpgPagan Week” has been held over in view of the extended conversation I’ve had with Frank Viola, which turned out not to be a brief one-post interview after all. We got into some pretty big questions, which help frame a deeper understanding of his latest book on which he collaborated with George Barna. My review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices ran all of last week, during which I voiced a number of concerns with the book and pointed out some strong points. In the end, the biggest caveat with the book is that it’s overly prone to being misunderstood, but can be recommended as a good discussion-starter: just don’t mistake it for an attempt to provide comprehensive answers on each subject it addresses. In no small part, this conclusion fueled my desire to have a conversation with Frank around the book itself. As we did with my Interview with Paul Young (Author of The Shack), the conversation was conducted via email, and I’ve stitched it together in this format. As I said before, just imagine we’re all sitting around a table in your favorite independent local coffee shop. Frank and I converse for a bit, but you’ll get your comments in edgewise a little further on — for now, grab that latte you ordered, pull up an extra chair and pass the biscotti.

Bro.M. Frank, thanks for agreeing to this — I always enjoy connecting around some of these subjects.

Frank: Thanks for the opportunity to dialogue. I’m a fan of your blog so this is particularly encouraging for me.

Bro.M. Great! So tell me something of your background, your journey to this point. You’ve published a number of books already and been engaged in the house church movement for some time now, isn’t that right?

Frank: I spent thirteen years in the institutional church, traversing many different denominations. I think I counted 13 different brands of church, from CMA, Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Mennonite, AOG, COG, to virtually every stripe and flavor of charismatic Christianity. Add to that 5 parachurch organizations and dozens of church-sponsored Bible studies. I was intensely involved in many of the above. And as I say in the book, I owe my salvation and my baptism to the institutional church. God has used it in my life as He has in the lives of countless others.

But in 1988, I dropped out. I gave it up for Lent. :-)

The reasons are complex. But in short, I was hungry for Jesus Christ, I was bored with church services, and I had grown weary of much of what I had seen in the churches I was a part of. I also had trouble connecting much of what went on to what I read about in the New Testament, particularly the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. To my mind, there was a disconnect between them and my church experiences.

That said, myself and a few others who also left the organized church began meeting around Jesus Christ in a simple way. At the time, we had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea that others had forged similar paths before us. Looking back, I believe we were following our spiritual instincts. We Christians have a spiritual instinct to fellowship around Jesus Christ in a simple, relational way. As time went on, we discovered a church-life experience that I never knew existed. I call it “the organic expression of the church,” a term that owes heavily to T. Austin-Sparks.

In short, that experience wrecked me. I found Jesus Christ in depths that I never knew existed, and I found the experience of His Body in ways I never imagined.

Bro.M. I find I’m meeting a lot of people with very similar stories about an exodus from the institutional church. A lot of us value the background, but for one reason or another don’t want to be part of the institution anymore… so we’re all in good company! Is when you were drawn into the house church movement, then?

Frank: While I often speak at house church conferences, I wouldn’t classify myself as a “house church” proponent. There’s too much diversity in the movement. Some elements I agree with; others I do not. The movement also puts the emphasis on the wrong thing — the house. Meeting in a home doesn’t make a group of Christians a church anymore than meeting in a donut shop makes them police officers. (No offense to police officers. Sorry cousin Joey!) I trust you get my point. There’s nothing magical about meeting in a home. That’s not the issue.

I think the same can be said about the “emerging church” movement or conversation (depending on what one wishes to label it). Many of the leaders in the emerging church are good friends of mine. I agree with certain elements of it; others I do not.

What drives me is the Lord Jesus Christ and the experience of His beloved Bride. I’ve made the discovery that Christ can only be known in the depths when His people live in a face-to-face community that’s centered on Him. Perhaps that’s not always the case; there are no doubt exceptions (Jeanne Guyon is one who comes to mind). But it’s been my experience and observation that this is generally the case. We were built to love Him, know Him, experience Him, and express Him in community, not as an individual. And that’s what ekklesia is all about. So it seems to me anyway. To put it another way, I believe in a deep ecclesiology.

Bro.M. I like the observation about not emphasizing the house — it’s the same argument as not emphasising the “church building,” which is consistent with the church being the people of God, the Bride. “Deep ecclesiology” is one of those terms we’re starting to see more of, so thanks for the link to your article on it — it saves me a followup question! So what led up to this book? It’s been a long-time project for you, if I understand correctly. Tell me something about that, and about George Barna’s involvement.

Frank: Since the late ’90s, I’ve written a number of self-published books that represent my very imperfect attempt to explain what I’ve discovered and experienced in the way of church life. All of those books, with the exception of “The Untold Story of the New Testament Church,” have been revised, expanded, and re-written. “Pagan Christianity” is the first of those revisions. Others will follow.

This one took me about four years to write. The research was rather difficult, especially the footnoting. The original edition came out in 2002 and was released without an editor. (Gulp.) Consequently, what I thought to be humorous and witty comments were taken by some people to be strident and inflammatory. An editor pointed this out to me and for that I’m grateful. Those statements were removed from the new version.

One of the motivations for writing the book was to encourage Christians to rethink their church experience. To question their cherished traditions. To ask questions that few Christian seem to be asking. And to give God’s people permission to experiment with new forms and expressions of the church which are faithful to Scripture.

When one realizes that much of what we’re doing today has no root in the Word of God, it has a liberating effect. We are free to pursue the Lord corporately in fresh and creative ways.

Bro.M. That makes good sense — the result should be freedom, not just a different set of constraints.

Frank: My outstanding motivation is for the headship of Jesus Christ. Right or wrong, that’s where my burden lies, and I’m quite jealous about it — His headship that is. I also have a lot of confidence in God’s people if they are equipped and turned loose to express the Lord in creative ways. Ways that stand outside the box and color outside the lines. My experience of organic church life ruined me, and I believe that deep down inside, every Christian longs for it. “Pagan Christianity,” for us at least, is designed to clear away some of the debris that we believe keeps us from experiencing what God desires all of His children to experience.

Anyway, George read the original version and wanted to publish it to get a wider audience. He went through the old manuscript and did a good deal of revising. He also contributed some new chapters, so the second swing was a collaborative effort, and it made the book much better.

While all the rhetoric in the first edition that caused some folks to have seizers have been removed, I’m told that some people are flipping out about the style. This is confusing to us because most of the feedback we’ve gotten has been on how gracious the spirit is behind the book. One man, a pastor of many years, said it was written “pastorally,” and leads people by the hand.

A friend of mine who is part of the emerging church conversation made an interesting observation. He said that when people hear a radical message that’s not just advocating tweeking the present system, but actually challenging its structural integrity and advocating a complete overhaul of it — and doing so confidently instead of insipidly — some confuse that with unsavory rhetoric and will attack the writing style.

I’m not sure. I’ll simply say that we didn’t write the book in the style of an arm-chair scholar. It’s not a book disseminating sterile historical information. I’m someone who lives and breathes for the church of Jesus Christ. This incredible Christ has overwhelmed my life. And she, the ekklesia, is my passion. Therefore, the writing style and message is not just aimed at the frontal lobe, but at the heart, the spirit, and the conscience. There’s passion and energy behind the book. For better or for worse, that passion is rooted in a jealousy for the centrality, supremacy, and headship of Jesus Christ and the freedom of His beloved Bride. That doesn’t make me infallible in my conclusions; it just means that these issues have moved from my head to my heart. (I agree with N.T. Wright when he said that about 1/3 of what I’m telling you is probably not correct. But I don’t know which 1/3 it is.)

Bro.M Frank, I’ve got to confess that I struggled with the writing style a little as well — you probably saw that in my review. Ultimately I concluded that the issues are emotionally-charged, as we’re all invested to some degree in the ways we’ve practiced our expressions of church. To shake that up can be quite disorienting! I love that perspective from N.T. Wright as well. I’ve heard Brian McLaren use it also, and it’s a beautfully humbling posture for us when we can keep it at the forefront of our opinions. I have a cynical, sarcastic wit at times and I’m a writer as well, so I’ve been misunderstood with some of the things I’ve said and written — so I can sympathize.

Frank: Brennan Manning is an incredible writer. I once (very literally) sat at his feet and asked him while he was seated: “As a more seasoned writer giving advice to a less seasoned writer, what is the most important piece of advice you can give me?”

His answer — “If it doesn’t move you, throw it in the trash can. If it moves you, write it!”

Underneath the content of “Pagan Christianity” is what for me has been a breathtaking and electrifying vision of Christ and His church. And that vision burns within me still. It comes through the book at times as well as through my spoken ministry.

I’ve noticed that people who are used to objective-seminary-professor-styled-even-toned lectures often find fiery-preachers who have an emotional edge a turn-off. When I heard Brennan Manning preach at a conference workshop last year, a few people didn’t like the fact that he raised his voice while he preached nor the absolute way in which he talked about God. Most loved it, however, and they were mesmerized by the passion in his spirit. The same thing happened when I first heard Tony Campolo many years ago. He yelled, beat the podium, and gave an impassioned, fiery, high-pitched message about Jesus and the poor. Many were turned off by the style, thinking him an angry man. Others were moved greatly.

It seems we’re all drawn to different styles. But I think it’s counterproductive to impute base motives to a person whose style we don’t like, whether in print or in speech.

I appreciate the words of A.W. Tozer on this score:

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of [the twentieth] century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will not be one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom.

Some recent movements in the Christian faith appear to be opposed to the kind of ministry-style that Tozer is speaking of, equating it somehow with arrogance and dogmatism, while others are captivated and changed by it.

Related question: Peter exhorts God’s people when they minister to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). That’s a text worth discussing, I think.

On another note, it’s fascinating to me how much attention this book is getting now that George’s name is on it. It’s like Frank Viola didn’t exist before Barna… except in major league baseball of course :-) Maybe I should return to pitching!

(Disclaimer: I’m actually not the MLB pitcher of the same name (head drop). People confuse us all the time. I have been trying to swap jobs with the other Frankie V. for a while now, but he continues to decline for some reason. Sigh.)

Bro.M. Well, don’t give up on either career! I gather the reaction to the book has been mixed, to say the least. Some of the endorsements are pretty glowing, but I think I actually saw someone call you guys “antichrists” the other day. Are you surprised by this? What’s been the strongest reaction or criticism?

Frank: The overwhelming response to the book has been incredibly positive. We get encouraging letters constantly from readers.

As would be expected, the main criticisms seem to be coming from people who are invested in the institutional church somehow. I’m told that the book is making Reformed ministers scream and Fundamentalist pastors break out into apoplectic fits. As for the strongest reaction, I’ve been getting hate mail from Quakers and bodily threats from the Amish. Does that count? :-)

From what I’ve seen, some critics of the book are incredibly articulate. They are highly gifted writers — the kind of people you’d love to have in your corner if you were under attack. It’s been reported that at least half the reviews are by people who didn’t read the book or surface-skimmed it. (Interestingly, a friend of mine recently made the observation that “Pagan Christianity is the most reviewed book by those who haven’t read it.”)

Bro.M Ouch!

Frank: The main argument being made by those who haven’t read it and/or who have skimmed it is that George and I are saying that everything that has pagan roots is wrong. That’s not our argument at all, and we state this in the book numerous times. But I suppose it’s a lot more fun (or effective in misleading others) by using straw-man arguments to discredit the book.

I had the privilege of speaking at a recent Emerging Church conference last weekend with Shane Claiborne and others, and I was encouraged by so many emergent folks who expressed appreciation for the book. A large number of the folks there, mostly in their 20s and 30s, also expressed deep appreciation for the message I delivered, expressing how much it impacted them. (I gave an abbreviated talk from my book “The Untold Story of the New Testament Church” with a focus on an indwelling Christ.) Their positive feedback was both humbling and encouraging. Many of God’s people are hungering for a deeper experience of their Lord. I see it everywhere I go. Some of these folks lamented the fact that several emerging church bloggers have used the exact same tactics that John MacArthur used against my friend Brian McLaren’s work in his book, “Truth War.” This disappointed them monumentally. I’m thankful that most of my friends in the emerging church love the book and are supporting it.

Someone recently observed that some Christians “have pointed a pious finger at Constantine’s influence on Christianity with respect to the nation-state while benightedly approving his unwholesome influence on church structure, ritual, and leadership.” It’s my observation that over the last 50 years, countless books have been written to try and reform the institutional church. Those books have been well received for the most part. Most of them talk about how pastors should give better sermons, how they should operate in a less-business-like fashion, how they should lead the flock more effectively, how they should pray more, how they should and can avoid getting “sheep-bite,” etc. etc. etc. Elton Trueblood said, “The basic trouble [with the modern church] is that the proposed cure has such a striking similarity to the disease.”

Bro.M Now there’s a phrase we could camp out on for a while, something to let sink in. But you’re proposing changes — or “cures” if that’s not overstating — that consist of much more fundamental changes.

Frank: George and I have come out with a book that doesn’t advocate repairing the system or tweeking the structure. Our position is that the modern pastoral office (the clergy system) just may be one of the major problems. (I think I heard dozens of computers shut off just now :-)

The book suggests that for too long we’ve been treating the symptoms and have failed to go to the roots. But this approach is unthinkable in the minds of many Christians. Our traditions are entrenched and even deified. J.C. Ryle put it best when he said, “Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished.” Or perhaps Dresden James said it better: “A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

Despite the fact that some don’t like the message, we by conscience stand with the evidence, because that’s where it has led us. Obviously, we could be wrong. At the same time, we wish that God’s people would be open to the possibility that our conclusions just may be correct. I stand with John Howard Yoder’s critique when he said, “The whole concern of Reformation theology was to justify restructuring the organized church without shaking its foundations.” “Pagan Christianity” seeks to shake some of its foundations.

By the way, while we’re on the subject of name-calling, I don’t usually fancy people defending me. I have a friend who wrote me recently and said, “Frankie V., I saw this guy on a blog say that you were a heretic, that you are not a Christian, and that you are a poor writer. I want you to know that I defended you… I told him that you are a good writer!” :-) At the same time, what Martin Luther King Jr. said is right on: “It’s not the words of our enemies that we remember the most; it’s the silence of our friends.”

Bro.M Well Frank, my raving-lunatic friend, I need to pause for a coffee refill. Can I get you one as well? What about the rest of you — what do you think about the controversy around the book, and the way that we deal with intra-faith critique? Wait, maybe that’s a good term, something we forget… intra- rather than extra- or inter-faith. What do you think?

(We’ll continue the interview tomorrow, after we’ve refilled our coffee cups!)


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: church; dncfalseprophets; housechurch; organicchurch; religion

1 posted on 02/12/2008 2:42:14 AM PST by ovrtaxt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

saving


2 posted on 02/12/2008 2:49:22 AM PST by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like what you say))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt
Umm, didn’t he used to pitch for the Minnesota Twins?
3 posted on 02/12/2008 2:59:46 AM PST by Moral Hazard (This election mess is Iowa's fault. From 2012 on make them vote last (or not at all).)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Moral Hazard

As a matter of fact, Frank Viola and Frank Viola are friends. No kidding!


4 posted on 02/12/2008 3:02:29 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

I haven’t read the book but see merit in what Frank is expressing. I think too many organized institutions of religion have doctored the true message of Christ with a lot of add-ons that having nothing to do with a relationship with Christ.

Raised in that element, I respect it, but I rather tend to prefer my relationship with Christ to be personal and spiritual rather than done up with a lot of frippery that has nothing to do with the New Testament.


5 posted on 02/12/2008 3:03:53 AM PST by Dudoight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dudoight

‘frippery’. I’m stealing that word.


6 posted on 02/12/2008 3:07:59 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

Pagan Christianity is a really eye-opening book.

I appreciate you posting this interview and intend to print it out for other interested folks.


7 posted on 02/12/2008 3:08:07 AM PST by fightinJAG (Rush was right when he used to say: "You NEVER win by losing.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fightinJAG

So far so good, the religious evisceration should be starting any moment now....


8 posted on 02/12/2008 3:10:03 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Moral Hazard
"I spent thirteen years in the institutional church, traversing many different denominations. I think I counted 13 different brands of church"

And then I prayed, "Lord what is the true church?"

"Later I found some golden tablets on which was shown me the true church. It was the answer to a prayer"

yitbos

9 posted on 02/12/2008 3:13:25 AM PST by bruinbirdman ("Those who control language control minds. - Ayn Rand")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: bruinbirdman

“Later I found some golden tablets on which was shown me the true church. It was the answer to a prayer”

And that sort of ‘happening’ is part and parcel of the problem with the various organized religions. Some ‘inspired’ guy thinks he needs to add to the New Testament’s message.

Sans the golden tablets it produces the same ‘extras’ in various Christian institutions.


10 posted on 02/12/2008 3:23:57 AM PST by Dudoight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

I was just going to say that I remember when he pitched for the Mets lol


11 posted on 02/12/2008 3:44:18 AM PST by frankiep (Democrats base their ideology on the premise that you are too stupid to do anything for yourself.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Dudoight

Yup. If you follow the deep ecclesiology link, there’s an interesting read into Christ as the center and nothing else. Trying to place that perfect wine in an imperfect vessel leads to a lot of stained carpets. At the same time, Viola still seems intent on forming churches, but he doesn’t say what those churches should express, only criticizes the limitations of the existing churches he’s experienced. I would be interested in his thinking about what a church should be expressing and not the usual “stay true to Christ” mantra. Until I experience otherwise, I think the only perfect expression of Christ is within each of us individually.


12 posted on 02/12/2008 3:57:58 AM PST by gotribe (I've been disenfranchised by the GOP.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Dudoight
I haven’t read the book but see merit in what Frank is expressing. I think too many organized institutions of religion have doctored the true message of Christ with a lot of add-ons that having nothing to do with a relationship with Christ.

Jesus Christ + 0 = Gospel

13 posted on 02/12/2008 4:27:17 AM PST by A2J (Love Jesus...hate "church.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: gotribe
At the same time, Viola still seems intent on forming churches, but he doesn’t say what those churches should express,

Then you need to read his other books, particulary "Knowing Christ Together" and "Rethinking the Will of God," "Whose Your Covering" to get an idea of what his view of the New Testament church is.

14 posted on 02/12/2008 4:31:59 AM PST by A2J (Love Jesus...hate "church.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: fightinJAG

Is this a rebirth of “First Century Christianity” which was the epitome of simplicity; worshipping in homes, sharing the Eucharist like a meal, shunning institutional religions (which were non-Christian anyway)?

I don’t know about “Pagan Christianity”, sounds like an oxymoron, IMO.


15 posted on 02/12/2008 4:46:21 AM PST by elcid1970
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: sauropod

read


16 posted on 02/12/2008 4:55:14 AM PST by sauropod (I'd rather be waterboarded than vote for John McCain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: gotribe

“Until I experience otherwise, I think the only perfect expression of Christ is within each of us individually.”

WOW! That is about as well said as can be said. I need to borrow that from you!


17 posted on 02/12/2008 5:13:43 AM PST by Dudoight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: A2J

“Jesus Christ + 0 = Gospel”

After a lifetime of organized religion...I have finally come to that.

It is between me and HIM. No middle man/men needed anymore.


18 posted on 02/12/2008 5:17:27 AM PST by Dudoight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Moral Hazard

He used to be Frank Violin. Then he grew up.


19 posted on 02/12/2008 5:27:14 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Taking a bow.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

ping


20 posted on 02/12/2008 5:41:55 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (here come I, gravitas in tow.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt; Alamo-Girl; betty boop
On a lark I visited this thread.. was very impressed with the content....
(you have no idea how hard that is on this subject)..
21 posted on 02/12/2008 5:49:37 AM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hosepipe; ovrtaxt; Alamo-Girl; betty boop
Thanks, Messrs. Viola and Barna. Good book. But then we already knew this.

The 'Early Church' had a problem: recruitment. Once St. Paul was divinely inspired to "market" Christianity to the entire Roman and Hellenistic world, rather than to the Jews alone, certain accomodations were made.

All the popular religions of the time had well established practices with which their members identified, and to which they were very attached. The Isis Cult, The Bull Cult, The Fish Cult etc. etc. ... members eventually converted in droves, quite naturally bringing their "pagan" practices and rituals with them.

Of course, the easiest target is the Roman Catholic Church, which preserved Roman rituals and practices ... hence the name "Roman" Catholic Church. But of course, essentially pagan practice and ritual can be found in every Christian denomination. Drove our Puritan ancestors, who I suspect knew far more about the phenomenon than do either Viola or Barna,absolutely nuts at times. A thousand years before that, Iconoclasm wracked the Eastern Catholic world: same reason.

So what? Constant re-examination of the rituals and practices to which we are so attached is a good thing. Making blinding glimpses of the obvious bad things, or trying to make simple history a scandalous exposé sells books ... I know I bought this one ... and taking it with a grain of salt it is a very interesting one!

22 posted on 02/12/2008 7:39:33 AM PST by Kenny Bunk (Dream Tickets: Gore/Obama vs. Petraeus/Blackwell.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: hosepipe; Kenny Bunk

Thank you both for the pings!


23 posted on 02/12/2008 9:57:17 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: elcid1970

Viola uses the term ‘Pagan Christianity’ to describe traditional types of churches and the man-made trappings that go along with them, as oppoed to simple, relational faith, with nothing but one another and Christ in the center.


24 posted on 02/12/2008 11:15:20 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunk
True... an interesting insight this.. Might not be too productive though.. "People" have "faith" in their religions.. Reaching out to them gets you talking to their hands.. There are even some that worship the Bible.. that I know.. even as they deny it, its true..

The spirit is willing sometimes but the flesh is weak..
I look at it like this.. We are called to be a family not to be smart.. Smart being most "accurate" on dogma.. and biblical memes.. Some "heretics" are not too smart.. but are maybe still "in the family".. Possibly even a few agnostics are in the family..

Thank God I am not their judge.. I have my hands full taking care of hosepipe... and his spiritual life.. Jesus blood may fill in many gaps in absolute holyness.. I need that hope.. For I have been a bad boy... in this human experience.

25 posted on 02/12/2008 11:20:19 AM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Dudoight; gotribe
Until I experience otherwise, I think the only perfect expression of Christ is within each of us individually.

Agreed, but remember that we're baptized into the Body of Christ, so by definition, we need one another, and Christ manifesting through one another- and others in the Body need us. Our roles are determined by natural relationships and our willingness to meet one another's needs as they arise, not by some heirarchy or official title, or even by scholarly accomplishments. It is Christ within us alone, as you said, operating freely within the community of believers.

26 posted on 02/12/2008 11:20:44 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: hosepipe
There are even some that worship the Bible.. that I know.. even as they deny it, its true..

Now that's tricky. I've had to examine my own heart on this very thing! And it's not sacreligious or disrespectful to the Word of God to say this- Jesus is the Living Expression of the Father, He is a Person. It's the life of His words, not the pages and ink of a book, that's Holy.

27 posted on 02/12/2008 11:25:59 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunk
Of course, the easiest target is the Roman Catholic Church, which preserved Roman rituals and practices ... hence the name "Roman" Catholic Church.

Sorry, but the term "Roman Catholic" was invented by Anglicans, who wanted to claim that one could be Catholic without being in union with the Pope.

We didn't preserve very many Roman "rituals" or "practices". We did preserve their language and elements of their manner of dress, however.

28 posted on 02/12/2008 11:30:44 AM PST by Campion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt
Viola uses the term ‘Pagan Christianity’ to describe traditional types of churches and the man-made trappings that go along with them, as oppoed to simple, relational faith, with nothing but one another and Christ in the center.

Well, then "Pagan Christianity" is a rather silly and offensive term. Perhaps we "Pagan Christians" should call Viola and his ilk "Ahistorical Christians" or maybe "Solipsistic Christians".

Study up on the history of the early Church -- I mean back during the persecutions, before Constantine. You will find something that doesn't look much like Viola's reinvention of Christianity.

29 posted on 02/12/2008 11:33:46 AM PST by Campion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Campion; Kenny Bunk
We didn't preserve very many Roman "rituals" or "practices".

How about the pagan Sunday worship, pagan Easter, pagan Christmas and graven images ?
b'SHEM Yah'shua
30 posted on 02/12/2008 11:38:13 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (you shall know that I, YHvH, your Savior, and your Redeemer, am the Elohim of Ya'aqob. Isaiah 60:16)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt
[ Now that's tricky. ]

It sure is.. The letter kills but the Spirit brings life..
Its easy to use the Word of God as an amulet or talisman..

Amazing how reading the word at different stages in your life can yield deeper and deeper meaning.. What you "know" today may not be close to what you "know" at another time..

31 posted on 02/12/2008 11:39:40 AM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Campion

I’ve studied the Book of Acts and Paul’s epistles, which is on a totally different level of authority than the rest of church history.

The top-down structure of priesthoods (of all types, not just Catholic) are Nicolaitan heresy, and it’s a shame that so many free people choose to subject themselves to one human structure or another, when they already are holy priests of Christ with no mediator between.

I’m sorry you’re offended.


32 posted on 02/12/2008 11:42:27 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

Scrolling down to your post I encountered one that described how pagan converts to Christianity brought their favorite festivals and observances with them. Rather than attempting to suppress these outright, the Church coopted many of them (e.g., Saturnalia into Christmas).

Another form of `Pagan Christianity’?

I guess weekly Bible study groups are one form of the author’s definition of that term, as in “Wherever two or more of you are gathered in My name”.


33 posted on 02/12/2008 12:40:28 PM PST by elcid1970
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: A2J

Thanks for the references. He’s a good writer; will pick them up.


34 posted on 02/13/2008 9:46:13 AM PST by gotribe (I've been disenfranchised by the GOP.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: ovrtaxt

This is an interesting thread.


35 posted on 02/13/2008 9:50:15 AM PST by gotribe (I've been disenfranchised by the GOP.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: gotribe

It’s an interesting topic. :)


36 posted on 02/13/2008 10:51:09 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson