Look at the bottom of my sidebar. I’ve added a couple of RSS Feed widgets. One links to the blog, “Reformation Theology,” where you can find some pretty good reading on Reformed theology, by folks more experienced at expounding it to you than I am. With this feed I’m attempting to, as they say, “light a light.”
The other feed, conversely, is where I, if you will, “curse the darkness.” It’s a link to “Out of Ur,” the blog of “Christian Leadership” Magazine, a subsidiary of “Christianity Today”. It may help us keep our finger on the pulse of the spiralling state of evangelicalism. What I want you to see specifically are the links to “Pagan Christianity” and “Is the Pastorate Pagan?” These deal with a new book called Pagan Christianity?, that has recently been published, co-written by Frank Viola and George Barna, author of Revolution. If you look for them after today, it probably won’t be in my sidebar anymore, but you’ll have to search the archives at “Out of Ur” for these articles.
Since the release of Barna’s book, I’ve been concerned with how addicted most churches seem to be on Barna’s polling of Christianity. Knowing what we now know from his book, Revolution, about his belief that the institutional church is irrelevant, and individuals need to rather “be the church” individually (which is an oxymoron), I fear that his statistical research is actually used to promote this ideal. I submit, either evangelicals who are faithful to God’s Word and historic orthodoxy ought to find other sources for such statistical information, or give up entirely the need to tell us from the pulpit what the latest statistics are that relate to whatever it is that is being preached about on any given Sunday.
So the rolling snowball of Barna’s “Revolution” is growing; with the help of Frank Viola, not only is church irrelevant, traditional forms of church ministry are pagan! Or, so they would have you believe.
Evangelicals are living in perilous times (2 Timothy 3:1-17).
Interesting. In the future will we see an end to Church as a structure, and a beginning (or re-begining) of Church as a state of mind???
Nothing of the kind. The book is just propaganda by a proponent of the so-called house church movement, and he’s twisted the facts of history and Scripture in a feeble attempt to discredit the institutional church so his own movement can grow.
Apostate pagans needn’t get their hopes up. : )
I know George Barna. He’s a really “nice” guy. I am not sure his statistical information is irrelevant, even if he uses it to press his own personal bias. I parted company with his mindset at “Revolution”, and, though I have not read this latest book (“Pagan Christianity”), after reading the reviews you suggested, I am not sure it is worth my time to indulge. I will make sure my pastor knows he’s on shaky ground. He’ll probably give me some “song and dance” about that Ephesians business, and even John’s (the lloved disciple) appointment to “feed the sheep.” But I enjoy watching him squirm a bit, the same way he makes me squirm on Sundays.
At the charismatic discernment website, called, “Deception in the Church,” there is an article on “The Agenda & Teachings of The New Apostolic Reformation,”
a movement started by church growth guru, C. Peter Wagner, who resurrected the old Pentecostal heresy called the “Latter Rain”
movement in order to claim to be a “super-apostle” gifted to discover innovative methods of church growth. Barna Research Group is listed in the article as an agency of Wagner’s “New Apostolic Reformation.”
Barna and Wagner seem to me to be a good pair. I once read Wagner innovates church growth based on sociology, rather than theology, so it makes sense he’d be an associate of a pollster like Barna. I don’t know that Barna holds all of Wagner’s scary views, but Barna’s are scary enough as it is. They both at least seem to be rowing the same direction away from the truth of God’s Word.
Well, I say partly Psalm one them then!:::>
….nor stands in the way of sinners,
Whew! I’m glad I ducked in time when you swung that spiritual blade!!
Captain – First of all, I consider myself to be part of the visible church as we know it today. (I am probably considered a Calvinist.) Secondly, I am not a Revolutionary in the sense that I have bolted the church, but I probably am at the least sympathetic to the “Movement”. Thirdly it is not my intent to defend the books you cite in the blog. Neither author needs defending by the likes of me… However, I believe the present church is far afield from what God intended for it, but that’s not the point of this post. I have also read both of the books you cite (Revolution and Pagan) and find them first of all informative. Both are very well researched and speaking for myself, I don’t find either particularly espousing and/or promoting any kind of departure from established churches, especially those “good” churches who seem to be doing God’s will. What I do see is a reflection of dissatisfaction with the main stream churches including Southern Baptist (and probably some Grace Brethren) churches who are doing nothing bur making mortgage payments and paying the (multiple) staff. Seems that if you investigate Southern Baptist statistics they run on their own people, as memory serves me, over 70% of churches are either just maintinaing status quo or slipping in membership, baptisms, offerings and every other measurement of doing something worthwhile in the pews and in the community. In the New Testament it seems God was adding to the church daily those who were being saved. I see no indication in the Bible of members ever transfering from “Sister Baptist Church” to join “Better Baptist Church”. I wonder; has God stopped choosing amy to be saved or is there some other reason our churches are so stagnant? Or do we not think they are stagnant?
Have you read the review of the book by Peter Jones at Reformation21.org? I think I referred you to it at the Facebook blog group page. Peter Jones is an expert on ancient paganism and his review highlights the broad brush with which Viola paints as he attempts to call everything about the institutional church pagan. There have at times been some misguided appropriation of Old Testament forms, such as a distinct priesthood, but Jones points out that such things are in the spirit of basing church forms and structures on the Bible, not paganism. IN fact, Jones even points out that some ideals Viola believes are biblical ideals are in actuality closer to pagan ideals than anything he criticizes about the historic orthodox, institutional church. A book such as Viola’s, if it cannot withstand the scrutiny of an expert like Jones, hardly qualifies as informative, but rather, in Jones’ words, “misleading” and “disappointing.” Here’s the link to Jones’ review:
Regarding your reference to SBC stats on the stagnation of the average SBC church, this hardly justifies throwing out the baby with the bath water. What it justifies is prayer for reformation and revival.
For more info on Peter Jones and his ministry, his website is called Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet. The link is . . .