An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 7 September 2007

This book sounds interesting ....

Microclesia has been blogging through Frank Viola's Pagan Christianity (Present Testimony Ministry, 2003) (it will be re-released with george Barna as a co-author shortly). [ht faithmaps]

Here are a few extracts from Microeclesia on Viola:

Viola spends a few chapters showing 2nd-5th century Greek and Roman influence on Xn gathering, preaching, and hierarchy formation - and shows just how far we’ve drifted from the simplicity of “being” church - gathering together in Acts-like communities.

The notion of “going to church” / “church building” / paid clergy giving a “sermon in church” (etc.) would have been unknown to early Christ followers. The concept of church with “paid experts up front dispensing religious information” appears to be a third-century confluence of Greek sophistry and Roman judicial hierarchy.

Viola shows how Protestantism simply rearranged the ecclesial deck chairs of middle-ages Catholicism, including the elevation of religious experts (pastors, etc.) that effectively “run the show.” Says Viola, “…after the smoke cleared from the Reformation, we ended up with the same thing that the Catholics gave us – a selective priesthood!”

“The modern pastor is the most unquestioned element in modern Christianity. Yet he does not have a strand of scripture to support his existence… Rather, the modern pastor was born out of the single-bishop-rule first spawned by Ignatius and Cyprian. The bishop evolved into the local presbyter. In the Middle Ages, the presbyter grew into the Catholic priest. During the Reformation, he was transformed into the preacher, the minister, and finally the pastor – the man upon whom all of Protestantism hangs. To juice it down to one sentence: The Protestant pastor is little more than a slightly reformed Catholic priest.”

If I had to distill Pagan Christianity into one sentence, it would be this: We have institutionalized, centralized, formalized, stratified, professionalized, academized, and mega-fied something that was intended to remain organic, holistic, distributed, participative, fluid, and deeply communal.

Viola concludes, “Herein lies the root and stem of Christian education. It is built on the Platonic idea that knowledge and spirituality are the same… (ital mine) Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle (both students of Socrates) are the fathers of modern Christian education. To use a biblical metaphor, modern Christian education, whether it be seminarian or Bible college, is serving food from the wrong tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of life…”

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