Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ready for Some Controversy?

If so, or even if not, Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola & George Barna is an important read. I'm not ready to comment on it in detail yet, but this book will put it all on the table and force us to deal with some things.

Here's a summary of pages 246-250:

The very early Christians / the church during New Testament times

  • was intensely Christ-centered;
  • had no fixed order of worship. The early Christians gathered in open-participatory meetings where all believers shared their experiences of Christ . . . .;
  • lived as face-to-face community;
  • was the first and only religion the world has ever known that was void of ritual, clergy, and sacred buildings;
  • did not have a clergy;
  • made decisions by the entire assembly deciding;
  • was organic, not organizational;
  • did not practice tithing, and did not give their money to pay local pastors and build buildings, but instead gave sacrificially to 1) support the poor and 2) to pay traveling missionary church planters;
  • saw baptism as the outward expression of Christian conversion (not the sinner's prayer);
  • practiced the Lord's Supper as a full meal which the church enjoyed together;
  • did not build Bible schools or seminaries to train young workers; and
  • did not divide themselves into denominations.

This is a must read. No matter where you land on each of the items listed above, it would be a waste to be a Christ-follower and not wrestle with the contents of this book, in my opinion.


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