Sometimes you approach a book with certain expectations. That was the case with this book. After all the theory from the last 3 books, I was expecting this one to be an essencially practical book, but that is not the case.
This book is mostly about the need we have today for the ministry of the apostle, and what's his place in church planting. Frank clearly explains the function of the apostle, the need of church planting, but what the book has in what to do, lacks in how to do it. You end the book thinking: "Well, great! And now what? How do we do that?"
I am a little critical of lack of practical instructions and examples. I mean, I'm not into this church thing to discuss theoretically about stuff. I'm into this to make it happen. Sadly, I think that we talk, and talk, and talk, and... we keep talking! OK, enough rant.
The book is actually good if you are searching for theory in new testament church planting. But that's it. If you are looking for something practical, look elsewhere. Maybe in the soon to be released Gathering in Homes, by the same author. It looks like I was not the only one complaining...
This is a hard title to digest. Pagan Christianity? Is it a new kind of pseudo-christianity mixed with the pagan beliefs of our days? No, that's not what this bookk talks about. As the subtitle says, this book is about "the origin of our church practices".
This is an exaustive analysis of all the practices we see in a normal church of our days. Things like the order of service, semon, building, clergy, clothes, music, offerings, baptism, lord's supper and seminaries. All is scrutinized to the smaller detail possible. Where those practices come from? How they evolved? What's the consequences? Everything is studied in detail.
This is a great book to accompany "Rethinking the wineskin" and "Who is your covering?" by the same author. If this book is read by itself, I think the point of this book will not be easily understood. But together with the other books, it serves as a strong foundation for many of what we read in them.
While I read this book, I was many times amazed, other times angry with all the stupid errors I have been preacticing for a long time. This book really enlightened me in things I had no idea of. I really recommend this book, but be prepared to have your concept of church really shaken. The way you see church will never be the same...
This is a story I heard some time ago. It goes something like this:
A man that really liked fried fish, was invited by a friend to try this new recipe he had found. He tried the fish, and it was actually the best fried fish he ever had in his whole life. So, his friend handed him the recipe, and he found something curious. For some reason, in the recipe it said to take of the head and the tail from the fish! Strange, he thought. And when he asked why to his friend, he didn't know why.
So, this man, who was really curious, asked him who gave him the recipe, and went to meet that person to make the same question. And that person didn't know either. But, being a persistent man, he kept searching for the answer, from person to person, until he finally got to the person who invented the recipe, a really eldery woman.
Filled with enthusiasm, knowing he would finally know the answer, he asked her: "Dear lady, why do you cut off the head and the tail from the fish?" To which she replied: "That's because my pan is very small, and the fish wouldn't fit there whole."
It's time to start inquiring about our traditions. The book "Pagan Christianity" by Frank Viola is a good place to start.
Leadership in the church is a touchy subject because there is a huge legacy from centuries of existence. Not only that, but many families depend on the income it brings. Some people have been pastors for all their life, and that's all they know how to do. If they lost their jobs, what would be of their families? Both things conspire to maintain things the way they are. That's why it is impossible for this book not to be polemic, since it shows us an alternative way of leadership.
Frank, in this book, starts by showing you the way the early church lived leadership, authority and accountability. He doesn't go around the bush, e doesn't start with a big introduction to the subject, he goes right into it. And it gets messy right from the start. Not because he doesn't do it with love and the right atitude, but because it's impossible to go against the status quo without messing with something, being tradition the number one target.
After you feel messed pretty good, he starts a defence of his position against the most common objections. This ends up being the most enlightening part of the book, giving you room for breathing, while answering some of your questions.
When the shock is over he goes on explaining in a deeper way all the concepts he introduced, speaking of authority, submission, covering and apostles. And he finally wraps it up with some practical steps on what you can do.
I'm going to spoil the effect and say what was the result of me reading this book. The first thing was that I couldn't even remember why I believed it the traditional way before. I mean, I am a christian for 13 years, I went to bible school, I was part of the church leadership for a long time in the past. The only thing I can say is: I was blind and now I see! Not completely blind, but I was needing glasses seriously. The other thing is I now begin to understand what mutual subjection is all about, and what authority really is. Now I think I really understand what it means to “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
In the last review, I said the question was: Are you ready for it? Well, the question for this book is: Do you think you can handle the truth? Because there is no turning back...
"Far from being a body or a family, the church for most of us is an organization or an institution. The contrast between the institutional shape of the contemporary church and the relational shape of the first-century church could hardly be more striking." (Hal Miller)
In this way, Hal Miller sets the stage for this wondefull book. The church has become a mere shadow of what it once was, creating the need of books like these.
Frank Viola talks about the church. How the church is, how it should be, and more important, how to change it. He talks about many things: The way the church is organized, the way it meets, leadership, purpose, location, fellowship. In a sense, everything that pertains to the life of the church. Because of that, the book doesn't go much deep in many of those subjects, that is left for the following 4 books in this series. This things just set the scenery for the need for change in the church.
After showing in so many ways what needs to change, he shows "five principles that are essencial to any work that is seeking to recover God's fullest thought":
1. A Fresh Revelation (of the church as God sees it) 2. A Paradigm Shift (from Institutional to biblical) 3. The Centrality and Supremacy of Christ 4. Counting the cost (this will be no easy path) 5. Travailing prayer (Everything starts with prayer)
I believe this is a must read book for the church of our days. It touches deep in our faults. The question is: Are you ready for it?
Recentemente comprei vários livros do Frank Viola que comecei a ler a semana passada. Ainda estou no primeiro livro, mas estou a gostar bastante. Entretanto, porque nem todos sabem ler inglês, podem ler online o livro Cristianismo Pagão em português.
Este livro mostra a origem de muitas das práticas cristãs da igreja moderna. Muitas delas tiveram origem em outras fontes que não a Bíblia. Além disso o livro fala de como recuperar a simplicidade da igreja do primeiro século nos dias de hoje.