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A Conversation with Frank Viola, Part I

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!)

65 Responses to “A Conversation with Frank Viola, Part I”

  1. Andrew Wehrheim Says:

    I read “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and enjoyed it for the most part. It confirmed a lot of what I was already feeling and seeing concerning the differences between the 1st century Church and the institutional churches of our day (I don’t know if that makes my opinion biased). My wife and I are in the process of moving to be near friends who want to seek out Christ and the Church together. We want to meet in simplicity around the headship of Jesus Christ and share Him deeply together. We both come from institutional backgrounds. We went to Bible College. But in time we have found the Lord leading us outside of the institutional system into something more simple; more community-based; more Christ-centered. Most importantly, Christ centered.

    Right now we are staying with some dear brothers and sisters who go to an institutional Church. And you know what; it doesn’t matter. The fellowship we are sharing is beautiful. One thing that I think needs to be said is that everyone should do what they feel the Lord is leading them to do. If you go to an institutional Church and you are knowing Christ and growing in Christ and it’s working for you. That is great. But, personally the Lord is leading me in a different way and it’s cool for us all to be able to discuss these things and share. I like what Frank said about it not being about a house, “house church”. Amen. It’s about Jesus Christ. That is the Church. It is the a body of believers indwelt by the same living Lord. And we are the Church. And we are free to know Him; fall in love with Him; behold Him; share Him; and grow up into Him together.

    What a beautiful Lord and what a beautiful Bride. I also appreciated how Frank always brought his book back to a positive. It wasn’t just about what was wrong. It was about the Lord’s desire for His Church; and how She is free to meet together in simplicity and freedom around her Lord.

    Well, I’ve talked enough.


  2. Frank Viola Interview | IAmJoshBrown Says:

    […] light of the conversation last week, I found this interview with blogger Brother Maynard to be interesting, dare I say […]

  3. Larry Baker Says:

    Great interview!
    I bought 10 books, and gave a few away to friends. My closest friends dont seem to want to read it. Its as if the book is meaningless if you are content where you are. Thats ok, but for me, it confirmed a lot of my suspicions.regarding practices in the churches I have attended the last 40 years. God has moved me to a diffrent fellowship and a small group also meeting in my home. I am convinced that this book is a tool for positive change in Christ’s body!. Like Frank said, I am not the same and have been moved to a decision point of what to do with this information.

  4. Raymond Takashi Swenson Says:

    I have ordered the book, fascinated by reviews like this. I find this conversation very interesting. Let me explain why: The idea that we need new prophets, and the expectation that those prophets will be opposed strenuously; the concern over the pagan influence of Constantine on Christianity, imposing beliefs and practices not found in the Bible; and rejection of a career clergy–These are all points that were made 180 years ago by a young man in New York State named Joseph Smith. He was expressing a critique that was already supported by many of his contemporaries, namely that the institutional churches of 1820s America were hamstrung by traditions and beliefs that were not rooted in the Bible. Smith found himself asserting the prophetic voice, and true to the expectations of Tozer, found himself being attacked on all sides by professional ministers of religion.

    The church that Smith founded has no career clergy. Every congregation is led and served by unpaid volunteers, usually 60 to 100 people in a congregation of 200 to 300. Every member of the congregation, from youth to adults, has opportunities to offer the sermons. Even the missionaries who serve full time are unpaid volunteers. People who become senior leaders of that church do so only after decades of such unpaid volunteer service, while supporting themselves in some normal profession–tradesmen, farmers, doctors, lawyers, government bureaucrats, businessmen, teachers. The congregations are kept small in order to ensure everyone attending has a responsible role, so as they grow, they are divided into new smaller units. Meetinghouses are usually utilized by two to four congregations at a time. The top leader of each congregation rotates out after 5 or six years, and others are given the opportunity to serve as senior leader. The same is true at the next level of leadership over a group of 4 to 6 congregations in a city. Programs are kept simple so they are manageable by amateurs, and can be implemented in small congregations in developing countries as well as the more prosperous ones in the US, Europe and developed Asia. Training in leadership is on the job, esepcially in the service as full time missionaries that young men and many young women give.

    I would be interested in seeing the authors do an examination of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its operation, and compare it to their vision of how the Biblical Church operated and was meant to operate. One particular aspect of this amateur leadership is that, unlike many traditional churches where the high achieving elites are somewhat distant from conventional congregations, in the LDS Church the elites ARE the leadership of congregations. Generally, those most successful in gaining education and achieving in secular society are also the most dedicated to church service and humble sacrifice and worship. They regard their talents and success in the terms of the world to be blessings, God’s grace, to be shared with their neighbors in the church. Thus, a man like Kim B. Clark, Dean of Harvard Business School, can sacrifice that internationally prestigious position to take the leadership of BYU-Idaho, and see that calling as an opportunity to transform undergraduate education.

    The most senior leaders of the LDS Church include men who were eminently successful in careers as newspapermen, college professors, attorneys and jurists, heart surgeons, nuclear engineers, and as a pilot in the military and for commercial airlines-in Germany! They sacrificed careers at the peak of their achievement and income to serve God and Christ full time, often at incomes far less than they had in their former professions.

  5. George Dunn Says:

    I just want to say, as someone who has been outside the organized church for many years, it was adelight to discover Frank’s book. I originally read Pagan Chritianity more than a year ago and then shared it with my wife. She and I have been married for 9 years (I’m 61) so this marriage came later in life. I know at first she had difficulty with the ‘freedom” I had found and perhaps thought ZI was somewhat of an odd ball…which I am. But I learned long ago not to get on my soap box and continued to pray for her and to answer questions when asked. Often my response to her was what does the bible say about this subject, knowing that on issues like “church”, clergy, andother areas I was way outside the box. As she began to study and we began to pray and search the scriptures together i found her saying, “I always thought that’s the way it should be but no one in my church ever taught that, so when I got these inl=klings I thought, “Well you must be wrong.”

    When finally my dear wife said, “i want to read Frank’s book” I gladly said Amen sister.

    For the next couple of days she was shut up in our bedroom and I could hear lots of audible amens. It also proviked many discussions. For me the book was confirmation of many truths I’ve held too for these many years but had little or no contact with anyone else who was seeing the same things. It was divine confirmation.

    I knwo for those who arepart of the “church system” this may be a bitter pill to seollow. However, given the times we are in, what is happenign in the world I think god has reserved this message for such a time as this.

    i hae read the newest version as well and it is even improved. I would like to talk about the things in the book that i believe are inaccurate, misleading or prfoundly untrue, but i after the third reading of “pagan Christianity” I honestly can’t find any. It is not challenging it is truly liberating.

  6. George Dunn Says:

    I apologize for the typos…I stilllearning when it comes to the computer..but the thoughts are from my heart.

  7. Allan Siegel Says:

    In regards to Raymond Swenson’s comments, the Mormon church (or LDS) has added the Book of Mormon and others to stand as the truth of our Lord. However, as it states in Revelation 22:18b-19, “…if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described im this book.

  8. Lee Wolter Says:

    One thing I’ve learned in the three years since I left the institutional church is that we need to seek the best that God has for us. There are many good things about the institutional church. I think this is a point that people misunderstand about the organic church and in particular about brother Frank’s book. I do not think, as some believe I do, that the institutional church is all bad, all lies and all harmful. In fact I have many good friends that are deeply involved in that style of church an are deeply faithful, caring and knowledgeable christians. The phrase that I have come to use in regards to this subject is:

    Good is often the enemy of the Best

    However good some outcomes of institutional christianity are the foundations upon which they rest are deeply harmful to the true life of the ekklesia. We need to look past the ends we use to justify the means and search out that which is best. I think Frank’s book does a good job of heading us down the correct road.

  9. Matt Says:

    Thank God for using Frank and his ministry to get our focus back on Christ and not just our “picture” of church. I’m seeing not only existing house churches transformed, I’m seeing people and relationships changed. That is what the outflow of Christ and his riches will due for those who search him.

    I get frustrated with the “you hurt my feelings” critique of the Christians reviewing Pagan Christianity. I guess it is not suprising given our modern culture of diversity, acceptance, relevance, etc. Let’s put aside the “sissy” Christianity where we just debate things on a blog, and let’s speak the truth in love to one another. Rather than focusing on a red herring of the author’s “tone”, I’d like to see someone challenge the points the book makes based on scripture alone. I’d also like to see someone debate Frank on the book, but for some reason I don’t see anyone lining up to do that. I wonder why? : )

  10. Charles Mercer Says:

    Having come out of the cupboard (don’t misunderstand – professional charismatic clergy), I admire the courage of men like Frank who are willing to stand in the ever-increasing gap between entrenched cultural familiarity of the present ecclesia and a daring sense of the new. I understand that our emotions for the new need to be kept in check in case we make fools of ourselves, or get stoned to death by institutional groupies, but I feel like shouting for joy at the thought that the beloved ‘bride’ is receiving a radical and new spiritual identity! In my opinion, this is a move of God – and our participation in it needs our fear and trembling.

    Forgive the emotion!

    I will calm down soon – perhaps.

    Or maybe not.

  11. len Says:

    I have a funny relationship with Frank the writer.. on the one hand his work has impacted me.. on the other hand, the strident edge has turned me off. At the end of the day we are brothers and I hope his book has kingdom impact. The reality is that I agree with 75% of it.. not a bad ratio. I declined to review the book because I knew I would not have time, and perhaps it has been unfair to rely on the quotations from others.. but at least I did rely on quotations and not mere opinion.

    My final question is this: is the dichotomy of institution versus organism a useful one? I posted at length on this point on my blog and my question remains. I think elsewhere alan roxburgh has raised a similar question (though not in relation to Franks book).

  12. Richard Says:

    I’ve been reading Frank’s material for about the past year. I enjoy it very much. For the past two years or so, I’ve struggled with the institutional church we’re I was attending. I just didn’t see their leadership style in the Bible. I saw glimpses of it. They do talk about elders. But, I just don’t see in the Bible where the elders make all the decisions for God’s church. I could go on forever with much of the same. I’m not putting down the institutional church, I know many good people in them. What I don’t like, is I see alot of spiritually dead people. Pagan Christianity is great! I pray it shakes the foundations of human traditions to the core! Many clergy people won’t like it because it threatens their very livelihood. Unless people themselves, study and read through the word to see for themselves what it says they will continue to rely on someone else to give them only very little glimpses of the Living Water. Acts 17:11! If you look at a clock and it says it’s 3 minutes before 8, someone would say,it’s 8 o’clock, and most everyone would agree. However, if the clocks reads 14 minutes past 8, not many would agree that it’s 8 o’clock. The same I think holds true of the church today. If what’s being taught is only the slightest degree off, almost no one will notice. And it makes it hard to see the truth. If we focus on Christ, He will show us, He will lead us. Continue to shake the foundations Frank.

  13. Richard Says:

    In regards to Raymonds comment. On the LDS. Could you help me out here. I find it very interesting learning about the different religions out there. As for the Mormon Religion, is it true that they believe Jesus was once a man who achieved godhood by his own virtuousness during the preincarnate existence? That his spirit was then impregnated unto the virgin Mary by the “Eternal Father” who came from the planet Kolob for the physical union with her? Did Joseph Smith proclaim that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers who competed to become a savior of the planet? Do they believe to that Jesus is one of many saviors who are each responsible for the salvation of the population of other planets like earth? And do they believe that Jesus taught that your level of exaltation was based on faith plus works determined by men? If you could help me out with this I would greatly appreciate it.

  14. daniel poole Says:

    So long as Mr. Viola doesn’t denounce the basic creedal statements about Christ (apostle’s creed, nicene creed, etc., the summaries of the faith) I think he should be read and listened too, just as any other Christian who wishes to express a concern about the present limitations, conditions, problems with the church (the people and the ”organization”).

  15. Mark Says:

    The tragedy of this book to me is that while there is a legitimate gripe about the “business as usual” church today, the writers have done a poor job of addressing it. The poor (or deceptive / dishonest) scholarship has squandered an opportunity to address a real need for change in the church as we know it.
    An example that comes to mind is them using the scripture “How is it then brethren? when ye come together every man hath his song, hath his doctrine, hath his tongue, hath his revelation, hath his interpretation: Let all things be unto edifying.” 1 Corinthians 14:26. The writers present this to convey how everyone should have a song that they lead in the assembling of the saints. The rest of the chapter, and in particular verse 40 is clear that this is a problem, not a pattern are bound to follow. This sloppy scholarship is one example of the errors that riddle this book.
    It’s a shame that they couldn’t have done a better job of conveying the message that hopefully they were after – that we need a reformation in the church. We need an authentic expression of the church corporate free of the current model of “pastor superman” that’s drunk on the praise of men, thoroughly disinterested in the praise from God. John 12:43 “For they loved the approval of men rather than the praise of God.”

  16. George Dunn Says:

    mark indeed made a grave face and said, “This sloppy scholarship is one
    example of the errors that riddle this book.”

    Talk about a negative tone…Whew…If there are so many grave errors (plural) that riddle the book, I pray you will enlighten us with some more enlightened scholarship scholarship of your own.

  17. Richard Says:

    Mark seems to be somewhat down on the writers of the book. I believe the writers did a great job of bringing many areas of concern with the church today to the forefront for us to think about. I don’t see anything deceptive or dishonest. What I do see is a very straight forward, very plain spoken piece of work. I believe the writers even encourage it’s readers to search thoroughly for themselves, the information in the book as well as anything else they may have concern for the church today. In the introduction part of the book page XXX, George Barna writes; If you are skeptical-and we encourage healthy skepticism that leads to fact finding and truth-then commit yourself to indentifying exactly what did happen over the course of time. We are called to be pro-active, we all have a part in this. I didn’t see any riddles in the book either. What I do see is two men with a passion for God’s church(us)to open our eyes, to try and get back what was lost(the centrality of Christ). It’s my prayer that people would read the book and seek God for the truth.

  18. john kasper Says:

    So good to be learning more about our Lord and

    All of your books have been a real eye opener, and exciting to see where the Lord is going to take our family. We have been studying and searching to see if all this be true and we believe it is. The Lord bless and keep you as you complete your journey.

    John Kasper


  19. Mark Says:

    Mr. Dunn – here’s some scholarship for you. My tone is not the subject of this blog. The content of the book is the subject of this blog. Are you wanting me to list other examples of problems in the book , when you haven’t addressed or refuted the one that I brought up?

  20. Loren Says:

    Okay…but what about the great point that he raised, which seems to me to be exactly what Frank & George have called for – “fact-finding and truth”.
    Go back and read 1 Corinthians 14 and let’s talk about what we find there. I definitely see the validity in Mark’s take, and if he’s right, the authors have misrepresented Scripture and then tried to build a point on a faulty foundation…that could certainly be taken as either deceptive or dishonest…or maybe just mistaken?

    This book has raised and confirmed several great questions for me, as it has for others. But, that’s it for now…great questions. Questions that beg for real, substantive answers. Answers that, for the most part, don’t seem to be within the pages of Pagan Christianity. I agree wholeheartedly with the initial assessment by Bro. M that this book is a great conversation starter, but does not provide comprehensive answers for all of the subjects that it addresses.

    So please, let’s keep this about the issues at hand. Re-read the section of the book that Mark has mentioned, which seems to be a major centerpiece of Viola’s take on church gatherings. Then re-read his ‘proof-text’ :) from Corinthians and let’s talk about what’s actually going on there.
    Interesting…there appears to be a real discrepancy between different translations of this passage.
    Any thoughts?

  21. George Dunn Says:

    There is little doubt that the gathering of believers in the early church was significantly different from our “worship” services today and from liturgical worship forms. This is not meant (I don’t believe) to “condemn” liturgy, or but to offer a historical perspective and also offer an alternative to more ‘structured” forms. Pagan Christianity, I believe, is an attempt to trace the “evolution: of modern day church practices. I’m sure it is the word “pagan” which stokes the fires of controversary. From reading Frank’s writings I don’t believe that he means that those whose practice is such are henceforth “pagans”, My take on the book after my third reading is that it is not a condemnation but challenge to to consider a paradigm change with respect to ekklesia.

    I will leave it to the authors to address the question of their “poor, decdeptive or dishonest scholarship”. However, the letter to th Corinthian church did most assuradely address certain underlying questions and problems. One was obviously “disorder” in the gathering of believers and the “out of control” atmosphere centered around the “gathering” and also the manifestation of spiritual gifts. The purpose was to correct abuse wh9le at the same time not condemning the free expression of the gifts or individual participation. Paul does not condemn the fact that each has a song etc. but that things were not being done decently and in order! Obviously there was mahem at times not divine order. It was also apparent that some utterances (Christ be accursed) were not of the “holy” spirit. So correction and instruction were in order.

    It is also obvious that other “churches” Paul addressed did not have problems along these lines as there is no mention of same in his letters. The Corinthians, as stated, were “desireous of spiritual gifts”. Perhaps other “churches were not.

    From my perspective, Barna and Violas book challenges us to rethink how and even why we come together. I have to admit, that I too have, since stepping outside of the denomination system, some freeing and wonderful experiences “in community” unlike anything i ever knew before. It is simply a historical fact that the “coming together: of the early church took a much different form than in more highly structured religion, I for one, having experienced ‘organic church” for lack of a better term (for now) simply could not go vack to a more ‘spectator” form of gathering or worship, Of course each of us should be persuaded in his own heart. What I am saying, I guess, is we’ve tried it the traditional way, perhaps you might consider trying a more “organic” church experience. Who knows, you may be truly edified.

    Below is a word for word description by Tertullian of just such a meeting. This of course centered around an Agape, a community meal, feast, etc 9as also did the Corinthian meeting (except without the drunkenness,) this is from somewhere between 197 and 220 C.E.

    “Our feast explains itself by its name The Greeks call it agape, i.e., affection. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit the needy; not as it is with you, do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their licentious propensities, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment,–but as it is with God himself, a peculiar respect is shown to the lowly. If the object of our feast be good, in the light of that consider its further regulations. As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty. The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to worship God; they talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing,–a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer it is closed. We go from it, not like troops of mischief-doers, nor bands of vagabonds, nor to break out into licentious acts, but to have as much care of our modesty and chastity as if we had been at a school of virtue rather than a banquet. Give the congregation of the Christians its due, and hold it unlawful, if it is like assemblies of the illicit sort: by all means let it be condemned, if any complaint can be validly laid against it, such as lies against secret factions. But who has ever suffered harm from our assemblies? We are in our congregations just what we are when separated from each other; we are as a community what we are individuals; we injure nobody, we trouble nobody. When the upright, when the virtuous meet together, when the pious, when the pure assemble in congregation, you ought not to call that a faction, but a curia– [i.e., the court of God.]

    I apologize if I rankled any feathers…I just felt the tone was harsh and accusatory. O\If I over reacted or reacted badly I beg your forgiveness,


  22. JACOBBRAGG Says:

    Well I did like the information in the book but I do have one major concern or dislike about the way it was written. Not so much the style but what was left out. What was left is of as much importance as what was incorperated. And quite frankly am highly dissappointed that these things were left out. So what is it that was left out and should have been included……..PICTURES!!!! Colored ones at that. How can I be expected to read a book that big with no pictures and no color….thats rediculous. Frank I love ya bro but its time to revise again fully illustrated….with bright colors and maybe in a flip book cartoon format, that would be highly annointed. Thats my 2 cents!-Jacob

  23. Anthony Says:

    I agree; but, whenever we finally get around to examining the merits of Constantine’s Nicene Creed, then we’ll really be making some progress.

  24. Anthony Says:


    meant to blockquote this from Frank”

    “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.”

    and then comment:

    I agree; but, whenever we finally get around to examining the merits of Constantine’s Nicene Creed, then we’ll really be making some progress.

  25. DPGATTEN.COM » Blog Archive » Pagan Christianity! II - Important News. Says:

    […] I just received a ‘Heads Up’ on Frank Viola’s “Pagan Christianity” from my underground source. … … … NO … It is my ‘Down Under Contact’. i.e. a link to ‘Brother Maynard’, and his Blog ‘Subversive Influence’ a post titled “A Conversation with Frank Viola, Part I” […]

  26. Bob Longman Says:

    It’s a refrain that keeps repeating itself : people find that institutionalisms and strictly-assigned roles are keeping them from following Christ. It’s something I’ve both sympathized with and reacted against, sometimes at the same time. (Those, like at this blog, who’ve had to step aside from the organizational church, sound like they know this confusion well.)

    It gets me sad to see so many who felt many of these same strains, but decided to sit in the pews and go numb instead of doing something about it. Or, worse, they split the scene and start saying things like “Nature is my church” or “I relate better to God on my own”, or even “I’m spiritual, not religious”, all of which convey a very self-centered vision of faith, far more so than anything Protestant Christianity ever created. Other people are incidental, or included only by tight selection, and what determines truth is what “I” think is true (or at least is the only truth “I” operate by).

    The genius of Christ’s way is that it is all about “one another”-ing. God chooses to work through people, and chooses to work through us most specially when we follow Christ’s way. It’s light years away from our me-obsession. Thank God there are some who’ve raised the question as deeply as they have. May the Lord keep the coffee and the questions brewing hot.

  27. George Dunn Says:

    I understand what Bob is saying but I want us to consider that there may be a third scenario that must be considered. It is this: that there are people who are converted to “the church” or “institutionalism” or a set of precepts rather than to Jesus Christ. I was one of these for many years. Born and raised ‘in the church” I was “institutionalized”, but not regenerate. I was “safe” from the “world” but unsaved. I was the product of “the system” but not of the new birth by the Holy Spirit. As Tom skinner used to say, “The gospel is not about the church. It’s not about going to church or joining the church. The gospel is about Jesus Christ!”

    The “church” (ekklesia) is not an end and I’m not sure that it is even “the means to an end”. It simply is – it exists It is that spiritual entity that Christ himself is building out of living stones. It is not just a “gathering” to worship or a place of worship but the ekklesia of God is a family or community of the redeemed to which He is adding daily those who are being saved. As Keith Green used to say, “Going to church doesn’t make you a christian any more that going to Mc Donalds makes you a hamburger.”

    I think part of the “going out” from the institutional church is not just American individualism or simply people disgruntled and wanting a less restrictive environment but a deep desire for something more! A yearning for a heartfelt encounter the living God. A desire to know Christ and to make Him known.
    For many, like myself, it was not running from something but running TO something. To deeper more intimate relationship with God and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    There one word which I think sums it up..INTIMACY. The desire for Intimacy with our Lord and with one another (koionia). Many (not all) have found that experience outside of organized religion…the freedom and opportunity to encounter the living God in Jesus Christ. There is not activity, program or “experience”, I belive, that is an adequate substitute for relationship, not in marriages, families or in the household of faith.



    I too often hear people talk about “the unchurched” as though integrating everyone into “the church” is the goal.

  28. George Dunn Says:

    I need to finish my sentence.

    I too often hear people talk about “the unchurched” as though integrating everyone into “the church” is the goal. I don not find the concept of “unchurched” in the New Testament only the unsaved. As I said earlier, building the churhc is not the goal. Jesus IS building His church, His exxlesia…where or HOW we gather is not the issue, it is only a matter of procedure.

    God goal was the summing up of all things in Christ, not building a newreligioussystem to replace judiasm…but a people…a body…an organic extension of the life of heaven. It is Christ in you (and I) that is the hope of glory.

  29. Linda Spagnola Says:

    I have read and re-read most of Frank’s books since his name thankfully crossed my path. The first version of Pagan Christianity came at a time when I was warming a pew in yet another ‘church building’ in a state of confusion and agitation. This state seemed to rear it’s vexing head sooner or later wherever I landed. A pastor at one church commented during his weekly oration that “if you move from church to church, the church is not the problem: you are!”. I was really getting a guilt and other complexes. Questions like “where should I be?” and “what should I be doing?” wracked my being. I compare ‘churches’ to candy shops: so many needy ministries, it is hard to choose just a couple to serve in. I visited one church to hear a particular speaker one night, only to be immediately plucked out of the congregation once the service was over by an elder and taken to the office for ‘an interview’. Before I could finally leave their premises with grace, they had me signed up to their roll and involved in 3-5 ministries (not yet set in stone tho – I never went back). I have since decided that the problem of church hopping is 50-50. The organized church system is un-fulfilling at best, and I was too ignorant to understand why. I was so caught up in doing that I forgot or had no time for being who Christ wanted me to be. Frank’s book(s) gave me basic info I needed to fill in the gaps of my understanding of the first century church and what my part should be in today’s world. The Holy
    Spirit was in effect calling me out of a system that stunted my spiritual growth: for you see upon re-reading this paragraph something lacking. That something is Christ. One is kept so busy in a ‘church system’ that Christ is not the object of worship: instead the system is. That was my agony!

    I spoke with another brother in the faith last weekend and told him about Frank’s book. He was very interested, but as the discussion proceeded, he broke down crying and told me that because of what he had recently been through, he would decline to read the book at this time. Pagan Christianity is not for everyone – not right now. It will greatly benefit those who are questioning a system that they see as lacking the power of the Holy Spirit to make changes for Christ in their own community, their own house, their own being. It is a tough read, but then truth always is. Christ did not sugar-coat the truth, but he did present it with passion and great compassion for all mankind. Frank Viola has great compassion for his fellow man or he would not/could not have written such a controversial book that exposes the lies heaped upon all humanity in order to help those who have an ear to hear. I found this book (and his others) to be quite liberating, as I now understand about the ‘church system’ verses the Ecclesia and the simplicity of gathering with believers to, like Mary, just kneel before Christ, our only shepherd, letting the Holy Spirit direct us. My hope is that eventually the truth Pagan Christianity offers will spread all over the land like the proverbial drop of water moves out over a pond.

  30. Richard Says:

    Well said Miss Spagnola. You hit it right on head. I agree whole heartedly.

  31. Linda Spagnola Says:

    I felt compelled this morning to add another comment about Pagan Christianity. This is not a “how to” or “what do we do now” book. It is not a self help book, nor is it to be used as a guide for those who have left the church made with hands. I noticed some one here mentioned that Frank did not detail a “what do we do now” exit plan. I noted they quoted something about “each person brings a song, or a poem or …”. To my perspective, the whole point of Pagan Christianity is to explain how the organized church system came to be what it is today: for the most part, a powerless beast that operates by rote/man’s plans – not by the Holy Spirit (that is not to say that there are not some very devoted folks within the church system that move by the Holy Spirit – do not misunderstand me). If Frank had written a detailed description about what a person or persons should do after leaving the institutional church system, he would be creating yet another system (he has, however, written some suggestions in another of his books)! If you are indeed led out of the organized church system by the Holy Spirit, then you should continue on with the Holy Spirit and let him lead and guide you in your life, in fellowship with others and in how you and others worship Christ. That is the whole point! Making Christ the head over all!!! And if he is head over all, spontaneous worship of all kinds will abound without effort on your part, that is, except to submit totally to Christ: because it will be brought forth by the leading of the Holy Spirit. I get a laugh now and then when I explain about gathering in houses as opposed to meetings in the church system. The question always comes: “But without a pastor as head, there is complete kaos, right? How can you do that?” – Completely oblivious to the true Headship of Christ: the power and the glory of that headship. Ahhhh, the brainwashing that has gone on in Christianity; it saddens me beyond belief. Forgive me – and it is easy to see the truth in hindsight. And – I will keep fighting for this truth to be known!

  32. Richard Says:

    Forgive me for riding on your coat tail Miss Spagnola, this is exactly what I believe too, Pagan Christianity is meant to open our eyes. I agree again with what you said.

    I love Jeremiah 7:1-23 speaks volumes “verse 22-23″.

  33. Linda Spagnola Says:

    Thank you so much, Richard, for the scripture! I might add, there are a lot of people who do agree with us; and many more who do not know they agree – but they will! ;-)

  34. Mike Wallace Says:

    I think Franks book only confirms what the Holy Spirit has revealed to the true believers. If these revelations are news to you, do nothing, stay in the system church and don’t pollute a gathering of inlightened believers. It sounds harsh, but there is a separating going on. You CAN NOT put new wine in old wineskins!

  35. Coming Out of the “Pagan Christianity” Closet « zoecarnate Says:

    […] Maynard at Subversive Influence has completed a good three-part interview with Frank; check it out here, here and […]

  36. John W Patterson Says:

    Great read guys, read about 75% of Viola’s original Pagan Christianity and was doing the internal head nod of yeah, oh yeah, oh man, wow, I thot so, etc etc

    Viola, thank God, is one of the type prophets we need in these days for a “wake up” call to churchianity. I have been there and done that as much of Viola’s walk garnished for him. Ya do all this church stuff and the sad “Jesus and” lifestyle and headtrip only to find “ten years has got behind ya and ya missed the startting gun, no one told ya when to run” (P Floyd DSOTM) and you wake up and look around and say, “hey, where did I drop Jesus?”

    In ’74 I met Jesus, on my knees ,crying in my Bible, as a young man in the privacy of my home ~ and HE came to me simply, majestically & I was NEVER the same after that MetaExperience. I jumped into the nearest on-fire, active church I could find … yada yada … you can guess the drill. Now over 50 and all the kids nearly outta the house ~ my soul cries for renewal, return to a short, sweet, blissful season of home church worship I tasted in the early 80s. Jesus was so present, so REAL, so manifested in HIS ekklesia in unity. Man! How good that was then! It is an ineffable taste of eternity that SPOILS ya. Regular “Joe Church”, “Clap offering, boogie down praise-band church”, & “High starch pew-bound church” never ever came close for over 25 years to that house church taste of the Lord Almighty manifesting His glory within and among us.

    So, soon I will seek to find Jesus, standing just outside the gate, like He has been, waiting for me to find Him all over again and no pew aneath me, no pew, no pew aneath me . . .

  37. Raymond Takashi Swenson Says:

    Too bad that people want to Mormon-bash rather than address the issue raised by Viola’s book: What is the appropriate organization for Christ’s church? I proposed that the LDS Church organization and operation addresses many of the concerns that Mr. Viola raises about the pagan roots of much modern Christian church organization and practice. And that organization grew up over 150 years ago. Clearly other people were already concerned with the issues about the discrepancy between the Church of the First Century and as it developed after that time. For those who join Mr. Viola in those concerns, but who also see a value in a more structured church organization, the Latter-day Saint approach might be an alternative model, since the format has little relationship to the content of the Book of Mormon, but is available for adaptation by anyone.

    Now, since I was asked to address certain issues, I will do so in summary fashion:
    The passage in Revelation bars a man from altering the Book of Revelation. It does NOT bar GOD from calling a new apostle like John to write a new book of revelatory doctrine from the same source that gave it to John. There is simply no passage in the Bible that says “God has become mute.” To assert that would deny God’s omnipotence. Of course, whether you think any particular document comes from God or not is a separate matter, but that requires sincere examination. Latter-day Saints affirm that “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.”

    With respect to LDS beliefs about Christ: The Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ was Jehovah before his birth by the virgin Mary. We do not know any more about the mechanism of his birth than what the Bible tells us. We therefore accept that he is the Son of God, divine throughout his life, resurrected and glorified and ascended to the Father, and still Jehovah and God. We believe with John the Beloved that God the Father made the worlds (plural) through his Son, the Word. We believe that Christ is also the sole Savior of all of the inhabitants of the worlds (plural) that he created under the mandate of the Father. I know that some people are bothered by the idea that God made more inhabited worlds than ours, but if he is omnipotent and omniscient, why not? There is certainly an awful lot of room in the universe. Whatever the purpose of God in creating our earth, he could fulfill that purpose to a virtually infinite extent by placing people on worlds around some of the other stars he clearly did create.

    With respect to Satan, Lucifer, the Adversary, the Devil: since God created all things, he also created Satan. You have to believe either that Satan was evil as God made him, which raises questions about the goodness of God, or you have to believe that Satan was created, like all things God made, good in the beginning, and like Adam and Even chose to fall away from God. The LDS belief is that Lucifer is a fallen angel who rebelled against God the Father, and the Son, and carried on his rebellion in the Garden of Eden as well as in our present world. It is fashionable for people to deny Satan exists, but the LDS belief is that the denial of Satan’s existence is exactly one of Satan’s own tactics. Christ’s atoning sacrifice was the ultimate victory over Satan, who seeks the eternal misery of all mankind, a goal that is frustrated every time someone comes to Christ and accepts Christ’s grace.

    Some of you folks clearly have a distorted picture of what the LDS believe and teach. You would be advised to bypass the second hand sources and go directly to the LDS scriptures and official lessons and sermons of Church leaders at Again, you are not required to accept the LDS teachings, but if you are honest with yourself, you will not be content to pass on inaccurate half-truths about a subject when it is simple to learn the whole truth directly, and not a biased reinterpretation of it. Otherwise it is like trying to learn about Christianity from Osama bin Laden’s web site.

  38. Richard Says:

    After reading Raymond’s comment, I would like to ask, could you please answer comment #13? Thanks

  39. Raymond Takashi Swenson Says:

    Gosh, Richard, I think if you compare your Comment 13 with my last one, you will find my response to your questions. Mormons believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We believe with John’s godpel that Christ is the creator of the earth. We believe in the virgin birth of Jesus as the son of God, his perfect sinless life, his miracles, his suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross to atone for our sins, his death, his resurrection, and his appearing to many people after his resurrection, when he asked them to “handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have”. That he taught the apostles for 40 days, and then ascended from the Mount of Olives with a promise he would return there in full glory. That there is no other way to salvation than through Christ. That nothing we do on our own can save us in eternity unless we rely on Christ’s grace.

    The short way to summarize it is, No, Mormons do not believe things in the way you have phrased them. No official teaching reference in the LDS Church would turn your questions into statements and use them to teach a Sunday School lesson or in any other context.

    Again, if you want to see what the LDS belief is officially, it is laid out in full at This web site is used by the LDS church membership and leadership. It contains the complete KJV, with cross references to the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon with footnotes, the Pearl of Great Price (revelations ot Joseph Smith about Moses and Abraham), and the Doctrine & Covenants (revelations to Smith about the modern LDS Church). It has copies of all the lesson manuals used in Church meetings that Mormons use to teach each other. There is a complete copy of a 300+ page history of the LDS Church. There is a copy of the manual that the Church uses to train its missionaries. There are copies of over 30 years of the monthly church magazines for adults, teens and children, including the sermons preached by the senior LDS Church leaders at the semi-annual general conferences of the Church. All of this material is word searchable, and free.

    At, you can find a complete electronic copy of the 4 volume Encyclopedia of Mormonism, and copies of the entire text of books written by LDS scholars about the Hebrew background of the Book of Mormon text, all of it downloadable for free. There are also copies of articles written by scholars in the FARMS Review concerning books addressing the Book of Mormon and other LDS beliefs.

    At, you can find discussions responding to the more popular criticisms of the LDS Church and its doctrines. This is a private web site not officially affiliated with or financed by the Church.

    So you could either waste your time and mine arguing that you somehow know LDS beliefs better than a 58 year old high priest who has been a missionary and leader and teacher in Japan and 8 states, or you can look at the source material and make up your own mind. You might also consider picking up a copy of Claiming Christ, by Millet and McDermott, one a BYU professor and the other an Evangelical theologian, which addresses some of the questions you asked. If you sincerely want to learn what we believe, and are not just asking questions the way the Pharisees did to Jesus in order to try to make him say things they could hold against Him, the information is all there, thousands of pages of it.

    Mormons like Professor Millet and myself have no problem with you believing things differently than we do. Just the fact that we exist seems to be more than some people can stand. But Mormons are dedicated to the belief in religious freedom for all. We don’t punish people for not believing things exactly as we do. We don’t try to embarrass or coerce them, call them second class citizens or call for them to be excluded from polite society or denied the right ot vote, serve on juries or run for president, or confiscate their church buildings (all of those things have been done against Mormons here in the USA). We don’t set up picket lines and demonstrations outside other people’s churches and don’t yell with bullhorns at newlyweds just coming out of church after being married (yes, people do that to us too). We don’t tell people who believe Christ is their Savior that they aren’t Christian, or that they will go to hell of they don’t agree with us. We don’t tell you what your religion “really” believes. And we simply ask for the same courtesy in return.

    People who insist that Mormons are too stupid to know what they believe in are offensive (I have a BA in mathematics, Phi Beta Kappa; a JD and an LLM in environmental law, and am a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel). The fact is, while few Mormons get degrees in theology, all actively participating Mormon adults get practical training in teaching and church leadership and can lead congregations in worship, preach sermons, conduct ordinances like the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, baptize, ordain priests, etc. The typical Mormon congregation has a dozen people who have learned through on the job training to do the jobs an Evangelical pastor does, plus support themselves as doctors, lawyers, plumbers, businessmen, soldiers or insurance agents. And none take a salary for their church work. They serve solely out of love and a desire to serve their neighbors. I recall that having a professional clergy paid to preach is one of the pagan practices that Viola criticizes. Well, we Mormons have avoided that pitfall for 178 years. And we agree with a lot of Viola’s observations.

  40. Richard Says:

    Hey Raymond. Wow for a high priest you sound very angry and defensive. Father I pray your peace come upon Raymond, let him experience You. Maybe my phrasing was off, but does Joseph Smith himself believe in the Book Of Mormons?

  41. Times & Seasons » Pagan Christianity: A failure of nerve Says:

    […] an interview about his book, Viola offers the following […]

  42. Raymond Takashi Swenson Says:

    Richard: Joseph Smith believed in it enough to die for his beliefs. He was murdered by a unit of the Illinois State militia when he voluntarily returned to Illinois answer trumped up charges of “treason”. He had arranged bail, was released, then arrested again on essentially the same charge, for the purpose of keeping him away from his fellow Mormons in Nauvoo so he could be murdered more easily. It was a state-sponsored killing of an innocent man, just as was the execution of Christ.

    Joseph Smith testified that the Book of Mormon was an ancient record of people who inhabited the Americas from about 2200 BC to about 400 AD. Like many ancient records found since then (but none before) it was engraved on thin metal sheets to be more durable (like the Copper Scroll in the Dead Sea Scrolls). He was given a divine gift to carry out the translation. He dictated the text, without notes or revisions, to a scribe, Oliver Cowdery, going straight through for two months.

    The text of the Book of Mormon contains information that no one in America knew in 1829, including details about the geography of Arabia, where the narrative begins, examples of Hebrew literary forms that were not recognized by most scholars until a century later, proper names in Hebrew and Egyptian that were unknown at the time to anyone, but have been validated by archological discoveries as valid, even prominent names. The Book of Mormon text was beyond the capacity of any human being to create in 1829, and Smith had almost no formal educastion, let alone a knowledge of ancient languages and history. He could not have created the text, but there is no question he dictated it.

    Three other men, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Cowdery, swore out an affidavit that they saw the angel who showed Joseph the plates and the plates themselves. Then eight other men swore an affidavit that they had picked up the plates and hefted them and turned the pages, affirming it was a real object. Their affidavits are in the front of each Book of Mormon. None of those men ever denied or impugned their testimony.

    The most important thing about the Book of Mormon is that it testifies of the reality of Christ, his atonement and resurrection, that he is Jehovah, the god of the whole earth. It stands alongside the Bible and affirms that the miracle of Christ and his atonement and resurrection are real. It also says that anyone who loves the words of Christ will love it, too, because it is full of the words of Christ and his prophets. It attests that the First Century Church was established in ancient America by the resurrected Christ, appearing to righteous people who had believed in the prophecies of the Messiah as he came to Peter and the apostles in the upper room in Jerusalem.

    Whether you are willing to read the Book of Mormon or not is a test of whether you worship the Bible or the Christ. No single book can contain all of Christ’s power, glory or wisdom. An omnipotent Christ can speak whenever and wherever he so chooses. And the “Mormons” offer you the Book of Mormon so you can actually read its words and see if the Christ you know and love and worship is also in its pages, as in the Bible.

  43. Linda in L.A. Says:

    The recent blogging over LDS beliefs points me right back to PC and please do not take this as mean spirited:
    Christ is not a religion, nor did he spend any time defending his words or actions (he proclaimed and explained).
    One of the main purposes behind the writing of PC was to show how we have been led astray from having Christ as the object of our worship to instead making the traditions of man the object(s) of our worship. This arguing over the beliefs of LDS (or any other religion) really bring that to light. I do not see the worship of Christ or bringing about HIS truth in those comments. If you are really and truly standing only for Christ, you will not feel the need to defend either yourself, your beliefs or Christ (he does not need anyone to defend him). Theology, eschatology etc etc etc is secondary and we will all come to the knowledge of perfect truth each in our own time. Let us now instead join as one in the spirit of Christ, and worship and praise him above all else.

  44. John W Patterson Says:

    Thanks for the datadump on LDS! As far as reasoning w/LDS elders and/or Jehovah’s Witless ~ I see the “automaton” effect where rather than open conversing and logic ~ you experience pre-packaged LDS/JW responses tailored to us (depending on what affiliation we offer) ~ as if to speak is to parrot themes, ideas to sway the non-LDS/JW & defend the facades of fact LDS/JW base their beliefs on. I have invited reps from both organizations to my home and was saddened to see how “no-think” they behaved. Can you say brainwashed?

    In a forum/blog like this ~ the LDS/JW “autospeak” will not be as obvious as the repsonses that will be posted here will involve more time to process and the post we actually have to see the words they usually spout off ~ thus a more apologetical and polished reply will appear.

    Sometimes, I am tempted to behave like a Uganda woman Christian I know who when witnessing faith in Jesus and offering help to HIV-infected Ugandans wrapped up in witchdoctor/shamanistic fears. Though she offers free medical care & the path to salvation in Christ ~ many refuse and hold on to fear and lies. What does she do after exhausting every attempt to reach some of them? She very clearly states, “Go on to Hell and your death, as you want. I am done talking to you. Etc etc . . .” Whoa! That seemed so blunt, so harsh, so non-American in our easy-go-be-sweet witnessing and sharing Jesus style. Well, a few weeks later, that person returned to the Ugandan missionary and was gloriously converted.

    So, as my Ugandan sister shared when visiting the US recently ~ I have to say to the LDS/JW this —

    Go ahead and believe the cesspool of lies your parents or elders feed you. It’s a box they dropped over your mind and soul. Your spirit is dead in trespasses and sin. Humble yourself, repent, and ask the Jehovah God of Abraham to reveal His Savior to your spirit that you may see the Light of His Truth. Forget Viola & house church chit-chat. You need Jesus and not church. Try asking for a vacation to from LDS/JW to seek for YOURSELF the truth. Come outside, your box and smell the coffee ;^D — taste and see that the Lord is good and better than you can imagine. Picture yourself IN LOVE WITH GOD, worshipping Him in bliss and not tradition. This ineffable reality of being one in the Beloved, beyond words, outside the realm of the mind, away from steeples & writs — to experience the infinite & eternal God is what awaits you my friend(s).

    Don’t shrink back into what you-think-is-true. Jehovah God is too big for our doctrines and “pearls” and He is greater than the Bible. It’s time we stop hallowing bricks, mortar, leather and paper. It’s time we bow the knee to the I AM THAT I AM.

  45. Richard Says:

    Hey Raymond. It seems your very? Why do you feel the need to defend a religion? What does Revelation 22:18-19 say about adding anything to the Bible or taking away? Thanks Raymond

  46. Richard Says:

    Raymond I apologize for the incomplete sentence. It was to read, It seems your very defensive? Thanks

  47. John W Patterson Says:

    My comments are not directed personally at any individual LDS devotee but towards the sad STUPIDITY inherent in anyone falling for Mormonism. If you bothered to research the REALITY behind Joseph Smith et al . . . well —

    I realize that someone who proudly wears cerebral credentials and professional laurels in cyberspace will definitely defend a mental stance tn their choice to believe anything they find a comfortable religion.

    Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s …. about ANY religion, any man’s pride, basically anything that conflicts the Word, the living Word as revealed by the Eternal Spirit of God via His revelation that is OUTSIDE all religions, cults, and isms we ascribe to. Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith, Reverend Moon, Jim Jones or Charles Manson — all started out with one dude deciding to REJECT truth and insert their OWN idea. And as people are prone to do — like cattle — some follow blindly right up to their own anihilation. Such is the wisdom of men.

    I want none of that. I have been there and done that. I am a man undone of unclean lips broken before the altar waiting for the fire . . . the cleansing . . . the renewal . . . the day’s revelation. In that, I will walk and not in some stale, stiff and festering manna some dude picked up and offers me. I am refuse to follow the morons and the the “Moroni” -ees . . .

  48. Raymond Takashi Swenson Says:

    Mr. Patterson, your bitterness and hatred toward your neighbor does not seem to partake of the spirit of Christ, but rather of those who hated him for threatening their beliefs with teachings that were different. Your name calling is the kind of behavior that recalls the voices of those who cried to crucify Him, and who mocked Him at the cross. And those who murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, two men never convicted of any crime, another illegal execution by agents of the government. Your vituperation displays not a single shred of faith, hope or charity.

  49. Brother Maynard Says:

    I generally tend to use a pretty light hand regarding the editing of comments here, but certain kinds of attacks or arguments are not permitted. In this case John, I have to agree with Raymond that your comments toward him and the LDS are not charitable. Naturally your agreement is not required, but your disagreement, at least in this context, must remain gracious. It’s certainly not helpful to any dialogue to suggest that the opposing viewpoint could only be held through intellectual ineptitude. It’s clearly never the case and our own beliefs are constantly open to the same accusation by others who do not share them.

    As the host of the conversation Raymond, please accept my apology for the ad hominem comments which appeared here.

  50. John W Patterson Says:

    Spanks a lot . . . anyway guys — I am outta here ~ done with LDS non sequiturs based in error ~ as some things are not worth the time God gives each of us . . .

    And dealing with empty-headed rants herein is pointless.

    Have a blast massaging egos and putting on kid gloves to play with Truth.

    Sometimes the sword of reality must be bathed in the blood of truth . . .

    And the echoes of whips, shouts, and tables overturned filled the Temple . . .

  51. Richard Says:

    I don’t and won’t consider myself an expert in Bible theology. I believe the Bible. You either believe or you do not. There are some things I’m not sure of, however they will be revealed one day. As for people defending a religion, the Bible, the Koran etc, I don’t think it’s our job as followers of Jesus Christ to try and force, coerce or manipulate anyone into following or to believe in Christ or whatever religion man chooses to follow regardless if it is false and leads someone to hell. I believe part of following Jesus Christ is to bring the message with gentleness Roman’s 14:1-, I believe this is talking about believers, we would do well to heed these words. Let God be the ultimate Judge. Matthew 13:24-30 how does this fit in to the whole thing? I don’t think there is a man alive today that can tell, explain or interpret the Bible completely the way God laid it out. We all go by someone’s interpretation, thoughts, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth to us. It’s amazing, whenever we humans are involved with anything, we will truly indeed complicate it, mess it up try to control it you name it we will do it. The early church in Acts was awesome, yeah they had problems just like we do today, they were humans too! However, I believe there was a much more central focus on Christ and not on religion or man. But we do see what happens as man gets more and more involved and the years progress, a big mess! Thanks guys.

  52. Brother Maynard Says:

    I wanted to return and respond at least briefly to your comment, #49. I don’t intend to do a full point-by-point response, just pick up on a few points now that I’ve had more time to go back and read your comment more carefully. My last comment was mainly intended to make sure that the discussion didn’t run off onto personal attacks, which are helpful to no-one.

    And yes, I am Canadian. :^)

    Thanks for your thorough response. As I noted, it’s been 20 years since I looked at the LDS teachings in any detail, and the memory isn’t what it was. I appreciate your filling in the gaps and adjusting where appropriate. Obviously we have a different interpretation of some of the material, but I want to at least be sure we’re agreed as to what LDS teaches. I know that some of the teaching of the church has changed over time, and perhaps some of what I presented represents doctrines that have changed or been renounced. (Not saying the Catholic / Christian churches have never done this!)

    Small note about Joseph Smith’s parents — I didn’t mean to imply that they testified against him… I believe they were asked a question and simply responded truthfully. The form of divination (or whatever term one prefers) that Smith used to find treasure had something to do with putting stones in a hat…. I gather his parents were asked if this were so and they responded in the affirmative; Smith himself later denied it.

    Concerning the Father inhabiting a planet in a mortal body as Jesus did, no, there’s no logical reason this could not have happened. And you are correct to bring up the doctrine of theosis in context of this discussion, but theosis doesn’t teach that we become God in the same equivalent sense that God is God. This is no doubt one of the biggest points about LDS doctrine that differs from Christianity, viz., understanding of the afterlife. LDS teaching is that its adherents will become Gods (gods?) and populate and/or rule over their own planet as God the Father does over ours. I may not have that stated quite right, so please adjust if necessary. Christianity obviously understands the afterlife in quite a different way to this.

    Regarding the meaning of “orthodoxy”, I don’t mean to say “my beliefs” but rather those which the Christian church has historically taught specifically concerning major doctrines upon which there is general agreement. Minor doctrines are seen by some as major and worth dividing over, but that’s not my intent…. there’s a lot of things the church disagrees on, but a couple of the historical creeds and a few doctrines built upon them are generally somewhat safe to refer to as “orthodox” in the minds of the church as a whole.

    I would have to applaud the LDS position you describe toward such things as disaster relief and education. I’m not familiar with the specifics of course, but in these matters we can certainly agree, and can both say at least that such actions are part of the most appropriate responses to the teaching of Jesus. Would that more of us (in all camps) remember this.

    Thanks again for this conversation.

  53. Richard Says:

    Raymond, how do you interpret Revelation 22:18-19? This seems to be very black or white.Thanks

  54. George dunn Says:

    It is so easy to get off on Rabbit rails..That’s what “the church” has done over and over. And here WE go on another. It’s interesting to not that denominationalism (i.e. religious systems) is by its very nature divisive. This ridiculous LDS debate once again proves my point. I thought this blog was about Pagan christianity! I guess i was wrong. By the way who cares who is right and who is ‘wronng” as though it is some doctrinal test that gains admittance to the Kingdom of God. Christianity is about Christ in you, producing fruit…producing the character and life of God in mortal men and women…the divine infusing humanity. It is not by doctrinal “rightness” or revelation that we will rise or fall. Let’s get back to the point of the book. This conversation is just another example of what is wrong with religion vs what is right with Jesus Christ.

  55. Brother Maynard Says:

    I’m sure Raymond would interpret Revelation 22:18-19 the same way I would — that it refers to the book of Revelation and not to the Bible as a whole. The canon as we know it did not exist at the time Revelation was written, so if it referred to the “Bible” as it existed at the time, it would have referred to the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.

    Good reminder.

  56. George dunn Says:

    I think that too often we (including myself) tend to think of “the faith” in terms of belief or assent to a system of beliefs, truths or theology. Almost as in a creed, “I believe in…”. I grew up with all this, was an avid bible scholar, was “churched”, baptized in water, educated in “the faith” and puffed up with knowledge (knowledge does indeed puff up but love edifies). Then I had an epiphany, and in a moment of great weakness surrendered my “religious christian” self to Christ. My search for meaning had led me to a point of desperation and absolute surrender and I cried out “Lord if you are there please take my life because if not I will take it. I’m empty. I want to know you as you really are!” It was not even a conviction of “sin” in the traditional sense of having done “bad things” (which I had) but a sense of deep emptiness, separation from Him, incompleteness and need for knowing God in an experiential way. As I lay there on the floor something marvelous happened. I was changed, in an instant Christ revealed himself and life came into me and the Lord lifted me up off of the floor. This began a new and living way.

    As I began to study God’s word, apart from any “church”, the Holy Spirit began to enlightened my cluttered mind and breathe life into the word of God and into me and open my eyes to the marvelous truth of God. I began to see the Kingdom of God and began to experience a new and deep fellowship with God.

    Years later I was to give up this wonderful relationship for “church”, good works and recognition as a “man of God” and I lost much ground, the peace of Christ and intimace with Him. I traded life for legalistic and self centered knowledge and works based Christianity. I stopped BEING a witness and settled for witnessing. I stopped being an ambassador for Christ and settled for recognition by the brethren. I traded honest open and intimate fellowship with God and with other believers for superficial churchianity. I traded spiritual prosperity for the material “prosperity gospel”. Instead of a genuine disciple I became a know it all theological Christian windbag and a spiritual phony! I was a tree with fake fruit wired onto the branches and I wondered why the world wasn’t attracted? Little did I realize the fragrance was the stench death and not life.

    Now, once again, I’ve come full circle…back to the beginning realizing that “the way” is not some formula, or systematic understand of the scriptures or “truth of God’s word” but a living way. The truth is not some irrefutable mental assent to scriptural rightness or doctrinal purity but Jesus Christ is the truth. The life is not living up to a set of standards…being “religious” but once again is Jesus Christ. I’m re-discovering that Christianity is not a religion but “Christ in you the hope of glory.”

    That is why I am thrilled that Pagan Christianity has dared to slaughter so many sacred cows. If we read it trying to decide if Barna and Viola are right then we lose. But if, on the other hand, we let it challenge us too look to Him for for truth and for life we will find; for He said “seek and you will find”.

    I do not think that it is important that we “do” church by the book but that we BE church by the spirit of the living God. That we “bear fruit” to the praise of His glory. The church is not an end or even a means it is His creation..something He himself is building and adding to out of living stones. I’m so often reminded of the statement by the late Keith Green, “Going to church does not make you a christian any more than going to Mc Donalds makes you a hamburger.”

    It is my prayer that reading Pagan Christianity will not lead you to seekinga better way to “do church” but to seeking Him! May we stop looking for anything less than Him. He IS the way, the truth and the life! He is the pearl of great price! All the rest is just procedure.

  57. Richard Says:

    I’m not writing to say who’s right or who’s wrong. I am writing though to learn what people think and how they interpret different religions. It’s the one way and probably the most important of all communication “seek first to understand” then to be understood. Jesus demonstrated this by asking questions of the people He came in contact with. Thanks guys

  58. Richard Says:

    If God inspired the authors of the various books that were written to form one book, The Bible, how can Revelation 22:18-19 only pertain to the book of Revelation? Does this means that we should only go by the Old Testament? Or is the Bible only relevant for the people back then? If all these books form one book “The Bible” how do we then get to pick or choose which books are relevant and pertain to us? And for the guys who thought this was a commentary only for PC, forgive me, for wanting to learn about God’s Word.Thanks guys

  59. Brother Maynard Says:

    Richard – on Revelation 22:18-19:
    The book of Revelation would have originally been circulated on its own, not with other books of the Bible. The Christian canon as we have it today was not agreed upon until 393; the book of Revelation was argued against for inclusion, but ultimately of course it was put in. If one accepts the same author for Revelation and John’s gospel, it would be instructive to note that the gospel doubtless went through at least one and probably more stages of editing before arriving in its final form. Revelation, according to the cited verses, was not to be redacted in any way. A late date for Revelation puts it around the same time as the Gospel; an early date puts it as much as 30 years before the Gospel. Checking a few commentaries on Revelation should confirm that it is the majority view that the verses refer to Revelation and not to the entire canon… which at the time may well have not been closed. We just don’t actually know for sure.

    Then too, one must take into consideration the method by which the books of the Bible, and the New Testament specifically, were written. No scholar seriously considers that the writers of these books actually knew they were writing scripture — this would be especially apparent with the epistles.

  60. Richard Says:

    Maynard, I understand your points, however if Revelation is one of the books that make up the Bible would that not than pertain to the whole Bible? Thanks

  61. Brother Maynard Says:

    No, it wouldn’t — the book of Revelation was originally circulated on its own and that’s how the original hearers would have understood it, and it’s a hermeneutical principle that “it cannot mean now what it never meant then.” Review the explanations I gave above, and you’ll find that if these verses refer to the entire Bible, then it’s quite possible that the New Testament itself violates them. The simple explanation is the more narrow application in this case.

  62. Linda Spagnola Says:

    I would like to add a comment regarding Richard’s question about changes to the book: the book ref in Rev 22:18-19 is the same book that the Lamb opened in Rev chpt 5. As Bro Maynard noted, this “book” was circulated on its own. Additionally, I would postulate that the “changes” referred to in Rev 22:18-19 are not so much the tangible writings of the book (which began as a vision, which was not written), but rather the story the book presents – that is the revealing of Jesus Christ and his Ekklesia and the subsequent battle between Christ and those are his with the unbelieving world. It is a spiritual battle, according to Eph 6:10-13.

    I should like to shift back to Frank’s book for a moment: One of the questions brought up was why can’t the org church then be changed, if so much of it is paganistic practices? Besides the idea of starting a building project with a faulty foundation or trying to put new wine into old wineskins, there is this: The organized/institutionalized church systems of today are geared towards and promote individualism. Individualism, if you will recall, is what has all but disintegrated family in this country. Are you aware that most Muslims, who are very family oriented, will not even consider Christianity because our so-called Christian country is no longer family oriented? This hit me like a ton of bricks and mortar (church bldg) this morning. Following Christ is not to be an individualistic endeavor: there is a reason for Christ’s many-membered bride, the Ekklesia. God’s first desire is to have a people (not a single person) who meet together to worship him and to help each other, while spreading the good news to others. The org church system is a fractured house, beginning with preacher vs lay person, with many rooms (independent ministries). People meet a couple of times a week to do things and then spend the rest of the week on their own. There is no sense of family of God there. There is no daily gathering to solely minister to God in Christ – no horizontal relationship as directed by the Vertical relationship. Our relationship with God and with each other should be interdependent with regular meetings, accountability and most of all, with Christ as its head to lead and guide.

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    […] responses to ‘organic church’ praxis evolve over the years, from initial wariness to active […]

  64. cwynn Says:

    I have glanced through Frank V’s Here to Eternity, it is a work that is Blasphemous at best ….

    [Note: The remainder of this comment has been removed since it violated the unpublished comment guidelines of this website by descending into an ad hominem attack on the author rather than commenting substantively on the content.]

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