Examining Church Traditions

Monday, November 26, 2012

Not continued ago, columnist Frank Viola asked me if I'd anytime apprehend his book

"Pagan Christianity." Well, I just did and, mercy! What an eye-opener!

I had the advantage of accessory two of Viola's sessions at a appointment

last Labor Day weekend. A woman there who had apprehend the book

quipped, "After I apprehend it, I accomplished I wasn't even a Christian!" I like

the book because it's loaded with footnotes and is absolutely bookish in

its approach, yet it's a actual simple read.

BE WARNED: Any objections to Viola's advice are objections

with historical, accurate facts. To abject one's objections on the actuality

that abounding aspects in our circadian lives accept paganism at their roots

(days of the week, months of the year, holidays, for example), what

one accept to buck in apperception is that what we dub a assertive day of the anniversary

has annihilation to do with accomplishing the could could could cause of Christ. Do yourself a

favor and clarify all such objections through that band of thought.

I acclimated this as a ability book as it refers to the agnostic roots of

The Sermon, The Abbey Architecture and The Pastor. You'll be

amazed! I anticipate these and abounding others capacity will be of absorption

to cerebration Christians everywhere.

When you apprehend the Scriptural accounts of the Book of Acts, accept you

ever wondered how we anytime got from groups of Christians that met

"from abode to house" to what we accept today?

Are there assertive verses in the Bible that don't complete annihilation like

church-as-we-know-it? Accept you anytime wondered why this is?

No amount what your abbey is, let's yield a abrupt attending at what

Viola's analysis has appear on a few of our alternate "churchy" topics.

It's a bit long. Eat it in baby bites. Print it out, bite on it, allotment it,

discuss it.


Whenever we apprehend a Biblical annual of either Jesus, or Paul or

anybody in Scripture teaching others, overall, it appears to be a

dialogue rather than a monologue. In added words, there was about

some array of alternation and not alone acquiescent listening. Sure, there

were discourses area Scripture reveals no exact exchanges at all,

but time and afresh we see examples of humans speaking TO the man

of God, not getting announced AT by him. In added instances, the admirers

may accept angry and questioned one another, alone to accept Jesus

respond as He knew their thoughts or overheard their murmurings.

Acts 17:11 says the admirers "searched the Scriptures daily" to see

if what the advocate Paul was teaching them was even based aloft truth.

Surely, there was discussion, research, added altercation the next day

and questions for Paul about the antecedent day's teaching. That would

certainly accept been the case had I been there. How about you?

So, from beginning does the abstraction of one getting at the foreground of a

building talking to rows of noses originate?

Can you brainstorm the burden on one alone to serve-up a minimum

or 52 life-changing letters and aggressive prayers anniversary anniversary to ample the

gaping mouths of spiritually-starving church-goers? It's even added

pressure-packed for those who advance Protestant churches that accommodated on

Wednesday nights and alert on Sundays. One becomes a studying,

preaching apparatus in those cases. Abounding ministers (trust me on this)

resort to affairs a abode out of a book or manila binder rather than

seeking God for a "now" chat for this accurate congregation.

Question: With all these life-changing letters traveling forth, area are

all the lives that accept been changed? I'm not talking about the Baptist

who becomes a Catholic or the 3-year absentee concealment the aperture to

Sunday School. I'm talking about the disgustingly breakable

Howard Stern-type who changes his activity and starts confined the could could could cause

of Christ (my own testimony). I'm talking about the drug-addicted porn

star who repents and, admitting occasionally account her Bible with a

glass of bourbon, eventually forms her own beat admiral to advice

others apprenticed in that affairs (Google Shelly Lubben).

In "Pagan Christianity," Viola writes: "remove the abode and you

have alone the a lot of important antecedent of airy aliment for

most believers (so it is thought). Yet the beauteous absoluteness is that the

sermon has no basis in Scripture! Rather, it was adopted from agnostic

culture, nursed and adopted into the Christian faith."

He writes: "The age-old recorded Christian antecedent for approved

sermonizing is begin during the backward additional century. Clement of

Alexandria (150-215) lamented the actuality that sermons did so little to

change Christians. Yet, admitting its acclimatized failure, the abode

became a accepted convenance a allotment of believers by the fourth century."

Viola describes the abnormality agents of the 5th aeon alleged the

Sophists "who were acclimatized for inventing abode (the art of

persuasive speaking). They recruited aggregation and accepted transaction

for carrying their orations." They were articular by the appropriate

clothing they wore. Some had a anchored abode area they batten

regularly to the aforementioned audience. Others catholic and fabricated a acceptable

living at this. Their letters would generally accomplish applause. Some of

them lived at the public's amount and others had statues erected in

their honor.

The agnostic Greeks admired rhetoric. Winning an altercation through

persuasive accent was, to them, added important than speaking the truth.

About the 3rd Century, as Christianity got organized beneath Constantine,

itinerant ministers catholic appropriate off the pages of Christian history (but

they are returning!). In came the liturgy, the pews, the hierarchical

system. Whenever these Sophists converted, they brought their ability

right forth with them. As Viola writes, "Only those who were accomplished

in Greco-Roman abode were acclimatized to abode the assembly.

(Sound familiar?)... the Greco-Roman abode replaced prophesying,

open sharing, and Spirit-inspired teaching. The abode became the

elitist advantage of abbey officials...Such humans had to be accomplished in

the schools of abode to apprentice how to speak...As aboriginal as the third

century, Christians alleged their sermons by the aforementioned name that Greek

orators alleged their discourses...homilies. Today, one can yield a

seminary advance alleged homiletics to apprentice how to preach."

Viola continues, "...neither homilies (sermons) nor homiletics (the art

of sermonizing) accept a Christian origin. They were baseborn from the

pagans. A attenuated beck fabricated its way into the Christian acceptance and

poisoned its waters. And that beck flows just as acerb today as it

did in the fourth century."

In the area entitled, "How Academic Harms the Church," Viola

makes 5 absolutely accurate points:

1) It "makes the preacher the virtuoso performer, degenerating the

congregation into a accumulation of aerial spectators"; it "freezes and

imprisons the activity Physique of Christ."

2) It "stalemates airy growth" and "blunts concern and produces

passivity." It cripples the Physique of Christ. He writes, "It smothers accessible

participation. This causes the airy advance of God's humans to yield

a nosedive." If you don't use it, you lose it, they say. If we aren't

moving the anatomy of the Physique of Christ, they atrophy.

3) It "preserves the unbiblical clergy mentality...it creates an boundless

and dissection assurance on the clergy." It turns the preacher or

priest into a "religious specialist - the alone one accepting annihilation aces

to say. Everyone abroad is advised as a cheap Christian."

4) It "deskills" us. It fails to accouter the saints to do the plan of the

ministry, admitting what ministers may say and absolutely believe. The

proof's in the puddin'. If the New Testament Abbey could action

without the appearance of a abbey - relying alone aloft the arch

of the Spirit, why can't we? It's accident all over the apple and

always has.

5) "The archetypal abode is a pond assignment on dry land! It lacks

practical value...Modern pulpiteerism fails to get above alone

disseminating advice to the role of accouterment believers for both

experiencing and utilizing that which they accept heard." This ability

describe why so few ministers still accept and advise on the ability of

the Spirit as getting still in actuality today. They cannot advise on what

they do not know.


Even a allotment of the Abode Abbey crowd, one of the antecedent goals of any

group is that they should acquisition a architecture ASAP. Why? Absolutely often, as

I allocution with humans about the things of God, I apprehend something like this,

"Oh...I go...sometimes..."

They 'go'?

Go where?

I wasn't talking about "going" anywhere; I was talking about their

relationship with King Jesus and all they can say is, "I go"? Abounding

Christians accept bargain their accord with Jesus to their appearance

at a Abbey building. Likewise, abounding humans feel their appearance at

home equals a alliance or a family. Already again, as it is in the acclimatized

realm, so it is in the Airy realm. Just as one accept to participate in

family activity - because one IS allotment of the ancestors body, so all of us accept to

participate in BEING The Abbey as we are all allotment of the Physique of

Christ; a active organism, not an organization.

Viola asserts that, "...ancient Judaism was centered on three elements:

The temple, the priesthood and the sacrifice. When Jesus came, he

ended all three, accomplishing them in Himself. He is the Temple who

embodies a new and active abode fabricated of active stones - "without

hands." He is the Priest who has acclimatized a new priesthood [you

and me]. And He is the absolute and accomplished Sacrifice. Consequently,

[these things] all anesthetized abroad with the advancing of Jesus Christ."

Didn't the agnostic Greeks and Romans aswell accept temples, priests and

offer sacrifices? Yes, they did. The New Testament Abbey did abroad

with all these elements. The aboriginal Abbey was abounding with above agnostic

priests, temple prostitutes and the like. As Viola states, "Christianity

was the aboriginal non-temple based adoration anytime to emerge." The Abbey

was and IS the humans of God, not a building.

The aboriginal getting to anytime use the chat "ekklesia" (called out ones) in

reference to a architecture was Clement of Alexandria about AD190. He

was the aboriginal to use the byword "go to church." How does one GO to

what we ARE?

"Christians did not arrect appropriate barrio for adoration until the

Constantinian era in the fourth century," Viola writes. As any Christian

knows, WE are now the temple of God. You Do apperceive that, right?

There are no angelic places required; no Angelic Lands any holier than the

ground you're continuing on appropriate now. There are no added angelic priests

required as our angelic Top Priest has acclimatized a Commonwealth abounding

with Priests and Kings...you and me. There are no added sacrifices

required as Jesus died already for all time. Annihilation abroad is needed. Ever!

Christianity baffled the Roman Empire. It was, absolutely literally, a

House to Abode invasion. So committed to the could could could cause of Christ were

these humans that, as their groups grew, they tore out walls and

expanded apartment to board them all. Obviously, these aboriginal

saints had not accepted the abstraction of multiplication as a amount value.

The assemblage mentality has no abode in advancing God's kingdom. We accept to

be Pioneers, not Settlers. To their credit, these aboriginal Saints never

referred to their adapted homes as "temples," the appellation that both

pagans and Jews acclimated for their angelic spaces. "Christians did not

begin calling their barrio "temples" until the 15th Century!" In time,

the account of religious charcoal and adoration to asleep martyrs - both

straight out of paganism - began to arise. Meals in account of the dead,

"the Christian burying and the burying chant both came beeline out of

paganism in the third century." In fact, third aeon Christians met in

homes and in the cemetery. "They met in the cemetery because they

wished to be abutting to their asleep brethren...because "holy" martyrs were

buried there, Christian burying places came to be beheld as "holy

spaces." The Christians began to body baby monuments over these

spaces - abnormally over the graves of acclaimed saints. Architecture a altar

over a burying abode and calling it "holy" was aswell a agnostic practice."

He goes on to call how the Christians busy the catacombs

(underground burying paces) with Christian symbols. Even the cantankerous as

a clear aspect cannot be begin above-mentioned to Constantine. "reverence for

the asleep was the a lot of able community-forming force in the Roman

Empire...In the backward Additional century, there was a about-face in how the Lord's

Supper was viewed. The Supper had devolved from a abounding meal to a

stylized commemoration alleged "Holy Communion"...the cup and aliment were

seen as bearing a faculty of awe, alarming and mystery."

By the third century, with relics, admiration for the dead, angelic spaces

and angelic humans in abode - all beeline out of paganism - the altitude

was abreast for Constantine to appear assimilate the Christian date with his

church barrio in an accomplishment to approve his faith. Afterwards all, the

pagans and Jews had theirs. Why not us, too? Abounding of these structures

were erected over the tombs of martyred Christians, something a lot of

Christians were already acclimatized to doing.

"In the fourth century, fountains were erected in the courtyard so that

Christians could wash-up afore entering," Viola writes. Constantine's

church barrio were ample and arresting edifices...

[Constantine] abundantly busy the new abbey barrio with agnostic

art!" The barrio were blooming afterwards the basilica, the accepted

government architecture which "served abundant the aforementioned action as a top

school auditorium...wonderful for basement acquiescent and accommodating crowds

that watch a performance...basilicas were advised so that the sub fell

upon the apostle as he faced the congregation. Like the temples of the

Greeks and Romans, the Christian basilicas were congenital with a bluff

(front) adverse east." This Viola says, was because of Constantine's

fascination with sun adoration (NOT "Son" worship).

How did these new abbey barrio access Christian worship?

"Because the Emperor was the amount one "lay person"...a simple

ceremony was not sufficient. In adjustment to account him, the affectation and ritual

of the administrative cloister was adopted into the Christian liturgy." The

carrying of lights on poles to the afire of aroma were community of

the Roman Emperors. So, Constantine alien candles and aroma

to the abbey service. Appropriate garments, assorted gestures of respect,

choirs, processionals...all of these were alien by Constantine to

appease the community of the Roman imperialism and Greek paganism.

"The aftereffect of all this was an actual accident of acquaintance and accessible

participation. The able clergy performed the acts of adoration

while the aggregation looked on as spectators." Viola concedes, "Constantine

brought accord for all Christians. Beneath his reign, the Christian acceptance

had become accepted [as if it wasn't already - at atomic in God's eyes]

...for these reasons, Christians saw Constantine's acceleration to Emperor as

an act of God. Here was God's apparatus that had appear to their rescue.

Christianity and Roman ability were now melded together."

The aboriginal Christians abhorred any acquaintance with paganism. Now, beneath

Constantine, paganism was everywhere. Christians were acceptable

numb to its aftereffect with time and, as the years passed, added and added

Christians knew of annihilation abroad but Constantine's church. Admitting third

and fourth aeon Christians approved answer the adorned cathedrals by

attributing their agent to the Old Testament, they were mistaken. All

the accouterment of the Mosaic laws and practices were always destroyed

at the cantankerous replaced by the ekklesia, The Church, "a non-hierarchical,

non-ritualistic, non-liturgical organism," Viola said.

For any non-Catholic readers who are smugly blaming Catholicism for

our accepted state, Viola does a adept job of answer how the

Protestants added their own ammunition to the fire. A lot of alleged Reformers

were above priests and old habits died hard, if they died at all. Area

the abbey architecture was concerned, admitting there were some variations,

the greatest change they fabricated "was the abstraction that humans could not apperceive

God nor abound spiritually unless they heard preaching." Again,

Christians were to abandon themselves to sitting and alert every time

the doors were opened for as continued as the preacher liked.

Oy, vay! Here we go again.


I've announced in the accomplished apropos the role of "pastor" and area he

came from. The chat appears alone already in Scripture and it's in the

plural form. If we yield the Pastor OUT of the Christian equation, what

do we have? Yield the Pope out of Catholicism and what do we have?

In both cases, the academy crumbles, right? In both cases, to adduce

Viola, they are "better known, added awful accepted and added heavily

relied aloft than Jesus Christ Himself."

Viola clarifies that he is not speaking about the individuals who serve

in the role of Pastor. "By and large, those who serve in the appointment of

Pastor are admirable people. They are honorable, decent, and generally

gifted Christians who adulation God and accept a alacrity to serve His people.

But it is a role they are accomplishing that both Scripture and abbey history

are against to..."

PLEASE REQUEST THE BALANCE OF THIS ARTICLE BY WRITING team1min@our-town.com and accounting "PASTOR" in your SUBJECT bar. Thank you!


If you are absorbed in any added actual by Frank Viola, log on at ptmin.org

and apprehend more! You can aswell apprehend added online writing and excerpts from

his books on assorted capacity of absorption as able-bodied as archived Q&A.

Great stuff! Thanks, Frank!


Every blessing!

Michael Tummillo

A assistant of God