in the very first chapter of a book, the authors wrote this?
“Warning: If you are unwilling to have your Christianity seriously examined, do not read beyond this page. Give this book to Goodwill immediately! Spare yourself the trouble of having your Christian life turned upside down.”
Having read an earlier self-published iteration of this book in the Spring of 2003, I can personally vouch that the authors do not exaggerate. This was one of a half dozen or so lessons learned in a short period of time that turned my faith upside down … in a very positive way!!!!!
What if the publishers were so concerned that the book might not even be read or its intent might be misconstrued by its title? And then felt so strongly about it that they wrote the following publisher’s preface:
Perhaps you wonder why a publisher of Christian books would release a book that questions so many common church practices. Please be aware, however, that the authors are not questioning the validity or the importance of church. Instead, they are asking us to thoughtfully consider the source of our churches’ traditions and then ask how these practices square with Scripture and the practices of the first-century church. Many in the church hold to tradition, even if it is not grounded in Scripture, and these same people wonder why the church seems to be losing its relevance and impact in the contemporary world.
Tyndale does not necessarily agree with all of the authors’ positions and realizes that some readers may not either. At the same time, we stand united with Frank and George in our desire to see the church operate according to biblical principles and be a full expression of God’s grace and truth. Furthermore; the authors raise important questions based on their careful research, study and experiences, and we believe these questions should not be ignored. Our aim is for you to consider their conclusions and then pray seriously about your response.
And what if shortly after it was published and released in the 21st century, rumors began to circulate that in some religious circles they were planning book-burning bonfires to rid the world of this book? (Remember they did the same thing with Luther’s booklets)
Welcome to the world and pages of Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Frank originally wrote and self-published this book in 2002. Frank and George have recently collaborated on making this book a bit more reader and believer friendly. The initial book had a bit of attitude between the lines that I am sure ran many a reader off. But as much as I loved the original book, after reading the intros and a few chapters I can confidently say this book is even better.
In case you might be interested, here are the chapter titles:
1. Have We Really Been Doing It by the Book?
2. The Church Building
3. The Order of Worship
4. The Sermon
5. The Pastor
6. Sunday Morning Costumes
7. Ministers of Music
8. Tithing and Clergy Salaries
9. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
10. Christian Education
11. Reapproaching the New Testament
12. A Second Glance at the Savior
Lord willing, I hope to share more in the coming days and weeks…