Monday, February 23, 2009

Pagan Christianity - Chapter 1


Suddenly Winchester had another new thought: "I don't remember reading anywhere in the Bible that Christians are supposed to dress up to go to church. I that by the Book?"

This single thought unleashed a torrent of other barbed questions. As scores of frozen pew sitters filled his horizon, Winchester continued to ponder similar new questions. Questions that no Christian is supposed to ask. Question like:

"Is sitting in the uncushioned pew, staring at the back of twelve rows of heads for forty-five minutes, doing things by the Book? Why do we spend so much money to maintain this building when we're here only twice a week for a few hours? Why is half the congregation barely awake when Pastor Farley preaches? Why do my kids hate Sunday School? Why do we go through this same predictable, yawn-inspiring ritual every Sunday morning? Why am I going to church when it bores me to tears and does nothing for me spiritually? Why do I wear this uncomfortable necktie every Sunday morning when all it seems to do is cut off blood circulation to my brain?"

Winchester felt unclean and sacrilegious to ask such things. Yet something was happening inside of him that compelled him to doubt his entire church experience. These thoughts had been lying dormant in Winchester's subconscious for years. Today, they surfaced.

Interestingly, the questions Winchester had that day are questions that never enter the conscious thinking of most Christians. Yet the sober reality is that Winchester' eyes had been opened.

As startling as it may sound, almost everything that is done in our contemporary churches has no basis in the Bible. As pastors preach from their pulpits about being "biblical" and following the "pure Word of God," their words betray them. The truth is that precious little that is observed today in contemporary Christianity maps to anything found in the first-century church.

I'm going out on a limb and assuming the Winchester is the altar ego of Frank Viola. The"unclean and sacrilegious to ask such things -yet something was happening inside of him that compelled him to doubt his entire church experience" has for a very long time been my personal experience. That pit-of-the-stomach churning I used to have on Sunday mornings as "a pastor" heading to that 1+ hour, 1-day a week at 1 particular place was a GIANT INTERROGATIVE in my soul. I believe I know now what the answer to the question was: "This is just not right." It is OK to "throw the baby out with the bathwater!" What ever made us think it was wrong to do so?

The light of truth is so liberating!


Jilliefl1 said...

The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at .
It’s also available on Frank is also blogging now at .

Different Cloth said...

Thank you Jill!