Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pagan Christianity Preface

Curious to use the initials "PC" for this book as its theme takes a very critical look at what we could refer to as "EC" - "Ecclesiastical Correctness."

Tyndale Publishing provides a necessary heads-up to prepare the casual Christian reader for some very tough questions and some mind-set shifting conclusions:

Dear Reader,

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 question the validity or importance of the 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.

Years ago I picked up a fresh sermon illustration that has since put on hundreds of thousands of miles. I'm sure you've heard it. If you have, it's always worth repeating. If you haven't it's insightful and worthy of perpetual consideration. It correlates with the ongoing analysis of this courageous book. It goes something like this.

A newlywed couple gets back from their honeymoon and begin their lives together. One Sunday afternoon she begins to prepare a meal for her husband and herself. The menu calls for a baked ham. As she is preparing the meal, she takes a butcher knife out of the drawer and cuts both ends of the ham off. Her observant husband asks:
"Why are you cutting the ends off?"
She replies: "My mother baked a ham this way."
"Why did she do that?"
"I don't know. She just did."
The next time the couple visits her mother, the man asks:
"Why do you cut the ends of the ham off when you bake it?"
His mother-in-law responded: "That's how my mother baked a ham."
"Why did she do that?"
"I don't know. She just did."
The first time the man meets his grandmother in law, he asks:
"Why did you cut the ends of the ham off when you baked it?"
She simply answers: "The pan was too short."

PC covers a lot of territory in areas of how and why the conventional church does what it does. Like the husband in the illustration, the writers ask the pointed questions that require rewinding back to the beginning of the reel to see how we got to the point we are presently. There is often (we discover) a "distortion of the concept" (p. 108) on the part of our Western culturized perspective. Many common areas are analyzed like church buildings, order of worship, the sermon, the pastor, Sunday morning customes, Ministers of music, tithing and clergy salaries, baptism and the Lord's Supper.... many more.

Stand by! It's a sobering ride!

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