Friday, February 20, 2009

Pagan Christianity Introduction

Teena and I had the pleasure of listening to George Barna about 5 years ago. I remember being challenged and even shaken (as I was still in the "conventional church" mind-set). He made it clear that he just presents what he finds "out there." I believe his work over the last several years has lead him to the point of co-authoring this provocative book.

Here are some snips from the Introduction he writes.

We are in the midst of a silent revolution of faith. Millions of Christians throughout the world are leaving the old, accepted ways of "doing church"
for even older approaches. Those older approaches are rooted in the Holy Scriptures and the eternal principles of the living God. (p. xxv)

They are tired of the institutions, denominations and routines getting in the way of a resonant connection with Him. They are worn out on the endless programs that fail to facilitate transformation. They are weary of being sent off to complete assignments, memorize facts and passages, and engage in simplistic practices that do not draw them into God's presence. (p. xxvi)

Does it really matter how we practice our faith, as long as the activities enable people to love God and obey Him? The preponderance of evidence shows that these perspectives, rules, traditions, expectations, assumptions, and practices often hinder the development of our faith. In other instances, they serve as barriers that keep us from encountering the living God. The way in which we practice our faith can, indeed, affect the faith itself. (p. xxviii)

The contemporary church is like a jet airplane that has no capacity of in-flight corrections. A little change here, a minor deviation there, a slight alteration of this, a barely perceptible tweaking of that -- and before you know it, the who enterprise has been redefined. (p. xxx)

This is what precisely has happened over the course of 1700-1900 years. Count Jeff and Teena Stewart as being among the "millions...leaving the old, accepted ways of 'doing church.' " I think that's what drove us bonkers in our last situation. We felt like we were way outside looking in as we constantly observed an ecclesiastical chase of Christian gimmickry. Be it parking lot banners, haze machines, orange information desks, series theme t-shirts - - it all smacked hard against: "If anyone would come after me..."

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