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Review: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna

July 10, 2010

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna (Barna Books, 2008) addresses current issues in the modern church. Viola analyzes today's church in light of a New-Testament church model. He also examines the extra-Christian influences on the church throughout history.


Viola makes the point that many traditional aspects of today's church are simply the results of pagan influences throughout history. Viola believes that these non-Christian influences have undermined the integrity of the modern church. Viola believes that the modern church could solve many of her current issues by simply adhering solely to a New-Testament model.

Viola walks readers through a fairly comprehensive history of the church in order to demonstrate his point. He demonstrates why he believes specific current church practices such as the church building, church leadership structures, and the traditional order of worship are simply remnants of pagan influences.

While thoughtful readers could certainly benefit from considering the issues that Viola raises, his choppy style and lofty tone are difficult to overlook. Furthermore, his arguments are hard to follow, are occasionally based on inaccurate interpretations of historical events, and often only make sense if the reader agrees with Viola's initial analysis of the problem.

His all-encompassing statements, his vilification of opposing arguments, and his overly exaggerated examples make many of Viola's points hard to swallow.

Mark Driscoll provides a fairly comprehensive analysis of Pagan Christianity here.

Jessica Muto provides another insightful review at her blog Shiny Mess.