I just started reading Pagan Christianity so I can't really give a detailed review but what I've read has already got me thinking. This is a re-write of a book Frank Viola wrote a number of years ago. He has now teamed up with George Barna to publish a new revised version. Never having read the original, I can't say what changes have been made.
So far, this book is well written with lots of documentation. Frank Viola, who did the research, seems to have done a very thorough job. I enjoy reading history so I find the data in this book fascinating. Also, I believe that if we don't understand the past, more than likely, we'll repeat the same errors and suffer the same consequences.
I was already aware of the pagan roots of some of the procedures and practices of today's institutional church but I wasn't aware of the magnitude of the corruption. The emotion I've been experiencing as I read this book is deep sadness with thoughts of what the church would have been like today if these pagan rituals hadn't been brought in.
The magnitude of the deception is appalling! I believe if the early church "fathers" had understood the ramifications of some of the decisions that they made, they never would have allowed the church to become so tainted by these corrupt practices. However, as with all deception, it tends to sneak in a little at a time. A little compromise here and another little one there followed by another small one and eventually things are terribly off course. People are usually unaware of the magnitude of the error since they've been conditioned one small step at a time to accept the changes.
Emperor Constantine came to power in 306 AD and later granted favor to Christians. Believers were ecstatic. After many years of unrelenting persecution, they finally were experiencing some relief from the constant persecution. I'm sure it only seemed right to allow the emperor to make the changes he wanted since he had done so much to improve their circumstances. If they had only known the results, perhaps they would not have given in so easily.
I believe it's critical that those who are today seeing through the deception continue to walk in an ever deepening understanding of grace and Father's love. We've all felt some of the pressure that religion will throw at us to get us to come back into the pen and conform. I know we haven't experienced anything like the early church did but feelings of isolation can make us more vulnerable to the pressure.
Hebrews 3:13 says, "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
I think it's critical that we continue to encourage each other and I believe it's going to be even more important in the days ahead. Bino, in the past, has encouraged us to keep on blogging about grace and I think those are words of wisdom. I have a tendency to waver too much at times. I need to get more established in grace so everyone's posts are a constant source of encouragement to me in this process of growth.
In the latest post on his blog, Steve McVey talks about what he calls "The Coming Grace Revolution." I thought the article was inspiring. I know some people may feel uncomfortable with the word "revolution" since one of the meanings is a change that is accompanied by violence as in the violent overthrow of a government. I don't think that's what is meant here. Dictionary.com also defines revolution as "a sudden, complete or marked change in something: the present revolution in church architecture." Another definition is "a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point." I believe those last two definitions are the meanings behind Steve's blog post.
As we share the message of Father's love through our blogs and through our daily contacts, people who have been in bondage to religion will be set free and this will help to bring in the grace revolution that Steve talks about. I'm sure that won't happen without great opposition which is why, as he said, it's important that we stand together and bring this message of love and grace to the forefront.