LTRP Note: After reading our book review of Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna, Keith Malcomson of Ireland wrote to us, sharing his own research and writing regarding Pagan Christianity. Malcomson has some very valuable and scriptural insights we would like to pass on to our readers because Pagan Christianity has unfortunately influenced many many Christians.
Pagan Christianity, a Review and a Response by Keith Malcomson
A response in articles to the teachings of Gene Edwards, Frank Viola, George Barna, the House Church Movement, the Organic Church Movement and the Simple Church Movement – and such like. Please note that I am not against the practice of gathering in homes, or of challenging anything that is contrary to Scripture.
Although many think the resurgence in house-churches is a new thing, lost in the 4th century but rediscovered in the late 20th century, this is far from true. For those well read in church history it is well known that the home has frequently been the residence of the church in a variety of movements in different countries and generations. Even in my great-grandmothers day, who was a staunch Presbyterian, the fellowship of believers in the home was vital and effectual in spiritual life to the local church. I once met a very elderly lady who was saved in one of these house meetings through the influence of my great grandmother.
What is so very sad at this present time in the house church movement (otherwise known as the organic church movement or simple church movement) of our day is that many leave the existing denominations and structures in search of a more spiritual natural way of “doing” Church only to end up in a quack mire worse than what they left. There can be no doubt that there is indeed much wrong with what is called “church” in this generation, but we also read of such problems in those churches planted by the first apostles within the first century. Just as they presented to the church in their day the pure vision of a New Testament church as the body of Christ so we also must hold fast to this heavenly vision and proclaim it in calling this generation back to the simplicity, purity, passion and power of that church.
Although there is much talk amongst the leading writers of this movement concerning deep intimate fellowship with Christ, His headship in the local gathering of believers and of His eternal purpose in Christ, these are most certainly not the central points on which many people are exiting religious systems to gather in homes.
I have watched this movement for 15 years and read a number of their works. Although I could speak highly of some of the material produced I must say I have watched the gradual rise of certain teachings which I consider to be leaven, heretical and dangerous to the local gathering of believers and I believe that they will shortly take their teachings to their natural conclusion in a way that will shipwreck a great many genuine seekers. If we study past movements we will see this time and time again. Genuine believers leave the religious system inspired by a dynamic voice for the high pastures of the New Testament Church only to die in a wilderness through disillusionment. Of course on the other hand multitudes play it safe and stay in a system of religion where they die under leadership that cares more for the organisation and security of the system than the souls of the sheep.
The highly acclaimed book Pagan Christianity? was written by Frank Viola and co-authored by George Barna. It carries the sub-title of Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices. What I have noticed being introduced subtly but not explicitly in earlier works by author Gene Edwards is here coming to fruition. Tyndale House published this book but they make clear in the preface that although they believe that many of the questions raised are important and that much of what is taught in it is true they “do not necessarily agree with all the authors’ positions…” Click here to continue reading.