The Glorious Church


Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna

This is an amazing new book that ought to interest every member of the Network. In Chapter 5 the authors slay the traditional idea of a single pastor and set forth the biblical view of an eldership team. They also go after many other traditional concepts that are preventing the Lord from manifesting as fully as He desires.

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I know that this question was directed to Bro. Dave Huston, but I wanted to reply regarding my personal interest.

I first heard the title of this book in a radio article (it may have been an interview with the author) probably one or two years ago. I remember them discussing the historical background of the pulpit and other various items, and I found my interest in what I heard was very piqued. I added it to my Amazon Wish List later that evening so that I wouldn't forget it. Alas, my wishlist is only that--a wishlist--which never seems to get fulfilled very often (LOL), and I eventually displaced it with other books that I developed interests in. But upon hearing Bro. Dave's suggestion, I recalled my original interest and knew it was something that I wanted to obtain. I have since not been disappointed.

Donnie Gillum said:
So, I know my adventure pretty well. But this book has caused me to be curious about the path you’ve traveled. May I ask how you came in contact with this book? Did someone recommend it? Did you notice it somewhere on your own? I think what I’m really asking is – how did it catch your interest?
Do you mind sharing the site's URL information?

Donnie Gillum said:
I just recently discovered an apostolic home church group site that has some discussion about this book.
Michael V. Frazier said:
Do you mind sharing the site's URL information?

Here’s the link to the page I was talking about.

Scroll about half-way down the page to lornemac45

However, you may have to join on the homepage in order to read it. If so, here’s the homepage directions to the article…after you join:

Scroll down to “The Den (AKA The Garage)”
Scroll down to “Pagen Christianity & Taking The Lords Supper”

Scroll about half-way down the page to lornemac45
I must say I really like this book, but to be fair, I would like to mention that there are a couple of areas (maybe more) that are a little weak (for me). I'll only mention one here. While Frank Viola does mention the importance of water baptism, and that it should be done immediately...he seems to avoid the fact that the apostles baptized in Jesus' Name...and avoids the fact of tradition involved in changing it to the standard trinitarian "formula". While he may be an entirely honest man (I don't know him), this made me a little leery since the thrust of his work was about traditions of men vs. the Word of God.

By the way, another "tradition" pretty much established, and accepted today is that the “immediate” part of baptism is neglected among many (most?) apostolics today …making one to wonder if they really think baptism, even, in Jesus Name, is really that important! I understand the importance of discussing with family, especially if the candidate is a child. But, I’m afraid many times we work with the matter of “convenience” (especially our own) instead. I.e.: “Now we’ll be having a “service” next Sunday night, so we’ll just wait until then and baptize you…you know, with the gas prices and all…”
I agree with you on the immediacy of baptism. I have also been concerned about those who drag their feet to the water. I use it now as kind of a test. If someone tells me they want to get baptized, but not right now, maybe next week, that tells me they're not ready.
Very good! I'll adopt your "test" method too. Thanks for passing this along.
Here is something that may prove a little helpful while we are analyzing Frank Viola’s book. It is a site that belongs to an apostolic man near Austin, Texas. I’ve never met him personally, but I have communicated by email with him for maybe a couple of years. His name is Tim Crews.

The site is:

In section Ten: An illustration of the early Church. Bishops, deacons, elders. True community and fellowship. The City of God.

In section eleven: Quality Circles / Home Churches.

While there is a host of material there, these two sections are related to our topic and may have something to offer as we are examining Frank Viola’s work. By the way, It’s all free.
David Huston said:
I agree with you on the immediacy of baptism. I have also been concerned about those who drag their feet to the water. I use it now as kind of a test. If someone tells me they want to get baptized, but not right now, maybe next week, that tells me they're not ready.

I know this may digress from the discussion at hand, but I wanted to respond to this comment by Dave.

Exactly. I know I wouldn't have been ready had people first approached me about baptism in Jesus' name many years ago. I had visited an apostolic church two years before I began studying doctrine and any discussion or pressure at that time would have probably had a negative effect on me (of course any reaction on my part is still entirely my responsibility...). I needed to be convinced of the necessity of baptism in Jesus' name, and the moment I was, I did so at the first opportunity I had, at a church that I haven't actually visited since.

Paul routinely discussed and debated the faith in the synagogues and temples, convincing those that could be convinced. If one is truly convinced and convicted, then I think there will be fewer issues of people being committed to the faith. We should preach and teach on the importance and necessity of water baptism in the name of Jesus, and never waver from this. At the same time, we must realize that people need to understand the importance of their free choice to accept or not. Such things as "peer pressure" in cases like baptism, actually have a negative effect in my opinion, because they can act both ways--for and against truth. (By peer pressure, I mean encouragement that is not convincing someone of the necessity of baptism in Jesus' name, but based on a social acceptance-issue, or an intimidation-issue, etc.) Ultimately, Jesus must do the convicting! "...they were pricked in their hearts..." not by any accusation of sin by Peter, but by Peter's convincing the crowd of who Jesus actually was!
A comment on the trees of light site: Overall, it looks great. I'm not having much success finding more about the author of the site, but I haven't explored it yet too much. So far, everything from most pages seems correct and on target. I only wanted to highlight one point in section ten that bears a closer look. On trees of light, the author speaks of a bishop and a deacon as being two different functions/ministries and of an elder as being an office such that an elder can be either a bishop or a deacon (or neither?)... Here's the page for details:

I don't find the biblical support for this explanation, since I think this tends to a bishop-pastor-overseer-one-man-rule system over time, which is exactly what happened historically. It seems like the two terms Bishop and Elder (in the Greek) were interchangeable to describe the same men using two different terms, one referring to the functional aspect, and one to the status or character aspect. Dave has some articles on this very topic, so I won't add references and such here. I'll look over the site more and maybe even bring up this point with the author if I can find contact information.
Nathan, After discovering the Glorious Church site, I’ve tended to stick pretty much with it. So, it's been a long time since I've read everything on TOL (trees of light), maybe a couple of years, so I'll have to re-read the section you've mentioned. Tim's email contact is not conspicuous enough though (I’ll mention this to him). Go to the “Resources” tab and click on “Tim’s Blog/News” and you’ll find his email contact info there.
Quote- Nathan: ...I know I wouldn't have been ready had people first approached me about baptism in Jesus' name many years ago.

As usual, Nathan, this (your whole respone) is good. Balance is certainly the key.
This is a great book! I've just finished reading the first seven chapters and have thumbed through the rest. I am thoroughly excited that someone has written just what Viola and Barna have, since much of this has directly spoken to things that I have been wondering about and researching for a number of years. In my youth, my family was often involved in 'house church' meetings or various prayer and worship gatherings in homes. Inevitably, however, these meetings were extra-ecclesiastical in the sense that they weren't necessarily something that any church fellowship we were a part of had intentionally organized. They were outside the church building and consequently outside the direct control of a pastor so were probably considered "fringe-meetings". However, these meetings were where the real business of the church actually took place, I think.

Having experienced body ministry, worship and prayer in the past--even before I embraced Oneness doctrine--I have been subsequently disappointed with many doctrinally-sound apostolic assemblies. Many times I have sensed a move of the Spirit squelched or people left without help because of tradition! May God keep teaching us, and may we keep learning, to worship/live/walk in Spirit and in Truth! Obviously, this has got to involve more than just doctrine, it must also involve the correct approach. Even though the authors of this book are not accurate in some doctrinal areas, most of what they write about the traditional practices seems right on and it would be wise for any believer to fully consider this.

I'll post some questions and criticisms when I finish reading.

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