Saturday, March 29, 2008

Organic Churches

Here in Land-In-Between we had five inches of snow this morning, and here it is already Spring and April is just a few days away. The robins are getting ready to lay their eggs, and they must be freaking out. How are they going to gobble up worms with all this snow on the ground?

I wish Al Gore would hurry up and deliver on his the global warming promises. I am beginning to feel cheated.

Earlier I said I was reading "Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna. Many other people have already reviewed the book. For example, Ariel Vanderhorst did what I thought was a fair review. There's not much I can add except for a few points:
  1. A person should be cautious when someone comes around claiming to have a radical new angle on Xnty which somehow eluded everybody else for the last 2000 years. Furthermore, in his book, Viola had a short chapter on XP being a "revolutionary" and then uses that to try to bolster his case. Anymore this is almost meaningless jargon, and it makes me immediately suspicious because it's a cheap agitprop device that amounts to saying: "Hey you over there! You had better pay heed to what I say because like XP I'm a farsighted revolutionary too and I therefore got Him on my side." For me this is just so much rhetoric.
  2. Although their book is larded with footnotes, I thought that in many places they presented a over-simplistic view of church history, almost to the point of being ludicrous. The sections dealing with the patristic era and the Catholic church were especially weak. In other places, while their presentation was interesting, much of the time I ended up saying "big fat deal, so what?"
  3. Viola and Barna don't discuss very much the role of the H.S. in the church. This is the one problem that I have with "Emergents." For all their PoMo trappings, they are still very rationalist in outlook. They just think they have discovered the better presentation, the better packaging, or the better branding.
  4. Viola and Barna place an emphasis on the church planters' role in starting up these "organic churches" which they are advocating. Just read some of the materials at House Church Resource. The question I have is just who are these "church planters" and who picks them? If somebody is picking them, then somewhere behind the scenes we still have an organization operating. And if an organization is operating, then somebody is paying for it. And so things may not be quite as "organic" as we thought they were.
While I thought Viola and Barna's book was disappointing in several ways, yet it was worth reading because, despite the book's deficiencies, they did manage to raise some worthwhile questions.