Summary Rebuttal of Viola’s Pagan Christianity

Ben Witherington has written a lengthy series of rebuttals to Frank Viola’s re-release of his 2002 book Pagan Christianity, this time in conjunction with George Barna and Tyndale House. 

I’m not joking when I said “lengthy”, the entire series of reviews actually comprises 14 blog posts (and covers more than just the book Pagan Christianity), but for those of you looking for a brief summary, I found an excellent paragraph by Witherington in the comments on his last post specific to PC. He does an excellent job of summarizing the basic problem with Viola’s views.

I do understand their [Viola,  Barna, Zens] frustration with some forms of the institutional church. What they do not seem to grasp is that what they are suggesting is certainly not any more Biblical in various regards. It becomes clearer and clearer that if 1 Corinthians wasn’t in our canon, they would have no basis for much of the way that they envision church happening. And they are prepared to ignore the evidence of Jesus teaching his disciples not only things like a particular prayer to repeat, or a particular model of leadership which not only allows for ministerial support, but in fact says quite specifically the minister is worthy of such support, they are guilty of over-exegeting their key texts so that it would appear that spontaneity is what God most wants in worship, and hierarchial leadership was forbidden. This certainly was not the apostle Paul’s view not least because he was the hierarchial leader who was telling them how to conduct their worship and fellowship gatherings– and he expected to be obeyed! 

More on Logos

In my last post I talked a little about some of the resources available for Logos Software’s Libronix Digital Library (although there are far too many to even begin to touch the vast array of opportunities for bibliophiles like myself) and this time I would like to mention a couple ways that you can save money.

Because let’s just be honest, one of the things I like about electronic books is that they don’t come to my front door in Amazon.com boxes. Now I love opening a new box of books as much as the next guy, but I don’t like the heat coming from my wife every time the UPS guy rings our doorbell.

Ahem, enough about that. What I wanted to mention was the pre-publication program. This is one of those rare actual win-win scenarios. The way it works is this: when Logos is considering making another book available for the Libronix Digital Library they send out a message to all pre-pub subscribers announcing that if enough people are interested they will be producing such-and-such a book. At that point, you have the opportunity to place a pre-publication order for the book at a significantly reduced price. Once Logos gets enough people who say, “Yeah, I’d buy that.” they begin production with the costs essentially covered (or at least pledged). In the meantime, you got a book you wanted for a lot cheaper than you would have paid otherwise. I’ve procured a whole lot of books this way and spent a lot less money than I would otherwise.

Here’s something else to look out for. I’ve discovered that there quite a few books where you can buy the hard copy and the Libronix edition for one price. I purchased Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by John J. Collins, Theology of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann, and Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah by George Nickelsburg that way.

I also wanted to highlight a recent resource that may not be well known. I recently purchased the 5 volume series An Exposition On Prayer in the Bible by Dr. Jim Rosscup. It’s a bit hefty in price, but I have never encountered such a thorough treatise on the topic of prayer in Scripture.

And finally, I’m also happy to relay that Dr. Ben Witherington III recently reported in the comments on his blog that his socio-rhetorical commentaries from Eerdmans will soon be available for Libronix.

**Edit: I just noticed that Dr. Witherington’s commentaries are available for pre-publication order, which is just sublimely apropos to this post. So check them out here.