Ben Witherington’s Review of Pagan Christianity

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It has been almost 9 years since the first edition of Viola and Barna’s book Pagan Christianity hit the shelves so I know I am behind the ball here. I had heard of this book but hadn’t really had a look at it until this year. I ran across Ben Witherington’s five part review over on his blog and asked him if I could compile it into a single pdf file and upload it. He was gracious enough to grant the permission to do that so here it is.

Ben Witherington’s Review of Pagan Christianity

John Zens wrote a response to Dr. Witherington’s review. You can read that here.

The reason I even mention this is because I think a lot of the sentiment in that book is becoming increasingly relevant. Our young adults today are willing to question any and everything. That is healthy and often necessary. It is important that we know why we do what we do and can differentiate which things are based on scripture and which things are tradition and be 100% up front and honest about both.

0 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing these posts. Here is my reflection.
    I was taken aback reading Witherington withering critique. I haven’t read the book itself, but his critique seems harsh, abrasive, haughty and sarcastic. It sounded like the guy was hurt and hitting back hard. It was kind of ironic. He seemed to make a lot of lofty overarching statements criticizing the authors making lofty overarching statements. 🙂
    Then reading Zens critiques of the critiquer (new word?) was very interesting. My first thought is that it would ahve been easier for Zens to just write a book. I have to give him credit for being thorough! But he seemed to be a little more balanced and open than Witherington.
    As someone who works with small groups, I found the discussion from the book and both critiques helpful and insightful. (if only for the bibliography) Thanks for posting!

  2. Matt, thanks for this post. John Zens response to Ben Witherington has made me put this book on my “to read” list.

    1. Well when you buy it make sure to use my referral link above! 🙂
      Pagan Christianity kind of had the opposite effect on me than it had on a lot of people. It is really aimed at high church practices that really miss the mark. I think we have been able to avoid a lot of those problems in the Churches of Christ. At the same time it is important to remember that we can still do things better. What we are starting to see is a new anti-institutionalism. The institution is no longer universities and orphans homes. The institution is the church building and all that goes into the Sunday morning assembly (time, money, attention/focus, etc). People are looking at that and saying is that really what it is all about? People have said for years that church was not about the building but in many ways we have acted like it was. A perfect example of that is the idea that if someone is not there Wednesday night they must not be serious about their faith. Anyway…there are some good and challenging parts to that book but it needs balance. I think BWIII’s helps temper the book to some degree and at least informs the reader of some aspects of church history that you might miss otherwise. Hope you enjoy the read! I will see you May 23!

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