11. Contra Pagan Christianity

When combating the misinformation of Jesus mythicism, it is unfortunate but true that you first have to undo the misinformation spread by well-intentioned but poorly informed Christians whose pseudohistories are easy pickings for atheist activists in general and Jesus mythicists in particular. For the defense of the faith and the sake of truth, we must sometimes do the dirty work of calling out Christians who are spreading historical nonsense and setting up other Christians, particularly younger ones, for a major letdown when they discover they were taught lies. If you claim all those other Christians but us are pagan and you turn out to be wrong, then all of Christianity can be seen as a pagan myth. Bad history taught by Christians is the apologist’s worse nightmare as you not only have to fight anti-Christian claims but overcome the trust destroyed by past experiences. The most popular of such misinformation in recent years is Frank Viola & George Barna’s Pagan Christianity. In Contra Pagan Christianity: Countering the Pseudohistory of Frank Viola & George Barna, Albert McIlhenny explains why the arguments made by Viola & Barna in their book are the result of blatant ecclesial biases and poor scholarship. While it is not a pleasant task to call other Christians on the carpet, sometimes the blatant disregard for historical facts makes such an undertaking necessary. This book is not concerned with the idea of a house church (to which the author has no objection) but to the unfair mischaracterizations of all those who fail to hold the same position. Worse yet, Viola & Barna accomplished this by the same sort of quotemining and misrepresentation of scholars as is common with Jesus mythicists. This book will point out some of the major errors and demonstrate why Viola & Barna cannot be taken seriously as honest inquirers into the history of Christianity.

Buy from Amazon.com (USA)

Buy from Amazon.ca (Canada)

Buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK)

The contents of the book are as follows:

Series Introduction


Chapter 1 –Church History and Church Pseudohistory
1.1 – Why Church History Matters
1.2 – A Brief Look at Restorationism
1.3 – Considering Constantine
1.4 – Conclusion

Chapter 2 – Trails of Blood and Other Myths
2.1 – Sources of Discontent
2.2 – Decontextualization
2.3 – Ecclesiology du Jour
2.4 – Historical Revisionism
2.5 – False Dichotomies
2.6 – Postmodernism
2.7 – Questions
2.8 – Conclusion

Chapter 3 – Early Church Buildings
3.1 – An Unhealthy Obsession
3.2 – Church and “Church”
3.3 – Domus Ecclesiae
3.4 – Conclusion

Chapter 4 – Later Church Buildings
4.1 – Viola & Barna on Constantine
4.2 – Constantine’s Basilicas
4.3 – Gothic Cathedrals
4.4 – Protestant Church Buildings
4.5 – Conclusion

Chapter 5 – Church and Liturgy
5.1 – Origins of the Liturgy
5.2 – Sermons
5.3 – Other Church Models
5.4 – Conclusion

Chapter 6 – Church Authority
6.1 – Hierarchy in the New Testament
6.2 – Pastoral Offices
6.3 – Conclusion

Chapter 7 – Sacraments of the Church
7.1 – Baptism
7.2 – Communion
7.3 – Conclusion

Chapter 8 – Education
8.1 – Overview
8.2 – Anti-Intellectualism
8.3 – Conclusion

Chapter 9 – Organic and Institutional Churches
9.1 – False Labels
9.2 – Is It Organic Church or Synthetic Church?
9.3 – Conclusion


Appendix 1 – Viola & Barna on Porphyry and the Christian Churches