Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why Frank Viola left the Institutional Church

Author Frank Viola writes in his latest blog/post:

"Since the release of Pagan Christianity? (Tyndale, 2008), I’ve been asked numerous times, 'What caused you to leave the institutional church?'When I stepped out of the institutional church back in 1988, I thought I was only one of a handful of people who had taken that particular plunge. Today, one million Christians a year leave it, and the number is increasing. As Reggie McNeal shockingly said, 'A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving the church because they have lost their faith. They are leaving to preserve their faith.'” (to read the entire post go here)

i responded to the post in this way:

this was an interesting post. it allowed me to re-ask just why i'm still involved with the institutional church. of all the reasons given for the inadequacy of the institutional church in the post, the most powerful was the neglect of the poor. here, much was given to us and we have much for which we must answer. 

still, the fact that our theology is shallow and we fall so far from the n.t norm doesn't seem a compelling enough reason to leave. instead, i think mr. viola's most potent argument for leaving was his genuine desire to begin again, anew. i do not have the bravery to do this, and so i applaud him.

there is a dangers here, of course. christendom, while certainly dying, is not yet dead ("the wheel is still in spin" to quote the bard of the 60’s), and so any new form of church (no matter how well thought out, and no matter how ancient/future) will certainly not be the final result of this new reformation.

i’m old enough to remember (and honest enough to confess) that in the late 70’s there was this movement called “church renewal,” of which i was a part. there were authors (now forgotten) and conferences (notebooks properly placed on shelves) and the whole shebang. just like now. but, christendom buried “church renewal.” and if we’re not careful it will do the same with emergent, submergent & missional as well.