Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I have been thinking a lot lately about motivations. Why do we do what we do? Why do I do things I want to do, why do I want to do them? Why do I do the things I don’t want to do? I was watching something the other day, and a commercial came on for some movie. There was a man and a woman fighting and she said “I want you to want to do the dishes”. He said “why would I want to do the dishes”. So I asked myself, why do I do the dishes? I don’t want to, but I do them. I know why, you can ponder it. You can probably guess.

So you knew I was going to turn this back to the church at some point. There are a few books I am reading, one is from the Barna Group, it’s called Pagan Christianity. I haven’t finished it, so I won’t give you my take on it. I will tell you I didn’t completely agree with Revolution by Barna, and this is in the same vain. The book points out that much of what we do in the modern church, the way we do modern church is pagan. It’s not from the New Testament, it’s taken from the way pagans do church, ergo the name, Pagan Christianity.

That got me thinking about American Christianity. There are things we do in the American church that seem out of place. Ask most older Christians, especially older (and some younger) deacons and pastors about tattoos, what will they say? It’s sin. Why, cause it’s in the Bible. If you are unfamiliar with that passage of scripture, I invite you to read it. It’s in Leviticus chapter 19, but don’t just read verse read vs 19-37. Why are tattoos a big deal, but no one ever talks about the rest of that passage? I have my theories, but I think most of it comes down to tradition and what we consider acceptable moral behavior. Tattoos, drinking, dancing, playing cards and rock ‘n’ roll music. I have heard my fair share of why rock and roll is from the devil, even if you have Christian lyrics.

What about the word Jehovah. Why do we use it? It’s the word Yahweh with the vowels for Adonai. It’s a method that the Hebrews used to make sure they didn’t accidentally pronounce the name of the Lord in vain. The used it because it’s not the name of God, therefore it was safe to say. We know that. It’s in commentaries, dictionaries, online, and now in this blog. Why do we use it? Is it because Jehovah-Jireh sounds better than Yahweh-Jireh? Why do we use a name for God that isn’t really a name for God?

Maybe I just have too much time on my hands and think about strange things. I know there are some wonderful people with a heart for the Lord who do what they have been taught, giving the best they have to the Lord, and that is honorable. There are many who strive for personal holiness. That’s awesome. My goal in this blog isn’t to offend anyone or make you question your motives (well maybe a little), but it’s my attempt to critically think about things. I guess maybe since I am reading this Barna book, and being made to examine all the practices that I cling to (such as paid clergy, according to this book, I shouldn’t have a job). Things like preaching and Sunday School are being examined. Guess I would share the wealth a little.


  1. I agree. So much of what we do in church is purely tradition. There is no Biblical or spiritual foundation to it. For example, when you go into a church in the south and they have the Lord's Supper table prepared and they have a cloth over it. Then the deacons come and reverently fold it ceremonally, then they serve the emblems. The folding of the white sheet has become as sacred as the Lord's Supper itself. But if you trace the origins of this practice it comes from the south where most churches did not have A/C so they left the windows open and they covered the trays to keep the bugs out of the bread and juice. Now today, it is all part of the observance.

    We have become ritualistic. We have become religious. As a whole, we have become just like the religious leaders of Jesus day. We have become the exact thing that jesus came to abolish.

  2. The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
    It’s also available on Frank is also blogging now at