The insightful Carl Olson posts here on a new (yet wearingly old) attempt to discredit the established churches because their origins are pagan. This time the attack comes not from your polyester suit fundamentalists, but from some hip and groovy ’emergent church’ types. Think Chick tract in jeans and T-shirt with a iPod. Olson’s post refers you to a guy called Witherington, a proper Protestant historian who critiques the new book.
I have posted before on the problem of primitivism: the idea that the church should return to some golden age where everything was hunky dory. Some Protestants like to imagine that the ‘early church’ was the pure church and that it should be reproduced. The problem is, they can never agree on what the early church was actually like, and even if they could, they could never agree on how it should be reproduced. “Shall all the women and men sit in separate sections, the women with their heads covered?” Amish say ‘yes’ others say ‘no’.
The other problem with Protestant primitivists is that they are either ignorant of, or deliberately ignore the early church documents we do have. Since one of their assumptions is sola Scriptura they don’t read Didache, Protoevangelium of James, Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle of Clement etc etc even for the information they contain about the early church.
Finally, they ignore the obvious that when Christianity did actually adopt the pagan festival dates, pagan customs and pagan worship sites they did so to replace them and show that they were defeated forever. A case in point it the ancient church of the Pantheon in Rome. It was once a temple dedicated to all the gods. Now it is a church dedicated to All Saints.
Anyhow, read Olson’s post and link to Witherington’s if you’re interested. I am.