Guest Review of “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices”
(A Note From Jesse Jost)
I recently read Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. This book is over 10 years old but has had a large impact in areas of the church, especially with those disgruntled with their church or those seeking more from their church.
The church as a whole is in need of revival (as it always is). Tradition often produces ideas and practices that become accepted and promoted without people stopping to consider if these ideas are supported in scripture. In the 1500s, the visible, institutional church had become so corrupted and the spiritual life was squelched by tradition and human ambition. Martin Luther and many other reformers took a bold stand for truth and left the institutional church, and, in many cases, gave their lives to pursue the rediscovery of church as they believed it was revealed in Scripture.
Five hundred years later the church has taken thousands of different forms, and any given Sunday you will encounter many different expressions of what Christians believe worship and fellowship should be. Many feel that the Protestant church has again strayed from the biblical ideal and has decayed into a spiritually dead institution, with church members merely going through lifeless rituals. Again, thousands are leaving the “institutional church” in search of something “organic” and uncluttered by tradition.
People are forming house churches, or even exploring more radical ideas of how Christ’s body should assemble. I was a part of a house church for eighteen years; the ideas Viola expresses in this book shaped many of our practices. I loved being a part of that group and was an avid apologist for doing church face-to-face in a circle, without paid clergy, bulletins, Sunday school, budgets, or elections.
In the last couple of years, we felt called to serve in a more traditional small town Evangelical Free church that has a paid pastor, beautiful building, Sunday school, budgets and annual meetings. We love our current church as well. Being actively involved in both styles of church has given us a front row seat to the strengths and weakness of both approaches.
I’m still on a journey and forming my own ideas about what Church should look like. I plan to write more, but for now I can say I appreciate many of the authors’ concerns about lack of spiritual life in many modern churches. There are serious problems in the church such as pastor burnout and passivity among members. But I’ve also seen, as many who have left the institutional church have found out, that getting rid of pastor, building, budgets, and bulletins, does not change the sin nature or the people problem.
A change of methods does not change the heart. There is no substitute for spiritual regeneration, humility, kindness, forgiveness, and abiding in the Vine and letting His Word change us. If our Christianity is real from Monday to Saturday, then Sunday can be enriching and Christ-exalting in many different forms, including one that has a paid pastor and building.
My long-time friend Jacob Denhollander (who is married to Rachael Denhollander, one of Times magazine’s 100 most influential people), heard I read this book recently and sent me the review he wrote a couple years ago. I enjoyed it so much and found it so insightful, not just for those who have read the book, but for the church conversation in general. He gave me permission to share it here. Fair warning: Jacob’s a PhD student, so you will find the writing far more intelligent than what you normally read on this blog. Enjoy!
A Book Review
by Jacob Jonathan Denhollander
April 10, 2015
Barna, George, and Viola, Frank, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Barna Books, 2008. 295 pp.
One of the surprise Christian bestsellers in recent years is a book entitled, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. In this revised and expanded version, noted Christian pollster George Barna joins original author Frank Viola as co-author. The authors set out to examine how the practices of modern institutional Christianity developed and compare those practices against the example of first century Christian practices. This review will focus primarily on chapters 4 & 5, which deal with the place of the sermon and the role of the pastor, respectively. More than any others, these two chapters get to the heart of Viola and Barna’s objections to ‘institutional Christianity’. This more focused approach has been chosen because it will allow for a deeper examination of the claims and methodology used in those chapters, rather than lightly touching on the contents of each chapter. The contents of these two chapters will be summarized, and then evaluated. Both positive claims (What church should look like) and negative claims (What church should not look like) will be evaluated. In addition, the methodology of the authors will be briefly discussed.
Page citations of Pagan Christianity are contained in parenthesis; all other references are found in footnotes.
Pagan Christianity was written out of a concern that the modern church has strayed far from the biblical ideal of an organic entity, a “living, breathing entity” (Pg. xxiii). In its place, we find clergy-led institutions that are bound by their religious programs and human traditions that stifle the “every member functioning body.” (xxiii) The basic methodology of Pagan Christianity is to examine the historical roots of common church practices in an attempt to establish the unbiblical origin of many modern church practices and demonstrate how they stifle the “practical headship of Jesus Christ and hampers the functioning of His body.” (7)
In Chapter 4, which deals with the place of the sermon, Viola and Barna assert that despite the central place granted it by institutional churches, the modern “sermon has no root in Scripture.” But it is not simply a harmless appropriation from pagan culture – it “detracts from the very purpose for which God designed the church gathering.” (86) They go on to compare it to sermons in the Old and New Testaments, writing that while modern sermons are a regular occurrence, delivered by the same person, delivered to a passive audience, and are a cultured form of speech, sermons in the Bible were sporadic and extemporaneous, delivered on special occasions to deal with specific problems, and most often not delivered as a monologue. (88) If fundamentally different from what is described in the Bible, from whence did the modern-day sermon develop? It is from the Greco-Roman love of speech and rhetoric. As the clergy class began to emerge, their ranks were filled by those who, prior to becoming Christians, were orators and philosophers. As a result, write the authors, the “pagan notion of a trained professional speaker who delivered orations for a fee moved straight into the Christian bloodstream.” (91) While preaching took a backseat to the Mass during the medieval period, it was revived by the Reformers and perfected by the Puritans in the form of verse-by-verse exposition of Scripture. This central focus on the sermon has remained, unquestioned, the central focus of Protestant church gatherings for five centuries.
Viola and Barna distinguish five negative impacts that the sermon has on the church in its gatherings. First, it “freezes and imprisons the functioning of the body of Christ” by allowing pulpiteers to domineer over mute spectators. Second, it keeps mature Christians from ministering, smothering participation. Third, it preserves an unbiblical clergy mentality. Fourth, the sermon “de-skills” its listeners, rather than equipping them for the work of ministry. Lastly, Modern sermons are impractical, simply disseminating information and failing to equip believers to experience and use what they have heard. Rather than being in the hand of a few trained speakers, “teaching is to come from all believers.” (97-99)
The following chapter, dealing with the subject of Pastors, is likewise introduced with an absolute claim: “There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor!” (106) Viola and Barna posit that while there are ‘pastors’ and ‘shepherds’ mentioned in scripture, they do not correspond to the modern-day office of pastor. Instead, they contend that the modern-day pastor has its roots in the obsession of fallen humanity with desire to have a spiritual mediator, as well as an obsession with the “hierarchical form of leadership.” (109) During the apostolic era, there were those who were shepherds because they “naturally provide nurture and care for God’s sheep.” (107) As the Apostles disappeared, the leadership of the church gradually became more formalized. The authors point especially to Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 AD) as formalizing the role of one elder over the others, resulting in the office of Bishop. By the fourth century, a system of Bishops and those under them, called ‘Presbyters’, had been established. By the Middle Ages, the presbyters were the priests over local churches, standing over the sacraments, while the Bishop became an increasingly distant and political office. The authors spend a good deal of time discussing the influence of Roman politics, and especially the role of Emperor Constantine, in cementing this hierarchical system. This system continued, largely unopposed, until the time of the Reformation. While the Reformers did away with the office of Bishop, they maintained the clergy/laity distinction. Furthermore, while the Reformers removed the priest from a place of mediation for salvation, they viewed the minister as “the paid mediator between God and his people” This was a mediator not of salvation, but a mediator to “communicate the divine will.” (129) Summarizing, the authors contend that when it came to the office of Bishop, the Reformation effected little more than a semantic change. “The Bishop-driven church evolved into the pastor-driven church.” (135) The authors go on to contend that the pastor harms the church by restricting the full-member participation in the worship service of the church, as well as doing harm to his own self by removing himself from the fellowship of the body. In the end, they conclude, “the Protestant pastor is nothing more than a slightly reformed Catholic priest.” (141)
At the heart of Pagan Christianity’s criticism of the modern day institutional church, and particularly the sermon and office of pastor, lies a very specific understanding of what the early Christian church looked like. Viola and Barna use the biblical metaphor of ‘body’ to describe their ideal view of what the local church should look like. This is, in fact, the source of their primary argument. Even if it were possible to refute their judgement that certain Christian practices have pagan origins, their objection would remain that whatever their origin, the church no longer functions like the biblical ideal. In this sense, the historical arguments are, appropriately so, of secondary importance to the more important biblical consideration.
Thus, before evaluating other facets of their argument, their model of ‘every member functioning’ worship will be evaluated. After examining their understanding of the biblical body metaphor, the chapters on preaching and pastors will be critiqued, and in conclusion, some general observations will be made on methodological matters.
The Body and functioning members
The Bible uses many metaphors to describe the Church, including a building (1 Cor. 3:9), a new temple (1 Peter 2:4-8), a household (1 Tim. 3:15), a flock of sheep (Acts 20:28), a wife (Eph. 5:32), and a body (Eph 4:15-16, 1 Cor. 12:12-27). The wide range of metaphors employed by the biblical authors alerts us to the fact that the Church cannot be exhaustively described by any one of these metaphors. Yet each metaphor in its turn highlights a particular function or feature of the Church, and a detailed study can prove useful in understanding particular aspects of the Church. Viola and Barna understand the body metaphor to describe church members functioning in the meeting of a local church, and much of their criticism is founded on this understanding. Thus, if it can be demonstrated that their understanding of the body metaphor is flawed, their criticisms made on that basis are rendered invalid.
Unfortunately, the authors’ vision of the New Testament church, which forms the basis of so much of their criticism, is fundamentally flawed and unnecessarily focused on the church meeting. In particular, their criticism that preaching “freezes the functioning of the body” (97) and that pastors steal the right of the Christian “to function as a full member of Christ’s body” (136) reveals a remarkable misunderstanding of the body metaphor. For Viola and Barna, the body metaphor, with its imagery of every member involved and no one member over the others, seems to be an ideal metaphor for their vision of the open church meeting, with every member functioning in the church meeting. That is, for the authors, for the body of Christ to be properly functioning, members of the local congregation must be free to ‘function’ (i.e. speak, share, exhort, praise, pray, etc…) in the church meeting. Anything that restricts or impedes the free expression of any individual member in the meeting is to impede that member’s ability to ‘function’, and is de facto unbiblical.
Contrary to Barna and Viola’s presupposition, the body metaphor is never used in Scripture of a local church, never mind the local church meeting. It is a presupposition because nowhere in the book do they actually exegete or explain the ‘body’ passages – they simply assume their interpretation as a given. However, when Paul uses the body metaphor, he never uses it to describe a local church, only the universal bride of Christ, the Church. Christ does not have multiple bodies of which he is the head: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6, NET) The universal saving experience of all Christians is what involves them as a member of the body. The body imagery and the discussion of members is exclusively reserved to refer to the spiritual unity of all believers in Christ; thus the metaphor is not transferrable to the local congregation. The body metaphor, then, does not refer to an ideal that should be strived for, but to a spiritual reality that is to inform. In other words, Paul does not write to say to local congregations to say, “You should all work really hard to be functioning members of the body, your local church.” Instead, the reality of every Christian’s membership within the body is to inform how Christians perceive and treat one another. This does not mean, however, that the spiritual unity that Paul emphasizes with the body metaphor does not apply to the local church. Indeed, Paul raises the spiritual reality of the body of Christ in order to appeal for right actions in local church contexts.
While much more remains to be said on the significance of the body metaphor, for the purposes of the present review, what has been discussed reveals that the authors’ view of what it means to ‘participate’ in the body is completely misguided. Viola and Barna think that the body is functioning when every member has a chance to speak or otherwise minister in the meeting of the local church. According to them, having a pastor preach a sermon makes a pastor “a giant mouth” and transforms the Christian in the pew into a “tiny ear”. (136) Unfortunately, they do not seem to understand that making EVERY member a mouth does not make the picture any more appealing or solve any problems. However, if we understand the body more broadly, referring to each Christian as a member regardless of if they are in church, school, or at work, the functioning of every member makes far more sense. Instead of useful participation in the body being defined by how often one speaks in the meeting, every member of the body is to be exhorted to minister in whatever context they have been placed because they ARE a member. I Corinthians 12 make it clear that for some members of Christ’s body, one way they minister is to in some way participate in the worship gathering of the local congregation. However, there are certain gifts, like gifts of mercy and evangelism that necessarily find expression outside the meeting. The mother who is raising her children to fear the Lord is functioning as a member of the body as much as the pastor who labors to faithfully exposit God’s word. The deacon distributing mercy funds is acting as a member of Christ’s body, as is the business man witnessing to his seatmate on their plane flight. Contra Barna and Viola, the meeting and activity of a gathered congregation encompasses only a small portion of how the body functions and how each member ministers. It simply is not true that 1 Corinthians 14 teaches that teaching is to come from every member. Thus, it does not follow that if some members are not speaking in a church service that they are necessarily being prevented from ministering. Thus, it can be seen that their assumption that every member must be free to participate in the meeting to be a functioning member of the body is extremely limiting, unbiblical, and unnecessary. This mitigates greatly their arguments against the ‘modern’ sermon and ‘modern’ pastor as necessarily inhibiting the ministry of the body.
Barna and Viola assert that there is no tradition of preaching that bears any correlation to modern day preaching. Biblical preaching, they assure us, is done in dialogue, is extemporaneous and not structured. They cite the example of the synagogue, arguing that any member was free to preach (87ff). However, this is simply not true – only men could preach, and then, preaching and scripture reading was by invitation (see Acts 13:15, 42). Indeed, the New Testament epistles and letters were intended to be read to the whole congregation. They were not ‘spontaneous’ in any sense. For example, book of Hebrews is basically a sermon with a complex structure that was intended to be read aloud to the congregation, and most of Paul’s letters had a similar purpose. It simply is not true that the only precedence for the sermon delivered by a single speaker was in Greek oratory.
Furthermore, textual analysis of the New Testament reveals rhetorical structures that go far beyond the free-flowing spontaneous delivery posited by the authors. One finds such rhetorical structures as chiasm, repetition, restatement, and so on. Literally thousands of books have been written analyzing the structure and rhetorical patterns of the New Testament. This is important because it demonstrates that the authors’ accusation that the development of the sermon and the presence of rhetorical structure necessarily points to the influence of Greek pagan culture is not sustainable. Reading the early church fathers, it is evident that they were abundantly clear on patterns of speech in the writings of Luke and Paul, and even patterned their own writings on this. They were aware of, and explicitly rejected the empty sophistry of empty rhetoric.
It is also curious that the authors do not spend any time explaining how the Fathers, Reformers and Puritans viewed the sermon, or why they thought it was important. One gets the distinct impression that they simply enjoyed rhetoric and viewed the church as a captive audience where they could practice their chosen craft. This ignores the massive body of work that makes it clear that these men thought, rightly or wrongly, that the sermon was one of the ways that God spoke to his people. Not because any sermon was specially anointed – but insofar as a preacher related the content of God’s words in Scripture, his words were God’s Word. The sermon was not an opportunity for the preacher to demonstrate his speaking prowess, but to faithfully relay the content of Scripture to the people. Reading any text on preaching by a Reformer or Puritan, or their modern-day descendent, and this point will be driven home time and time again. Indeed, for anyone who has read the Puritans on preaching, it is a laughable idea that their view of preaching was simply Christianized Greek oratory inherited without thought from the church fathers. The sermon was given priority because teaching the Word of God was considered to be of the highest practical value for the life of the Christian life. It is the height of hubris for Barna and Viola to act as though preachers in the Reformed tradition were not aware of the dangers of rhetoric and speechifying in the church, and did not take active steps to guard against it. It demonstrates their lack of critical interaction with primary sources and reliance on secondary sources sympathetic to their views.
Another aspect of the authors’ attack on the sermon that is somewhat puzzling, is their absolute either/or paradigm: Either the pastor delivers a sermon, or everyone is given opportunities to share, edify, and teach. Evangelical churches generally intentionally seek to engender opportunities for open sharing, dialogical teaching, and mutual encouragement, usually through things like small groups, Sunday School groups, or regularly scheduled testimony meetings and so on. It is true that these churches also have times that are more structured and dedicated to the hearing of God’s word from the pulpit. But this does not mean that opportunities for mutual edification and testimony are necessarily restricted – only that at certain times certain members are. To be sure, some churches may do this better than others, but it is enough to say that there is no reason to suppose a priori that preaching has to lead to a situation where only the pastor is given voice. Indeed, given the proper biblical idea that ministry takes place primarily outside the church meeting, the biblical sermon can easily be seen as a tool to equip and prepare its hearers to think biblically about how to apply what they hear in everyday life.
Similar to the chapter on preaching, Viola and Barna spend far too much time focusing on external similarities without acknowledging the theological and biblical factors that shape how certain offices and church features arise. Their accusation that the pastor is hardly better than the Catholic priest, acting as a paid mediator of God’s Word in the same way the Catholic priest was the paid mediator of God’s salvation, is particularly troubling. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is the repository of God’s salvation and that only the church can dispense grace. The Reformers (and their theological heirs today) did not believe that the church was the depository of God’s word, or that the word of God could only be accessed through the preacher. Instead, the pastor was to labour to present the Word of God to the people so that they might better understand it for themselves. If Martin Luther truly believed that only a pastor could properly mediate the Word of God, why would he labour to translate the Bible into the common German tongue? Why did the Reformers go to such great lengths to distribute the Bible against the wishes and efforts of the Roman Catholic Church? The Reformers placed such emphasis on the role of pastor because of their high view of Scripture and their view of the pastor as one who primarily ministers the Word to the Body.
When Barna and Viola write that for the Calvin, the “pastor possessed divine power and authority” (131), this is grossly misleading. It is not because his words had special power on account of his office, similar to the Pope. In other words, his position did not grant his words authority. Instead, his authority is derivative, and his word has authority only insofar as his words conform to Scripture. A low-church Baptist will certainly find much to disagree with Calvin’s high-church ideal of pastoral ministry. Yet, it is simply wrong and frankly, libelous, to call the Reformation idea of pastor as a “paid mediator” of God’s word. It demonstrates a complete lack of interaction with the Reformers and their own writings. Such is the danger of relying almost completely on secondary sources.
Barna and Viola are so committed to an office-less ‘organism’ (as if organism lack structure), that they can only see one explanation for the existence of the office of pastor. They do not seem to comprehend that there is much in the New Testament that lends credence to the idea of leaders within the church. While the authors seem to indicate a belief that leadership in the NT was simply the de facto leadership provided provided by older, mature men in the church, and that there was no hierarchy within the church, many passages indicate strongly against this. Paul writes to Timothy that if anyone aspires to the position (some translations say ‘office’) of overseer, he desired a good task (1 Tim. 3:1) He then proceeds to give qualifications for the overseer/elder. This does not sound like an organic, de facto position. Furthermore, elders were ‘appointed’ in the church by the apostles (Acts 14:23, Tit. 1:5) Peter writes to the elders to “shepherd the flock” (1 Pet. 5:2) The author of Hebrews instructs Christians to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls” (Heb. 13:17) All of these passages, and more like them, seem to indicate the existence of a certain level of hierarchy and an office of overseer/shepherd/elder. This is not to say that the Reformers or Puritans or even modern day evangelicals understood these passages correctly – but it is simply a fact that these passages are the primary motivation and justification for the existence of the pastoral office. Rather than seeking to explain how the Reformers and their descendants misunderstood certain passages, the authors take the much easier route of dismissing the office of pastor as a man-made invention continued by unthinking and unreflective people who have not given any thought as to why they do what they do. This is rather unhelpful and not entirely intellectually honest.
The subject of pastoral ministry can be complicated and is influenced by years of tradition, history, and practical concerns; it is not within the scope of this review to suggest a solution or ideal model. However, Barna and Viola do gross injustice to the historical concerns of the Reformers and ignore any scriptural reasoning they had. Their own view, as much as it presents itself in this book, also seems entirely inadequate to fully embrace all the Scripture teaches on the subject. Furthermore, their criticism of present day pastoral ministry lacks any concrete examples and relies entirely on abstract straw men to demonstrate the unhelpfulness of the pastoral office. This is not to say that all conceptions of pastoral ministry that exists today are helpful, or even to defend this or that model of pastoral ministry. It is to say Barna and Viola’s attempt to demonstrate that the very idea of a pastor is illegitimate falls entirely flat on its face.
Misleading footnotes and citations
As we have already seen, a pervasive problem throughout Pagan Christianity is the author’s reliance on secondary sources sympathetic to their views. This is compounded by the fact that, even in reading those sources, the authors misread and make conclusions that are not warranted. For a further example, when speaking about OT preaching, their source says that “speeches may have been interrupted.” Citing this passage, Viola and Barna write that, “interruptions by the audience were common.” (87) There is a world of difference between “may have been” and “were common.” This is but one example among others of misleading and improper use of footnotes. Anyone willing to examine their citations will find that examples like this abound.
Perhaps the biggest methodological flaw in Pagan Christianity is its complete and utter failure to interact with those it purports to criticize. This leaves the authors a free hand to pick the worst caricatures of practices they dislike, all the while giving the impression that they are embarking on a journey of discovery and investigation that reveals shocking and previously unknown truths. They describe their book as a “red pill” that will help people “learn the true story of where your Christian practices come from.” (7) Preachers are “unknowingly playing out the role of the ancient Greek orator”, and the sermon has become so entrenched in the Christian mind that “most Bible-believing pastors and laymen fail to see that they are affirming and perpetuating an unscriptural practice out of sheer tradition.”(110) For five centuries, Christians have never “questioned [the sermon] or its effectiveness.” (97) Numerous statements like this give the impression that there is no amount of self-reflection amongst pastors and laity about why they do what they do. It is extremely revealing that Barna and Viola never point to any concrete, present day examples. All of their examples of problems in the church are made-up scenarios (e.g. pp. 1-4) or general statements about what pastors and churches think and do, with no documentation whatsoever.
In conclusion, it seems that Pagan Christianity is an unhelpful book that will be convincing only to those who are of the authors’ opinion already. This should not be taken as a statement of endorsement of the state of the evangelical church today. Many churches and denominations are wandering further and further from the center of biblical truth, and even those churches that are doctrinally sound are in grave danger of losing their way and becoming nothing more than insular communities. Perhaps the greatest danger to the church in North America is not that they have taken on and “Christianized” ancient pagan culture as Barna and Viola think, but that they have baptized the principles and structures of modern Western business culture. Presenting a positive vision for what preaching and pastoral ministry is not within the scope of this review; what is within its scope is to conclude that Viola and Barna have criticized all the wrong things. They construct uncharitable straw men, utilize dubious scholarship, ignore other scholars and writers, and focus almost entirely on form without evaluating content. In fact, the whole project of the book is flawed. The church is not anemic and divided because it has baptized fourth century practices. The 1st century church, with its supposedly ideal way of ‘doing’ church, was also wracked with division and ineffectiveness. What was deficient was their theology and love for one another – the very same problems that create problems in the church today. Flawed church structure and practices do not create problems in the way Barna and Viola argue; they are at best symptoms of theological misunderstanding and error.
While Viola and Barna do raise some valid concerns, there are books without Pagan Christianity’s inherent flaws that do a better job of raising them and providing more balanced, biblical solutions.
 E.g., Pg. 129, According to the authors, the Reformers violently denounce the Anabaptists for practicing “every member functioning” in the church, which the authors define as “the right to stand up and speak in a meeting.”
Pg. 98ff, The authors accuse any talk of preaching as “equipping the saints for ministry” as empty rhetoric so long as the pastor is still “dominating the church service by his sermonics”, robbing God’s people the opportunity to “function in the gathering.”
Pg. 97 Referring to Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1 Corinthians 12-14, where the longest exposition of the church as a body occurs, the authors write that true biblical teaching encourages each Christian to “function” and to open their mouths in the church meeting.
Pg. 75, Speaking of the order of worship, the authors write, “It puts a choke hold on the functioning of the body of Christ by silencing its members.”
See also Pg. 91, 88, 76, and especially 59,
 See Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:16-17, 12:12-31; Eph 3:6, 4:4-16, 5:23-30; Col. 1:18, 24, 2:19, 3:15. It is impossible to read any of these references (with the possible exception of 1 Cor. 12:27) and understand them to be even prima facie referring to a local congregation.
 The authors write “word often used to describe first century preaching and teaching is dialegomai… This word means a two-way form of communication.” (88ff) What they fail to mention is that by far the most common word for preaching in the NT is κηρυσσω, which means to declare or proclaim – with no hint of dialogue or two-way communication.
 David C. Norrington, To Preach or Not to Preach: The Church’s Urgent Question, Kindle. (Omaha, NE: Ekklesia Press, 1996), 4.
 I was not able to locate a single instance in the book where the authors engage critically with a contemporary author who did not agree with their position.
 A particularly insulting example of this is found in a footnote on page 98: “Some pastors have been known to give voice to the mindless idea that “all sheep do is say ‘baa’ and eat grass.” Surely such a statement could be documented, if true?