This chapter was rather personal for me. Up to this point, I had been in partial agreement with Frank Viola and George Barna, especially in their critique of church buildings. But the pastor!
To Viola and Barna the modern day pastor is an easy target—a punching bag, if you will:
THE PASTOR. He is the fundamental figure of the Protestant faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself!
Remove the pastor and most Protestant churches would be thrown into a panic. (pp. 105-6, Pagan Christianity, emphasis mine)
A bit of an overstatement by Viola and Barna: The pastor is not better known that Jesus Christ Himself. That he’s often put on a pedestal goes without saying.
Permit us to get personal. We believe the pastoral office has stolen your right to function as a full member of Christ’s body. It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear. It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate. (p. 136, emphasis mine)
Again, this may be the case in a number of local churches. But hardly believe this description is the norm. At best, this is a caricature by Frank Viola and George Barna.
Are there pastors who should leave the pastorate immediately? You know the answer. Are there pastors who have forgotten that they are merely under-shepherds? Absolutely!
Here’s the grind: Jesus and Paul are better critics of the pastor and his function than Viola and Barna.
But there are some good historical facts in the chapter.