Wednesday, October 08, 2014

On Holding on Viola, Part 2

Continuing with Holding's review from last time...

This is just more of the same errors Viola makes throughout: Blaming the "institutions" instead of the people

People institute and maintain institutions.

ailing to credential this alleged "functioning headship" of Christ (Mormons and others say they have it too)

What is Holding's obsession with these comparisons to Mormonism? Of course they CLAIM those things. But those claims are empty. This is like doubting real US dollars exist because counterfeiters have gotten very good at their craft.

For Viola to describe himself and others as "daring" just because, e.g., they got bored with church and left,is offensive.

1) I don't recall any self-ascribing of martyrdom on Viola's part. So Holding is being unnecessarily shrill.
2) If it's not daring to follow one's convictions in the face of a great deal of traditions and peer pressure to the contrary, what word would Holding prefer? I'm not saying it's the best thing anyone could ever do, but why isn't it daring?
3) What is really offensive is Holding's strawman - "they got bored with church".
"With church and left" - but Viola specifically tells certain readers NOT to leave their institutional churches, and for the rest he recommends... church! He's not calling people to walk away from church, least of all b/c they're "bored". He is calling them to embrace a more biblical form of church.

House church for Viola's purpose is idividuals trying to satisfy THEMSELVES.

1) Not house church. Organic church.
2) What is Holding's evidence for this assertion? Shouldn't he have proof of this sinful attitude before making the accusation?

(Org)anic unity can be achieved anywhere by people willing to give up themselves as a priority. A house church may seem to succeed in this regard (as may a Sunday School class or church sub-group) because you're gathering together a group of people who disagree on the same issues; and so the illusion of being an "organic entity" can be perpetrated.

Viola makes this exact point in his book. Did Holding read it carefully enough to note it?

I sense a persecution complex when Barna says people cry out "heretic" when suggestions are made to change practices

Ironically, Holding contributes to the justification of a persecution complex with this accusation, which is based on nothing more or less than his "sense".
Also ironically, Holding has already several times poked fun in this review at what he thinks is Viola's centering on his emotions and sensations, whereas here he does the same thing. Maybe I could insert a comparison to Mormons to make it fair and square.


Viola needs to get over himself. His revelations do not warrant this sort of promotional commentary.

I agree that it was pretty melodramatic to say what Viola said, but at the same time, as noted before, Holding has apparently never been subjected to sinful treatment on the part of his church and pushed out the door for sinful reasons. Again, I'm glad to hear it, but he shouldn't minimise others' experiences.

So what stops them from "going through the motions" when they go to the house church Viola recommends instead?

Nothing, except that Viola isn't repping "house churches". Again, Holding read the book poorly.


Viola makes much over how people have used "church" to describe a building rather than the people in it. Yes, this is a common error

Yes, it is, but it's not a random error. It happens for a reason. People think that way for a reason and rarely stop for introspection and examination as to why they usually think of the church as a building.

He also makes much over people regarding a church building as a "sacred space." I understand how ritual purity works ( How modern Americans regard church is nowhere near this.

It may not rise to the same quantity or intensity, but it is definitely the same class, the same category, of thinking about the church building.

In this the real problem is again individualism gone wild, which supports a view that allows compartmentalization of belief from action.

Finally Holding identifies, at least in part, what he means by "individualism" as he uses it in this review.
Compartmentalisation of belief from action - Viola would agree that this is a bad thing. In fact, that's what his book is assailing. So what is Holding's objection?

Viola says he's not promoting for house churches, but right here he starts doing so. He quotes and notes favorably points that the early church met in homes, IN CONTRAST TO meeting in a special building.

The second sentence does not substantiate the accusation found in the first.

He may say, "But I didn't say that you should go to a house church." He doesn't have to. The juxtaposition of "meeting in a house" favorably verses the negative connotation he assigns to meeting in a special building says all that is necessary.

OOORRRR Viola is repping something entirely different that Holding didn't catch.
That is in fact the reality.

he repeatedly criticizes the concept of a "sacred building." Well, if we don't have that, where do we meet?

We meet in a house, or in some other structure, or not.
The point is that it doesn't matter a whole lot where we meet, but modern American institutional church structure is pretty building-dependent.

He's arguing for house church. If he wasn't, we'd have other options discussed too, such as outdoors or in a rented movie theater.

Perhaps Holding should complain to the earliest Christians, who met almost exclusively in homes except for the occasional outlier such as renting Tyrannus' assembly hall for a time.

nothing stops people from turning their house into "sacred space" for short periods, or even an outdoor spot.

Of course not, but that misses the point.

He says also that the early church did not have a "special priestly caste that was set apart to serve God." This is a red herring

I suspect Holding's eyes are simply naively blinded to the special priestly caste that exists in the modern American institutional church. It's all over the place. But Holding has probably, like so many others, been conditioned to accept what he has seen for so long.

the reality is that we need specially trained individuals to handle specific functions in a fellowship

1) As long as we are careful to define "specially trained" biblically.

There's also the question of whether Christians woukld be permitted (as a deviant group) to build a spoecial building.

That may be, although it's somewhat speculative.
But doesn't it still require an argument to make us think that it's better to go ahead and NOT do what the earliest church did in those cases?

If (Constantine) really did have his tomb set among monuments to the Apsotles, he did so not because he was an "egomaniac" but because he saw it as his responsibility to the corporate whole to be so recognized.

If he really did (I'm not saying one way or th'other), I don't see any way in which Holding's justification makes sense. It's your responsibility to the church to set yourself apart from them and act like a big shot, even in death? Huh? What does that mean?

he objects that Constantine did not close pagan temples or destroy them. This would not have been a live option: Christians were badly outnumbered; to have simply closed or destroyed pagan temples would have been an invitation to have Christians slaughtered wholesale.

But officially favoring Christianity was just fine, even though the Christians were badly outnumbered?
And who says that professing Christians were badly outnumbered AFTER he officially favored Christianity? Couldn't he have started closing pagan facilities then?

There was no concept of "intimacy" and no "open" participation; strict social controls governed participation.

1) Holding has still not proven this; he has merely asserted it.
2) That doesn't seem to be the case even in Paul's recommendations in 1 Corinthians.
3) What is Holding's alternative to fulfill all the "one another"s in the NT? Sunday School?

Do you think there might have been a sense of "mystery, transcendance, and awe" at Mt. Sinai, for example?

Does Holding mean where the Law was given?
Yes, I do think there was that, very much so.
Hebrews 12:18For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

No doubt there is SOME connection that can be made to heaven, but it hardly need be that "we're reaching for God".

Notice that Holding merely waves his hand at Viola's proposal about the steeple reaching to the sky and what it implies, rather than interacting with it or giving us some reason to think Viola is mistaken.
Nobody is proposing that the architecture controls thoughts. The point is that it REFLECTS and INFLUENCES thoughts, and we ought to seek to glorify Jesus in ALL our lives, every single aspect. What does the steeple communicate? Why aren't we asking ourselves that question before we construct one?

Yes, too much is often spent on facilities, for unnecessary stuff; but facilities are often required for ministry.

But often that "ministry" of which Holding speaks is counterproductive and even sinful, focused on keeping the people of God hidden behind the walls of the building, thus effectively robbing them of their time to be salt and light in the culture, all the while comforting them and telling them that it's OK, it's God's will for them to spend tons of time in "God's house".

A house church can't run a food bank out of a house, for example...You also can't run something like a pregnancy crsis center from a home.

You also don't need a $million building to run one.
I could only wish that more churches would run CPCs out of their buildings. Most CPCs have their own building.

In an answer to an objection to how the NT church used facilities, mention of Paul's use of the lecture hall of Tyrannus seems notably absent.

It is mentioned elsewhere in the book.

Why is he explaining this if he isn't offering house churches as THE solution?

Viola explained this already in the book.
1) He thinks they are the best, not the only, solution.
2) House churches can be structured just like institutional churches, and thus not be organic. Organic and house are not equivalent.

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