by Pastor Mark Downey
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25
The authors tell you “Reading this book takes courage” not because of its contents, but what you must do after you read it. I say it takes perseverance to wade through the misconceptions they’ve given, because the book is a smokescreen for a new spiritual fad and fads are wrought with bait and hook. They are not fishers of men, but poachers. If you’re already disgruntled with whatever typical church is out there, then this is an easy excuse to find not only an alternative church, but an alternative Jesus. Or maybe you’ll just drop out of being a Christian altogether.
After they put a burden of guilt upon you, you are primed for the next step of participating in spontaneous anarchy in the name of “the Church.” The point of this review is not to make a big deal about the origin of church practices and how we worship, but to warn you of how our faith can be undermined by an even more hideous hyper-apostasy than churchianity, which calls itself “organic,” as if that makes it pure as the driven snow.
The church or ecclesia must be understood in the context of race. If the race card is not played, then you have a stacked deck. In other words, if the relevance of Israel in the Bible is trivialized with universalism, then the church itself is corrupted. When hurricane Sandy struck in October of 2012, one of the most deadliest and destructive storms to hit the East Coast in recent times, even houses of worship were not spared. A local TV station was interviewing an African-American female from New Jersey and was asking her how the loss of churches in the area would affect their lives. Without hesitation she replied, “I don’t know ‘bout dem otha peopoe, but we aint gone to Churches in years. We gits our chicken from Popeye’s.” The look on the interviewers face was priceless and explains perfectly how Obama got elected to the highest office in the land.
Alexis de Tocqueville is attributed with saying, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America… Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Well, I think we’re in a great deal of trouble as the church torch is fizzling out. The darkness is becoming greater than the light. Books like PC are a contributing factor in destroying our heritage, which, for the most part in its founding, were free of paganism. Our race founded a constitutional republic based on Christian leadership and the Bible was the rudder that steered our ship of state.
There are twelve chapters and each one chisels away at the progressions and developments of Christianity, judeo-churchianity and the RCC; all of which are terribly blurred. Some of their commentaries are justified, but for the most part there’s an identifiable ulterior motive to stir things up; things that have very little to do with the state of our nation or any of the political issues that confront us with an emerging dictatorship. If one chisels away at a sculpture of rock to the last chink, there is no work of art. Likewise, the work of Christ cannot withstand those who take away divine principles. The authors are looking for an outward appearance of pagan connections to Christianity, “but the Lord looketh on the heart” I Samuel 16:7.
The book contends that “the great bulk of first-century practices have been removed from the Christina landscape” and that “such practices are presently being restored on a small scale by those daring souls who have taken the terrifying (or perhaps overly melodramatic) step of leaving the safe camp of institutional Christianity.” It never really tells us what those practices are, other than to say it’s something spectacular, like small groups of people who stand around in circles, embracing and sharing with one another their thoughts, feelings, songs, prayers and ideas. Sounds like they just can’t get away from that warm and fuzzy feeling they left behind in church buildings.
That, according to the authors, is what makes a good NT Christian. They actually dismiss the OT and judaized at the same time by saying, “Ancient Judaism was centered on… the Temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifice. When Jesus came, He ended all three.” We know that’s a Big Lie; Christianity has no jewish roots. The authors employ this argument in a lame attempt to erase any semblance of order in a worship service, leadership or place for worship, just as their dream of erasing racial distinctions, destroying God’s ‘kind after kind.’ But, one can sit in a pew or stand in a circle and be either good or evil in their heart. It’s not the pew or the circle that makes the person one or the other. “The Lord looketh upon the heart.”
However, people just standing around chewing the rag in this day and age of political correctness would just be spilling out words and never know more than a billy goat as to what’s been said and never coming up with any answers, because the truth can hurt different creeds and races. Christian Identity could never survive without the Word of God taught or preached to our kindred by those who are called into the office of teacher or pastor or scholar. And our movement is especially blessed with so many people who study these things for themselves and sometimes debated passionately. Our movement has been falsely accused of worshipping the creature, meaning race, more than the Creator, but it is people like Viola and Barna who put the pagan in Christianity by completely missing the point of what the Bible is about. There wouldn’t be any paganism whatsoever if the churches were racially segregated. Their agenda is to put people, regardless of race, in a circle in order to honor, worship and praise the Lord. But, that is shallow circular reasoning that does nothing to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). If you want to glorify Jesus Christ, you’re a non-conformist. “And be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The authors are comfortably conformed to the rise of paganism in our contemporary society and perfectly silent to warn Christians about Oprah Winfrey or Deepak Chopra drawing our people into the arms of New Age spirituality.
Thus trivialized, the term ‘pagan’ merely functions as a slam against anything in the present contemporary church that they can demonize. By failing to identify the re-emergence of ancient idolatry in the guise of modern Baal worship found in churchianity, the book guarantees ‘blindness upon Israel’ from seeing the real deal. Let’s look at what they’re making such a fuss about that is causing so much controversy.
But first, I’d like to take the opportunity of addressing one of the most asked questions I get from new people coming on board to the Christian Identity message. Is there a CI church in my area? Unfortunately, most of the time, I cannot give them a contact, because there is none. Whether one calls it a church, a Bible study group or just friends of the same persuasion getting together, we are admonished and told in Hebrews 10:24-25 that, “We should consider one another to motivate acts of love and good deeds, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, especially now that the Day is approaching.”
Throughout the Bible, there’s a common theme pertaining to Israelites that gathering is good and scattering is bad. Some people make a habit of avoiding a fellowship of like-minded Christians because of pet doctrines or personalities or whatever they have a grudge against. But, do you know what? I would hate to be disenfranchised from a local fellowship just because I have forsaken people whom I disagree with on the Day that is approaching, the day the Lord returns to earth. The disagreement is with the admonition in Hebrews to consider our brethren. There are kindred who are alone (It took me several years before I found another CI believer in the flesh), and craving fellowship so much that they would give an arm and a leg to find a CI church. And then there are the self-imposed lone wolves who think they don’t need to consider anybody other than themselves. What a disparity and dichotomy!
Every new inquiry I get, I tell them to find one more person who is interested in Covenant theology and simply meet once a week for discussion or listening to tapes, CD’s, online podcasts etc. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name [Jesus promises] there I am in the midst of them!” Mt. 18:24. That’s the nucleus of a church and all it takes is encouragement, which stimulates the unity and growth that God requires. But wait, if you act now, another person will be added to your congregation. The thing is, for the last 2000 years, the ecclesia has been hijacked by the RCC, monarchies, denominationalism, dispensationalism and a multitude of other isms. I don’t encourage people to stay in their 501C3 churches; it is not fertile ground for the Identity message, it’s a stoney thorny ground in which, should you think you can bring a kernel of biblical reality, you will be not so kindly told to leave. When you leave the apostate church (if that’s where you’re at), it will be for the right reasons and not the shallow particulars of our book review.
A book like ‘Pagan Christianity’ should come as no surprise considering how dysfunctional the church is today, but in order to remove the cancer from the body, the authors have proposed the surgical removal of vital organs, which will surely kill the patient. It will for all intents and purposes leave the Christian gutted and bled dry.
The first few chapters of the book are predicated on the premise that people are bored to tears with church, which is hard to believe when it’s become an entertainment industry. Viola begins his assault on the church building itself as a sacred space. To “reimagine” his concept of church, the idea of hallowed ground no longer exists. And if that’s the case, how does a man of God stand his ground? I don’t think it even crosses his mind that entering a church reminds people of their obligations to God; some of the greatest architecture in history mirrors the ambiance of God’s Spirit, so their behavior is not complacent or indecent. The disrespect for a godly environment comes when you blame the object, not the person(s). Churches aren’t corrupt because of the architecture, they’re in low esteem because of a spiritual decay.
He doesn’t waste any time being hypocritical. He states in PC, “The Christian faith was born in believers’ homes, yet every Sunday morning, scores of Christians sit in a building with pagan origins that is based on pagan philosophy. There does not exist a shred of biblical support for the church building… Christians.. are lulled into passivity and prevented from being natural or intimate with other believers. We have become victims of our past.” But then on his website he states, “We never assert that the church must meet in a home… I argue that the idea that says a church must always meet in a home is specious.” Well, he doesn’t have to assert that notion when he juxtaposes meeting in a house favorably with the negative contempt for meeting in a special building. This is all moot and worthless drivel, being that he is clueless about the significance of Glastonbury (mentioned in Part 1).
He then goes on page after page denouncing (what he thinks started with Constantine) the basilicas (a large building to facilitate seating a crowd), an altar, art and décor, the bishop’s chair, candles (for light duh) and incense (we have a can of Glade in our church), special garments, processional music and choirs, stained glass windows, domes, pillars, mosaics, steeples, bells, the pulpit (he says it, “elevates the clergy… separating and placing him high above God’s people”), and the pew (he says it is, “The greatest inhibitor of… fellowship. It is a symbol of lethargy and passivity… and made corporate worship a spectator sport… It immobilizes the congregation and renders them mute spectators”). Well, granted, some of these things were coincidently used by pagans also, rather than deliberately emulated as the authors suggest and the more eccentric embellishments rests squarely in the camp of the RCC, which is not Christian, but a pagan compromise with a Christian label. A few of these things may be found in any given meeting place where Identity Christians go to worship and fellowship, but it would be fighting words to suggest we are pagan or that we are indulging in paganism.
The only option Viola ever mentions is a home. If they’re not asserting that we must meet in a house, then where do we meet? In my experiences, folks have met in a Grange hall, a library, a one room log cabin, a garage, a tavern, a strip mall, a barn and outdoors in the open. It never occurs to Viola that there’s nothing to stop people from turning whatever the venue is into a sacred place or that the Kingdom of God itself is a sacred Beulah land; again he is simply attempting to shift the blame to tangible objects, rather than identifying the real problem from within. When Christian Identity meets, it is on hallowed ground, because the people are Israelites in the flesh, enjoying the institution of the Holy Spirit. If we weren’t such a biblical Remnant, a minority within Christendom, we would probably have mega-churches… God forbid! Maybe that’s what the great sports stadiums and domes will be used for in the future, where no one will forsake the assembling of believers for worship; perhaps Christ on a ‘big screen.’ Then the authors can complain about the disparity of clergy to laity… a captive audience.
This leads us to their next gripe against the office of pastors and the delivery of sermons. I got a little bit more sensitive to this aspect of the book as I’m sure many in the pastorate who read this book did also. After all, they are calling for the wholesale elimination of God’s ministers on earth. Not that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put all the Baal priests in the unemployment lines, which would be clemency compared to the Brook Kishon. But, “the minister of God” is to thee for good, “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4). I doubt you’re going to find men like that in an “organic” church.
In PC they try to distinguish NT preaching from the modern sermon and are right for the wrong reasons. Just because the bulk of pastors are incredible theological flunkies and perpetuate spiritual darkness, is not cause for Viola to jettison the profession. This book uses the same kind of sophistry that the Paul-bashers use; word twisting, deception and lies. He uses the lame argument that the word ‘pastor’ is used only once in the entire NT. He says, “One solitary verse is a mighty scanty piece of evidence on which to hang the Protestant faith! In this regard, there seems to be more biblical authority for snake handlers (see Mark 16:18) than there is for present-day pastors.” Using his logic, are we then to quash all biblical principles in which a word is only used once? He should be the one who is dismissed as a Bible authority, because that section of Mark is a proven interpolation by real Bible scholars.
He went on to say, “The Greek word translated pastors is poimenas. It means shepherds… [it’s] a metaphor to describe a particular function in the church… not an office or title.” Actually it’s a title of a function and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the shepherd isn’t a wolf! When Jesus told Peter, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:16-17), our Lord was distinguishing between the feeders and those being fed. Not everybody was a Disciple; there were only 12. If everybody was a shepherd, there would be no flock. Viola presumes that every Christian is an expositor and is expected to get on their soapbox to give a word from the Lord. But that’s not the real world. I never intended to become a pastor, but became one by default. Our presbyter church excommunicated a pastor and we decided to run the church by a committee of elders, in which 4 men would rotate each Sunday giving sermons. However, one by one the elders lost interest in this duty and I was the only one who loved reading, research and writing. It’s a little like politics; nobody likes to run for office except the wrong people and everybody complains about not being represented.
The function of the 1st century shepherds is the same as Christian Identity pastors today; to lead and to protect the body politic, which we call presbyters i.e. from the bottom up, a grassroots movement. Viola should know that there’s not too many presbyter churches (not to be confused with Presbyterian) because they are tax exempt corporations created by the state and therefore render unto Caesar. He confuses these types of churches called episcopal i.e. from the top down, a pyramid scheme, with a hierarchical form of leadership. He either ignorantly or purposefully blames Christianity, rather than catholicism for an episcopal structure of authority. History is replete with wars and conflicts over these forms of power.
White society has always had a chain of command. The problem always arises with the pendulum swinging to either dictatorship or anarchy and it is the latter that the authors want today’s Christian to embrace. From the time of the Disciples, after the death of Christ, there has always been Christian leadership that officiates the worship service. The authors are simply playing a head game of semantics to erase the White man from being the custodians of God’s Word. “This is My covenant with them [Jacob-Israel], saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed [race], nor out of the mouth of thy descendants” Isaiah 59:21. An abrogation of this verse would do to the church, what Obama has done to the nation. It would be in opposition to the God of Israel.
“So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and fifties, and tens and officers among your tribes” Deut. 1:15. This is the Law, not temple ordinances, and has never been abolished. Christ said, “Think not that I come to destroy the Law” Mt. 5:17. And yet that is exactly what Viola wants you to think. God’s Law was given to Israel and the duty of good men was the execution of the Law. We have 35,000 denominations today because the concept of righteous leadership has been usurped by the very thing the authors promote, calling it the ‘priesthood of all believers,’ which is really just a license for rebellion and the anarchy of every man doing “that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Even before Israel demanded a king like the pagan nations, Israel had officers of God’s court called judges. There was no judgehood of all believers anymore than there can be a priesthood of all believers.
It’s the system that the Bible addresses in Rev. 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests” as a cohesive collective racial accord, not private individualistic persons as Viola would have you believe. When I Peter 2:9 speaks of a “royal priesthood” it is talking about the exclusivity of Israel. Even Exodus 19:5-6 makes it clear that if we, the children of Israel, shall obey the voice of God and keep His covenant, “Then ye shall be a peculiar treasure… above all people [races]… And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests.” That doesn’t mean every single person is going to be a priest, but rather a societal system, a hierarchy of presbyters where every ecclesia will have their pastor-shepherds and collectively Israel will receive a “crown of glory” from the Chief Shepherd.
There is nothing spontaneous about Divine Law if it has remained absolute for thousands of years, and it has. It is only people like Viola who try to convince you that the Law is flexible or has been done away with. Poetically, it is sheep who are timid and flexible and the object of a wolf licking its chops. This book and its authors are drooling at the prospect of corralling sheep and goats together at the end of the proverbial rainbow with a pot of gold, where everybody has the winning ticket in God’s lottery. The question is: are you going to gamble on purchasing something based on chance? Are you going to take the advice of this book and erase the good book? Jesus didn’t come to free us from the shackles of institutions, but from sin and death. The only thing Jesus was spontaneous about was rebuking the transgressions of the Law, but just how that discipline would be accomplished in a leaderless organic church is glaringly absent.
The modern church is in need of revolution, but not the kind of inane nonsense these anti-church characters are selling. To show the absurd lengths of what these highly touted writers of Judeo-Christianity have taken, they’ve written a chapter called ‘Sunday Morning Costumes.’ He says it’s not a burning issue, but spends an entire chapter on it anyhow. On the one hand, Viola condemns clerical robes and the like and rightly so, coming straight from Rome. Who can disagree with Jesus saying “Beware of the scribes [teachers of religious law] who like to walk around in long robes” (Luke 20:46)? But, on the other hand, he speaks as if the fashion police are coming to church and he’s it. Now I’ve always been taught that one attends church clean and moderately attired, which doesn’t necessarily mean “dressing up.” That’s the ball Viola spikes by getting in your face as if your motives are unchristian. Church is not a fashion show, and he fails to mention the extra effort at costuming every year at Easter time, whereby his ilk reimagine the paganism of Ashtoreth. But what really gets me is his colorblind hypocrisy of the black church and it’s propensity to do just the opposite of I Tim. 2:9, “That women adorn themselves in modest apparel” or I Peter 3:4, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” By omission of chastising the hyper costuming of the world’s largest so called Christian broadcasting network, TBN, with its gaudy (not godly) negro audience, they show their true opulent colors as a blooming peacock. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but ‘tastelessly showy’ should suffice and prove that there is no allowance for mongrelization in a solemn assembly of a “holy nation.”
Last but not least, I promised to elucidate on the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16, which seems to reverberate with the motives of ‘Pagan Christianity? exploring the roots of our church practices.’ There’s a question mark (in the title), which I’ve omitted previously because the authors did not answer it in an honest manner. The church is ours, but they’ve given it to the goats and dogs, snakes and swine. The church belongs to the sheep and the only way to paganize it is to include other races or as they say “erase racial distinctions.” This is rebellion against God.
This story in Numbers is about infighting, a type of spiritual warfare and I think you’ll see the analogy with today’s mindset of people who think they know better than God as to what’s good for people. There’s a rebellion of Levites led by Korah against the sole right of Aaron to the priestly office. There are two incidences and both are a revolt against divinely constituted authority. Moses hears about their conspiracy and sends for them to appear before God and the assembly. They refuse and publicly accuse Moses in front of 250 leaders, men of renown. Men like Korah are always playing to an audience, always trying to draw a following after themselves, after Moses has already gathered the nation and led them this far, of course! The accusation was that he was burdened with too much power and resulted in their hardships and failures in the wilderness. This was a clever attack. Korah acted as if he is representing the people and fought for their interests. The truth was that he desired a following and a position for himself, under the ruse that everyone was a leader; God can speak to everyone, not just Moses. Divisive persons always use sophistry for their cause. They even referred to Egypt as the land flowing with milk and honey.
Korah proclaimed the holiness of the people (all the congregation is holy) and regarded strong leadership as unnecessary (You take too much . . .) at the very time when the nation was not holy and desperately needed strong leadership! Korah completely misread the state of the “flock,” because he was not a true shepherd. Clearly, these men were saying that Moses’ authority derives from the people, not from God. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? Korah accused Moses and Aaron of pride and self-seeking. The truth was that Moses had not aspired to his position, that God had indeed called him, and Moses did not in fact see himself as above the congregation.
Moses responded by humbling himself and praying, inquiring of the Lord if his critics were right or had something to teach him. He probably asked God what should be done about the situation. He certainly asked God to spare the nation and he asked God to not allow these divisive men to bring permanent harm to his kindred. He then issued a challenge whereby Korah and his followers would come before the Lord, and Moses and Aaron would also come, so that the Lord would choose His leaders. He puts the issue which the revolt really raises: are the events in the wilderness the work of the Lord or only Moses’ attempt to assert his own authority? He leaves the answer in the hands of God, whose judgment is swift and terrible. Dathan and Abiram considered themselves under no authority. It said, loud and clear: “Moses, we have no respect for your authority. We will listen to God, but not to you. Your word means nothing to us.” They simply would not submit.
Some of the 250 thought that maybe Dathan and Abiram were going a little too far; but they did not have the courage to speak up. They were wrong because they allowed Moses to be accused this way with no one to defend him. It was easy for them to stand back and say, “Well, I won’t take sides. I can be friends to both groups.” But here and in many subsequent conflicts, silence is taken as agreement. If a godly man or woman (especially a leader) is being falsely accused, and you say nothing, you have sinned, because your silence is received as agreement. Moses got pretty angry with them. Sometimes people are offended that a man like Moses was angry with men like Dathan and Abiram. They think a gentle, easy-going love is the proper response. Such thinking is understandable, but wrong. Shepherds are gentle with wayward sheep who might injure themselves, but they are passionate against wolves who would injure the flock.
Moses made the rebels take the position they desired, the position of priest. Often the best judgment on the divisive and rebellious is to let them take the lead. It was Moses and Aaron standing alone against the entire congregation. The dissidents state their complaint and theology: the rebellion is a lay movement against the clergy; they reckon: why shouldn’t the entire assembly of Israel do the work of the priest? But can the people be holy on their own, without some arrangement to recognize and maintain the separate holiness of God? God’s own act in electing, not only a race of people, but also mediators within the people, belies it.
Korah and his company are directed to test their theology by drawing near to the sanctuary to burn incense, a ritual reserved for the priests, in order to see whether the Lord will accept them as holy. At this juncture the glory of the Lord appears and proclaims His judgment upon the people, except for Moses and Aaron. But, Moses intervenes and pleads for God to spare his people. It is the office which Israel rejects that becomes the means of redemption. There was something like an instant giant sinkhole that swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram along with their families. And then a divine fire consumed the 250 associates who were holding the censers. Their worship was not received.
If that wasn’t spectacular enough, on the very next day the people began to murmur against Moses and Aaron again saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” Now Moses had to deal with those who were sympathetic to the divisive people and who felt sorry for them, which was absurd. And again immanent judgment was stayed by the intervention of Aaron. God’s wrath touches the people as a virulent plague and the tragedy is replayed by the very office whose authority the murmurers resent. Those who died in the plague were 14,700. This is a great number of deaths, but not compared to the total population of Israel that could have been consumed.
The focus of authority and mediation which God ordains within history as a part of the institution of the Covenant People is indispensible to its existence. God arranged that His own will and nature would be the central reality of the Old Testament Church, not the people themselves. For the New Testament Church, Jesus Christ has assumed and fulfilled all forms of the offices of authority and mediation. The historic reality and meaning of the Incarnate Lord is the supreme authority whose will cannot be subverted by the self-will of the church, however often it may be tempted to set up its own authorities. Nor can the church, by a false understanding of “the priesthood of all believers,” presume on the basis of its own sanctity ever to approach God, even in prayer and repentance, except through one Mediator, whose work of representing us before the Holy God is the one hope we have of being God’s people.
What is the real agenda of ‘Pagan Christianity?’? Well it sure isn’t written to warn us about “the gainsaying of Korah,” which is an irony in Jude 11 of hypocrites who preferred the Mosaic authority over the authority of the Apostles. It wasn’t written to warn us about the blatant paganism that permeates Christendom with the dharma of Hinduism or the denial of Christ’s deity found in Judaism or the liberal elements of Baal worship. In a day and age when spiritual warfare is reaching a crest of no return, when growing numbers of Christian leaders, churches, schools and organizations are falling into the alien snares and entrapments of practicing, promoting and embracing mysticism and other New Age practices (disguised with Christian terminology) it hardly seems appropriate and wise to tell Christians to stop sitting in pews, stop having sermons and thus pastors, stop meeting in buildings and to stop dressing up for church. Perhaps the most distressing aspect of this book and its agenda is the advocacy that preaching and teaching of God’s Word was not a New Testament practice and should be abolished. It’s a neat trick to get somebody to pull the trigger on themselves rather than murdering them yourself. The Good News is that Christ came to destroy the tricksters of death. “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.