I will post a little of what he said on his blog: The mods can delete it or edited it as they see fit.http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/06/pagan-christianty-by-george-barna-and.html
"First a word of disclaimer. I know Frank Viola, indeed for some years he has asked me loads of good and telling questions via email. I did not really know what his take was on various matters, but I gladly answered his questions. It is interesting to me that this book appears to take no notice of various of these answers which I have given, nor are any of my works found in the bibliography at the end of the book. Perhaps I have missed something in the minutiae of the truly minute footnotes at the bottom of each page, but now I am wondering why exactly I have answered all those questions over the years. It’s a pity.
Frank Viola is a sharp person, but neither he nor George Barna really interact in this book with the scholarly literature that would call into question their strident claims and theses. They are arguing a particular case, and so they largely cite sources that support their case, for example Robert Banks’ work on Pauline house churches comes in for heavy usage. Their claim to present us with bare historical fact and to stand always on the Biblical high ground needs to be seen for what it is from the outset--- good and powerful rhetoric meant to warm the cockles of the hearts of all who affirm Sola Scriptura, but when one actually examines some of the major claims closely, they will not stand close and critical scrutiny.
I am quite sure that the immediate reaction of some to this book will be “Just what we need—another lambasting of the institutional church, by grandchildren of the radical Protestant reformation, sometimes called the Restoration Movement!” But we should all abide our soul in patience and hear the gentlemen out before deciding.............ect"
And this is a little of what he said in the second part
"WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE’S PICTURE?’
In the second main chapter of Barna and Viola’s book Pagan Christianity, we are given a brief history of some forms and orders of worship, with perhaps a special emphasis on low church Protestant worship. Missing is a discussion of Catholic worship, various forms of Orthodox worship and Anglican worship. I suppose it is just assumed that these forms of worship are so unBiblical, that don’t even warrant discussion.
Perhaps, to be fair, it is because Barna and Viola are mainly preaching to their own choir (except they don’t much favor choirs or worship leaders), or at least to low church Protestant churches in general. My concern in this post is less with the historical analysis, though there are some flaws in the argument and flies in the ointment there (e.g. Zwingli did not hold a purely memorial view of the Lord’s Supper—see the work of Dr. Steinmetz of Duke fame on this point), but with its theological underpinnings which are faulty in various ways.
My concern is especially with the supposed Biblical view of worship they assume, assert, and sometimes argue for. I realize that the positive constructive project, where they argue their positive case is coming in their subsequent book Reimagining Church, however there is more than enough here in this book to make my hair stand on end, so I will be responding here especially to pp. 74-83.
Let me ask at the outset-- Is there anything wrong with small group meetings with lots of sharing—absolutely not, and God bless them. Is it worship? Well maybe in part when it gets around to focusing on God and not on talking to each other or exhorting each other or laying hands on each other. Mutual participation and open sharing is the model Barna and Viola are uplifting. A time together without an order of worship, without a liturgy, without a worship leader. What should we think of this notion?
Let’s start with a general point. If we want to base our theology of worship on a particular reading of 1 Cor. 11-14, as Barna and Viola seem largely to do, then the least we could do is get the analysis of the Pauline material right. The beginning of the description of bad and good worship actually happens in 1Cor. 8—and continues on through 1 Cor. 14. I do not have the time or the patience to work through all these chapters here--- again one can read what is said in my Conflict and Community in Corinth.
Some general points need to be made. It is interesting to notice how Paul actually contrasts real pagan worship with Christian worship. Firstly, Paul is contrasting real ‘pagan worship’ with Christian worship, not what Barna and Viola call pagan Christianity in their book with what they see as true spiritual Christian worship. Secondly, Paul does not critique pagan worship because it involves purpose built buildings, nor because it involves worship led by priests, nor because it involves sacrifices, nor because there were fellowship meals involved of various sorts. None of those things come in for any criticism at all in 1 Corinthians, which is passing strange if Paul had problems with those aspects of truly pagan worship.
As I say, none of these factors come in for Paul ‘sturm und drang’ in his critique. What he critiques is the spiritual influence of false gods, which he calls ‘daimons’ -- the only time he uses such language in his letters. He assumes that what is behind paganism is not nothing, not no spiritual forces or beings, but rather false gods who are in fact unclean spirits, or demons who can bewitch, bother and bewilder Christians. And so he wants his Christians to stay away from their deleterious spiritual influence. No more going to pagan feasts or worship in pagan temples. And no causing one’s brother or sister to stumble by forcing them to violate their conscience by eating meat once sacrificed to an idol, if they have scruples against it.
Especially telling is when Paul says “you cannot drink in the cup of demons and the cup of the Lord too. You cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Paul assumes that both the pagan and the Christian meals are sacramental in character that a spiritual transaction of some kind happens in them, and that the influence of the former leads to spiritual pollution and danger, whereas the influence of the Christian meal leads to spiritual renewal, communion with God and union with Christ’s body. To partake of it in an unworthy manner can lead to spiritual illness and even physical death.
Notice at the beginning of 1 Cor. 10.1-5 how very sacramental the language is that Paul uses to describe the Red Sea crossing and manna in the wilderness miracle. He draws an analogy with Christian baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Why? Paul knows perfectly well that the Red Sea crossing was not really a baptism, nor the manna miracle not really a communion meal.
There are two reasons he does this: 1) because he wants to warn his Corinthian converts that just because they had partaken of the Christian sacraments, this did not provide them with ‘eternal security’ from judgment or for that matter a spiritual protection from all spiritual harm if they went on participating in real pagan worship (not to be confused with current high church or institutional church worship); 2) equally importantly he does this because Paul believes there really is something going on in Baptism or the Lord’s Supper of a spiritual and even miraculous nature. The analogy breaks down if one admits miracle in the Red Sea Crossing and the manna, and then suggests that the Christian rites involve nothing more than potent symbols or memorial signs.
But this brings me to a further point. Why exactly had Paul referred to the Lord’s Supper using the term ‘the Lord’s table’? The term here is not ‘meal’ in the Greek, but ‘table’—trapedzēs. Could it be that there was actually a table involved, a piece of liturgical furniture, or something turned into a special table, in early Christian worship, even in homes? Well yes, this is not only possible but likely. The Lord’s Supper was not just a regular part of reclining and dining. It had its own table, and was a part of the regular Christian worship service in a home. This would be no surprise to a Gentile host who had his own altar, and indeed religious cabinet with the masks of his ancestors in it. My point is this-- even in homes there would have been religious items, religious altars, religious furniture. There is no reason Christian might not also have had such things in their homes, rededicated to Christ for example. And so let us analyze for a minute what Paul tells us in 1Cor. 10-14............ect"
It's a long 4 part review of the book itself. He may make some mistakes (because he's looking at the issue with Protestant glasses on), but over all it should be good. After all, the book was written by radical protestants, and this review is from a scholarly protestant. Who teaches at Asbery Theological Seminary (A methodist Seminary).
He also posted a 4 part review for the second book that just came out by the same people that wrote "pagan christianity".