Tuesday, June 09, 2009


As part of a blog-marketing co-op I've interviewed Frank Viola about his newest book, "From Eternity to Here". (See below)

Frank, can you explain the title of the book? what does it refer to?

God has had a purpose in His heart from eternity past that provoked Him to create. That purpose (Paul calls it “the eternal purpose”) is what governs all of what God does in, with, and through His creation. And that purpose is meant to be fulfilled here, on this earth, for that’s why He created it. The book unfolds the above. Hence the title.

Your previous books focus a lot on us (the church) and our mission. the new book turns more towards God and His mission. how are these intertwined? how does our mission and God's mission connect?

They aren’t to be separated. God’s purpose is to be our purpose; His mission our mission; His vision our vision. One of the main reasons why I wrote the book is to bring this out.

I've heard you say recently that you wouldn't give a dime for most house churches today. what do you mean by that? aren't you "the house church guy?"

Nope, I sure aren’t (that’s great English, eh?). That’s one of the myths right up there with the idea that George Barna and I believe that computers are pagan because they weren’t around during the first century.

My books and spoken messages consistently maintain that I’m not an advocate of “institutional church” or “house church.” Instead, I maintain that the organic expression of the church or organic church life is what God is after. The church we see envisioned in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles was organic rather than institutional.

I’m told that one of my oft-quoted statements is, “Meeting in a home doesn’t make you a church anymore than sitting in a donut shop makes you a police officer.”

My message on the church is received more so by house church advocates (or “movement”) simply because my critiques of the institutional/traditional church are the same. I also believe that it’s good (though it’s not a Mosaic Law) to gather in a home for some kinds of meetings.

But the issue is not the location of the church. The issue is the basis upon which a group of Christians gather and whether or not the members are living for God’s eternal purpose. Are they learning to live by the indwelling life of Christ together? Are they expressing His life corporately in their meetings and community life? Are they living a shared life in Christ? Are they consumed with, intoxicated by, and enraptured with Jesus Christ or are the focused on some “it”, “thing”, or “doctrine”? Are they manifesting Christ’s glorious riches when they come together? Do they know the experience of the cross and are they laying their lives down for one another? Etc. etc.

Many “house churches” and “simple churches” today do not even understand what God’s eternal purpose is let alone live for it together. The same is true for the typical institutional church. The letters I’m receiving from the book only confirms this.

For those interested, I’ve addressed these themes in detail in my book Reimagining Church and a “straight-talk message” to house churches that can be heard online.

Isn't this book really just an attempt to get mainstream christian booksellers to start carrying your other, more radical books?

Lol. That thought never crossed my mind, but I don’t think it would work if some author tried to do that. Booksellers usually don’t stock older books by an author even if they like a new one. As far as I know, all Christian bookstores and sellers have carried all of my previous books before From Eternity came out, including Pagan Christianity, which is pretty remarkable. Family Christian Stores didn’t carry it at first, but about one or two months after its release, they did. You can even find it on LifeWay’s website.

So much of your writing is centered on re-educating today's Christians about their own true and biblical ecclesiology, mission and purpose. why do you think we've gotten so far off track? what factors contributed to the need for this re-education?

I really don’t know. I think it starts at the top levels. Seminaries and Bible schools produce pastors and teachers. They in turn teach God’s people. God’s eternal purpose doesn’t appear on the radar screen of most of those lesson plans, I guess. Plus, we’ve all been handed a certain mindset by which to interpret Scripture. D.L. Moody’s theology has taken hold of the minds of most evangelicals. But that’s another discussion.

Other than reading your book, how can today's christians get back on track and rediscover their DNA as the Body of Christ?

To spend time visiting those churches that are living out of it. Or to find those who have been called to equip Christian groups to live by Christ’s indwelling life together.

Do you think that we are in the midst of a modern reformation of faith today? will the church be radically different 20 years from now?

The Protestant Reformation didn’t change the church of its day. All it did was make an expression of church outside of Roman Catholicism acceptable. The same is true when the Pentecostal movement came along. It eventually made a new kind of church acceptable from what was on the earth previous to it.

I think the same is true with what’s happening today. I won’t put my prophet’s mantle on for this, but in 20 years, I suspect the Protestant institutional church will still be here. The Catholic and Orthodox churches will be here. Even megachurches will still be around. What I think will change is that those Christians who gather exclusively under the headship of Jesus Christ without a modern pastor, a Sunday morning order of worship, a religious/sacred building, etc. will be accepted as “normal” by more people than they are today.

Would you be interested in leading one of our discussion times at next year's Non-Con (non-conference) in March with David Ruis, Justin Fox and myself? It's a dialog-driven event for 45 people to explore the Temple, the Priesthood of the Believer and the Living, Daily Sacrifice here in Southern California.

I’m a big fan of David Ruis. His music in the 90s was in-cred-ible. I’d like to learn more about it.

OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUITToday (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to Amazon.com

If you live in the USA, you can also visit your local Family Christian Store to grab a copy. They are having a special promotion this week.
For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:
Out of Ur - http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/viola.html
Shapevine – www.Shapevine.com (June newsletter)
Brian Berly - http://www.brianeberly.com
DashHouse.com - http://www.DashHouse.com/
Greg Boyd - http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/
Vision Advance - http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/
David Flowers - http://ddflowers.wordpress.com
Kingdom Grace - http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com
Captain's Blog - http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/
Christine Sine - http://godspace.wordpress.com
Zoecarnate - http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com
Church Planting Novice - www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com
Staying Focused - http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/
Take Your Vitamin Z - www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com
Jeff Goins - http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org
Bunny Trails - http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com
Matt Cleaver - http://mattcleaver.com
Jason T. Berggren - http://blog.jasonberggren.com/
Simple Church - http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/
Emerging from Montana - http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
Parable Life - http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com
Oikos Australia - http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/
West Coast Witness - www.WestCoastWitness.com
Keith Giles - http://www.Keith.Giles.com
Consuming Worship — http://www.consumingworship.org
Tasha Via - www.tashavia.blogspot.com
Andrew Courtright - www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com
ShowMeTheMooneys! – http://www.showmethemooneys.com/
Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer - http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/
Jason Coker - pastoralia.missionaltribe.org
From Knowledge to Wisdom - http://isthistheway.typepad.com/
Home Brewed Christianity - http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com
Dispossessed - http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com
Dandelion Seeds - http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Dandelionseeds
David Brodsky's Blog- "Flip the tape Deck" - http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/
Chaordic Journey - http://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com
Renee Martin - http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list
Bob Kuhn - http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/
Real Worship - http://therealworshipleader.com
Fervent Worship - http://ferventworship.blogspot.com
Julie Ferwerda Blog - www.JulieFerwerda.com / www.OneMillionArrows.com
What's With Christina?! - http://w2christina.blogspot.com
On Now to the Third Level - www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com
Irreligious Canuck - http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com
This day on the journey - http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com
Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity - http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/
Spiritual Journey With God - http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/

Dries Conje - http://www.echurch.co.za / http://www.thejesusfeed.com / http://www.bookdisciple.com.
Journey with Others - http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com
Christine Moers - www.welcometomybrain.net
Breaking Point - http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com
Hand to the Plough - http://www.handtotheplough.com.au
Jon Reid - http://jonreid.blogs.com/oneanother/welcome-pilgrim.html
Weblight - www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se
D. L. Webster - http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster
Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life - wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com


Anonymous said...

It was nice to hear someone who is not so enamored with house churches that he truly understands the gospel for what it really is about.

Keith Giles said...

Agreed. Especially love his last comment: "...Christians who gather exclusively under the headship of Jesus Christ without a modern pastor, a Sunday morning order of worship, a religious/sacred building, etc. will be accepted as “normal” by more people than they are today."

Jilliefl1 said...

The Church desperately needs to hear this message. We need to reorient ourselves to line up with HIS eternal purpose and desires, and in the process I believe our deepest longings-and mission-will be fulfilled as well.

Thank you for your interview!