In promotion of his book From Eternity to Here, Frank put together a blog tour.
In previous posts I expressed my appreciation for the ideas presented in this book. However, there are multiple pages in my book with question marks on them, and this seemed like a good opportunity to ask Frank those questions.
Because he is answering questions for over 50 blogs, I will limit this post to just a few questions.
1. Frank, your thoughts about God’s desire for a habitation and dwelling place with man were thorough and well-stated. However, I struggled with the terminology of God as homeless. Would you further explain this quote?
After the death of the apostles, God lost His house once again. The living, breathing house of God became suffocated by a truckload of human traditions. The vision was lost. And God was again homeless.
Frank: I would agree with historians like John W. Kennedy and others who point out that the eternal purpose, the centrality of Jesus Christ, and the organic expression of church life began to be lost sight of when the church began to be coopted by Greco-Roman culture. This coopting came to its height with Constantine’s arrival and era. Many writers today are discussing this shift in fact … people like Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Greg Boyd, G.W. Nigel, George Barna and myself (in “Pagan Christianity”). In fact, I was having a phone conversation with Hirsch recently, and he used the term “dethroning Constantine” in our time, as a mindset and a system. The work of God in this hour, we believe, is that of recovery and restoration concerning the fleshing-out of God’s eternal purpose in Christ in all dimensions.
2. I would like to hear your thoughts on the ideal of the body of Christ experiencing authentic church life versus the reality of the diverse, many-membered church, both past and present, in its imperfection as Christ’s body in the earth. What are your thoughts about the many churches who are unaware of God’s eternal purpose as members of the corporate body and participants in the new species?
Frank: “Church” has become such a muddied word in our day. It means drastically different things to different people. So for the purposes of clarity, I’ll not use it here.
God has always worked and will always work through and in His people wherever they are found and in whatever religious organizations they choose to be a part of. Israel is the summary witness of this. Even when the children of Israel were worshipping in Babylon, God blessed them and used them.
However, God has always had a testimony that represented His full thought when it comes to His eternal purpose. For me, the issue is very simple. If I’m a lover of Jesus, I have got to be interested in God’s eternal purpose in Christ, for that’s His heartthrob and the very thing that provoked Him to create. Therefore, I am responsible to know what His central thought is and to adjust my life to it. I think this is the calling of all Christians. In essence, fulfilling God’s ultimate intention is what following Jesus is all about. It’s nothing less than that. The Kingdom of God and being part of a Kingdom community is certainly a large part of it.
3. Would you please explain where and how you see the fundamental flaw expressed in the following quote occurring in the missional movement?
Failure to understand that God’s ultimate purpose begins in Genesis 1 before the fall, not in Genesis 3 after the fall has been the fundamental flaw of much of the modern day missional movement.
Frank: Note the words “much of.” There are exceptions of course. I speak as one who is part of the missional movement. My entire ministry is built on bringing into view the grand mission of God, which is His eternal purpose.
One of the things I appreciate about my friends and colleagues in the movement is that we graciously receive adjustment, challenges, and fresh thinking from one another. No one is defensive about it as we all realize that none of us sees the entire picture fully or clearly. So we learn from one another and engage in robust conversation sometimes.
Some within the movement (which is growing more and more diverse by the way) view God’s mission to be the salvation of the lost and/or the healing of the world. Other stress it to be the making of individual disciples and trying to imitate Jesus as individuals. As I point out in “From Eternity,” God created humans not in need of salvation and the world not in need of healing. Thus there was something else on His heart … a purpose conceived before time … that is by Him, through Him, and to Him. And it is corporate, not individualistic. Furthermore, the purpose of God cannot be fulfilled by trying or working. It is fulfilled by eating from a certain tree which contains a certain life form. God’s purpose goes beyond human redemption.
Jesus Himself said, “As the Father has sent me, and I LIVE BY the Father. So he that eats me shall LIVE BY me.” The purpose of God finds visible expression when a group of people learn to live by the Lord’s indwelling life together and display together it in their localities. That’s what true discipleship is all about. To separate disciple-making from the community of believers is like separating child-rearing, nuture, and development from the family. This touches the matter of “native habitats” that speak of in the book. To be a disciple of Jesus means to live by Christ, just as He lived by the Father. And that happens corporately for the most part. It’s not just an individual pursuit. Christ is, after all, our indwelling Lord.
I’m glad that we are beginning to hear more about God’s glorious purpose in missional circles right now, and I hope that continues. Interestingly, I was able to expand on this very question at a missional church event at George Fox Seminary recently. It created a lot of great dialogue afterwards that was profitable and brought oneness of mind among many who were present. I’m thankful for that.
OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUIT
Today, the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book From Eternity to Here. 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.
For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website.
Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A.
Out of Ur
Shapevine (June newsletter)
Darin Hufford – The Free Believers Network
Church Planting Novice
Take Your Vitamin Z
Jason T. Berggren
Emerging from Montana
West Coast Witness
Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer
From Knowledge to Wisdom
Home Brewed Christianity
David Brodsky’s Blog- “Flip the tape Deck”
Living with Freaks
What’s With Christina?!
On Now to the Third Level
This day on the journey
Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity
Spiritual Journey With God
The Jesus Feed
My Journey – With Others
On Now to the Third Level
Hand to the Plough
Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life