Q&A with Frank Viola
How churches can embrace God's eternal purpose.

Unlike his previous volumes (Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church), Frank Viola's new book From Eternity to Here is not about church practices and forms. Instead, it tells the story of God's eternal purposes in redemption from Genesis to Revelation. "I wrote the book," Viola explains, "to bring back into view the greatness, the supremacy, the centrality, and the incomparable glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of God's immense purpose." Leadership assistant editor Brandon O'Brien asked Viola a few questions about what his book means for local churches.

Do you think that someone could agree with you completely about what the church is and could be but disagree about the form a local church should take (i.e. traditional, denominational church vs. house or organic church)?

Absolutely. In fact, Christians from a wide variety of church forms and expressions have been encouraged by the book: Ed Stetzer (Baptist), Alan Hirsh and Dan Kimball (Missional), Shane Claiborne (New Monastic), Myles Munroe and James Goll (Charismatic), Brian McLaren (Emergent), Greg Boyd (traditional evangelical church form), Leonard Sweet (Methodist, and who knows what else!), Michael Spencer (New Covenant-Reformation), Ralph Neighbor (Cell Church) are just some of them. In addition, I've received a fair share of enthusiastic mail from Anglicans on the one hand and Reformed folks on the other, both of whom have resonated strongly with the message of the book.

All told, From Eternity to Here is a book written for all of God's people irrespective of which church forms and structures they might embrace.

What's the relationship between the local, visible church and the invisible, universal church?

Traditionally, we have begun the Biblical story with the fall of humans in Genesis 3. The result is that the entire story places the salvation of humans and the redemption of the earth as being God's goal. But those two elements, while part of the story, aren't the beginning point nor the ultimate goal.

Thus when we begin the Biblical story in Genesis 1 and 2 (which occurs before the fall) and in Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 (which occurs before creation), the Biblical story is reframed from the standpoint of God's ultimate desire rather than with the needs of fallen human beings.

This changes the perspective dramatically, and it makes the story much larger and more God-centered. It moves us from a human-centered gospel to one that's rooted in God's relentless, eternal, and ultimate desire.

May 13, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 18 comments

terry

October 12, 2013  11:12am

From Eternity to Here is a great book. Someone mentioned Gene Edwards. Viola hasn't had a relationship with Gene Edwards in about 10 years. They two men are very different in just about every way. I wrote about it here http://frankviolageneedwards.wordpress.com/

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Jill

June 16, 2009  5:20pm

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

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Rishi Sriram

June 09, 2009  9:22pm

I thought these were great questions!

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Jon

June 08, 2009  10:54am

Oops! My comments were in response to "Kara," not Jan!

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Jon

June 08, 2009  10:41am

Jan, I think what sets From Eternity to Here apart from the Reformed writers you mentioned is that it relates God's purpose in Christ to its expression on earth in terms of a bride for the Son, a house for the Father and a new DNA on earth – the body of Christ. I'm a graduate of Westminster Seminary, and appreciate aspects of Reformed Theology, but I concur with Reformed Seminary professor, Steve Brown, who noted: “When you’re as old as I am, I don’t hear new stuff. You can hardly say anything about religion that I haven’t heard several times. But this is so new to me. It’s a whole new way of looking at the Scriptures, at Jesus, at the church, and at me. You’re going to love this book.” I've read this book three times already, and I've never seen God's eternal purpose unfolded so gloriously. Frank shows that it's not just about God choosing people (predestination), it's about His purpose in history to have a bride express His glory on earth (ekklesia).

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Toby J

June 07, 2009  3:29pm

A real gem in this genre is Gene Edwards' Divine Romance. Also: Christ Before Creation. geneedwards.com

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Kara

June 05, 2009  11:54pm

Where have you people been? Sproul, Kennedy, and Piper (and a host of others) have been faithfully heralding God's eternal purposes in Christ for decades. Unlike Viola, they boldly and thoroughly tear into the controversial issues that others tip-toe around: unconditional election, predestination of individuals, God's eternal decrees, John 6, Romans 8 & 9, etc. "Everyone that the Father gave me before the foundations of the world shall come to me and him that comes I will not cast out." Jesus Christ

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Jan Pack

June 01, 2009  10:27am

I recommend every Christian read this book. Seeing God's Eternal purpose before Gen 3 and the fall sheds a whole new light on who we are in Christ (the Bride/the Body) and the desires of God's heart (the house/the family). As we catch this vision and share it with others, Christians everywhere will impact their communities.

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Jeff Goins

June 01, 2009  9:54am

In my opinion, this is Frank Viola's best book to date.

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David Dougherty

May 16, 2009  6:38pm

This brief description reminds me of "His Ultimate Intention" by DeVerne Fromke.

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