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.
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