My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Frank Viola’s latest book, From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God is not an easy one for me to shove into a loved-it or hated-it slot on the shelf of books I’ve read. I was outraged, inspired, impassioned, incredulous, and challenged by this book.
From Eternity to Here tells of “the ageless purpose of God” in three parts, weaving what the author hopes is a compelling story that – as the subtitle suggests – dates from before time began.
I found two problems early on – one disappointing from an intellectual perspective, one spiritually disturbing.
First, I was a little disappointed to find a rehash of ideas popularized, though not originally conceived, by John Eldredge, an author whose works (Wild at Heart, Epic) have touched my life in pretty profound ways. Viola seems to borrow from Eldredge and others the idea that we are all born into the story that God is telling, though in his mind it’s a romance rather than an epic. To my relief, the book doesn’t take quite the straight line from this point that it appears to be on.
However, much more disturbing is the whole premise of part one – that God’s ultimate passion is His bride. Some reading this review may find nothing wrong with that statement, but based on my reading of Scripture I have to disagree with it. God’s ultimate passion is His glory. Everything that God does or commands serves the ultimate purpose of bringing Him glory.
Move on to part two, and we find that God is homeless and longs for a place to dwell. The God of the universe who is perfect and complete is homeless?
By this point, I just can’t believe the ridiculous statements I’m reading, and I’m finding ludicrous even much more mundane statements. Then, I read the statement that is very nearly the final straw for me – and would have been if I hadn’t promised to review the book! Viola writes that the house God is building or has built, which he has equated at one time or another to both Christ and the church, “becomes indistinguishable from the Builder.” Add to this the statement later that “the church is Christ,” and the most serious error of this book is obvious: Viola is putting God on our level.
The author has a lot of ideas here that I love. He speaks of the church not just as a group of people but – in turns – as a community, a colony, a family, a new species, even a single organism. These ideas are engaging, intelligent, and biblical. He writes, “The body of Christ exists to express God in the earth” and that “the conversion of lost souls is the means toward that end,” not a goal in itself.
One of my favorite statements from this book is this: “…one of the highest revelations you and I will ever receive is to see the church as Christ in corporate human expression.” Beautiful and true! The church is not an institution or a building or an event. It is us, and we are – in a very real way – the body of Christ, His physical expression in the world.
He also writes, “One of the greatest problems in the Christian faith today, I believe, is that Christians are taught to be salt and light in the world as individuals[emphasis mine:],” and, “…the great need of the hour is for Christians to begin learning how to gather together and embody Christ in a shared-life community where they live.”
These statements can be mind-blowing. Viola insists that the pictures of the church as the bride and dwelling place and body of Christ are not just metaphors but concrete truths. He sees and expresses the need for all its members to hold a much higher view of the church.
The problem is definitely not his high view of the church but his low view of God. The church is the body of Christ, but the church is not Christ. We are not to be equated with Him.
Christ embodies us – the church – but we cannot contain His limitless nature.
The following bloggers are posting a review or Q & A with Frank Viola on his bestselling book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE today, Tuesday, July 21st. You may order the book at a discount at http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org – it’s also on audio book. Free discussion guide, sample chapters, interviews, and a free audio of the first chapter are available on that site also. Here are the bloggers who are participating:
Jay Becker – www.jaybecker.org
Mark D – http://deadmanstravelog.blogspot.com
Igniting Hearts – Kimber Britner – http://www.ignitinghearts.blogspot.com/
Karyn – http://tiger-kar.blogspot.com
Barefoot Preacher – http://thebarefootpreacher.blogspot.com
Every Day Angels – www.WeAreEverydayAngels.com
FaithEngineer – http://www.faithengineer.com
Kristen Schiffman – http://dancinginthemargins.typepad.com/
CrossPointe: The Church at Bevo – http://churchatbevo.blogspot.com/
Crazy Love for God – crazyloveforgod.blogspot.com
Amazima Ministries – oatsvallteam.blogspot.com
Down to Write Honest – http://downwritehonest.com
A Beautiful Mess – http://blnorth1105.blogspot.com/
The Blakes on a Mission – www.theblakesthailand.blogspot.com
Eric Jaffe – http://www.ericjaffe.org
Reconnect with God – www.Reconnectwithgod.org
2nd Cup of Coffee – http://www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com
Nolan Bobbitt Website – www.nolanbobbitt.com
Klappyanne – www.xanga.com/klappyanne
Daveingland – http://www.daveingland.com
Randi Jo Rooks – http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com
Ephesians Five – http://ephesiansonefive.blogspot.com
Michael Bayne – http://www.michaelbayne.net
Encounter Church Helena Blog – encounterhelena.org
Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action – tsharrison.blogspot.com
Edevotion – http://www.e-devotion.blogspot.com
Seeking After – http://seekingafter.blogspot.com
Eric Powell – www.encounterhelena.org
Borrowed Light – http://fbcnewlondon.blogspot.com