Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review: From Eternity to Here

From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola came into my hands because I agreed to review it as part of a book review blogging round up put on by the publisher, David Cook. The nearest I can tell, I got included because of my review for another of their books, Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

The ties with Crazy Love are more than just that, though. Originally pitched to me as "the perfect followup to Crazy Love" and the how to Chan's what, I had some big expectations going as I waited for my copy of the book to arrive.

Viola has written this book in 3 distinct but closely related parts. The author has a main theme running through the entire book: God's overarching and eternal purpose. I'll cut to the chase, Viola makes the point, many times and in many ways, that God has a central purpose for humanity and that it is to be a corporate body of believers: the Church.

I have to admit that I was turned off in sections of the book by the author's style of making his point. In other areas, Viola used a different style to talk about his points. I'll chalk it up to an appeal to different sides of the brain. What ever the reason for the approach, I read my way through all three sections of the book.

Viola, working from his premise that the creation of the Church for Jesus is God's primary purpose, dedicates each section of the book to viewing the Church differently according to Scripture. Section 1 is focused on The Bride of Christ. Section 2 describes the House of God. In Section 3, the author walks through the Gospels, Acts, and several New Testament books describing a new species on the Earth: the Family of God and the Body of Christ.

Personally, I liked Section 3 the most (maybe because I'm primarily left-brained) out of these sections. But what really worked best in the book was the Afterword of the book. In this chapter, Viola talks about his personal journey through Christianity into what he calls Deep Ecclesiology. This Deep Ecclesiology is a part of taking a new look at what the Church, and therefore local churches, should look like today. Viola is a part of a movement towards this reimagining of the Church (and his previous book is called Reimagining Church).

The Afterword served to tie things together pretty well, I thought. But in the end, I didn't really get that this book fulfilled the claim of showing the "how" to Crazy Love's "what". Don't get me wrong, there is some great stuff in here about local church, communities, and the purpose of the greater Church. I'm not knocking the book down against it's stated subject (the subtitle is "Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God). I think the real selling point is that Viola does to the "status quo" church of today what Chan does to the lukewarm Christian in our society.

And I think that's a good thing...

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 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 - deadmanstravelog.blogspot.com

Igniting Hearts - Kimber Britner - www.ignitinghearts.blogspot.com

Karyn - tiger-kar.blogspot.com

Barefoot Preacher - thebarefootpreacher.blogspot.com

Every Day Angels - www.WeAreEverydayAngels.com

FaithEngineer - www.faithengineer.com

Kristen Schiffman - dancinginthemargins.typepad.com

CrossPointe: The Church at Bevo - churchatbevo.blogspot.com

Crazy Love for God - crazyloveforgod.blogspot.com

Amazima Ministries - oatsvallteam.blogspot.com

Down to Write Honest - downwritehonest.com

A Beautiful Mess - blnorth1105.blogspot.com

The Blakes on a Mission - www.theblakesthailand.blogspot.com

Words by Jud Kossum - judkossum.blogspot.com

Eric Jaffe - www.ericjaffe.org

Reconnect with God – www.Reconnectwithgod.org

2nd Cup of Coffee - www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com

Nolan Bobbitt Website - www.nolanbobbitt.com

Klappyanne - www.xanga.com/klappyanne

Daveingland - www.daveingland.com

Randi Jo Rooks - seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com

Ephesians Five – ephesiansonefive.blogspot.com

Michael Bayne - www.michaelbayne.net

Encounter Church Helena Blog - encounterhelena.org

Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action - tsharrison.blogspot.com

Edevotion - www.e-devotion.blogspot.com

Seeking After - seekingafter.blogspot.com

Eric Powell - www.encounterhelena.org

Borrowed Light - fbcnewlondon.blogspot.com

Per the recent FTC ruling, I am required to tell you that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for publishing my review.