Kelly Deppen from Bridges Ministry interviewed Frank Viola recently on his new book, Revise Us Again. This interview is different from all his others on this particular title. In it, Frank talks about the problems he addresses in the book and the solutions he offers. Here’s a preface from Kelly followed by the full interview.
Preface from Kelly
Not to be solicitous, but Revise Us Again may be my favorite Viola work to date. Yes, I have read them all, and reviewed several. This one sings.
Why do I love "Revise Us"?
In a word: Change. The book changed me. Only the Anointing - the poured out present inspiration of Holy Spirit is able to do that.
So, take that one on the chin, humble Frank.
Your book is that good and ministry-effective, even if you don't like my semantics!
Revise Us Again: Living From a Renewed Christian Script spotlights revisions (I call them 're-visions') that are desperately needed in our personal scripting and also in our corporate scripting. Hey! That's theology in some circles! Count me in.
In this respectful, humble, and thoughtful call for rescripting and revision, Frank Viola addresses ten spheres of Christian life and culture that are askew of perfect alignment with the intentionality of the Father and the Heart of Jesus.
Revise Us Again is deep and deep calling to deep. It is a gentle and impactful ministry. All will benefit from reading and contemplating this important book.
1. Frank, you have been given powerful insight into some stuff that lies beneath the surface of Christian Culture. That implies some deep-calls-to deep intimacy with Jesus. Can you describe the sense of urgency you shared with the Lord in writing this new book?
The book was born out of many years of wrestling with what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. What I’ve written are observations, discoveries, insights, and solutions to problems I’ve struggled with and been exposed to throughout my walk with the Lord.
I wrote it because countless Christians are wrestling with the same issues right now. Some of those issues work at a conscious level. Others work at a subconscious level.
Note that the book isn’t written like a story or a narrative where each chapter builds on the other. It’s rather a compilation of chapters I’ve written at different times and in different places. The chapters are very different, but share the theme of rescripting and revising.
Here are some of the problems that I address and offer solutions for throughout the book:
*How do you handle the times when God doesn't meet your expectations and seems to neglect fulfilling His own promises?
*How do you cope with not feeling or sensing God's presence (even at times when others do), and what does that mean exactly? And what does it not mean?
*What is the experience of "the dark night" in the Christian's life and why does it happen? (This is greater than a dry spell. It’s when God seems to completely walk off the stage of your life.)
*How do you deal with people who are always saying "The Lord told me"? Or "Let me pray about it" – which for them is Christian code language for "no"?
*Why is it that so many Christians argue over their views of God and the Bible, when in reality they agree more than they assume. They are just using different styles of communication to describe the same things? (Some of the recent discussions over hell is largely – though not completely – due to differing conversational styles.)
*Why do so many mentors turn on the people they are mentoring, and how does one deal with that? And if you are or will one day mentor others, how can you avoid falling into this trap?
*What is a legalist? What is a libertine? And what's the difference between legalism and submitting to Jesus' Lordship? What’s the difference between license and liberty in the Christian walk?
*What do the resurrection appearances of Jesus showing up and then vanishing teach us about how the Lord interacts with us today?
*What does it mean to be captured by the same spirit you oppose, and how can we avoid it?
*How should we evaluate the Charismatic movement and its strong emphasis on spiritual gifts, power, and miracles? What things can we take away from the movement that’s helpful and separate them from what’s not so helpful?
*How can two groups that don't believe the same about spiritual gifts come together and meet as one local church? What must happen for this impossible venture to take place?
*Where did "What Would Jesus Do?" come from, is it biblical, and does it work in real life?
2. In Revise Us Again you put forth a very positive encouragement that God is speaking. Then you go on to make the case that the few that are hearing are interpreting narrowly. You attribute this to Religious Backgrounds. Is this perhaps why so many have taken hiatus away from denominations and 'churchianity'? What is your perception of the hunger to hear God and to hear Him loud and clear?
Christians limit God’s speaking based on the unwritten scripts that they have been handed by their religious tradition, favorite teachers, or denomination.
For instance, Pentecostal/Charismatics tend to recognize God’s speaking through only one or two modes. If His speaking doesn’t come through one of those modes, they don’t recognize it to be the Lord’s voice. The same is true for Fundamentalists, Reformed, and Mainline Christians. Each one recognizes the Lord through only one or two modes. And if God speaks to them through a different mode, they don’t recognize that it’s God who is trying to communicate with them.
It’s sort of like tuning into one radio station only, when God uses three primary stations. If all we do is tune our radio on one station, we won’t hear Him when He speaks through the other two.
In a few of the chapters in the book, I analyze this whole subject in detail. I then go on to talk about the three modes in which God speaks and root them in the Bible and offer experiences to make it applicable. Many believers have found this chapter to be very helpful.
3. In chapter two of "Revise Us Again" you call for an end to 'Christianese' especially the warn and tattered "God told me." In charismatic circles we have really abused those words. Is this using the name of God in vain?
I think it can be. It really depends. In one of the chapters, I discuss the misuse of this phrase and explain how it can do a lot of damage.
It’s one thing for God to speak to His children (He certainly does). But it’s another for Christians to go around announcing that “the Lord told me” thus and so. I talk about the ramifications of the misuse of the phrase and why many Christians do it (by their own confession).
4. How different is "Revise Us" from your other books, and at what point did you know that you were either called or compelled to write it?
I discussed this question in detail in my audio interview with CBD (Christian Books). But in short, Pagan Christianity?, Remagining Church, and Finding Organic Church all deal with church renewal and restoration and present it in a fresh way.
Jesus Manifesto and From Eternity to Here present Jesus to us in a way wherein our first love can be increased and/or restored.
All of these books take old subjects and present them in new ways.
Revise Us Again is similar in that it throws fresh light on old subjects (like God’s presence and speaking, for instance). It also addresses issues that Christians rarely talk or hear about today.
The book is different from my others in that it’s a book that focuses mainly on the issue of our individual walk and transformation.
5. In chapter 6 "The Felt Presence of God", you tenderly demonstrate from the authority of the scriptures that God is always present within every believer by the abiding Holy Spirit. How different will the Bride be when she wakes up to this reality--that we are the temple filled with His Glory?
One of the things that is ingrained in certain movements is the idea that God is going to do something in the future. And we just have to sit and wait for it to happen.
But the truth of the matter is that God is . . . right now . . . setting countless members of His Bride free and awakening them to an indwelling Christ.
The instrument He often uses for this is books, audios, live messages, Christians sharing with other another the realities of Christ, etc.
This is the very reason why I wrote From Eternity to Here. The more people who spread the message of living by the indwelling life of Christ, the more members of His Bride will be set free.
I so appreciate you doing interviews like this because it helps get an important message out to more people.
6. Which chapter(s) of "Revise US" are most hitting the hot buttons with your readers?
The main hot button chapters seem to be:
*The Three Gospels
*God’s Three-Fold Speaking
*Captured by the Same Spirit You Oppose
*The God of Unseen Endings
*Let Me Pray About It
*Your Christ Is Too Small
*Stripping Down to Christ Alone
7. You have recently revised your blog. Tell us about that!
Yes, and I’m very excited about it. The new blog is called Beyond Evangelical. It’s for Christians who want to go deeper in the Lord. Who aren’t satisfied with modern evangelicalism, and the left vs. right wars.
The blog mostly attracts Christians who love Jesus more than anything else, aren’t afraid to challenge cherished traditions that clutter our lives and hamper our affections for the Lord, and want to go deeper together.
The top 50 posts are on the right-hand side bar. They are easy to see and access.
I’m presently on a blog break, but there are many articles on the blog that people can read and comment on.
Readers can check it out at www.frankviola.org
Thanks again, Kelly for the opportunity to share.
Click here to order the book.
FRANK VIOLA is the author of numerous Christian books, including the newly released REVISE US AGAIN, the bestselling FROM ETERNITY TO HERE, and PAGAN CHRISTIANITY, JESUS MANIFESTO, REIMAGINING CHURCH. His website contains a vast array of free articles, podcasts, interviews, and discussion guides: www.FrankViola.com, and his blog, BEYOND EVANGELICAL, is one of the most popular in Christian circles today: www.frankviola.org