Recently, Bible Gateway — the most popular online Bible website in the world — interviewed me on the present Insurgence.
Enjoy the interview!
What message are you conveying by the one-word title of your book?
There is a revolution happening right now in the body of Christ, an insurgence against what the New Testament calls “the world system” and into what Jesus called “the gospel of the kingdom,” which is the most powerful message in the New Testament.
The insurgence began in the first century, but it is being recovered (or “reclaimed”) in our time. In the book, I explain exactly how, offering stories of ordinary sisters and brothers in Christ who have joined the insurgence and how astounding their experience has been.
How should Christians approach your book?
I want readers to hear the kingdom message anew and afresh. As Christians we are very good at filtering whatever we read or hear through the grid of our own understanding and experience, and this can cause us to miss important truths.
Based on the feedback so far, the people who have read the book – all of them serious Christians – said it gave them important breakthroughs in their spiritual walk with the Lord. Many said it was the first time they heard the gospel of the kingdom.
What are the three gospels you write of?
There is the gospel of legalism, which isn’t just working for one’s salvation. The gospel of legalism says that if you want God’s favor, you have to perform to receive it. This causes many Christians to live with a headache of guilt and a constant feeling that they are never measuring up.
In reaction to that is the “gospel” of libertinism which says that because we’re under grace, our behavior doesn’t really matter much to God. So we can live the way we want, and God is okay with it because He understands that we are mere mortals.
The third gospel is the gospel of the kingdom, which brings liberty on the one hand and absolute allegiance to Christ’s lordship on the other.
What is the kingdom of God and why were you compelled to write about it?
The New Testament never defines the kingdom of God. It illustrates it. I do the same in the book.
It’s impossible to illustrate it in an interview like this without diluting its power and draining its glory as well as raising many questions.
I will simply say that the kingdom of God is more than what most of us have been taught. And it doesn’t fit the agenda of the progressive left or the conservative right. Nor is it purely future or purely present or past. In addition, the kingdom of God is antithetical to fallen human civilization (another term for “the world system”). I uncork all of this in the book and demonstrate it biblically as well as through real-life stories.
What do you say about radical terrorist organizations in the book?
Consider the level of commitment and passion that radical terrorists have to their false cause. Then compare it to the level of commitment and passion that the average Christian has to Jesus Christ. If you do this, you’ll quickly discover that something is amiss.
You see, the kind of convert produced is the result of the kind of gospel preached and received.
In the New Testament, the gospel of the kingdom produced a “radicalization” to Jesus Christ, which was the true radicalization. Baptism signified this radicalization in the first century.
When the people were baptized into Jesus Christ in the first century, they were signing their death warrants. They were dying to the world system and becoming a participant of a new society that had a new way of living with a new allegiance to a new Lord.
Unfortunately, we have exchanged the explosive gospel of the kingdom of the first century for either a gospel that’s all about the future (going to heaven when we die) or a social gospel (trying to make the world a better place through social activism and political leverage). But the gospel of the kingdom transcends both in power, glory, and transformative effects.
The back cover description adds further nuance to your question:
The Insurgence Has Begun … Don’t Miss It!
Why does the allegiance that radical terrorists give to their false cause exceed the allegiance that most Christians today give to Jesus Christ?
In Insurgence, bestselling author Frank Viola presents a radical proposal for Christians. Namely, that we have lost the explosive, earthshaking gospel of the kingdom that Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles preached. Viola argues that we’ve lost this dynamic, titanic, living gospel and exchanged it for a gospel of religious duty or permissiveness and “easy believism.”
In today’s politically charged era, Christians on the progressive left as well as the conservative right both equate their particular viewpoints with the kingdom of God. Viola challenges and dismantles these perspectives, offering a fresh and revolutionary look at the gospel of the kingdom.
Viola writes with gripping power, challenging Christians to embrace an unparalleled allegiance to Jesus Christ and his kingdom. This high-octane message is being reclaimed today, launching a spiritual insurgence.
What role should the Bible have in a person dedicated to the Insurgence?
The Bible is the story of how the insurgence was born as well as how it thrives. In the book, I go through the Old Testament story and show how Jesus’ words in Mark 1:14, “the time has come!,” was the fulfillment of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, all of which pointed to the divine insurgence led by the Insurgent, Jesus of Nazareth. (The New Testament actually calls Jesus an insurgent.)
To put it another way, the Scriptures are the inspired, God-breathed, fully reliable and authoritative narrative, map, and guide for all who have joined the divine insurgence which Jesus launched and that continues today.
You share stories in the book about people who’ve joined the Insurgence. Recount one here.
Tom grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home that was marked by legalism and religious duty. Tom’s devotion to the Lord was mostly outward, and he was plagued by a continual sense of condemnation, feeling that he was never doing enough for God.
During his college years, however, Tom was exposed to a progressive form of Christianity that didn’t put much emphasis on personal holiness or evangelism. Instead, it was focused entirely on social justice.
Tom was drawn to this new version of Christianity and immersed himself into various causes that sought justice and world peace. At first, Tom was enthusiastic with his new brand of Christian emphasis. But after working effortlessly for justice for years, he became disillusioned with the pursuit.
He saw little fruit from his labors, concluding that the fight for justice wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In addition, he noticed that most of his activist friends would mention Jesus, but they had little to do with Him.
They didn’t appear to have a relationship with the resurrected Christ. The only time they mentioned Jesus was when citing one of His teachings about the poor or the rich.
While Tom still knew that his early Christian upbringing wasn’t right for him, he came to realize that his lifestyle was no different from people who lived in and for the world. He also became burned out from his tireless efforts at working for justice and world peace, feeling that none of it made an ounce of difference.
His conscience was also troubled by the fact that he allowed himself to fall prey to various addictions of the flesh, things he had stayed clear from during his earlier days as a fundamentalist.
While living with this inner turmoil, Tom attended a gathering held on a college campus and heard someone preach the gospel of the kingdom. Suddenly, a shift happened in his mind and heart.
When it was all over, Tom gave himself fully to Jesus Christ, not to a cause or a new theology. In addition, Tom’s surrender to Christ was not out of guilt, religious duty, fear, condemnation, or shame.
Instead, he was captivated by the stunning beauty of the King as it was presented through the gospel of the kingdom.
As a result, Tom was liberated from the two versions of the gospel that he had been exposed to in his past—the fundamentalist version and the progressive version. Tom had been “radicalized” for the kingdom of God and began a new journey with other believers on knowing Christ and expressing His life with them.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
I don’t have an all-time favorite passage because there are too many gems in Scripture to favor just one. But I guess I have a favorite of the week. This week it’s Ephesians 1:3, where Paul says that we have access to the heavenly realm right now while we’re still on earth (just as Jesus did).
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App and/or Bible Audio App?
Highly valuable. Insurgence is packed with Scripture references and quotes, and I used Bible Gateway for locating and copying many of those texts into the manuscript.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Yes, Insurgence has endorsements from some of the leading voices in the Christian world today.