Friday, March 13, 2015


Frank Viola is an American author, speaker, and blogger on Christian topics. His work focuses on Jesus studies and biblical narrative, with a strong emphasis on helping the poor and the oppressed. He is most noted for his emphasis on the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ. and the idea that Jesus indwells all Christians and they can learn to live by his life.
Viola's early work was focused on organic church and missional church themes. His older books advocated church life based on the spiritual principles of the New Testament, the headship of Christ, face-to-face community, and the priesthood of all believers.
Since 2009, Viola's work has been focused on Jesus studies, living by the indwelling life of Christ, God's eternal purpose, the present-day ministry of Christ, and biblical narrative. Viola has authored over 20 books, over 900 blog articles, and over 100 podcast episodes. His podcast, Christ is All, has been ranked #1 in Canada and #2 in the USA (respectively) in the "Christianity" section of iTunes.
**Taken from Wiki.
For more information, see Frank Viola author biography.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Revising Our Semantics

One of the quickest things we pick up as Christians, although quite unconsciously, is a religious vocabulary. Consequently, part of our revising is to identify how we speak and how we hear others speak when discussing spiritual and theological ideas. The subject of conversational styles is not new. Linguists and sociologists use the term conversational style to describe the specific set of assumptions and goals that people employ when they communicate. All social groups construct such styles to communicate their thoughts. Conversational styles are part of the reason why cross-cultural communication is so difficult. They explain why a French speaker can insist that the meaning of something in French can never be completely rendered in English or German. It is my observation that much of the misunderstandings and disagreements over spiritual matters arise not out of genuine substantive differences but from differences in communication style. Oftentimes, a person will use a certain expression to make a theological point (no doubt picked up from his or her denominational background), while his or her discussion partner is made to feel uncomfortable or even offended. The problem of cross talking arises, and the conversation drifts from actual substance to one that gets bogged down in the gears of a diverging style of communication. Interestingly, the people involved in such discussions are not aware of what’s happening. They are only aware of the fact (at least in their own minds) that the conversation has been hijacked because the other person is “hard-hearted,” “closed-minded,” “biblically ignorant,” or “deceived.” If we can get a handle on the different spiritual conversational styles, we will better understand what people actually believe rather than focusing on how they communicate those beliefs (which can often drive one crazy!). In a nutshell, understanding the reality of spiritual conversational styles (SCSs from henceforth) can move us far ahead in the game of spiritual conversation. Talking about our SCSs is quite risky. Spiritual beliefs (theology in the broad sense) are very dangerous, for they strike at the heart of what we Christians hold dearest. We construct SCSs to arrange the ground rules upon which spiritual discussions can take place in a way that we find safe and comfortable.
Our SCSs help to insulate our conversations about spiritual things from those ideas that conflict with our own. In this way, SCSs enable us to tread upon the dangerous and terrifying ground of theological debate. Granted, my discussion of SCSs is subject to abuse. At worst, some may take this chapter and convert it into ammunition by which to stereotype and pigeonhole their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. At best, it will cause us to look at how we communicate about spiritual matters and encourage us to be better listeners. I believe the notion of conversational styles is useful because it helps explain why people can routinely misunderstand each other when they appear to share so much in common. It also provides a helpful window into understanding some of the common complexities we face when seeking to cross the line of theological distinctions. The world of psychotherapy has become such a successful industry in the West because most of us know very little about ourselves—particularly how we think, feel, and react, not to mention how we speak. Understanding SCSs can help us to make progress in how we hear and understand one another.
Keep in mind that identifying a particular SCS in yourself (or in another) is only half the solution to a theological disagreement. The other half is to transcend it and cross-communicate with those who hold to a different SCS than yourself. This is quite difficult, though it’s not impossible. Let me introduce you to what I believe are three of the most common SCSs. As you read through each one, try to populate it with people you have tried to converse with in the past. Hopefully, this chapter will help to spare you the agony of talking past other Christians when discussing spiritual things.

From Revise Us Again by Frank Viola, author

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reader Highlights from God's Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola

Jesus Christ is Resurrection, and He is Life. And if you outwait Him, He’ll eventually roll the stone away and raise you from the dead.

Kathy Hickey: This is a great book!

“Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about all of these details. There’s only one thing you need. And Mary has made the right choice. She has chosen the one thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary had breached a barrier by sitting in the men’s space. And on top of that, she sat in the posture of a disciple. Every teacher before or since had only male disciples.

Donn Sunshine highlighted:

Mark it down: Jesus Christ will sometimes wait until you are long dead. But then … when you least expect it … He will come leaping over the hills in some strange and unforeseen way to do what you never dreamed.

Donn Sunshine: if your going thru a tough time this is worth the read in fact it is anytime

Chisel it in stone: you can’t have a resurrection without a death. And you can’t know the transforming triumph of Christ without a crisis. You can’t know the hills without the valleys, and you can’t make a sailor with calm seas. We easily forget this when we’re going through the northeast corner of hell. A word of encouragement: if your foundations are in Jesus Christ, then you can weather the storm. You can endure the crisis. You can put your asbestos suit on and walk through the fire because you are standing on Him who is the Immovable Rock. Sometimes God will deliver you from trouble. Oftentimes He will deliver you through it.

Donn Sunshine highlighted:

Information doesn’t produce transformation. Suffering that leads us to embrace Christ does.
Donn Sunshine highlighted:

Herein lies an important lesson. If you make a home for the Lord Jesus Christ, hard times will come. Crisis will come. Suffering will come. Even death—in some form—will come.

Vince Maltempi: We have been given an ascendent life!

Christians aren’t saved from troubles or delivered from problems. We have been given an ascendant life to rise above them.

Donn Sunshine highlighted:

All service must flow from communion with the Lord if it is to have lasting value. All service must find its source in the life of Christ so it won’t lead to burnout or bail-out. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Donn Sunshine highlighted:

If you are a Christian, then, expect to follow in the footsteps of your Lord. You will know the scalding pain and heartbreaking disillusionment of rejection. How you respond, however, will determine if you become broken or bitter.

Donn Sunshine highlighted:

While brokenness is difficult, it’s beautiful because it makes God look good. Your natural gifts draw attention to yourself while brokenness draws attention to your Lord. With this in mind, power is dangerous in the hands of an unbroken vessel.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Outside the Institutional Church: Frank Viola

      Like many American male youths, I was taught that grown men don’t cry. If that’s true, then I’m a royal failure. Several things make me weep. I weep when I see other human beings grieving because of tragedy (my eyes brim with tears whenever I’m at a funeral). I weep when my heart is broken. I weep when I watch romantic films, especially at the end. (I cried for a solid week after I saw The Titanic. Call me a “sentimental fool,” if you like.) And I weep whenever I see a Biblical story portrayed on film, including animated ones.

      I also break into tears when I sense the Lord’s presence. This often happens when I hear the pure simplicity of a simple group of Christians singing to their Lord from their hearts. I used to be embarrassed about shedding tears during such times (I also know how to hide it quite well). I guess I’m still learning to accept it. (I’ve learned that tears are a precious gift. They open up our hearts, wash away resentful feelings, and soften our wills.)

      At the age of seventeen, I moved to Tampa and enrolled in college. During my university years, I tasted something of the experience of the Body of Christ. I met a small group of Christians who had the same hungry heart for the Lord as I had. We spent a great deal of time together.

      Dorm-room prayer meetings were a common occurrence. Sometimes, we would pour out our hearts to the Lord all night. We shared our struggles, our victories, our discoveries, and our endless questions. Many a meeting we would sing till our throats were horse.

      And sometimes I would weep.

      At the time, I didn’t know what we were experiencing. But looking back, it was an organic experience of church life in techno-color.

      A few years later, we discovered that each of us had played the same disenchanting tape of traditional church experience. So we formed an on-campus organization where we attempted to fill in what was missing.

      Under the banner of a campus-approved Christian organization, we held a weekly Bible discussion group that drew people from a slew of distinct theological traditions.

      For some, these open discussions turned into an exercise in abstract Biblicism and arcane academic reflection. For others, they were no more than a religious free-for-all where others got roped into endless (and mostly fruitless) debates over a variety of theological minutia.

      To my mind, they represented a profitable learning experience. They taught me the immense benefit of having an “interpretive community” to provide a rich and nuanced understanding of the Biblical text.

      Some people have the idea that only Bible scholars and theological sophisticates are qualified to rightly understand the Bible. I certainly believe that Biblical scholarship and theological sophistication are important components for interpreting the Scripture, but they aren’t the only components. I learned back then that a diverse group of Christians who possessed the Spirit of God is another important component. As my friend Hal Miller once said, “Just as war is too destructive to be left to the generals, so the Bible is too rich to be left to the scholars.” It requires an interpretive community.

      The Bible discussion group taught me the tremendous need for “judging all things” by Scripture. It also helped me to value the insights of other Christians, most of whom stood outside of the safe parameters of my own theological comfort zone. (Seeing through our own biases is not a strong suit for most of us. So it does us well when we are stretched in this regard.) The group also showed me the utter fruitlessness of swapping “proof texts” in order to win an argument.

      But perhaps most important, the discussion group gave me a taste of the spiritual dynamics of mutual ministry and open gatherings. They also urged me to try and master the rudiments of politeness and tact—something that doesn’t get enough air-time in modern religious circles.

      Through our mutual study of Scripture, I discovered the problem of confusing bookish knowledge with being grasped by the Word of life. And I came to see the specific tragedy of substituting the vitality of God’s voice in Scripture with certain rhetorical forms of argumentation and pulpiteering.

      In effect, it was through my experience with on-campus ministry that the Lord began to reveal to me something of the oneness of His Body, the principle of mutual ministry, and the importance of studying/expounding Christ through the Scriptures in a group setting. In looking back, I can readily see that the Holy Spirit was planting the seeds of Body life into my heart.

      Some years later, I made the surprising discovery that the times when I was growing the most as a Christian was when I was outside traditional church services. The strides I made in the Lord all seemed to take place in home meetings, dorm-room meetings, park meetings, restaurant meetings, coffee shops, on-campus meetings—all of them occurring outside church buildings. And oddly enough, all of those meetings were void of the presence of a professional clergyman.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Organic Churches

According to author Frank Viola, organic church is a term coined by T. Austin Sparks. Organic church is biblical, but there are problems in it also. Gene Edwards and Frank Viola have also used the term though their views and practices are very different from one another.