|Author Frank Viola has just released his newest book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth.
Here is a review.
From David Fitch, Reclaiming the Mission.
I’ll admit it, Frank Viola is an enigma to me (I mean that in the most flattering of terms). His writings have significant influence in worlds I intersect with. They often provoke on issues of the church that I resonate with. He says things I would say but with more friendly prose. He says them provocatively and knows how to get the message out. Like notice how many reviews there on Amazon for his book Pagan Christainity. I have friends who hate a book he writes one year, and love a book he writes the next. He writes on many topics close to my theological agenda. I was particularly curious with what he was trying to say with Beyond Evangelical.
How does he do this? Provoke yet charm? Speak into such huge issues and get people to listen to him? (I wish I could do this!). And you never know what he’s going to do next. So when he asked me to blurb his book God’s Favorite Place on Earth I go “cool” let me take a look. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. This is what I mean when I say Frank is an enigma: unpredictable in his writing.
This book is a “trip” back to the village of Bethany, the town of Lazarus. It’s an encounter with Jesus in the neighborhood (I wish I had used that line in the blurb). It’s a devotional but it also takes pains to be historical. The premise of the book is simple: when Jesus was on the earth, He was rejected everywhere He went . . . from Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to Jerusalem. The only exception was this little village of Bethany. Frank unfolds how Jesus walks and becomes known (and loved) in Bethany beginning with Lazarus death. We find ourselves in the middle of the story. And within each little piece of the story, Christians are led through the struggles we all face in our everyday lives.
I so appreciated the book I wrote the following blurb for it:
“More than a devotional, better than an academic study, God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a deeply moving pastoral book that will build your faith. Turn its pages slowly, pause between chapters and allow yourself to be immersed into the world of the New Testament. Prepare yourself for an encounter with Jesus the Galilean yet the very Son of God.”
David Fitch, B R Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary, author of Prodigal Christianity
According to Frank Viola’s ReChurch series, when the church functions according to its nature, it offers:
• interdependence instead of independence
• wholeness instead of fragmentation
• participation instead of spectatorship
• connectedness instead of isolation
• solidarity instead of individualism
• spontaneity instead of institutionalization
• relationship instead of programs
• servitude instead of dominance
• enrichment instead of insecurity
• freedom instead of bondage
• community instead of corporation
• bonding instead of detachment
by Jonathan Merritt
Frank Viola is a leading Christian author who has never shied away from difficult conversations. For example, his book, Pagan Christianity, has been outlawed on some continents for its scathing indictment of the structure and construct of the church. His ability to navigate difficult waters has led him to write more than a dozen books–including one of my 10 favorite books of the last decade, Jesus Manifesto–and has made his blog, “Beyond Evangelical,” one of the most visited Christian blogs in America.
This week, Viola released his newest book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth. The book takes a fresh look at Bethany, the one town where Jesus was always well received. In this interview, we talk about the new book, his view on women in the church, and accusations from some that he has moved outside of Christian orthodoxy.
Would you elaborate on that? How is it different, and why are they so significant to you?
FV: From Eternity to Here is a 320-page volume in which I seek to unveil the grand mission of God from Genesis to Revelation. It’s the kind of book that packs a lot of information on every page, so readers routinely ruminate on the chapters and take their time absorbing the content, not because it’s academic or hard to read, but because it’s so dense. One of the first readers of the book made this all-too kind remark about it: “It’s an exegetical treasury. Every page is densely packed with deep spiritual insights.”
By contrast, God’s Favorite Place on Earth is a quick and easy read. It’s a work of biblical narrative, I tell the story of Jesus in Bethany through the eyes of Lazarus. After Lazarus speaks, I make specific applications for our lives today. The book addresses 18 specific problems that we Christians face.
I crafted the book to be something that would a fun and exciting read, but one that was insightful and practically helpful as well. Leonard Sweet summed up his view of the book by saying that it’s “part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study.”
In addition, I had two first-rate New Testament scholars (Craig Keener and Joel B. Green) read the book in order to ensure faithfulness to Scripture and first-century history.