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In this Issue

FRANK VIOLA THE REFORMER


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FRANK VIOLA THE REFORMER

The Untold Story of the New Testament Church?
The Original Pattern for Church Life and Growth
Finding the Organic Church
A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities.

Such exotic words “Untold” “Original Pattern” “Comprehensive Guide” “Starting and Sustaining” “Authentic” “Christian Communities” these terms coined by modest Frank regard his discoveries so grabbed my attention I simply had to share some comments on his book “Pagan Christianity”.

Don’t be beguiled. Search the scriptures and see if what he says is true. Paul commended the Bereans for their diligence. Acts 17:10-11. What Frank’s says isn’t new. Is been tried unsuccessfully before?

With the support of close friend Jon Zens, Frank argues his case for the corporate approach to God in Homes which he stresses was the manner in which the first Christians gathered to learn about Christ.

Gene Edwards, Frank’s mentor for a number of years also stressed “the corporate” approach to things spiritual. In Pagan Christianity p237 Frank claims that the phrase “Personal Saviour” reinforces a highly individualistic type of Christianity which the New Testament knows nothing of. A “just me and Jesus” Christian style faith is totally unscriptural says Frank to his doting followers.

Frank likes the word “organic” (where life grows spontaneously) out of the soil of a House Church environment. This is what he says will take place in the type of gatherings he promotes. He envisages the mobile ministries of Ephesians rising up in this “organic” environment facilitated by a “church planter”.
The “Church Planter” is essential if the launch into the type of corporate gathering he describes is to be successful. Before we go any further, get this quite clear, Frank is the “Church Planter” of his model and makes no apology for it. The platform for taking our communities for God is his Model.

Frank, Gene, and Jon, are anti-the Pentecostal experience preferring their “powerless form” to Paul’s way. 1 Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: Col 2:4 And I say this, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 2 Tim 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”.

Frank’s view strikes right at the heart of the Pauline revelation; the mystery hid from the foundation of the world but now revealed by His holy apostles and prophets which is “Christ in you the hope of glory”.

Paul states in Gal 1:15 16 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Paul’s experience was very personal.

The personal pronoun is used time and again with regard to our relationship with the Father and the Son.

None of the patriarchs or their posterity under the Old Covenant called God Father in a personal sense; not even Moses. But now since Calvary He is not only Christ’s Father but He has become “my Father” and yours too. The Father is no longer the unique sole possession of one Nation but He is the Father of every redeemed soul of every tribe kindred and tongue since Calvary.

Pride of race was replaced by love mercy forgiveness and grace. Genealogy no longer applied, but to the contrary it became a hindrance to His former subjects. Race now counts for little. The spirit of grace replaced the spirit of nationalism at Calvary. Our entrance into the Kingdom is not via Jewry, but through Christ the door. The Kingdom ceased to be the possession of one nation to become the habitation of every individual that has accepted Christ as King in every sense. The door into the Kingdom was thrown wide open by Christ. The Pharisees were never opposed to anybody joining the church but to Gentiles ‘entering the kingdom’.
Christ has many there already, and will admit many more Jew and Gentile one at a time before He returns.

It’s a level playing field, and it is open to as many as will accept His invitation.
Christ’s invitation to come and be saved is deeply personal. We are born one at a time. It’s the same with natural multiple pregnancies. A corporate only approach to God is insupportable in scripture.

Let me state very clearly that it’s good and pleasant to come together: But that is no reason to form a congregation in a house (or any other location) for regular services for the purpose of sustaining authentic communities as advocated by Frank in his book Pagan Christianity.
What came first the congregation or the Kingdom? If the KOG is first the congregation is a bi-product secondary to the King. We have put the congregation and its leaders before the King. The congregation then becomes the platform for all proclamation of the KOG. The service becomes the primary focus, and the KOG secondary.

Frank says “Christianity is intensely corporate”. Christianity is a life lived out among a body of believers who know Him together as Lord and Saviour”. That’s true but only to a measure because who knows the heart of another save the spirit of that person. The numbers of those betrayed by false brethren is legion.

The “Church Planter” is the keystone to Frank’s reimaged wineskin. Yes you guessed, “Frank the planter” has put together a package that his sycophantic followers can emulate. His philosophy is absolutely essential if a church plant is to succeed. The “Planter” and “a house” is the key that makes it happen and holds it together. Like his mentor Gene Edwards he has designed a gathering with a culture that is impractical and mystical at the same time. I say mystical because what he proposes defies logic.

The ideal that exists in Frank’s mind is a Pollyanna-like event where each one intuitively knows what to do, say and sing in a euphoric atmosphere. It must have happened once upon a time because that’s what they strive to produce each time they gather. Read Frank’s articles, what I say is true. But it won’t ever happen because that isn’t in the mind or purpose of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told the woman at the well you don’t need a method or a special location.
It’s not where when or how that matters, but with whom and for what purpose that matters.
Here are two good reasons for gathering as far as can be seen, and that’s to sup with Him at His table, and to edify and provoke one another to love and good works.

This caption on the back cover of “Pagan Christianity” says:
“ Frank Viola is a high school Psychology and Philosophy teacher. In his spare time he plants house churches, speaks at church life conferences and authors books on Christ and His church”.

At least he is more modest than Thomas Fitts (but not by much) who claimed God told him to plant 1500 house churches by Christmas several years ago.

I am reminded of Ephraim who was like a half baked cake. On fire and burning on one side, (he got the double portion when Jacob prayed over him in Egypt), but turn him over and he’s a half baked cake, underdone and tacky. He was completely unreliable. He stood with the house of Saul and rejected David as King. Being armed with bows and arrows (the most sophisticated of weapons of that day) he ran away from the battle. I’m not saying Frank will run away, but his ideas won’t be around for long because they simply don’t work. It’s just another “Fad” to add to all the others that have plagued the Body of Christ during my lifetime. His dream will not materialise.

Ecc 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment (anointing oil) of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
If you ever attended a Gene Edwards conference as I did, you will know what I am talking about? The manner in which he ran his meetings was bizarre. He manipulated us closely together to sing and pray. Like packing down a Rugby scrum, we pushed and shoved to get close together. I’m sure that anyone walking into the gathering unprepared would have labelled us insane.

A definition of insanity: is to do the same thing again and again and expect a different result.

Frank Viola rejects the notion that Jesus is the complete “personal” Saviour of each individual who repents and turns towards God to confess their sins and put their trust in Him.
Quote: the phrase “personal Saviour” is used so pervasively (insidiously) that it seems biblical says Frank in Pagan Christianity. He says how ludicrous the use of “personal” is by giving absurd examples. Go to Google and look for yourself it’s free.

Frank is certainly a chip of his old block Gene when he talks the way he does. Gene has tried unsuccessfully to demonstrate his model on how to gather for 40 years but with little to show for it.


Gene’s great contribution has been the manner in which he has assisted countless Christians to escape religious prison houses via the books he has written. But methinks that Frank, like Gene before him has gone a step too far. You don’t have to be a genius to see problems that make you feel you want to vacate a sterile system, but my dear brothers and sisters these brethren do not have the answer; because only HE is the answer. We can start to walk with Christ in His Kingdom here and now; but without the infilling of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:4 it is impossible.

The Pentecostal (second experience) is especially anathema to these brethren.
Jon Zens took great pains to express his position with pages of diatribe directed against the Pentecostals and Charismatics in general after I wrote to ask him directly what his and Frank’s position was on the second work of grace. His reply was lengthy and negative.

The command to tarry in their Jerusalem for the “Promise of the Father” of whom Jesus said “I told you when I was with you” Acts 2:4 is not for Frank and Jon.
It seems they prefer to rely on their smarts and plant house churches to get the job done.
John 14:16-18 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: “I will come to you”.

Don’t go anywhere until you have been endured with power from on high said the “Master”.
Then when “the promised Holy Spirit” arrived on the day of Pentecost Peter said to the gathering, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off; to every one whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39.
Like his Baptist connections Frank Viola has a “form without the force”.
Paul says to shun any form that denies the dynamic of God, further to this he said turn away from them.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and in my preaching there were no honeyed words of wisdom, but I was dependent on the power of the Spirit to make it clear to you: So that your faith might be based not on man's wisdom but on the power of God.

Frank finds the “personal walk with the Lord approach” to Christianity unpalatable. He goes on to say in “Pagan Christianity” that the phrase “Personal Saviour” and the classic "Sinner's Prayer" which appears in the “Four Spiritual Laws” Lord Jesus I need You; I Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Saviour and Lord. I Thank You for forgiving giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life and make me the person You want me to be” is yet another modern innovation out of the ethos of 19th-century American revivalism.

Jesus said “come unto me all you, that’s every single one of you, one at a time, and I will give you rest”.
“ If Christ isn’t personal to each one of us, all the time, then He isn’t All in All, to any one of us, at any time”.

Let me say very clearly that it’s good and pleasant to come together: But it is not a reason to form some kind of corporate entity in a house for regular services for the purpose of servicing or sustaining saints as advocated by Frank in his book.

What’s happened is the “Congregation became the Kingdom”.
Their Kingdom is an institution governed by Young men and women. The people are processed and maintained by THE weekly service. The vast majority in their Kingdom don’t know the King.

 

 

 
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Shaun Kearney
en engape!