Frank Viola author is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Given his prolific, scripturally-based and highly acclaimed work, Some regard Viola to be a theologian and scholar.
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An in-demand conference speaker and bestselling author who communicates the deeper truths of Scripture and the themes of God’s eternal purpose, the indwelling life of Christ, and the supremacy of Jesus, Viola has authored over six bestselling books. In 2010, he began writing a series of books on Christology with Leonard Sweet. He’s also coauthored books with George Barna and Mary DeMuth.
Frank’s podcast, “Christ is All” is often quoted and ranked in the top 2 of Christian podcasts on iTunes in both Canada (#1) and the USA (#2). He currently facilitates the Deeper Christian Life Network, a resource for those who wish to deeper their spiritual lives and connect with others who are on the deeper journey.
Frank’s blog, “Beyond Evangelical,” has ranked in the top 5 of all Christian blogs on the Web. He also writes for Patheos in the evangelical channel, one of the most widely read blogs in the world.
He has spoken in conferences throughout North America and Canada as well as South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Germany, Holland, Ireland, and Switzerland.
Author of more than 900 published articles, 120 podcast episodes, and over 20 books, Frank Viola’s publications include From Eternity to Here, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, Revise Us Again, Reimagining Church, Jesus Now, Jesus Manifesto, Jesus: A Theography, Jesus Speaks (with Leonard Sweet), Pagan Christianity (with George Barna), The Day I Met Jesus (with Mary DeMuth) as well as many other volumes on radical discipleship.
Viola was born into an American-Italian family in New Jersey in 1964. He moved to upstate New York where he grew up and then to Florida where he’s been living since he was a teen. His parents are second-generation Italians, finding their roots in Naples and Sicily.
Frank is a passionate and electrifying speaker. Part of this is due to his Italian heritage, part is due to his passion for the Lord.
When he was 16, he had a groundbreaking encounter with the Lord that left him hungry and thirsty for Jesus. From that point on, he immersed himself in Scripture. He was also baptized in water, publicly proclaiming his faith.
At 17, his Christian elders recognized his gifting to teach and preach. But he opted not to go to Bible school or seminary, however, feeling the Lord wanted him to enroll in college at the University of South Florida.
During his college years, Frank was part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which had a strong spiritual presence on campus. He later was instrumental in forming a new campus group called Full Gospel Fellowship with several friends. The Lord moved in powerful ways among the students during this time, resulting in healings, salvation, and deliverance. It wasn’t a revival, but the students experienced a taste of community with God present among them.
After graduating at the age of 21, he became a public school teacher. And on the side, he began honing his writing skills. During his tenure as a teacher, Viola led students to the Lord. He also led a Christian group on campus which led to numerous students being baptized in the name of Jesus.
Sometime later, Frank was engaged in debating atheists and witches on the pre-cursor to the Internet, the Bulletin Board system. During this time, he was asked to moderate a BBS discussion group, at which time he began writing articles on the church. The articles were thought-provoking explorations on what the church was in the first century compared to its present form. These articles formed the basis of his 2008 book, Reimagining Church, written many years later.
In the Church of God where he attended, Frank taught a class for young adult singles for several years. At age 23, he made the decision to leave the institutional form of church and began meeting in a simple form with a number of others. This group sought to find the expression of church as found in the New Testament. This church community met for 8 years.
In the midst of this time, two men visited the church and prophesied over the members. They gave prophetic words over Frank saying that one day he would plant churches that didn’t look like the typical church form. This word would come to pass in 1998.
In 1995, the church laid hands on Frank and sent him out to the Lord’s work (per Acts 13). For the next three years, he sought to build relationships with pastors in the town in which he lived. In April 1998, he laid the first stone of the foundation of a new church plant. His first message was “All Things in Christ.”
He would lay the groundwork for this new church plant, made up mostly of Christians in their 20s, for 17 months. Then he left it on its own for six months, following the pattern of Paul in the book of Acts. He didn’t take a penny from the group, but mended tents as a school teacher.
In 2005, Frank released his first book with Destiny Image, entitled The Untold Story of the New Testament Church (which will be revised and expanded in 2018).
Since then, he’s written over 20 volumes. His books integrate theology, spirituality, history, sociology, narrative, devotion, and vision.
In Pagan Christianity (2008), Viola and Barna trace the origin of contemporary church practices, asking the question, “are these practices a development to God’s ideal or a departure from it?”
The book has sold over 130,000 copies. The book is not a stand-alone title, however, but the first part of a series called ReChurch.
Reimagining Church (2008) is the constructive sequel to Pagan Christianity. Using history, scripture, experience and observation, it compares and contrasts the first-century church with the institutional form of church.
From Eternity to Here (2009) considered by many to be Frank’s opus, a titanic explications of God’s eternal purpose, the mystery hid in the Godhead from before time. A robust work of narrative theology.
Finding Organic Church (2009) is a elaboration of apostolic ministry. Church planting is dissected through spiritual principles and on-the-ground experience. A contemporary form of Allen’s Missionary Methods and Nee’s The Normal Christian Church Life for the 21st century.
Jesus Manifesto (2010) with Leonard Sweet addresses the problem of Jesus deficit disorder (JDD) and incarnates a solution.
Revise Us Again (2011) is a compilation of unique articles on the subject of transformation and spiritual growth.
Jesus: A Theography (2012) is a comprehensive unfolding of the Jesus story from Genesis to Revelation. This volumes blends Jesus studies with Christology, an accomplishment rarely attempted.
God’s Favorite Place on Earth (2013) is the first book in the new genre of biblical narrative. The story is told from the viewpoint of Lazarus and the meaning of Bethany, both for Jesus then and for us today.
Jesus Now (2014) is a fresh look at the 7-fold ministry of Jesus today. It answers the question, what is the Lord’s present-day ministry? What is Jesus up to today exactly?
The Day I Met Jesus (2015) is the second book in biblical narrative. The story is told from five women in the Gospels. Mary DeMuth is the coauthor.
Frank is working on three more published books and a number of new eBooks. Those volumes will be unveiled on his books page when they release.
Perhaps Viola’s most distinctive contribution is to articulate the deeper things of God, most notably, the deeper Christian life and radical church restoration. By probing the more difficult questions of the Christian faith, Viola seeks to give fresh answers, eschewing the canned answers offered by evangelicals.
While Viola is an evangelical himself, holding to the orthodox creeds of the faith, he holds to what he describes a theological points that go “beyond evangelicalism.”
Those points have to do with living by the indwelling life of Christ, the eternal purpose of God, the body of Christ in practical expression, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus.
Viola isn’t an advocate of human made movements, but of genuine moves of God. He’s pointed out that there have been two great movements in North America over the last two centuries. The revival in 1048 to 1952, and the revival in 1968 to 1972.
The word “movement” is used trivially today in Christian circles, and holds little substance when examined closely.
Viola’s theology is rooted in the orthodox creeds of the faith. This has garnered criticism from progressive Christians. Viola is not a fundamentalist and has decried the hateful spirit that marks many fundamentalists today and historically. But his theology is in fact conservative. Some of his theological influences are F.F. Bruce, N.T. Wright, T. Austin-Sparks, Dietrich Bonheoffer, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, and Craig Keener (who is a friends with).
Viola believes that at the center of the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom is the truth that Jesus is Lor. Viola asserts the Christology (which includes Jesus’s incarnation, life, teachings, example, saving and redeeming work in cross, resurrection and return) should define all spiritual activity and ministry.
He reframes disciple making in the context of church planting and living by the life of Christ, which indwells every believer.
For Viola, the church’s missional-incarnational impulse—which embodies the actions of Jesus incarnationally in the world—must be rooted in God’s Eternal Purpose. A theme that’s been lost to us today. Virtually of Viola’s work has the Eternal Purpose as its subtext.
Apostolic ministry—here Viola builds on the teachings of Watchman Nee, Howard Snyder, and Roland Allen, and Robert Banks when it comes to the apostolic calling and how it’s fleshed out in the New Testament. Primarily, apostolic workers preaching the gospel and raise up churches, then leave them to the Holy Spirit without erecting a clergy system to rule and run it.
Organic churches—in contrast with a centralized institution structures, the ekklesia is an interconnected organism that is void of hierarchical organization. Organic churches are those which are fueled by the life of Christ. Since 2010, Viola has since abandoned the term “organic church” which originates with T. Austin-Sparks because it’s been misused, muddied, and therefore has no coherent or consistent meaning today.
Viola’s theology is based in a narrative form rather than in a systematic form (which goes back to Aristotle’s method of thinking). The Bible is an eastern book, thus theology is narrative, built on story rather than linear, abstract thinking. This is why the truths in the Bible are paradoxical and seemingly contradictory to Western ears.
Christ is at the heart of Scripture, and in His life—being both divine and human—He embodies the paradoxical nature of Scripture.
Viola’s heart for the poor and the oppressed is well-known. He’s written many articles on the topic and has spoken about it in his podcast.
In a day when Christianity is shallow, trivial, and surface, the ministry of Frank Viola has lifted many believers to a higher view and experience of the Christian life, delving deeper into what’s available to the believing community.
For questions to Frank, email him at TheDeeperJourney@gmail.com
You can learn more about him through his official blog: FrankViola.org