April 26, 2011

Review: Revise Us Again by Frank Viola

Frank Viola has given us a dandy little tune up in Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script. In this very readable volume, Viola brings to light with great simplicity many of the areas wherein we, the church, have followed the wrong script and are now paying the price of those wrong turns we've taken. Viola shows us that we have been scripted since day one in "churchianity." We all have these scripts, yet we all want to follow Jesus. So, we want our scripts to fall in line with Him and His Way. The first step in doing this re-scripting is to acknowledge that there is the possibility that our learned scripts may not be perfect or complete. It is a powerful thing to be willing to examine our scripts and then to revise them in accordance to the Way of Christ. This is not always pain-free.

God's speaks to us in a variety of ways, but our religious conditioning allows us to hear only in that one conditioned way. In the same vein, we Christians tend to speak our own dialect - Christianese. Both of these areas need revision - both the way we claim God talks to us and the way we talk to each other. I loved the way Viola demonstrated the varied uses and meanings of Christianese. For example, "Let me pray about it" is Christianese for "No. The answer is 'No' but I don't have enough integrity to just say 'No' plainly."

Another area in which we need revision is our perspective of the Gospel. Our Gospel is too small, too restricted. It needs to be fuller. Viola lists several areas in which our Gospel should be expanded: 1) It needs to include the reality of an indwelling Lord living His life through us. 2) It needs to include an understanding of the greatness of Christ. 3) We are falling far short in our grasping of the eternal purpose of God. 4) We must come to understand how to live a fully human (reborn) life. And 5) Christ must reign as the radical center.

Viola goes on to discuss how we experience the felt presence of God. His discussion of the "Dark Night of the Soul" is fascinating and beneficial. His chapter about being captured by the same spirit we oppose is worth the price of the book all on its own.

How we live out the Christ-life is so very important. If we miss the fullness which God intends for us, it not only means loss for us personally, but also for everyone we encounter, for our families, our church fellowships, our entire world. It is high time we stripped our script down to Christ alone. In doing so we will find that our scripted Christ is way too small, that our pursuit of Him is too weak and narrow. But there is a fuller life, a fuller story available for anyone. It all depends on how close our script lines up with God's story.

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