At last I've finished the book. I did set out to summarize each chapter but....
The end of the book Viola makes an important statement::
If you have understood and accepted the message of this book, then you have drawn two significant conclusion:Agreeing or disagreeing with this statement is a good way of summarizing this book.
- The institutional church as we know it today does not reflect the church that God originally intended.
- The church that Scripture envisions is organic in its nature and expression, and the Lord desires to recover it today.
There are a number of responses to this statement.
If you an evangelical who takes the majority of scripture as literally then I think you have to agree with the statement. Churches as we know it are not scriptural but have been shaped by humans.
If on the other hand you are a Christian of a "progressive" or "liberal" bent. Then Viola's forceful argument does not sit as well. The traditions and sacrements in the Church in themselves have value and significant Spiritual significance.
Personally I think the small group is a better way in which community develops. I also like the idea of the 'priest-hood of believers'. I also find meaning in a lot of the traditions and sacraments within the church
One last comment on the last Chapter, which I don't think was neccessary in the book. Viola has a go at most of the main large grouping of evangelicals. He has a go at the 'Vineyard', through the 'Third wave, restoration' label. (Who would know what 'third wave' meant why not just say who the churches are....).
....most third-wave-restoration churches have put the cart before the horse. Namely, they have sought to possess the power of the Spirit before they have gone under the flesh-severing knife of the cross.
I'm not sure what he is trying to get at. There are plenty of examples of the Spirit coming along doing stuff prior to any knowlege of the cross eg pentescost. Anyway what anoys me is 'I've got friends in this movement, blah blah blah. I think he should have just left the chapter out instead of grand genralisations.
Otherwise its a great book if you are in the evangelical camp.
If you want to see my chapter summaries they are here