After reading Frank Viola's fuzzy, out of focus account of the Church and God's Eternal Purpose, I couldn't help going back to an old Apostolic book on the same theme. Thomas Ree's The Divine Masterpiece started life as a series of Bible readings at the Penygroes Convention in 1943. Despite the fact that it wasn't originally intended as a book, Rees is a lot more careful and nuanced than Viola. In fact he explicitly rejects many of the errors Viola makes. While Viola's book may be up to the minute and in a contemporary style, Ree's book has the substance. Here's just a little taste:
The Church is the delight of God. Eph. i, 4,5, reads: 'In love having predestinated us unto adoption, by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His Will.' Why did God choose a church from the human race? Why not choose from among angels of spotless character, unstained robes, and undefiled garments? Surely he had much better material to reflect His Glory, and to manifest His power than poor, helpless and sinful creatures ... But had He done so, there would be still one of the most glorious attributes of God unrevealed, and that is His Grace. To have a Church, there was a demand, not only for power and might, desire and will, but for grace; and not only for grace ... but 'riches of His grace' (Eph i, 7).
Unfortunately there are probably not too many copies of Rees still around.