It is evident in the rising rate of divorces among Christian couples. We find it in the high percentages of Christians, even pastors, who regularly view pornography. And we face it each time a well-known leader in the Christian community is found in sexual sin or handling finances dishonestly. Perhaps you have struggled with your own character issues for years, even decades, to little avail. That's good news. You can experience significant growth in your Christian walk, shed sinful habits, and increasing take on the character of Christ.
In Renovation of the Heart, best-selling author Dallas Willard calls it "the transformation of the spirit"- a divine process that "brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God or the kingdom of God." In the transformation of our spirits, we become apprentices of Jesus Christ.
©2002 Dallas Willard; (P)2002 christianaudio.com
Dense material that was well-worth the listen. I have a friend that is reading the book, and the Audible format was comparitively easy to understand. Dallas Willard is a deep thinker, and has reasoned through his presentation with conviction and straightforward talk with no apologies.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Dallas Willard is one of the originators of the modern spiritual formation movement. Willard, and his protege, Richard Foster, have done much to refocus the Evangelical world on spiritual disciplines and intentional focus on spiritual growth.
Renovation of the Heart is the most comprehensive book I have read by Willard on the why and how of truly changing (and he means heart, mind and actions). As I read the book, I kept thinking of Paul’s thoughts in Romans 7:15 about doing what he does not want to do and not doing what he wants to do.
Willard responds to this common frustration not by creating a five step program or some other silver bullet, but a fairly detailed discussion of what it means to really change. This is a fairly dense book. I spent more than three weeks working on it and really I am not sure how to review it.
On the positive side, there is real spiritual wisdom here. On the negative side, there is a lot of rabbit trails and it could have been organized better. I also listened to the book as an audiobook read by Willard himself. He is not the best reader and I think even if he had been a good reader, this is content that should be read in print, not listened to on audio.
I am planning on re-reading it in a little while. I was given this in hardcover a while ago, and then picked it up on Kindle when it was free, but it wasn’t really until recently when I have become more interested in spiritual direction and spiritual formation that I really had much interest in reading it (and picked it up on audible when it was on sale).
Over the past couple months I have been meeting with a spiritual director and this book was helpful to the discussion of our last meeting. It seems I keep having the same revelation but it wasn’t really until reading this book that it sunk in. Knowing something is important, but knowledge by itself does not create change.
One of the more helpful sections (which again, really wasn’t new, I just heard it differently) was about becoming a different person. Not through willpower, or correct knowledge but by becoming the type of person that is the type of person that does what you want to do. We do this in part by actually just doing what you want to do, knowing you are forcing yourself and not always doing it willingly. And creating the discipline it takes to actually change.
Personally I am extraordinarily undisciplined. But I intellectually know that my spiritual growth is lessened because I am not consumer of scripture as I should be (I like reading theology and history, and even commentaries more than scripture itself.) But the way I become a consumer of scripture is in part by being a person that intentionally sets aside time to read scripture. In some ways it is pretty easy. But Williard is clear that while we have a role, spiritual growth is not about willpower. It is about being open to God working in us as we respond to him.
Williard is setting aside space after conversion where we need to respond to God. This is not about justifying ourselves to God or saving ourselves by our own works. Salvation is something else. Sanctification (or progressively becoming more like Christ as some others put it) is voluntary. We can choose to participate with the Holy Spirit in our transformation.
And I think this is where so many get uncomfortable. They emphasis salvation by Grace to the extent that they can allow no role for us. Willard and Foster and others are careful to emphasize that we are not saved by our own works (although some others still believe we have some role in accepting our salvation), the emphasis here is after salvation. That is not to say there are not dangers of legalism or spiritual pride. Legalism and spiritual pride are always the dangers of spiritual growth. But we cannot refuse to progress spiritually because there is a danger of sin.
This is not a book I would recommend to someone that is starting on the spiritual formation investigation. It is too dense and meandering and always careening on the edge of spiritual danger because Willard is assuming a fairly mature believer as the reader.
One example of this is that Willard repeatedly emphasizes the need for a church grounding as we focus on spiritual formation. But so much of the book is written to the singular you. In an interview in Discipleship in the Present Tense, James KA Smith talks about the difference in approach between him and Willard. Smith very clearly respects Willard, but Smith believes that Willard can be easily read to place the role of the individual above the role of the church.
And I agree with Smith, throughout the book, even with his frequent comments about the church, there is an underlying individualistic focus. I think a mature believer can read that and give proper weight to Willard’s warnings. But many would read Renovation of the Heart as justification for why they should leave their dysfunctional church and go it alone because they are ‘much more serious about spiritual growth than any church they know of.’
Frankly I am not sure I am spiritually mature enough to get what I need to be getting out of this. So I will ruminate and come back again later.
originally posted on my blog Bookwi.se
This book is absolutely stellar. Being able to listen to Dallas read you his own wise thoughts on the renovated life, is like having Dallas personally coach you. I have found it an absolutely refreshing way to absorb his awesome material.
The chapter on the role of feeling was particularly profound.
This is my first one, but I absolutely guarantee it won't be my last!!
No, it made me want the kind of inner life that is described.
I love Audible.com!!
I am a fan of Dallas Willard and have read or listened to most of what he has written. That's why this book was so disappointing. His content, as usual, was erudite and enriching, but I could hardly finish the book. I had to fight continually to concentrate on the content since, my brain was continually wandering from lack of auditory stimulation. Willard chose to narrate this book himself...a bad choice. His voice is slow, dull and completely lacking in vocal dynamics which are so important in keeping a listener's attention. Just because you can make good sense out of the text, does not mean you can engage a listener's ear and hold it. To achieve that is an art which too many authors of audio books refuse to recognize. I will never buy another of his books if he is the narrator.
Yes. I have listened to it several times now - more than six at least. And 'Yes' my first impression is changed. Once I got into the 'Heart' of Renovation of the Heart, it's hard to walk away from a heart worth renovating.
The one who gave this book a single start and then got sold out on it with not enough stars to give it.
where the reader thinks this book is not for them only to find that the end up with not just the book, the 'daily practice', the audio (synchronised on all media devices), AND the ten audio CD disk set for the car - wait there is more - the head phones also ! Thank you Dallas Willard - for both - the book and the audio.
It's packed with renovation in every nook and cranny - any one looking for spit and polish? expect to get more out of this deep and meaningful 'experiment in spiritual transformation'.
I apologise for my first feedback - it was untaught. I know better now. Thank you Dallas Willard.
Please continue to produce audio versions of ALL your books. (I have a few and I keep coming back to this one)
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