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Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) Hardcover – May 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Although Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart is an accessible handbook for learning about spiritual formation, it's not lightweight by any stretch of the imagination. It compels the reader to take in the concepts slowly, underline important passages, scribble notes in the margins, and slowly absorb and put into practice the ideas Willard espouses. "Although there is much talk about 'changing lives' in Christian circles, the reality is very rare, and certainly much less common than the talk," writes Willard. But, he adds, no one need live in spiritual and personal defeat. Rather, the way of change is through inner transformation and taking the small steps that lead one to it. Beginning with an introduction to spiritual formation, he then outlines the avenues through which transformation takes place, including thoughts, feelings, choices, social context, the body, and the soul. Each chapter concludes with questions for personal or group reflection. Read it once, then keep it close for further reference--it's a book that will continually refresh a spiritual journey. --Cindy Crosby

From Publishers Weekly

Willard (The Divine Conspiracy), a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California who is also a Southern Baptist minister, here tackles the central Christian question of how to be more like Christ. He claims that the church's failures throughout history are a result of Christians' reading biblical passages that adjure them to Christ-like perfection and then trying to reach that perfection by behaving more perfectly. Instead, he argues that believers should allow God to transform them internally so that their actions, though never quite perfect, will at least be more aligned with God. Willard delineates six areas of such transformation thought, feeling, will, body, social context and soul and delineates a general process toward transforming each. The book's chapters are divided into very short subsections, which, especially in the first four chapters, are inchoate as Willard struggles to explain exactly what the "heart" is and why it is important. Though trained as a philosopher, he does not explicate philosophical discussions over, for example, human nature, settling instead for saying that "we cannot deal with [them] here." Such a position contributes to the book's early incoherence and to a consistent lack of support, and, therefore, power. However, many evangelicals will appreciate his fresh and less guilt-ridden approach to Christian spiritual growth. The book is heavily Bible-based, provides discussion questions and includes a chapter on spiritually transforming congregations as well as individuals.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Designed for Influence
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NavPress; First Ed 1st Printing edition (May 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576832961
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576832967
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By William G Heatley on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Dallas Willard changed my life with his book Divine Conspiracy and his guidance in Renovation of the Heart has drawn me ever closer in my relationship to Jesus Christ. Dr. Willard's thoughtful style and incredible insight into the heart and soul of human beings has helped me to see where I have kept myself from being a true disciple of Jesus. When asked if they are Christians, many people cite their denominational affiliation. The true question is one of the heart or spirit. Can we, through an inner transformation of our heart, mind, soul, and being, be transformed into Christlikeness? Can we heed his call and follow in his footsteps? In Renovation of the Heart, Dr. Willard explains that "we must never forget that the indispensable first step in caring for the soul is to place it under God.... Spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself." Moreover, "Our walk with Christ, well learned, is a burden only as wings are to a bird or the engines are to an airplane". Dr. Willard speaks to those seeking a better understanding of their spirit and how it can be radically transformed into Christlikeness. If you truly intend to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, if you truly want to see your life made new, if you desire to have the kingdom of God be a right-here-and-right-now experience, then this book is a must read and I'm sure that you will be as passionate about it as I am. One word of caution; reading Renovation of the Heart and embracing the concepts and ideas held inside will radically change your life (just as Jesus intended). "
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Mitchel J. Olson on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In a culture awash in psychology, Christian perspectives on the human personality have been sadly lacking. Dallas Willard has entered this void with his characteristic incisiveness, overarching vision, unique insights, and wealth of footnoted resources. The purpose of Renovation of the Heart is intensely practical - assisting Christians in becoming Christ's disciples. Willard's premise is that by better understanding ourselves, we can better participate in God's transforming work in our lives. Renovation of the Heart complements three earlier books by Willard: A Divine Conspiracy, Spirit of the Disciplines, and Hearing God. A Divine Conspiracy describes Christian discipleship and underscores its centrality and importance in Christ's own preaching. Spirit of the Disciplines outlines specific spiritual practices that are foundational and even indispensable in changing our thoughts, feelings, and actions to conform with those of Jesus. Hearing God addresses the loss of an intimate, conversational relationship with God in the contemporary church and how such a relationship can be recaptured and cultivated. Renovation of the Heart methodically explores the multiple dimensions of human personality and provides direction for participating with God in the renovation of the whole person. It is, as with all of Willard's books, dense with thought and meaning and requires careful, prayerful reading. For the diligent reader this effort will be well rewarded. In an age of stifling confusion about what it means to be human, Renovation of the Heart brings clarity, hope, and specific suggestions that will be of invaluable assistance along the journey toward likeness to Christ.
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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Loarie VINE VOICE on May 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am returning order four more copies of "Renovation of Heart" by Dallas Willard.
A prominent member of the University of Southern California Medical School and his wife introduced me to Willard three years ago by giving me a copy of "The Divine Conspiracy." I enjoyed the book immensely. (I have since bought four copies of it for others) Once done, they suggested I get a copy of "Renovation.." I did so in mid-2002 but took a year to get around to it. Wish that I had read it sooner.
I have just finished reading it and can report that I found the book totally absorbing. I am a business executive and find Willard's words relevant to the times, not just in business, but for all walks of life in our society.
I was going to skip the last sections on the Congregation but ended up reading them. I am glad I did. He makes some great points on what Churches should be, as many have lost their way.
Those of us who consider ourselves part of the Church can work not only for our own "Renovation of Heart" but for that also of the Church. Willard shows us what to focus on.
There are other reviews here that do a better job in reviewing content. My purpose is only to say that this book is not just for members of the religious, or those who consider themselves religious, but for all.
I have gained immensely from reading this book...a book I will read over and over again.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Edwin Elliott on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
See below for what Richard Foster (renowned author of _Celebration of Discipline_) has to say about this stellar book.
I (Richard Foster)want to stress the importance for you of Dallas Willard's new book, Renovation of the Heart. I want to be sure you know what a treasure this book is. To a small group of us Dallas once said '(and here I am quoting him from memory)', "Without a proper theology of God and a proper ontology and anthropology of the human self, religion will always degenerate into superstition or legalism, and often both." Well, Renovation of the Heart gives us the very best "ontology and anthropology of the human self" found anywhere.
This teaching is so very important. Today people throw around words like "soul," "spirit," "heart," "will," etc. without the slightest idea what they mean. Well, this book explains exactly what such terms mean. It gives us a clear, biblical understanding of the depths of the human self. Even more, it gives us a clear, biblical understanding of how our inward selves can be deeply transformed so as to take on the character of Jesus Christ.
You see, we all have been spiritually formed, but usually our formation has been in very bad ways. Indeed, we are "de-formed," if you will. And we need to be "re-formed," that is to say, we need reformation. Even more, we need "trans-formation."
But to effectively and consciously enter into this spiritual forming, re-forming, trans-forming process we need a clear understanding of the human self. An ontology and anthropology of the self. Exactly what is the heart, the spirit, the will, the mind, the body, the soul? How are they to be spiritually re-formed and what is their role in our overall spiritual formation? Now, this understanding is given to us in Scripture, but it is not given systematically.
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