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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new life with Jesus Christ
"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...
Published on October 22, 2002 by William G Heatley

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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too academic for my taste
I loved the Divine Conspiracy. I enjoyed The Spirit of the Disciplines. But this book I didn't really enjoy all that much. I can work with a philosophical style of writing as I sometimes slip into that mode too much myself. But this book seemed too academic and anticeptic to be of much help to me.

Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing a point of theology just a...
Published on September 5, 2005 by Neil


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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new life with Jesus Christ, October 22, 2002
By 
William G Heatley (Oak Park, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (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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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christian Perspective on Human Personality, May 14, 2003
By 
Mitchel J. Olson (Encinitas, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (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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86 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, May 21, 2003
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This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
I am returning ...to 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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Foster says must read, January 7, 2003
By 
Edwin Elliott (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (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. The Bible could not accomplish what it needed to accomplish and do it systematically. But we do need to understand what the depths of the person are, and then we need to relate this to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its transforming power. Then we need to relate all of these matters to the larger social realm. All of this is given with precision and care in Renovation of the Heart.
Have you gathered by now that I (Richard Foster) hope you will get this book? Even more, I hope you will read it carefully and prayerfully . . . even more still, I hope you will apply it to the warp and woof of your daily life.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Green vegetables for the Christian soul, June 14, 2002
By 
Tom Hinkle (Tulsa, OK USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
Dallas Willard's previous book, "The Divine Conspiracy" wowed me with the brilliance of its insight and analysis. "Renovation of the Heart" lacks that "wow" factor. It is a book that, like green vegetables, is good for you and even necessary for healthy growth, but what's good for you is not always what is the most appetizing.
Willard is correct when he asserts that spiritual growth does not just happen, that one has to work at it. Using the VIM model (vision, intention, and means), he presents the tools for meaningful spiritual formation. Willard does a painstaking analysis of the interrelationship between the six human dimensions: thought, feeling, will, body, social context, and soul. The analysis is so thorough that the casual reader may be put off by such attention to detail.
It is understandable that some readers may find this book rather dull. However, if you take your time to grasp all the concepts presented here, it will pay off. It may take a certain amount of spiritual discipline to even finish this book, just like it takes discipline to eat all your broccoli, but it is ultimately rewarding. Don't despise what's good for you.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by Lawrence Davis, April 26, 2006
By 
Lawrence Davis (Austell, Georgia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
RENOVATION OF THE HEART: A READER ANALYSIS

OVERVIEW

Dr Willard, through his book Renovation of the Heart, continues to build upon the principles of spiritual transformation that were presented in his previous book, Divine Conspiracy. Willard conclusively demonstrates the need, opportunity, and availability for spiritual transformation within the Christian community. He establishes the ideal of spiritual life as a life where "all of the essential parts of the human self are effectively organized around God, as they are restored and sustained by Him." This goal, however, can never be achieved without a radical transformation of each dimension of the human self, which is the primary focus of the text.

OBJECTIVE OF SPIRITUAL FORMATION

Willard begins by setting the parameters of "spirituality" and spiritual formation. Willard presents spiritual formation as "the process leading to an ideal end, and its result is love of God with all the heart, mind, and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself." Yet,

he warns that spiritual formation "is not a project of `life enhancement.' It is the process of developing a different kind of life, sustained by God as a new reality." Full formation is only accomplished when the human self is completely integrated under God.

This topic is underscored with an emphasis on the necessity and value for proper spiritual transformation for each believer. Throughout his discussion, Willard makes it clear that spiritual transformation is not just a mystical illusion; it is readily attainable for all who seek it.

OBSTACLES TO SPIRITUAL FORMATION

After establishing the biblical precepts of spiritual transformation, Willard once again insightfully isolates and analyzes the core "hindrances" and "entanglements" that prevent most Christians from experiencing spiritual transformation. He begins his work by making a definitive examination of the function of the human will (includes heart and spirit), body, soul, and mind in relation to the total person. Additionally, he correlates the interaction and influence that each has on the other. He completes his observations by emphasizing the proper roles that God intended for the will, body, soul, and mind that will result in a proper relationship with Him and a Christian life characterized by joy and peace. This study in turn is carried forward to show the proper connection that spiritually-healthy believers should have within the local church congregation.

ORDER OF SPIRITUAL FORMATION

Willard provides an orderly pattern for spiritual formation, which can be utilized by believers at every level of maturity. He uses the short acrostic VIM to provide the foundation for his plan. The "V" represents the vision in the life of the Kingdom. Willard writes, "the vision that underlies spiritual (trans)formation into Christlikeness is, then, the vision of life now and forever in the range of God's effective will." The "I" signifies the intention to be a Kingdom person. This intention is only brought to completion by a "decision to fulfill or carry through with the intention." Finally, the "M" denotes the means for transformation. This includes using the guidance and wisdom of the previous generations of Christian saints that chronicled their own spiritual journey.

CONCLUSION

Once again Willard has taken the reader to new spiritual heights. Naturally, only a small vein of the goldmine of insights found in this book has been properly mined. Yet even with only a limited understanding of Willard's text, this book has revealed the biblical precepts and ideals of spiritual formation in a new light. There is not doubt that this book, if it receives the proper exposure within the Christian community, will serve as a valuable tool for a multitude of other Christians in their own spiritual journeys!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, March 17, 2007
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This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
Of all of Willard's books, this one was my favorite.

Willard offers a systematic study of the nature of being, and then proposes a pragmatic approach to setting the hear back on course to purity and submission to God. A human being, he says (p. 30), is composed of thought, feeling, choice, body, social context and soul. He states plainly (p. 41), "It is the central point of this book that spiritual transformation only happens as each essential dimension of the human being is transformed to Christlikeness under the direction of a regenerate will interacting with the constant overtures of grace from God. Such transformation is not the result of mere human effort and cannot be accomplished by putting pressure on the will (heart/spirit) alone."

Fundamental to this project is first dying to self, taking up the cross, and living in self-denial (chapter 4). We must then go through a process like learning a new language. The general steps he summarizes in the acronym VIM: vision, intention, means (p. 85). These are a vision for kingdom life, the will to do it, and the means to carry it out.

The rest of the book is structured around a look at the transformation of the mind (chapters 6-7), will (8), body (9), social context (10), and the soul (11). The work of the mind involves being cognizant of the ideas and feelings that drive our society and our personal lives. Instead we should be renewed with love, joy, and peace in the inner life. The work of the will involves surrendering our will to God's, and then moving from abandonment to contentment. Here the spiritual disciplines bring to light our duplicity on these matters. The work of the body means realizing the over-emphasis we place on it and the need to cease idolizing and misusing our bodies. The work of our social context involves noting the use of assault and withdrawal that characterizes our relationships (p. 181). Lastly, the work of the soul, which Willard defines as the unifying factor of them all, is best summarized in Psalm 1. We are to be renewed into new beings who happily fulfill the law of God.

Again, I said this was my favorite of Willard's works. I'm not sure any of the rest of them so thoroughly transcend from the theological to the practical without missing a step. The systematic study of human nature is all-inclusive. He lays out a blueprint of a kingdom vision of what the human being (emphasis on being) is. The very nature of humanity, from the state in which we find it to the place it is supposed to be, is spelled out here. The enormity of the work is amazing for such a readable text.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buried Treasure, January 23, 2003
By 
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
Dallas Willard is a philosopher who often writes on Christian themes. As with many philosophers, this book is not an easy read. He starts with a description of the spirit, mind, body, social, and soul aspects of humans. This can become confusing and cause a casual reader to lose interest. However, the reader who persists will strike gold. Willard quickly challenges the simplistic two-dimensional view that is so prevelant in American Evangelical Christianity and replaces it with a depth that has the reader thirsting for a deeper understanding of God. This is not the "theological junk food" that is so often found in Christian bookstores today. This book can start the reader on a path to a transformed life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Formation Step by Step, November 8, 2003
By 
Brian G Hedges (South Bend, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
Renovation of the Heart is a step by step guide to spiritual formation, in which Dallas Willard talks about how to change in mind, heart, body, and soul. Willard has a wonderful grasp of the psychology of human beings to which he applies his insights from Scripture in teaching us how to put on the character of Christ. If you have ever wanted to get beyond doing the right things to being the right person, if you long for transformation not just in your external behavior but in your automatic responses, if you want to avoid not only committing acts of sin but being driven by sinful desires, you can hardly afford to miss this book. It is one of the most powerful books on transformation available today.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on spiritual formation I have ever read, January 14, 2004
This review is from: Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Designed for Influence) (Hardcover)
Most books on spiritual formation are superficial and/or offer cookie cutter formulas for how to grow. This book presents a well thought out formulation of the human personality that is consistent with scriptural teachings and then offers practical advice on how to surrender all aspects of that personality to Christ so that we might become like him. The practical advice is not formulaic but suggests the types of thinking, praying and actions one should consider in trying to develop into a more Christ-like person. I read it too quickly the first time and now I need to go back through and absorb it more carefully. Dallas has set forth a sound theory and a sound method to slowly grow in the image of Christ, which is refreshing in a culture of fast food spirituality.
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