I just finished reading Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love by Mark Scandrette. It’s an eminently practical book about real, lived spiritual formation in Mark’s ever-changing ReIMAGINE community in San Francisco. For years, Mark has invited people to join him on days- or weeks-long experiments, many of which fall under his concept of the Jesus Dojo (described by Mark in the video below).
What I’m most interested in when reading a book — especially one, like this, written by a friend of mine — is what I can decipher about the underlying theology. I happen to know a lot about Mark’s theology, having spent the better part of the summer of 2008 on an RV with him. And here’s what I’d say:
One of Mark’s core theological convictions that comes through loud and clear in the book is that human transformation is truly possible. Some of us may doubt this. Whether we’re Reformed and think that a person’s fate is prelapsarianly predestined or just Freudian and think that we are who we are, many of us are skeptical about the the human potential to change. But not Mark.
Pages 76-82 are, IMO, the theological heart of the book. There Mark lays out the way that transformation happens:Transformation happens through…
- …new vision.
- …new experiences.
- …establishing new patterns of thought and action.
- …group encounter and reflection.
- …good examples and guidance.
- …failures, setbacks, mistakes and persistance.
- …the likeness of Christ by the power of the Spirit.
- Transformation is rooted in the heart.
I would say that in the last characteristic, and in Mark’s subsequent description of the human “heart,” you can see how Dallas Willard has influenced his thinking. (I, on the other hand, do not subscribe to Willard’s view of the person.)
Overall, this is a great book. It’d be very useful for personal study, and even better for group use. I highly recommend it.