Practicing the Way of Jesus

Mark Scandrette's alter-ego, Preacher A.L. Withee
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…

  1. …new vision.
  2. …new experiences.
  3. …establishing new patterns of thought and action.
  4. …group encounter and reflection.
  5. …good examples and guidance.
  6. …failures, setbacks, mistakes and persistance.
  7. …the likeness of Christ by the power of the Spirit.
  8. 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.

Jesus Dojo from Recycle Your Faith on Vimeo.

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  • Good work, Mark! I love that he is not simply a leader in thought, but in action and practice…hard to argue a theology of transformation.

    He is also a good friend and I’m looking forward to others sharing in his insights and experience. Time for you guys to get back in the RV for another Roadshow?!

  • Helpful. Short/sweet. Something usable. Thank you. I can map these practice points to wild and stochastic disciplines in no-law-land of ADR for clients stuck in the hell of adversarial antagonisms, but who stop long enough to ask to pray. New vision (#1) is at a premium. The word of the Lord is otherwise as rare as in Samuel’s day. And death means dying for lack of it. In practice. The rest seem a bit less like a step-wise discipline and more like cascade from there (#1). And willingness.



  • great video, and a good promo as now I want to clunk down 12.99.

  • Dan Hauge

    I’m genuinely curious, Tony–just what possibility *do* you see for human trnasformation? And if the answer is ‘not much at all’, what kind of hope does the Gospel bring for us? Is the future purely an expectation of more of the same of what we now see? And if so, in what sense can Jesus redeem us, or creation, at all? Don’t mean to be overly contentious, I’m just honestly curious what your conception of ‘redemption’ looks like if personal (and therefore social) change isn’t really possible?

    Oh, and I really apppreciate Mark–got to meet him recently at a book party, and his heart for what he does is inspiring. Looking forward to going through the book.and

  • John Edmond

    The book sounds interesting. Tony, a constant repetitive characteristic of your blogging is telling you reader that you know the person you are blogging about.

    It is kind of like if I was blogging about Transformers and I were to mention that I knew the director of photography.

  • I would like to hear your critique of Dallas Willard’s view of the person / human heart.