Dallas Willards Book, Renovation of

. . . Disagreements have only to do with what in our spirit needs to be changed and how that change can be brought about” (p. 14). One of the more interesting observations by Willard concerns the inability of humans to achieve this transformation in isolation from God. In this regard, Willard emphasizes that, “It lies beyond the reach of programs of inner transformation that draw merely on the human spirit — even when the human spirit itself is treated as ultimately divine” (p. 20).

Fortunately, despite the formidable constraints, obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of humans seeking to grow in Christ, Willard also notes that this transformation is possible when people take the initiative. As Willard puts it, “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” (p. 22). Certainly, it would be a foolish enterprise to try to know the mind of God, but aligning the inner self with that of Christ is not only possible, it should be the ultimate goal of all Christians (Willard, 2002). These inner aspects of the renovation of the heart are the essence of what Willard is positing. Indeed, Willard points out that, “External manifestation of Christlikeness is not the focus of the process, and when it is made the main emphasis, the process will certainly be defeated. That is what happened so often in the past, and this fact is a major barrier to wholeheartedly embracing Christian spiritual formation in the present” (p. 23). By concentrating on transforming the inner self to become aligned with that of Christ, then, Christians who are struggling with their spiritual formation and growth can truly transform themselves in meaningful ways.

Because all human actions originate in the heart, Willard points out that, “Profound transformation is the only thing that can definitively conquer outward evil” (P. 24).


The research showed that Willards book, Renovation of the Heart, provides some valuable guidance for Christians who want to grow in Christ and more fully experience the grace and glory that are available to all. Because people are difficult to change, though, the transformation that is needed to achieve this growth has eluded many Christians in the past, and Willard suggests that the same thing is taking place today and will continue in the future unless and until people reach out and actively make the effort needed to align themselves with the inner self of Christ in ways that will allow a natural outpouring of Christlikeness. Finally, the research also showed that despite the difficulties that are involved in achieving this fundamental transformation, the rewards that accrue to those who succeed make the process not only worthwhile, but indispensable to Christians.


Leffel, G.M. (2007). Emotion and transformation in the relational spirituality paradigm Part 1.

Prospects and prescriptions for reconstructive dialogue. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 35(4), 263-265.

Moon, G.W. (2002). Spiritual direction: Meaning, purpose, and implications for mental.

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