If you've appreciated the writings of Dallas Willard, you will love this book. Jim Wilder, who worked with Dallas and his wife Jane over many years, frames this book around one of the last conferences Dallas spoke at before he passed away in 2013. Well known for his work describing the process of discipleship, the Heart & Soul conference was an opportunity for Dallas Willard to convene others to discuss best practices in the quest to achieve 'transformation of character.' The understanding he shares at the conference, about how people are made and how change towards Christian character can be facilitated, is foundational for us as individuals, leaders and disciple-makers.
Jim Wilder builds on Dallas's teaching in some significant ways. Wilder is a clinical psychologist and a co-author of Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You (an initiative of Shepherd's House). After wondering why it is that discipleship practices help some people more than others, he offers perspectives from neuroscience to substantiate and develop the teaching of Dallas Willard.
In particular, Wilder examines theories of attachment and suggests that salvation itself can be understood as a new and active attachment with God that forms and transforms our identities. He describes several characteristics of healthy attachment and offers scriptures to argue that the hesed love, mentioned repeatedly in the biblical texts, can be interpreted in these terms. Wilder explains the role of joy in the forming of attachment bonds, and how these bonds free us to experience true transformation.
Having read the book, you may find yourself wanting more of the 'how to' with regard to growing healthy attachment both personally and in your family or community. If so, you could check out additional resources available through Life Model Works. I did appreciate the materials in the appendix of this book, in which Wilder suggests monthly attachment-boosting activities to be shared in community over the period of a year.
If you long to know more about how real change can take place in the lives of individuals and communities, then this book is a must-read. If you want your congregation or small group to shift from acquiring 'right beliefs' to taking the journey of discipleship together, then this will be a valuable resource.
Publisher: NavPress, Colorado Springs (2020)