Having read The Divine Conspiracy by the same author, I bought a copy of this work to find out what was next in the life of a Christian. Once one realized that Jesus was not offering only a "get into heaven free" card, and that the Christian life involved action and effort on the part of the believer, I thought this book would help with learning about and teaching the Christian life. I was disappointed by what I found. The author is very successful in describing the Christlike character, but the reader is left without any meaningful guidance on how to "put on" such character. The author says going to church is not enough, and encourages familiarity with the life and teachings of Jesus, but beyond that the reader is on his own; as the author says in one of the perfunctory closing chapters to the book, "there is no effectual response to our current situation except for the children of light to be who and what they were called to be by Christ their head." As for how that happens, the author stresses that it is the work of God and encourages readers to "take the trouble to know" the "Christian past" which "holds a huge store of information on spiritual formation." So don't buy this book thinking that you are going to learn anything specific about how the church has actually formed believers spiritually - the author leaves that to the reader. No references here to the classical stages of spiritual formation-purgation, illumination, and union-or the means associated with that journey-prayer, alms, charity, meditation, and contemplation. The author seems most focused on the renovation of the mind rather than the renovation of the heart. This is one of the author's books in which his psychological and philosophical training dominates the analysis.
This book would be most helpful to an evangelical Protestant Christian who is trying to understand the various changes that should occur in the heart, soul, and mind of the believer as one lives the Christian life. Others might find this book to be thin gruel, especially after reading the author's magnificent work, The Divine Conspiracy. An alternative approach might be found in You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K.A. Smith, or After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, by N.T. Wright.