Martoia Ron. Transformation Architecture. Reshaping our lives as narrative. Zondervan. 2008.
R.M.- a transformational architect. His passion is helping people and the organisms they serve to design, build, and experience revolutionary change.
It has been said about the church’s mandate to the world that ‘the methods must change but the message never changes’. Ron comes very close to suggesting that even the message may have to go through some form of change. “Our understandings surely do” (217) change. His goal in this book is to help us do a better job of connecting with people about spiritual things. He focuses on God’s story, beginning with Genesis one not Genesis three (the fall). This is God’s narrative which needs to impact man’s (our) narrative. Ron uses the architecture metaphor to help us understand how we are designed and how we can more effectively connect with how others (our pre-Christian friends) by understanding how they are designed.
Our spiritual conversations and our spiritual lives are the result of interplay of “context, biblical text, and human text”. (19) The context of our present culture is one of quantum change that requires a relevant response from Christians (Christianity). Values surrounding relational, reality, action and shalom have changed in a world that is no longer a Newtonian world but a quantum world. Information that does not result in change is of little value. Churches are not exempt from this challenge. “We are living in the beginnings of a second axial age.” (47) The first one took place around 800 to 200 B.C.
Evangelicals have followed the game rules of the modern world and “reduced the Bible to a set of propositional principles”. (61) The result is fundamentalism. This destroys the valid narrative of God’s story. “The essence of the Christian story is that of selfless service, love, compassion, and care. Coercion, control, and power are not part of this equation.” (70)
The ‘human text’ is best represented by what is commonly described as “the American dream world”. (74) The author calls it “the Gerbil Wheel Tale”. (79)
To effectively enter into God’s story (narrative) will require a transformation (Transformational Architecture).
We begin with Genesis one through “story teller’s eyes and with story listener’s ears”, (93) not with a scientific approach. The impact and importance of our being made in the image of God, “image dei” (108), cannot be over emphasized. This needs to be the starting point of our spiritual conversations not the fall, judgment, etc. of Genesis three. Our uniqueness in creation was motivated by God’s love and it is still part of each human.
God can be viewed in three ways, (“1P, 2P, 3P”- (115) the God within- first person which is man in God’s image-image dei, the God without- transcendent and “other” (109), and the God of creation. It is important to maintain a balance of these three views.
Sharing the gospel (good news) should be more about conversation than conquest, more about relationship than a rational debate (making a sale). “We choose the stories that define ourselves.” (157) God’s story has the capacity to reshape the brokenness and distortion of our lives. “Being made ‘image dei’ is God’s architectural design that drives our desire for the very things God provided in the Garden of Eden.” (177) The America dream is an example of how we try to accomplish that on our own. We want life to have purpose, meaning, and hope. This should be the starting point of our spiritual conversations with a commitment to demonstrate unconditional love. We can progress with that conversation on the assumption that there is a yearning to “believe, belong, and become” (198).