A Brief Review of TRANSFORMATIONAL ARCHITECTURE by Ron Martoia
[ This book was sent to us as part of The Ooze‘s Select Blogger Program…]
Ron Martoia’s new book Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives As Narrative came as somewhat of a pleasant surprise. After reading the publisher’s blurb on the back cover, I almost didn’t read the book at all:
“How can I more effectively reach people of my
generation with the Message of the Gospel?”
Quite frankly, this question wasn’t one that interested me. However, I do know that publishers often add blurbs like that, which they think will aid the marketability of the book, but in reality may not be a fair representation of the book’s content. So, I decided to give the book a chance, and I’m glad that I did. Transformational Architecture is an insightful guide to making the shift from talking about our faith in propositional language to talking about our faith in terms of narrative. Over the course of the book, Martoia demonstrates that he has a solid understanding of this cultural and philosophical shift, citing thinkers from Derrida to Lyotard to Ken Wilber. This book is valuable for encouraging us to think about the language with which we think and talk about our Christian faith in a post-Christian culture. However, the theological content of what Martoia wants to communicate with new language seems pretty fixed in traditional individualistic evangelicalism. Thus, it seems that although Martoia has made a smooth transition in thinking bout HOW we talk about our faith, it seems that he has not made the shift from a theology rooted in individualism to a theology rooted in the gathered people of God (cf., Rodney Clapp’s A Peculiar People.) Fundamental to Martoia’s theology is the “personal life history,” the story of an individual’s life, which seems to be primarily a modern philosophical construct, rooted in the personal autonomy of the age of Enlightenment. The importance of an individual’s story shines most clearly in Martoia’s chapter on the “Imago Dei.” Here, he botches the interpretations of a number of New Testament passages in service to his individualism, often implying that plural uses of “you” in certain passages of the Greek text should be read as singular ones (e.g., Col. 1:27). While Transformational Architecture might be useful for helping pastors and other leaders in evangelical churches understand the shifts in Western culture over the recent decades, its blindness to the theological shifts of our age will ultimately render it little more than putting fashionable new clothes and makeup on a corpse.