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Christian Author and philosopher, Dallas Willard died today at the age of 77, after announcing earlier this week that he was battling cancer. I wrote about his book The Divine Conspiracy, just a couple of weeks ago. His books on spiritual formation and discipleship were a major influence on me and thousands of others. Along with many others I mourn his passing.  He will be greatly missed.  Below you’ll find a copy of his bio taken from Wikipedia.

Dallas-Willard-Quotes-2

Dallas Albert Willard (September 4, 1935-May 8, 2013) was an American philosopher also known for his writings on Christian spiritual formation. His work in philosophy has been primarily in phenomenology, particularly the work of Edmund Husserl. He was Professor of Philosophy at The University of Southern California.[1] 

In addition to teaching and writing about philosophy, Willard gave lectures and wrote books about Christianity and Christian living. His book The Divine Conspiracy was Christianity Today’s Book of the Year for 1999.[4] Another of his books, Renovation of the Heart, won Christianity Today’s 2003 Book Award for books on Spirituality and The Association of Logos Bookstores’ 2003 Book Award for books on Christian Living.[5]

Willard believed passivity to be a widespread problem in the Church (loosely summed up in his phrase “Grace is not opposed to effort {which is action}, but to earning {which is attitude}”).[6][7] He emphasized the importance of deliberately choosing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (someone being with Jesus, learning to be like Him).[8][9][10] An important outgrowth of the choice to be identified as a disciple of Jesus is the desire to learn about activities that aid spiritual transformation into the likeness of Christ.[11]

In this regard, being an apprentice of Jesus (someone being with Jesus, learning to be like Him), involves learning about activities that might help one grow in the fruit of the spirit, namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).[12][13][14] Such activities might include spiritual exercises practiced throughout the ages such as prayer, fellowship, service, study, simplicity, chastity, solitude, fasting.[15][16] Willard explains the crucial role of engaging in spiritual exercises in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives—a book that was written after In Search of Guidance: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.

Willard has a recommended reading page on his website listing specific titles by Thomas a Kempis, William Law, Frank Laubach, William Wilberforce, Richard Baxter, Charles Finney, Jan Johnson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jeremy Taylor, Richard Foster, E. Stanley Jones, William Penn, Brother Lawrence, Francis de Sales, and others.[17]

He was influenced by many, including Jacques MaritainAquinasAugustineP.T. ForsythJohn Calvin and John WesleyWilliam LawAndrew MurrayRichard BaxterTeresa of AvilaFrancis de SalesBrother Lawrence, and the Rule of St. Benedict.[citation needed]

He served on the boards of the C.S. Lewis Foundation and of Biola University.[18]

 

                                                                                                                         

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.” – Dallas Willard

“The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes- a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power. The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message too low.” – Dallas Willard

The 4th book on my list is Dallas Willard’s The  Divine Conspiracy.  

Divine-Conspiracy

The Divine Conspiracy is a Masterpiece, pure and simple. Though my list of 15 spiritual formation books come in no particular order, I will say that this book changed my life, and when I thought of making this list, it was the first book I thought of (and always is since I first read it thirteen years ago). It isn’t a devotional book though it is deeply spiritual. Nor is it a “how to” manual, although it is pragmatic and instructive, which shouldnt be surprising since Willard is a brilliant thinker and renowned teacher. In The Divine Conspiracy Willard gives contemporary christians  a vision of what meaningful spirituality and discipleship is and what it looks like in practice. It’s a brilliant presentation of a Christian worldview of authentic Christian discipleship in the world. Richard Foster, author of the contemporary spiritual classic Celebration of Discipline says of Willard’s book:

“A masterpiece and a wonder…the book I have been searching for all my life…I would place The Divine Conspiracy in rare company indeed: alongside the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Wesley, John Calvin and Martin Luther, Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen, and perhaps even Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo. If the parousia tarries, this is a book for the next millennium.” – Richard J. Foster

High praise, I know, but much deserved.  Christianity Today named Willard’s book their 1999 Book of The Year, but it’s really one for the ages. Read it and find out why.

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