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Despite the title laden with all kinds of connotations, this is a phenomenal book. The book is really the summary of a conference put on by Willard and his friend/mentee John Ortberg. The conference was for pastors of churches and it turned out to be Dallas Willard's last work before he died.
I listened to the audio of the conference (which was at least slightly edited from the conference) and flipped through the book, reading about half of it in review. The book is also cleaned up a bit from the audio version.
1. I'm currently on a quest to discern what it is about my conservative christian roots that is so off-putting to myself and others.
2. I've always been fascinated by Dallas Willard being such an influential christian while his day job had him in the philosophy department of a major university (USC). From a couple of comments from my Aunt who recently listened to this I decided to start here, at the end of his works.
If Dallas Willard had a church, I think I may enjoy it. There are 2 really important pieces from this book that make me think I would enjoy a community with Dallas Willard leading it.
1. There is a recurring idea letting go of control in almost every aspect of christianity. One of the most gripping examples is when he speaks of himself as a young pastor: "I thought the way to move someone was to make them feel, not provide them with knowledge." He has since learned that making someone feel is manipulative, and providing someone with knowledge is empowering. If there is any single piece keeping people out of conservative christianity, it is probably this one. He states the problem and applications in a few different ways throughout the book and states it well. Do your best and let go.
2. Willard (and Ortberg) puts a lot of emphasis on life now rather than life after death. "Your kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven" so we are not leaving to go to heaven, heaven is coming to earth. I think between Dallas Willard and NT Wright's influence the conservative christian church is doing a lot better job of this.
John Ortberg was a big part of this conference. It seems pretty obvious his goal was to make Dallas Willard accessible and applicable to the pastors in the audience. I think he splits his time accomplishing that goal and also pulling the listeners back towards an organizational, application-at-all-costs misunderstanding of what Willard is saying. Careful not to treat people like machines rather than people/friends Ortberg! Suffice it to say I skipped through a good portion of his talks. At one point Ortberg makes a joke while interviewing Willard that was clearly not the time for a joke, but Ortberg missed the depth of what Willard was saying. I think it was cleaned up in the book, but you will probably notice it if you listen to the audio.
Not too long of a book/audio, highly recommended for anyone interested in a "sense of pervasive well-being" (willard's definition of joy) or anyone wanting to better communicate the message of Christianity.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Much of what is in this audio book was not new to me because I've studied the Bible for many years. However, what I did find wonderful is the refreshing honesty of the characters. I have a new outlook on living out my faith that was seemingly right in front of me all this time... I even stopped to post many ideas from the author on FB in attempt to bless someone with the wisdom.
thank you and i will be buying all Dallas Willard's books...
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Willard was a great sage and prophet. This audiobook bristles with hope and life in God's kingdom. Some moments are especially poignant - for instance when he quotes from Newman's hymn, Kindly Light, as he contemplates his own imminent death. Willard knew he was dying of cancer when this audiobook was recorded. What a great man he was. Well done, good and faithful servant....
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This was made not long before Willard died, and so much of his discussion, about entering into hope and the Presence, has an extra poignancy. But the best talks are actually those by Ortberg : he takes the depth of Willard, and makes it so approachable. A fabulous conference that I feel truly blessed to have shared in, via this recording.
Timely, profound and wise words to the church! The unique teaching and subsequent dialogue between Dallas and John make this a rich experience. Worth listening to more than once.