Many of our readers know the name Dallas Willard. He is a professor of philosophy at University of Southern California, has taught at UCLA, and is generally known as a thoughtful, balanced, wise, and important guide to the inner life and the practical details of following Jesus. His name often comes up associated with Renovare, the contemplative ministry of Richard Foster et al. His practical stuff on how to grow spiritually, how to literally see God effect change in our lives, is some of the best written in this area. As Os Guinness says in a blurb in Willard’s brand new one, “I know no one like Dallas Willard who can express profound things so simply and simply things so profoundly. I never fail to benefit from his writings.” Other writers of spiritual formation that we admire—Ruth Barton, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster–offer rave endorsements too. A new book by Willard, you should know, is very good news.
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship is what might be called a “Dallas Willard reader” as it is collection of various pieces he has done elsewhere. Or, if you prefer, call it a greatest hits collection with bonus tracks, previously unheard stuff, bootleg cuts and unplugged versions. None of these chapters is fully new, but they’ve never been compiled before. Some were previously published in popular sources (like Christianity Today or Leadership) while others were found initially in less well-known journals (Christian Scholar’s Review or the Journal of Psychology and Theology and one was intially in a Korean magazine.) Some were found as speeches or as chapters in other anthologies. Here, they seem coherently woven together like a new book, flowing naturally from one section to the next. The theme, as the title implies, always comes back to this: why the disconnect between what is promised in the gospels–transformation!–and the real world in which Christians are feeble and ineffective? What are the consequences of our ommission of discipleship from our ministries? How is it that we have failed, in the grand words of Steve Garber, to “weave together belief and behavior”? If we are meant to be inhabited by God so we can live like Christ—think of Romans 8:11—then how can the God-empowered life be seen, personally and publicly? What does it look like to be that kind of disciple? Why does it seem odd to many to say we are an apprentice to Jesus?
Richard Foster is clearly one of the most important writers on spiritual formation and whole-life discipleship writing today. His breathy forward to Willard’s 1998 best-seller, The Divine Conspiracy still stands as one of the most positive raves of a book I’ve ever read; Foster insists that it is a modern classic, that it will go down with the great books of all time. Well, even if he is only half-right, that makes it surely one of the most important books of our time. The Great Omission is a fabulous follow-up to that, or a fabulous introduction to the wise mind and good heart of an author who is surely your ally. You should know his work, follow his ideas, and be blessed to see God “renovate your heart” as Willard puts it. We are offering his new collection on sale, now. See the BookNotes blog special below.
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings On Discipleship Dallas Willard (Harper SanFransico) $23.95
This month only
Mention that you saw this on the BookNotes Blog