(CT) John Ortberg on Dallas Williard RIP–a Man from Another 'Time Zone'

Because Dallas wrote on spiritual formation and taught philosophy at the University of Southern California, one might think he came from a background associated with richness of education and culture and resources. In fact, he grew up in very poor circumstances in rural Missouri. His mother died when he was two; her last words to her husband were: “Keep eternity before the children.”

Because of impoverished conditions, Dallas grew up in a circle of different families; electricity did not come until he was mostly grown up.

He read a book by Jack London once that contained a passage describing the world from an atheistic point of view. Dallas said that he’d never known books could contain such thoughts and ideas, and his mind was never quite the same after that awakening. He was nine years old at the time.

Read it all.


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One comment on “(CT) John Ortberg on Dallas Williard RIP–a Man from Another 'Time Zone'

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks for calling attention to this, Kendall. Also thanks for the previous thread featuring Jeff Dunn’s collection of classic Dallas Willard quotes.

    The Christian Church has lost a giant. Except perhaps for his partner in leading the ecumenical renewal movement Renovare (from the Latin, “[i]to renew[/i]”), no one has done more in the last generation to foster deep and transformative spiritual formation and real discipleship than Dallas Willard. His many books, including [b]The Spirit of the Disciplines[/b] and my alltime favorite, [b]The Divine Conspiracy[/b], are destined to be known in future generations as the immortal classics that they are.

    Who will continue his legacy? In one way, the author of this fine tribute, PCA pastor and best-selling author John Ortberg, a protege of Willard, can be seen as partially continuing Willard’s ministry, but the former USC prof is essentially unique and irreplaceable. But what the Church needs most is not more great books explaining what radical discipleship looks like and the benefits of faithfully practicing the classic spiritual disciplines. More and more of those sorts of books are rolling off the presses each year, with Inter-Varsity Press taking the lead in publishing a growing number of them. No, we don’t need another Willard-style writer on the value of the disciplines for would-be disciples of Christ. What we so desperately need is more people like Willard who actually live as apprentices of Jesus Christ. Or put another way, what the Christian movement so desperately needs is more churches that are truly grounded in the practice of the spiritual disciplines. I firmly believe that the foremost need for the effective renewal of the Church in our day is not the renewal of preaching, or the renewal of the liturgy, or even the renewal of orthodox theology (although all of these things are ongoing needs and very important). No, the greatest need in the global Church today is for the renewal of the practice of the spritual disciplines, for that is the [i]sine qua non[/i] for fostering true and lasting spiritual maturity in Christ.

    It was Dallas Willard, more than anyone else, who convinced me that the greatest need in Anglicanism today, as well as the greatest need ecumencially, is to get more people practicing more of spiritual disciplines more of the time. There simply is no other way of producing mature, healthy, steadily growing followers of Jesus Christ. There are no shortcuts. There are no quick, easy gimmicks that can do the job.

    In the end, the greatest thing that can be said about Dallas Willard is that by all accounts, those who knew him best testify that he really did practice what he preached. Willard was the real deal.

    He will be sorely missed.

    May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

    David Handy+