In Memorium: Dallas Willard (1935-2013)
Among all of the busyness of this week’s news cycle came the sad news that Dallas Willard passed away on Wednesday of pancreatic cancer.
Dallas Willard was a professor of philosophy at USC and at one time was the director of that department. He was also one of the greatest Christian thinkers/theologians to emerge within the last fifty years. He has been described by many as the “modern-day C.S. Lewis.” I wholeheartedly agree with that characterization.
Dallas Willard is quoted as saying that when God called him to be in the university setting God spoke to him and said, “If you go into the church, the universities will be shut to you, but if you go into the universities the church will be open to you.” Only in heaven will we see how many numerous individuals he helped lead to the knowledge of Jesus by obeying that call.
I first began reading Dallas Willard’s writings less than a year-and-a-half ago. I began by reading The Divine Conspiracy followed by The Spirit of the Disciplines. Both of these works have profoundly shaped my walk with Christ and have helped me grow immensely. I gained greater understanding and wisdom regarding the Kingdom of God through reading his works.
Additionally, Willard’s chapter in The Spirit of the Disciplines on poverty provides the single greatest refutation of the current destructive ideology of class warfare from a spiritual and logical point of view that I have ever read. All of this despite it being written several years ago. Dallas Willard also had tremendous insight into what ails the Christian church today, which he presents in a logical and matter-of-fact manner that reveals his passion for living as a follower of Christ.
He had his share of critics and those who disagreed with him. Even I did not always agree with all of his conclusions. But that never took away from the immense benefit I received from his teachings. Though I never met the man, I could almost imagine that he would not be overly thrilled if someone agreed with him on every point. I rather think he would challenge you to seek God and do what He says.
Dallas Willard will be greatly missed, but I know that today he is with the God who he so greatly loved. May God raise up more like him in this country.