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The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God Hardcover – March 24, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

Dallas Willard, an acclaimed theologian and professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, fulfills the longing of many Christians who want to live as true disciples of Christ rather than distant dabblers. Likewise, he scoffs at consumer Christians who are simply banking on admittance to heaven as their payoff for attending church. Or worse still, those who use Christianity to advance their political agendas rather than their spiritual ones. But this is not a scolding book. Rather, Willard devotes his efforts to discussing specific and inspiring ways to develop a discipleship to Jesus--not as an act of sacrifice or even one of spiritual luxury--instead, as everyday people committed to the teachings of Christ. "The really good news for Christians is that Jesus is now taking students in the master class of life," writes Willard. "So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentices in kingdom living, not just as consumers of his merits." --Gail Hudson

From Library Journal

Willard (philosophy, Univ. of Southern California) considers popular Christian belief to be missing out on the essence and origin of its true meaning. Since "consumer Christianity" mistakes the logo for the logos, today's brand-name Christians have jumped on a bandwagon that has run off without its true leader. The imitation of Christ has lost its central importance in Christianity, according to Willard. He examines reasons why this is so and sets out a detailed plan for reawakening such commitment, which requires a genuine willingness to die to self in contrast with mere consumption of Jesus' merits as an insurance against death. Willard's passionate insights are thoroughly argued, though not all may agree with his curriculum for changing people's beliefs. Most suitable for pastoral collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060693339
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060693336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

356 of 374 people found the following review helpful By JCC on July 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
During my apologetics class, professor J.P. Moreland said that we (his students) MUST check out this book. Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline) calls it "the book I have been searching for all my life" (makes it sound like the "silver bullet book"). I found Divine Conspiracy to definitely live up to this hype.

The title refers to God's conspiracy to undermine evil with good. Among other things, Willard discusses the fundamental problem of nondiscipleship in the church, what it looks like to be Christlike (with an excellent exposition of the beatitudes and sermon on the mount), what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ, how to become disciples of Jesus and how to make disciples of Jesus.

Prior to reading the book, I thought I was well on my way towards becoming a mature disciple of Christ. After reading it, I've discovered that I'm nowhere close to where I thought I was. I realized that I have a real long way to go to becoming the kind of person who is so secure that I don't seek to find faults and weaknesses with people.

I also have gained tremendous new insight into how I can more effectively make disciples and how local churches could do the same.

The Divine Conspiracy is a comprehensive, practical, meaty, challenging, and extremely helpful book which I pray will be widely read.
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175 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Micah Newman on December 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I had heard the name of this book dropped here and there, always seemingly with some special excitement that stuck in my mind. So when I saw it in the store I decided for some reason I needed it. Just one of those things where the Spirit leads and you don't know what's happened until later.
Dallas Willard's grasp of the Christian life as exposited by Christ himself, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, is absolutely compelling. Willard mildly castigates both the theological Right and Left for, respectively, emphasizing saving faith alone in the Christian life as though how we live our lives on earth doesn't really make a difference, and preaching a 'social gospel' bereft of the spiritual or eternal significance that gives it its meaning or moral impetus. He then goes on to put forward a very vivid picture, using a wonderfully consistent and contextual view of Jesus' teachings, of what God intends for our lives here on earth. The author's treatment of the subject seems entirely original and unfettered by the various passing trends of thought that seem to color so many Christian books, and as such also sounds almost radical. But read it for what it is, and you'll find it to be as clear and natural an interpretation of Kingdom living as you'll ever hear.
I can hardly imagine a more welcome book for my own spiritual life, and expect it may be so for others too. I would put this book on a par with C.S. Lewis; perhaps even higher since Dallas Willard has crafted a work of not only intellect, but great applicability. This book seems like a life's work, and if so, then I'd have to say it certainly seems to have been worth it. It can be difficult, out of the deluge of Christian books out there, to pick one out as absolutely essential, but as far as I'm concerned this would definitely be such a one, and I ardently hope others find it too.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L Edelen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Divine Conspiracy" is one of the more unusual Christian books I have ever read, as it attempts to deliver a contemporary, systematic theology that won't overwhelm non-theologians. The author, Dallas Willard, does a very good job of capturing a topic that eludes many Christians: "What does it mean to truly live in the Kingdom of God?"
The primary source of Willard's theology is the Sermon on the Mount. By examining this sermon of Jesus' in light of Jesus' own perspective of the Kingdom of Heaven, Willard posits a fresh thinking about Jesus' commands and His reasoning behind the carefully chosen words of the Sermon, particularly The Beatitudes.
The conclusion of this examination is not so much that Jesus is adding to the expansive set of Mosaic laws, but that the Lord is merely showing how a person who dwells in the Kingdom of God acts and believes. Legalism brings no life, in short, and Jesus already knew that. He is instead saying that as we come to live more in God's Kingdom and less in the world's corrupted kingdom, what we see in the Sermon is how our lives will be.
The exegesis of the passages Willard covers is not traditional by any means, but as he develops his ideas and looks at them within the context of the Kingdom, his explanations make perfect sense. For instance, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" does not mean that we need to become spiritually bankrupt in order to get into Heaven. Willard instead turns this around and says that Jesus is telling those who are already in that state of bankruptcy that now the Kingdom of Heaven has come in Him, and for those that are willing to receive it, it can be theirs. This shift in perspective is then used to examine the rest of the Sermon.
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81 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Brian G Hedges on July 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is, without doubt, one of the most powerful books on Spiritual Formation that has ever been written. Dallas Willard tackles issues of discipleship and discipline in a fresh and invigorating way. Willard is rightly convinced that "the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ" has weakened the effectiveness of Christianity in today's culture. "Discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus is, in our day, no longer thought of as in any way essential to faith in him," Willard says. "It is regarded as a costly option, a spiritual luxury, or possibly even an evasion." This concern led Willard to write the third book in his trilogy on the spiritual life (along with In Search of Guidance and The Spirit of the Disciplines) which "presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel."
Willard's path is a well-traveled one, though he views some of the familiar sights a bit differently than most of us are accustomed to. The Kingdom of the Heavens is seen primarily as the realm of God's rule (kingdom) which is as near to us as the atmosphere around us (the heavens). A new thought for me, and one I'm still mulling over. Eternal Life is mainly a quality of life - an eternal kind of life. Willard's reading of the Sermon on the Mount is certainly unique. Frankly, his understanding of the Beattitudes is one of the more novel and unbelievable parts of the book. But his analysis of Matthew chapters 6 and 7 is very helpful.
The heart of the book, found in chapters eight and nine, tackles what it means to be a student, or disciple, of Jesus, along with developing a curriculum for Christlikeness. Those two chapters alone are worth their weight in gold. I found them immensely helpful.
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