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The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship Paperback – May 13, 2014
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“Dallas Willard keeps calling us to take this life of Jesus seriously as disciples, as apprentices to a Master.” (Eugene Peterson, author of The Message)
“There is NO one like Dallas. Finding more of his words is like getting hidden treasure. Read and grow!” (John Ortberg, author of God Is Closer Than You Think)
“This is vintage Willard, and it must be read by all who hunger to grow as Jesus’s disciple.” (J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, and author of Love Your God With All Your Mind)
“If you have any desire to find the life God offers you, read this book.” (John Eldredge, author of Captivating)
“Every leader, whether professional or lay, who cares about the church of Jesus Christ, should read this book.” (Paul D. Robbins, President, Christianity Today International)
“I know no one like Dallas Willard who can express profound things so simply and simple things so profoundly.” (Os Guinness, author of The Call and Unspeakable)
“Dallas Willard reminds us that a relationship with Jesus only makes sense when we choose to become his apprentices.” (Alan Andrews, U.S. President of the Navigators)
“The Great Omission may be Dallas’s most important work yet.” (Ruth Haley Barton, president, Transforming Center, author of Sacred Rhythms)
“Another classic from the pen of this remarkable writer. Incisive and insightful...” (Alister E. McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, Oxford University)
“The Great Omission is, simply put, great. I recommend it highly.” (Richard J. Foster, author of The Celebration of Discipline)
From the Back Cover
In his earlier books Dallas Willard has laid out the principal ideas for a revolutionary understanding of what the Christian life is really about. This volume collects articles, talks, and interviews where Willard explains the practical application of his ideas. He answers such questions as what does it mean to be Jesus’ disciple? How does God teach us? How do we know what God wants for us? How do we explain Jesus to others? And much more. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Certainly Mr. Willard communicates his passion and thinking about this subject well. I feel that I most benefitted from his definitions of "spiritual formation," and his presentation of the idea that "Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning." The most exciting chapter was his presentation of "Jesus the Logician." This chapter would be great for all believers to strengthen their understanding of Jesus and their appreciation for His participation is every part of their life.
I find it ironic that what the title of this book suggests the author has seemed to have done himself. I feel a few things have been "omitted" by the Mr. Willard.
1. He failed to present a model of discipleship. One of Willard's complaints was that he has not yet found a church that has a master plan for accomplishing the call to make disciples. It would seem that since we are all called to this task that the author himself must be discipling people. How does he accomplish this great task? This could have been a significant contribution to the thinking and life of his readers had he presented some kind of solution to the problem discussed. Just emphasizing spiritual formation doesn't cut it.
2. A revision to the "Invitation System" needs to be addressed. The church at large has miserably failed in presenting the Gospel when people are simply called to come down front and pray a prayer. Jesus did not do this, He called people to follow Him as disciples from the very beginning. The whole "invitation system" needs to be completely changed to fit the call of the Great Commission. What an important thing to discuss if we are to take the author seriously in making disciples instead of converts.
3. The "relational" part of discipleship missing. Discipleship cannot be effectively carried out by programming. The unique relationship between the one who does discipline and the one being discipled is critical to it being authentic. But, this was not addressed.
4. Explicit "discipleship" passages missing from the discussion. It would seem appropriate that any real discussion on discipleship should include those passages that are explicitly in disciple language - like "bearing the cross, denying your self," and so on.
This may seem like a pretty critical review, however, these are my feelings and expectations, and I (like the author and you I'm sure) am passionate about resolving the disparity and inadequacies in our churches when it comes to our presenting (and living) the life-transforming power of the God's truth. It was my expectation that the author would have made more of a contribution toward this end. I welcome comments from any readers of this review.
I love the way that he breaks down the misconception that there are different levels in being a Christian, since this is the exact problem that has made discipleship an option, rather than a baseline requirement for being Christian (i.e. this is the great omission that he is talking about). I appreciate the fact that he is not just calling Christians to change, but that he is actually expanding the scope and call to all people by emphasizing that following Christ is "the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities" (Location 312).
Furthermore, he uses the metaphor of training, or staying "in shape" when discussing spiritual disciplines. Although I have commonly heard and taught on the fact that our spiritual life is like the running of a race and that we need to train for this; for some reason, I never made the direct and deeper connection to spiritual disciplines. I always considered spiritual disciplines to be an out working of my love and devotion to God - a way to spend time with God. Although the latter is true, so is the former. Spiritual disciplines are training to keep us spiritually "in shape," so that our bodies would be poised to do what Christ would do when the occasion arises. Consequently, as much as spiritual disciplines are training, they are also the places where I meet regularly with God to learn to be his disciple in Kingdom living.
Rather than zealously going out and seeking to convert all people, what if we first looked in the mirror and began with ourselves: to see where we are not living in line with the way of Jesus. After all, going and making disciples presupposes that we are, first of all, disciples with "some substance of the Christ-life, the person of Jesus himself" (Location 3241). Rather than focusing on going and changing the church and the world, what if we first focused on becoming disciples of Jesus - wouldn't then the church and the world be different?
Consequently, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.
Although there are so many gems and nuggets in this book, I felt like there was too much repetition between the chapters. Albeit, the repetition did reveal his main points, but from a literary standpoint of flow, there was just too much repetition. On the other hand, check out his Renovation of the Heart and The Divine Conspiracy - both of which I would rate higher.