Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God Hardcover – January 23, 2014
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"Living in Christ's Presence is a superb discussion of the many issues surrounding the reality of life in the kingdom of God here and now. I recommend it highly." (Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water and Sanctuary of the Soul)
"I actually think the best moments with Dallas are in Q and A sessions where you can get that wisdom in kind of bite-sized chunks that all of us are able to access and absorb. So they opportunity to do that, to just sit in a chair with him and say 'Hey, Dallas,' and ask him those questions and see what happened in the moment, and hell get this little sly glint in his eye, and then hell just drop these statements on you that literally could not come from anybody else, partly because of his mind and partly because of his heart. "I've known Dallas for about 25 years, and he has impacted me like nobody else has. His writings, his book Spirit of the Disciplines―outside of the Bible has had the biggest impact on my life. And so the chance to do this conference together was really powerful. Then when he got sick and it was clear that barring a miracle he was not going to be on earth for a real long time, it took on a whole added dimension of substance. We actually thought about, just given his health, should we not do the conference? And Dallas said, 'Nope, I want to do it. There are things that need to be said, and this is the chance to say it.'" (John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and author of Soul Keeping)
"When I finished the book, I experienced a joy as deep and wide as the love of God in Christ. How many books can you say that about? Thanks, Dallas Willard, for a life well lived." (Randy Harris, The Christian Chronicle, September 2014)
"Touching on many topics . . . Willard and Ortberg's collaboration here is devotional gift. It is also a compass for finding one's way through the shadows to a life lived in the kingdom with God. An essential for your library, liberally furnishing inspiration for pastors, teachers, and songwriters." (Andrea Hunter, Worship Leader Magazine, March/April 2014)
"Willard shares in his last book insights about the process of transforming a person into Christlikeness, the gift of stepping into the kingdom, the challenge to become a person of blessing, and more. Ortberg discusses the primacy of learning from Jesus how to live in the kingdom, the connection between the Trinity and community, the distinction between training and trying in regard to spiritual disciplines, and more. Their talks complement and build on each other." (Daniel Johnson, CBA Retailers + Resources, January 2014)
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I listened to the audio of the conference (which was at least slightly edited) and flipped through the book, reading about half of it in review. The book is also cleaned up a bit from the audio version.
1. I'm currently on a quest to discern what it is about my conservative christian roots that is so off-putting to myself and others.
2. I've always been fascinated by Dallas Willard being such an influential christian while his day job had him in the philosophy department of a major university (USC). From a couple of comments from my Aunt who recently listened to this I decided to start here, at the end of his works.
If Dallas Willard had a church, I think I may enjoy it. There are 2 really important pieces from this book that make me think I would enjoy a community with Dallas Willard leading it.
1. There is a recurring idea letting go of control in almost every aspect of christianity. One of the most gripping examples is when he speaks of himself as a young pastor: "I thought the way to move someone was to make them feel, not provide them with knowledge." He has since learned that making someone feel is manipulative, and providing someone with knowledge is empowering. If there is any single piece keeping people out of conservative christianity, it is probably this one. He states the problem and applications in a few different ways throughout the book and states it well. Do your best and let go.
2. Willard (and Ortberg) puts a lot of emphasis on life now rather than life after death. "Your kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven" so we are not leaving to go to heaven, heaven is coming to earth. I think between Dallas Willard and NT Wright's influence the conservative christian church is doing a lot better job of this.
John Ortberg was a big part of this conference. It seems pretty obvious his goal was to make Dallas Willard accessible and applicable to the pastors in the audience. I think he splits his time accomplishing that goal and also pulling the listeners back towards an organizational, application-at-all-costs misunderstanding of what Willard is saying. Careful not to treat people like machines rather than people/friends Ortberg! Suffice it to say I skipped through a good portion of his talks. At one point Ortberg makes a joke while interviewing Willard that was clearly not the time for a joke, but Ortberg missed the depth of what Willard was saying. I think it was cleaned up in the book, but you will probably notice it if you listen to the audio.
Not too long of a book/audio, highly recommended for anyone interested in a "sense of pervasive well-being" (willard's definition of joy) or anyone wanting to better communicate the message of Christianity.