Review of Dallas Willard’s Newest Book

Scott McKnight gives a short review of Dallas Willard’s forthcoming book Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. As usual, it looks quite interesting.

It is hard to estimate the significance and impact of Dallas Willard in the church today. It is also hard to describe his newest book: Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge.

This is a good book, and one that puts together many of Willard’s ideas and proposals. The unifying theme of the book is that “knowledge” of Christ can be claimed as a genuine, intellectual, and responsible form of knowing in our world. That theme, however, takes on different forms in this book and different styles of presentation.

To begin with, Willard openly complains about how “knowledge” and the pursuit of truth and acquiring wisdom have dropped from the agenda in universities and therefore in society. He’s right and I like this point very much. He makes the point that too many argue that, and Christians succumb to, the idea that Christianity is “faith” but not “knowledge.”

Chps 4-5 are, in my estimation, the best parts of the book and are brilliantly written: it is an apologetic for belief in a personal God, a God with will and intellect, as the One who is behind the physical world. Something non-physical, vast, personal, etc, was behind the physical world and sustains that physical world. This alone can explain the reality of miracles and the resurrection of Christ.

The third part of the book, which shifts slightly in style to less philosophical argument and more to Christian exposition, concerns knowledge of Christ in the spiritual life — and here he enters into what for many of us is the classical style of Willard’s form of a more mystically-shaped Christian life. The seventh chp enters into a spirited but reasonable form of Christian inclusivism, which he calls Christian pluralism where final redemption is ultimately shaped by whether or not a person — Christian religion or not — has a heart that is properly oriented toward God.

Finally, he has a chp in which he expands the meaning of “pastor” and argues that it is pastors who have the responsibility of making this “knowledge of Christ” known today.

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