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In His Steps: How to Become an Apprentice of Jesus

A review of Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy."
SUMMARY: The most telling thing about contemporary Christians is that they have no compelling sense that understanding Jesus' teachings and conforming their lives to those teachings is of any vital importance.

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, by Dallas Willard (HarperSanFrancisco, 428 pp.; $22, hardcover). Reviewed by John Wilson.

As we approach the end of the twentieth century and the dawning of a new millennium, commentators far and wide are speculating about the future of the church. Some see harbingers of a global Great Awakening; others contend that the apparent vitality of the faith conceals a hollow core, the consequence of an abject capitulation to secularism in the hearts of countless believers.

Reading the future is a risky business, but there are some predictions we can make with great confidence. Such predictions are based not on our own prescience but rather on the promises of Jesus, whose word is absolutely trustworthy:

"Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness," says the Lord. These are Christ's own words by which He exhorts us to imitate His life and His ways, if we truly desire to be enlightened and free of all blindness of heart. Let it then be our main concern to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.

So begins The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis (ca. 1380-1471). Throughout the history of the church, there have been voices like Thomas's, calling on Christians to become apprentices of Jesus, to "strive to conform your entire life to His." In diverse times and places, this "return to the source" has renewed the church: in the Devotio moderna ("New Devotion") that produced Thomas a Kempis; in the Reformation of Martin ...

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