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'Divine Conspirator' Dallas Willard Dies at 77

Editor's note, added May 8, 2013: Dallas Willard died today at age 77, days after being diagnosed with cancer. This profile originally ran in our September 2006 issue.

We have also posted John Ortberg's tribute to Willard.

It's the first week of class at the University of Southern California, and a young woman named Sarah is standing on a soapbox in Hahn Plaza giving her testimony. She describes her first girlfriend, and says that when her mother found out about their relationship, she sent her to therapy. It wasn't until Sarah came to USC that she fully embraced her identity as a lesbian.

Stories like this may strike fear in the heart of many a Christian parent, but for the past 41 years, USC students have also had the opportunity to hear the teaching of a provocative Christian thinker named Dallas Willard.

It's a short walk from Hahn Plaza to Willard's office in the Mudd Hall of Philosophy. A stately brick building with a clock tower stretching to the sky, Mudd Hall was modeled after an Italian monastery and built in 1929. The father of the building's architect and the department chair that year, Ralph Tyler Flewelling, was a Methodist who wanted to establish a Christian intellectual outreach to the Far East. It's a fitting home for a man devoted to reestablishing the exalted place moral reasoning once held in the academy.

Willard is most familiar to Christians from his books: The Divine Conspiracy (Christianity Today's Book of the Year in 1998), The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, Renovation of the Heart, and, most recently, The Great Omission. But philosophy is both his primary vocation and the foundation of his devotional writing. According to Willard's wife, ...

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'Divine Conspirator' Dallas Willard Dies at 77
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September 2006

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