'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, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Sit Down, Sit Down for Jesus? Subscriber Access Only
Contrary to rumor, the culture wars aren't over. Nor should they be.
Current Issue5 Books More Christian High Schoolers Should Read
5 Books More Christian High Schoolers Should Read Subscriber Access Only
Matthew Farrelly recommends some overlooked classics.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
The Seven Levels of LyingSubscriber Access Only
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSix Ways Men Can Support Women’s Discipleship
Six Ways Men Can Support Women’s Discipleship
Male clergy and laity who want to enable women’s ministry often don't know how to get involved or what to do.
Christianity Today
'Divine Conspirator' Dallas Willard Dies at 77
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.