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How Dallas Willard Befriended Rookie Pastor Richard Foster

Editor's note: Dallas Willard died May 8 at age 77, days after being diagnosed with cancer.

It was 1970, and I had just received my seminary degree and been appointed to a small church plant in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. The church, I am sure, would probably rank me as a marginal failure on the ecclesiastical scoreboards, but I was excited to convert the world--at least by tomorrow!

Included in this little congregation were Dallas and Jane Willard and their children, John and Becky. Even before I met Dallas, I knew of his reputation as a world-class philosopher. (This was before the publication of his monumental Logic and the Objectivity of Knowledge. Dallas' enormous philosophic work is the great area of his writing and thinking that is least understood, but which might in time prove to be his greatest contribution.)

However, in our small fellowship, Dallas was simply the person who led the singing (what we today would call the worship leader) and Jane played the organ (remember those days!).

Early on I observed the love and care that Dallas shared with Tony, another member of our fellowship. Tony was a construction worker with a third grade education. Tony could not possibly have understood Dallas' philosophic work, but no matter. There was between them a bond of love and fellowship in Christ that was astonishing for me to watch. Dallas and Tony would gather once a week, just the two of them, to study the Bible and pray together. It was for me a vivid example of Christian koinonia.

That was my early introduction to Dallas and our friendship grew quickly. He would join me and a small group of men weekly to share and pray together. One young man, Bob, who was just as rough as ...

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How Dallas Willard Befriended Rookie Pastor Richard Foster
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May 2013

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