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Dallas Willard, a Man from Another 'Time Zone'

Editor's note: Dallas Willard died May 8 at age 77, days after being diagnosed with cancer. A shorter version of the following tribute from John Ortberg ran on CT's site that day.

When Dallas Willard was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late summer 2012, he said, "I think that when I die, it might be some time until I know it."

Dallas was always saying things that no one else would think to. He said that a person is a series of conscious experiences, and that for the one who trusts and follows Jesus, death itself has no power to interrupt this life, for Jesus said that the one who trusts in him will not taste death.

Dallas died on May 8, 2013. I'm not sure if anyone has told him yet. But I know that for the lives touched by his mind and heart, there is a void. A philosopher at the University of Southern California (USC) for nearly five decades, he was the smartest man I have ever known. But it was the quality of his life—the extent to which he lived in the reality of the kingdom—that shaped the people who knew him the best.

Somebody once asked Dallas if he believed in total depravity.

"I believe in sufficient depravity," he responded immediately.

What's that?

"I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, 'I merited this.'"

The doctrine of sufficient depravity is one of a thousand truths from Dallas that seem novel and yet, the more we reflect on them, point to the most fundamental tenets of our faith. Since he died, one of the scenes I've had in my mind is of Dallas arriving at the gates of heaven, only to be turned away with a stamp marked INSUFFICIENT DEPRAVITY. Dallas ...

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Dallas Willard, a Man from Another 'Time Zone'
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