Dallas Willard was a personal mentor and inspiration to hundreds of pastors, philosophers, and average churchgoers. His presence and ideas rippled through the lives of many prominent leaders and authors, such as John Ortberg, Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith, Paula Huston, and J. P. Moreland. As a result of these relationships and the books he wrote, he fundamentally altered the way tens of thousands of Christians have understood and experienced the spiritual life.
Whether great or small, everyone who met Dallas was impressed by his personal attention, his calm confidence, his wisdom, and his profound sense of the spiritual. But he was not always the man who lived on a different plane of reality than so many of the rest of us. He was someone who had to learn to be a husband, a parent, a teacher, a Christ follower.
The journey was not an easy one. He absorbed some of the harshest and most unfair blows life can land. His mother died when he was two, and after his father remarried he was exiled from his stepmother’s home. Growing up in Depression-era, rural Missouri and educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he knew poverty, deprivation, anxiety, self-doubt, and depression. Though the pews he sat in during his early years were not offering much by way of love and mercy, Dallas, instead of turning away, kept looking for the company of a living, present, and personal God.
In Gary W. Moon’s candid and inspiring biography, we read how Willard became the person who mentored and partnered with his young pastor, Richard Foster, to inspire some of the most influential books on spirituality of the last generation. We see how his love of learning took him on to Baylor, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Southern California, where he became a beloved professor and one of the most versatile members of the philosophy department.
The life of Dallas Willard deserves attention because he became a person who himself experienced authentic transformation of life and character. Dallas Willard not only taught about spiritual disciplines, he became a different person because of them. He became a grounded person, a spiritually alive person as he put them into practice, finding God, as he often said, “at the end of his rope.” Here is a life that gives us all hope.
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The sign from the Lamplighter restaurant where Dallas met with so many friends.
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Reading The Divine Conspiracy not long after it came out kept me from walking away from, or at least marginalizing, my faith. Dallas pointed toward what was missing from my background: the experiential. He attempted to address issues that were largely taken for granted or ignored (which frustrated me), like how God communicates with us and the aspects of the person and how to be whole. Finally, the Institute provided the opportunity to observe that what Dallas said was backed up by the person that he had become.
Dallas’ writing took following Jesus out of some sort of mystical, ethereal, realm and made it real. I am actively passing on the tools that have helped me to cultivate an interactive relationship with Jesus.
I was given a plaque 26 years ago when I left a job at one church and moved to another city to work in a different church. The plaque read: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go; others stay for a while, and we are never the same.”
I never met Dallas Willard personally, I was really hoping to meet him in October 2013, but it wasn’t to be. But reading Dallas Willard, and being led nearer Jesus by him has made a mark on my life. The primary way that Dallas’ writing has changed me is that it took following Jesus out of some sort of mystical, ethereal, realm and made it real. His teaching on the Kingdom as the “range of effective will” and specifically God’s Kingdom as “the range of God’s effective will” was a revolutionary idea to me. Perhaps that is so in part because of the simplicity of it… that moment when I said, “Of course! It’s so simple.” So expanding God’s Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven, begins with expanding God’s reign in my own life and body. His connection of the spiritual disciplines in The Spirit of the Disciplines to the process of being shaped into the image of Christ was so helpful to me as a companion to Celebration of the Disciplines.
Breaking down the human person and saying to us… “the human person is not a mystery, but something as understandable as other things we can understand” was also incredibly helpful. It doesn’t mean there isn’t great mystery in the Kingdom of God… but it makes it something I can get my hands on and do something about.
As far as what others will do because of me… honestly who knows. But I am actively passing on the tools that I have gained from Dallas Willard that have helped me to cultivate an interactive relationship with Jesus. I’ll have to let the outcomes in the lives of others be up to someone with a broader range of effective will… it will help me to keep from being anxious.
Dallas taught me that God is not looking for people to endlessly command; God desires to form persons and a people who can bring to bear all their own redeemed creativity and will into the realization of the Reign of God on earth in the particular choices and contexts they face.
Heading down 101, I related to Dallas as best I could the pertinent details of the complex decision I faced. Dallas asked a few gentle questions, and then, without showing the least indication of having absorbed any of the anxiety which must have been exuding from me, he said, “Well, simply pray, and say: “Lord, I do not believe that you mumble, so if you’d like to direct me, you need to do so before Friday. Otherwise, I will presume your blessing to make my own choice.” Dallas taught me that God is not looking for people to endlessly command; God desires to form persons and a people who can bring to bear all their own redeemed creativity and will into the realization of the Reign of God on earth in the particular choices and contexts they face.
My vision was reformed, clarified and refocused. I am drawn, through grace, to the intention to pursue the means Dallas identified in order to change course and live sanctification in the Kingdom of Heaven by grace.
I bless God for having Dallas Willard think through the important ideas and for leading him to share his experiences with us. Dallas blazed a trail to concepts I was eager to embrace and his interactions were extraordinary – others were affirmed as unceasing spiritual beings of great value.
As Dallas Willard’s understandings were taken in, my visions were reformed, clarified and refocused. I am drawn, through grace, to the intention to pursue the means Dallas (and his friends – including but not limited to the Karamazovs) identified in order to change course and live sanctification in the Kingdom of Heaven by grace.
Legalism is no longer my best, although it had been quite useful.
He helped me understand the “why” and the “how” of spiritual formation. He rescued me from an incomplete understanding of salvation and life in the Kingdom of God.
Our corporate worship leaders almost ALWAYS speak every week of transformation and the desire to live life with God from a place of continual transformation into the likeness of Christ.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the ministry of Dallas Willard changed the course of my own ministry.
First of all, his writings redirected and deepened my own life with God. He helped me understand the “why” and the “how” of spiritual formation. He rescued me from an incomplete understanding of salvation and life in the Kingdom of God.
Second, as my understanding has increased, my ministry is often about passing on what I have learned from Dallas. I teach a great deal on the topic of discipleship and spiritual formation in my own church as well as in retreats and conferences for other churches. I am also an adjunct professor for a Baptist seminary and part of my teaching assignment is a course called “Spiritual Formation for Ministers.” I can only hope that what my students learn will have the ripple effect of being passed on in their personal lives and ministries.
As a specific example, the language and culture of my church has changed dramatically in the last three years because of using the ideas of Dallas with our pastoral ministry staff. This plays out in the way they disciple all age groups in our church. Our corporate worship leaders almost ALWAYS speak every week of transformation and the desire to live life with God from a place of continual transformation into the likeness of Christ. They teach and give tangible experiences of how to live life with God through the disciplines in ways that anyone can practice. It’s a joy to behold! Sometimes I want to stand up and say, “Did you hear that? This is amazing!”
Thank you, Dallas, for being a living example through your own life and your teaching of how to live life with God. You have been my spiritual guide in ways no other person has and I’m eternally grateful for the ways you have equipped me to speak into the lives of others.
Dallas told me to never think bad about God, and inspired me to see God with a beaming kind face. I developed a Hearing God class that helped others envision what a loving friendship with God might look like.
Dallas thought highly of God (even though he had suffered the trauma of losing his mother at an early age) and he told me to never think bad about God. Dallas’s face radiated with goodness and kindness and it inspired me to see God with a beaming kind face instead of seeing God as a harsh judge enforcing the rules. Dallas was also great at really listening to you in a focused and caring way that helped me see God as being attentive to me.
Dallas modeled listening to God and his book and DVD series Hearing God and his lectures on Hearing God at the Renovaré Institute helped me hear God relationally as my heavenly father desiring a conversation with me rather than a drill sergeant demanding robotic obedience. For my Institute project I developed a Hearing God class using the Hearing God DVD set and Leader’s Guide that helped others envision what a loving friendship with God might look like and a conversation with God might sound like. I think many of us are gladly trading in robotic mechanical obedience for a loving conversational relationship with God thanks to Dallas.
I never met Dallas Willard except through the medium of video or printed word, and the apposite wording that begins The Divine Conspiracy; “in those days there were giants in the land” invited me to enter the thoughts of a giant in human clothing. The clarity of Dallas Willard’s lamplight has drawn in company to meet, engage, debate, be inspired and transformed. In lighting my own torch from the lamp of his teaching, through God’s grace, I have been able to carry that light into my own community, to share with and to seek the Kingdom with other thirsty Christ-followers. Dallas Willard is part of my spiritual inheritance, to be shared with the generations to come.
I became aware of the responsibilities and privileges of belonging to the Kingdom. My hope is that my insistence on a Kingdom perspective will create a worldview shift for those I influence.
As a result of the teachings of Renovaré and particularly of Dallas Willard’s teaching, my worldview has taken a shift. I have always had a sense of the idea of the Kingdom of God, that as believer’s we are strangers and aliens. This was something I was taught from childhood straight into seminary. But the awareness of the responsibilities and privileges of belonging to this Kingdom were not an everyday focus. The practices of Spiritual Formation before were focused on doing things which would help me become a better Christian. Instead, with this new awareness, my focus has become, “What practices will I incorporate which represent how a Kingdom dweller lives?”
My teaching, my conversation, my participation in small groups, my work in Spiritual Direction has all been influenced by this Kingdom perspective. My hope is that my insistence on this perspective will also create a shift in worldview for those in whom I have influence.
I heard in Dallas’ voice the “sweet reasonableness” of a Spirit infused life.
I read in his works thoughts which propelled me to understand and desire the “with-God” life. He called into being a holy discontent for living with right answers and wrong attitudes. I see Christlikeness in his life, understand that transformation is possible and am filled with hope! I am making necessary arrangements in my life to follow his example.
Through his teaching and his life, Dallas helped me understand and experience life in the Kingdom, with God. So simple, yet so profound.
Dallas taught me that God’s purpose has always been for his beloved human creation to learn to ‘live [their lives] as Jesus would if he was in [their] place.” That truth has been absolutely transformative. The first powerful experience I had of stepping into this invisible reality of the present kingdom of God was with one of Dallas’ recommended practices. Late one day at work I still had so much to do but knew my family was waiting for me—common struggle. I began quoting, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need;” then screamed inwardly, “Not true! I need more time!” By remembering Dallas’ words, I was able to get up, lock my office door and headed for home, with a deep sense of joy and peace. I then knew (experientially) that Dallas had opened the door to an amazing new way to live.
I am discovering I have a soul, and have a passion for what influence and change a God-intoxicated life can be. Because of Dallas’ effect on me, my wife is reading Dallas’ books and discussing them with others.
Not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Dallas or something he said. I know this is the kind of statement we are supposed to write. My only response is that I have never made a comment like this about any other human being (except my wife). I find myself quoting him all the time in conversations with friends and strangers alike (much like Gary describes in his book, ‘Apprenticeship with Jesus”). Thousands of little things I find I am now thinking about differently than before my immersion into Renovare’s Institute of Spiritual Formation, having the privilege to sit and listen to Dallas teach us a week at a time and come home and having the freedom of time to slowly process what I had heard, review my notes, and continue to keep reading, reprocessing over and over what has been given to us. Words fail me here. I still have days where I break down and weep tears of joy/sadness over his absence. I know he wouldn’t want me to go on like this, but I believe in his present state he can know my heart in what is said here, that I am admiring his “in Christ” life, his response to what has been freely offered to all of our” little flock”.
Out of Dallas’ exhortation that “we must hold a compelling image of God before us” came a renewed desire to have that life and a compelling vision that continues to “compel”.
Rather than discuss here how Dallas changes what I do, it may be more appropriate to relate who I want to be:
Dallas’ exhortation that “we must hold a compelling image of God before us” caught my attention and raised questions. What is my image of God? Is it compelling? What are some aspects (practices) to healthy rhythm of life that I can embrace to fan this flame? What are some of the other images (read disordered desires) that are obstacles to developing and embracing a new rhythm? Out of these questions came a renewed desire and I received a personal gift from God, during our 2nd year, of a compelling vision that continues to “compel”.
The secret to the spiritual, with-God life? Dallas would say it is “to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life”. As a man who has enjoyed multi-tasking and seeing how much I could get done, this Willardism has been life-giving!
More than anything, what Dallas “did” was to live what he talked about. Herein lies the most profound impact on my life. Here was a man I could trust, who did what he was encouraging us to do. I desire to be more attentive to God’s Spirit, to be a man with a compelling vision of God, to be joyFULL, to be less hurried, and to be a man that lives the life he talks about.
What will others do because of me? I have no idea. I’m not sure Dallas asked that question. Others will choose how they want to live, not just because of what Dallas talked about, but because of the peace emanating from him because of how he lived…from within.
Dallas embodied the “relaxed” Jesus that he so often taught. For instance, one time someone questioned him pretty intensely about a statement he had made; the tension in the room was palatable. He calmly responded to each comment. At the end of the session, he immediately went over to the individual and thanked them for questioning him so closely. I learned that day what it looks like to lay down the ego and receive everything with grace. Another incident occurred at the start of an intensive: several cohort members had remarked on the unusual hurdles that almost kept them from attending. At the beginning of his talk, he commented on the experiences of several, stretched out his hands towards us, and prayed a prayer of protection and benediction as we began our time together. Dallas was so, well, consistent in his teaching and living out Christlikeness; the inside and the outside matched.
Dallas pointed to the true center, constantly remind me that our origin is in Christ. The Bible has become the living word from the living God.
I carry what I’m learning to church. It’s tempting to make waves. Instead, I am hoping to just be a wave, because that’s just what ripples are.
My passion for the Bible, particularly Jesus’s and Paul’s teaching, has grown. I find myself amazed at how clearly they saw the needs of human life and the ways of people’s hearts and souls. Dallas has shown me how to come to know the Bible through interaction rather than just information. It has become the living word from the living God for me.
I am learning the necessity of disciplines of abstinence. One of my most powerful memories of the Institute, was coming home to my family and realizing how the time away in learning and in solitude and silence had really created room in my soul to listen to and enjoy my family and friends. I could really be present to them. My usual method of spiritual discipline tended to tire me out more than renew me because I neglected such solitude in my life.
When I share these thoughts and practices which I have learned from Dallas with other people, I am delighted to see their joy, relief, and even their perplexity. So often I echo his words, ” Just think about that for a bit.” I know that these ripples need to wash over them for a while before they soak in. Sometimes I ask them as questions, with the hope that someone will have some additional insight into some of these ideas that I can benefit from.
I carry what I’m learning to church. What will others do because of me? It’s tempting to make waves. Instead, I am hoping to just be a wave, because that’s just what ripples are. I am surprised and pleased that God has gathered a small group in my church which wants to follow Jesus together. We started with The Celebration of Discipline. Now we are studying and meditating on Colossians. What I’ve learned and continue to learn is valuable to our group because we get to test it, try it, and prove it. I find that such times are making splashes in our lives that are sure to send ripples outward.
I have been profoundly changed in what I do and what I am teaching others to do because of Dallas. I learned following the rules is not the same as following Jesus. I learned how to experience a life-transforming encounter with God in scripture. I learned the power of living in constant conversation with the Father through the practice of Bible memory, praying the scripture and using the Word of God “to take every thought captive.”
His teaching has caused me to understand many aspects of my life as a Christ follower differently, especially the reality of living in the Kingdom now. That has given me renewed hope of God’s loving intention for me to be transformed more and more into greater Christlikeness. But more importantly, Dallas’s consistent loving presence and holiness made it seem possible. I miss his feet on this earth terribly, but am confident in whose footsteps he continues to walk.
I have been freed of the things that have bound my soul in knots for most of my life and God is giving me the privilege of coming alongside other women who long to know how to live in His freedom and power.
Dallas wrote, “The cross-shaped yoke of Christ is after all an instrument of liberation and power to those who live in it with him and learn the meekness and lowliness of heart that brings rest to the soul.” Beyond all of his great wisdom and intelligence, Dallas lived before us with a well-rested soul and showed us in tangible ways how to live Jesus’ abundant life. I have been freed of the things that have bound my soul in knots for most of my life and God is giving me the privilege of coming alongside other women who long to know how to live in His freedom and power.
I’m learning what it means to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and to live in the “unforced rhythms of grace” in His Kingdom.
May the people in my life have “the life and that is truly life” and have it more abundantly
Dallas, and what he has has left us, continue to show me how to live. Thanks to him the Gospel makes sense as a “way” of life (Jesus); thanks to him I know the “truth” as a living person (Jesus) that I trust and have confidence in; thanks to him I live a “life” (Jesus) that works. Thanks to him, I’m learning what it means to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and to live in the “unforced rhythms of grace” in His Kingdom.
Thanks to him, I am learning to “will the peace and joy that I am experiencing to pass from me like living waters to those I am engaged with.” This means that at every opportunity, formal and informal, “teaching” or conversation, my heart’s desire is to pass on to others Jesus, and the life he offers.
Our prayer is that through the life I now live, the operation of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God, the people in my life might have “the life and that is truly life” and have it more abundantly.”
Dallas shifted my thinking from “Trying to Training”. Dallas gave me a renewed vision of my life as a disciple. An interactive partnership with Christ in the Kingdom now I have shown many others. The fear of failure held me back for so long. This is just one of the many transformations that has turned my world upside down and enabled me to help others. Thank you again Dallas!
Dallas modeled for me what it was to live in the reality of the Kingdom of God. He taught it, but more importantly, he lived it. I am, in turn, learning to live there and as I do others are seeing it, touching it, experiencing it, and learning to live there with me. It’s a sweet society.
What Dallas offered wasn’t just a tweak to what I do (or will do). Dallas offers me a doorway into the life of God. I feel such gratitude to him because he continually points me to the Maestro, the one who is the glorious King. It is this life with Jesus that changes not one thing I do, but everything. I hope to die to myself ever more and so find my life ever more deeply hidden with Christ in God.
I don’t seek so much anymore to have answers for people but to live in this alive presence of Christ and let that speak something more than words could ever communicate.
What Dallas did changed almost every thing I do, because now I see myself as a disciple of Jesus learning from him how to live my life as he would live it if he were I. So, this changed every thing for me.
I am practicing the presence of God. I am praying for my enemies-the difficult people in my life. As a result, I have become a better husband, father, church member, and physician.
I have lead a group of 12 people at our church through the Apprentice class and will lead another group starting this fall. I am still working on translating the Good and Beautiful God/Life/Community books to Arabic. My wife joined the Renovaré Institute after she saw my life change after being exposed to Dallas’ teaching.
In short, my life is completely different after God placed Dallas and his teachings in my life.
I hold great appreciation for Dallas and all that he taught and continues to teach me. One of the greatest gifts he gave was a vision of the future with God. It is no exaggeration to say Chapter 10 of The Divine Conspiracy altered the trajectory of my life, allowing me to endure hardships that have since come my way. “The experiences we have of this life and his co-conspirators now fills us with anticipation of a future so full of beauty and goodness we can hardly imagine.” (pg 375) I would be remiss not to also mention Dallas’ very presence with us. His entire demeanor exemplified trust and hope in what he was teaching. Yes, it was all Dallas taught that changed the direction of my life, but equally, if not more, important was who he was.
In July of this year, my husband, after 14 years of battling Parkinson’s Disease, went to be with Jesus. When I attended RI he had only recently been diagnosed and I had no idea how our lives would be devastated. The message that I first heard from Dallas about God’s love and the existence of His Kingdom in the present allowed me to navigate the incredibly rough journey that at times seemed hopeless and interminable.
I remember feeling such hope and peace after that first week at the Renovare Institute gathering, it left me famished for more of the same. At the end of that week I sobbed at the thought of our time with Dallas coming to an end, I didn’t know then that he would continue to teach us. I felt that God had thrown me a lifeline in the midst of a storm that promised to be disastrous. Dallas’ words were invaluable but his presence, his total confidence in God’s providence and love were infectious.
People have often remarked that I am so strong, they marvel at how I made it through the last several years of caretaking and grieving. It is only because of Dallas’ inspiration and my current spiritual direction ministry that I am more in love with our amazing Creator than ever before. I am strong and able to bless my directees because I learned about the real Jesus Christ from Dallas who knows Him so well. Dallas’ books, his presence, his voice still echo through my heart and mind and soul. “Preparing For Heaven”, Dallas’ thoughts about a radiant death, compiled by Gary Black, were invaluable to me in the months following my husband’s death. I am eternally grateful for knowing Dallas, and for the loving, providential God who led me to the Renovare Institute in order to save my life.
I have sat under a long list of teachers in my lifetime, but Dallas Willard is at the top of my list—he is in a class by himself. Following Jesus’ example in the gospels, Dallas captivated my imagination of what my life could be like if I lived it out as an apprentice of Jesus in the very center of God’s Kingdom.
Not only did Dallas cast this vision, he modeled how it is done. I have never met anyone whose personal life was so congruent with his public profession. Beyond his brilliance, Dr. Willard’s most lasting legacy is his life. Like Jesus, he lived what he taught. I now have a lot better idea of what Jesus is like because I had the privilege of being—albeit for a short time—with Dallas Willard.
Dallas taught me to never, ever think anything bad about God.
Because of this, I think others have been motivated to look for all that is beautiful, good and true and know that it is an expression of Christ. Thank you, Dallas.
Dallas has encouraged me to pull out a shovel and dig wells in the barren ground of my own religious tradition. Today, in following Dallas’ example, I’m passing out shovels and inviting others to start digging.
Dallas has encouraged me to pull out a shovel and dig wells in the barren ground of my own religious tradition. The grass isn’t greener somewhere else. The water, necessary for sustaining and fostering abundant life, is available but it requires intention and effort and ultimately divine partnership to bring it to the surface. In digging wells, we re-discover water as the source of life. We experience immersion: a life lived in union with God in the present moment. Today, in following Dallas’ example, I’m passing out shovels and inviting others to start digging.
Dallas taught me that living in God’s kingdom is not about what I do but about the sort of person I am becoming. Through living in the kingdom, sharing experiences and teaching I hope I am introducing others to the vision, intention and means of change to become more like Christ.
One way that Dallas fundamentally changed me & my ministry with others is by teaching me that we can actually be formed into deeper Christ-likeness.
I hope that my Renovare project/dissertation Inventory will play even a small part in helping us disciples measure & ultimately progress in becoming more Christ-like.
As I know is true for so many others, Dallas’ teaching & guidance changed me in so many ways that it is extremely hard to choose just one. It is not an overstatement to say that he changed my life… eternally!
One way that Dallas fundamentally changed me & my ministry with others is by teaching me that we can actually be formed into deeper Christ-likeness. To summarize this, Dallas responded to the interview question in Leadership Journal, Spring 2010, “How can churches know if they are being effective in making disciples?” Dallas replied, “Many churches are measuring the wrong things. We measure things like attendance and giving, but we should be looking at more fundamental things like anger, contempt, honesty, and the degree to which people are under the thumb of their lusts. Those things can be counted, but not as easily as offerings.” I hope that my Renovare project/dissertation Inventory will play even a small part in helping us disciples measure & ultimately progress in becoming more Christ-like.
Dallas’ teaching at the Institute has inspired me to design spiritual formation retreats for key women in East Asia churches with the prayer that they will not only live more fully in the reality of the Kingdom of God, but also lead others around them into Kingdom of God living.
One way that Dallas fundamentally changed me & my ministry with others is by teaching me that we can actually be formed into deeper Christ-likeness.
I hope that my Renovare project/dissertation Inventory will play even a small part in helping us disciples measure & ultimately progress in becoming more Christ-like.
As I know is true for so many others, Dallas’ teaching & guidance changed me in so many ways that it is extremely hard to choose just one. It is not an overstatement to say that he changed my life… eternally!
One way that Dallas fundamentally changed me & my ministry with others is by teaching me that we can actually be formed into deeper Christ-likeness. To summarize this, Dallas responded to the interview question in Leadership Journal, Spring 2010, “How can churches know if they are being effective in making disciples?” Dallas replied, “Many churches are measuring the wrong things. We measure things like attendance and giving, but we should be looking at more fundamental things like anger, contempt, honesty, and the degree to which people are under the thumb of their lusts. Those things can be counted, but not as easily as offerings.” I hope that my Renovare project/dissertation Inventory will play even a small part in helping us disciples measure & ultimately progress in becoming more Christ-like.
Dallas helped me to open my eyes to the reality of the kingdom that is at hand – how to walk in it through discipleship to Jesus, how to watch for opportunities to step out in faith to demonstrate its presence. As a result, others around me are invited to step beyond the “heaven when you die” paradigm to experience kingdom life with Jesus today. Thank you, God, for Dallas – your goodness shines through him with overwhelming clarity.
Dallas changed the way I see life. We can live our lives responding to life’s greatest opportunity – “vivid companionship with Christ”, where we learn to be like him and live as he lived. I’m now a part of a challenging and beautiful initiative that accompanies the urban poor and seeks to build peace in the slums of Mexico City.
Twenty years ago, when I was 18 years old, I was given a copy of the Spirit of the Disciplines. Dallas’ sensibility to constant interaction with the kingdom of God as a real part of our daily lives was a guide to understanding that grace is connected to life. Dallas changed the way I see life. We can live our lives responding to life’s greatest opportunity – “vivid companionship with Christ”, where we learn to be like him and live as he lived. Inspired by Dallas’ compelling vision for Christlikeness in this way, today, along with my family and friends, I’m a part of a challenging and beautiful initiative that accompanies the urban poor and seeks to build peace in the slums of Mexico City. Together, we are also building a retreat center on the edge of the slum, imagining a new generation of Mexican friends of Jesus who are learning to be apprentices to Christ in the Kingdom of heaven where life flourishes in every way.
I studied with Dallas Willard in June 2011, was part of my DMin studies at Fuller. Before meeting and hearing Dallas I had been in ordained ministry for almost 25 years. I was dry. I had completed MA and MDiv degrees and had already read many of the books that we read in the course. But not as Dallas invited me to read them! Dallas’ teaching revolutionized my life. He invited me to experience life in the Kingdom of God like Jesus had experienced it, and he was so personally convinced and convincing that I decided to take him up on his invitation. I decided to trade in my old “for God life” on a new “with God life” and I like the new version a lot more! It has restored joy and authenticity to my personal walk, relationships and ministry as a follower of Jesus, and a large part of that renewed joy I credit to being a student of Dallas Willard and learning to see and experience life as he did.
Dallas’ books were a struggle for me, so I was not prepared for the man I encountered the first morning of class for my masters program. There was a winsome holiness about him… He was: Inviting & Open; “I could be wrong;” Available & kind; “I am here if you want to talk;” Humble & so wise; “You already have everything you need for life and godliness (2Peter 1:3-9).”
I watched him as he incarnated Jesus and the kingdom. He didn’t simply teach it but lived it. Imagine the kingdom of God like an iPhone. I owned one but had no idea how to turn it on. Dallas not only demonstrated how to turn it on, but how to use it. This was a game changer for me. I in turn am making every effort to show others through my school the Transformational Listening Center (tlcchicago.com) – a spiritual direction program that emphasizes how to listen for the kingdom of God.
Dallas’ deeply inspiring understanding of intimacy with God opened my heart to desire that same closeness for myself, and through my own experience, I’ve begun to share the “good news” with those in our congregation. The thirst for this kind of personal love relationship with God is palpable and Dallas helped us understand not only the reality of this relationship but the process that makes the relationship possible!
Anything that honors Dallas’ God-given ministry to the Church is a marvelous thing!
Dallas taught that we are safe in the kingdom of God. He asked us to ask ourselves, “What would it look like to bring the Kingdom of God into this situation?”
As a substitute teacher in Christian schools or as a tutor, I have had multiple opportunities to bring God’s kingdom in. When the subject of cheating came up, two days in a row it wasn’t a matter of “This is wrong; don’t do it.” We discussed how we are safe in God’s kingdom and in Christ. We don’t have to cheat. We are loved by Jesus and we can ask Him to help us in our situations.
God used Dallas’s work to reach my heart through my mind. In my early twenties it was C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer who had the greatest impact upon me. Now, in middle age, it’s Dallas whose been the primary influence in shaping my thinking and way of life.
Dallas Willard served to educate, inspire and provide hope for my broken, burned out, disenchanted soul. Living in the kingdom is now a daily joy for me, and the “real life” I have in Christ Jesus is one that is treasured above all else. This has impacted every aspect of my life. My family, friends, work, and church.
Faced with a critical juncture in my faith journey, the writings of Dallas Willard served to educate, inspire and provide hope for my broken, burned out, disenchanted soul. Following a very traditional and conservative upbringing, I had grasped on to the emerging seeker movement only to find myself still empty and deficient in knowing the one I professed as the Messiah. Lonely, bewildered and clearly disenchanted; I was convinced there was more to “life” than what I had experienced, and was not content to “wait until I got to heaven”. It was in the words of Jesus recorded in John 10:10 that I was struck by the tense used, and the utter currency of the words. I do not recall specifically how I came to know of Dallas, but I do recall vividly how I felt when I began reading the “Divine Conspiracy”. It was as if all the questions I had struggled to understand, and the unconvincing answers I had previously been given were now being revealed. The kingdom came alive, and Jesus became very real. I used the references in this book to read further, and have since read all of Dallas’ books and am participating in the Renovaré Institute. Living in the kingdom is now a daily joy for me, and the “real life” I have in Christ Jesus is one that is treasured above all else. This has impacted every aspect of my life. My family, friends, work, and church. While I only met Dallas one time (at the Renovaré Institute), I feel him to be a very real friend and mentor, and I look forward to spending all eternity with him and all the saints in the glorious presence of our God.
Dallas introduced me to the Jesus he knew and this Jesus – this Jesus, was the One I longed to know. Walls of my kingdom keep coming down. The easy yoke slips over my head, heart, soul, and body more frequently.
I remember Dallas EVERY day. He spoke the Word of God deeply into my life.
I remember and rejoice in the Lord because I learned from Dallas Willard.
Another thing Dallas wrote that has had a pervasive affect on me is the idea that grace is not opposed to effort but earning. My faith and personality are much less passive. I see the things I do as a chance to co-labor with God and doing them is not a burden. When I teach children at church I see it as an opportunity to tell them about the reality of God and the capability of Jesus.
Because Dallas wrote the Divine Conspiracy I am a different person who is have a different impact on those around me.
I have confidence in my knowledge of the existence of the God because of his explanation of the substantiality of the spiritual. I also have confidence in Jesus Christ because Dallas wrote of him as “brilliant”. I had never thought of that. These two confidences have propelled me into a more solid working faith that has affected my personality. I have greater peace because I know God is with me and takes care of me. Because I know this, I can genuinely care for others, not holding back because I know God has got me. I do not have to manipulate my family into doing things so I can have a perfect life because I have one with God. They have sensed this letting go on my part and have flourished because of it.
Dallas Willard changed my whole view of God. This in turn changed how I realized God loves me, which changed my relationship with God, which opened my eyes to see the world in a very different way, which in turn changed my relationship with my family and all others. I became more aware of beauty both in nature and in people, which made me more aware of Gods Kingdom and love and provision.
In essence, Dallas Willard’s quiet, gentle ways of living in the Kingdom of God showed me a better way to live and love others.
I have a vision that God is truly conforming me to the image of his Son and that I am “perfectly safe in the world” because of our Lord’s great love and sovereign rule. I now see myself as living in the “unshakable kingdom of God”. And I know that I am God’s Beloved.
I have become familiar with Dallas’ teaching only in the past few years, but I will never be the same. I live differently, pray differently, teach differently, parent differently, read God’s Word differently and see the world differently because of what Dallas taught. Even though I’ve walked with God for 30 years, after reading Dallas’ books, hearing some of his lectures and putting his teaching into practice, I almost feel like I’m hearing the Gospel for the very first time. I have a vision that God is truly conforming me to the image of his Son and that I am “perfectly safe in the world” because of our Lord’s great love and sovereign rule. I now see myself as living in the “unshakable kingdom of God”. And I know that I am God’s Beloved. Some phrases that Dallas used which stay with me are “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” and “abandon the outcome”. These simple but profoundly impacting truths change how I live every day. But it’s not only what Dallas taught that has changed me, it is how he lived. Love for God and others exuded from him. He made me think, “I want what he has!” And what he had was a beautiful, intimate relationship with God. His desire was for all of us to have as much life in God as we possibly can and so he taught us how to truly seek it, to find it. Praise be to God!
He reignited a passion within me for a deeper understanding of spiritual formation in my own life, radically changing my life both personally and professionally.
My first exposure to Dallas Willard came through the reading of The Divine Conspiracy at a very crucial time in my journey in 1999. His brilliant ability to articulate the availability of God’s Kingdom through confidence in Christ reignited a passion within me for a deeper understanding of spiritual formation in my own life. Dallas’ writings, as well as his personal teaching and interaction as a part of the Atlanta Cohort of the Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation, have radically changed my life both personally and professionally. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for his influence on my life and my ministry as I take part in the divine conspiracy!
Dallas has helped me know “I’m an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great Universe” as such, I have a glorious future ahead of me.
As a result the people in my family, apprenticeship group, work relationships, friends and time strangers are coming know about and trust God in the ways that Dallas has helped me.
Dallas has helped me understand the Gospel is not just forgiveness of sins – though it absolutely includes that. Jesus’s gospel is to re-think our thinking, the kingdom of God is available to everyone, no matter their condition – even the poverty stricken, spiritually poor, morally bankrupt, rich, overweight, depressed, etc. can step right into God’s kingdom by trusting Jesus. No “condition” prevents anyone from entering into God’s life. That is good news!
This has helped me seek God as present and available to me right now – to know God and see his kingdom is actively at work in my life through nature, his provision for me and his power in my life.
Dallas has helped me to know the human self is not mysterious. God made us with specific dimensions, that function as a whole. As we progressively surrender them they can be increasingly healed as they receive the life of Christ and mature in it.
Dallas has helped me understand that eternal living begins now and that salvation is life, the life of Christ in me. He’s also helped me understand hat the easy yoke of Jesus is a life lived thoughtfully and effectively engaging in the spiritual disciplines. Disciplines are not merit badges or brownie points with God. They are time tested and Jesus used means of providing a place to meet with God and have our bodies and all other dimensions transformed by God’s life and grace.
Dallas has helped me understand how God speak to us and what we can do to improve our ability to hear him speak and have confidence in his guidance.
Dallas has helped me to understand that eternal life is actual knowledge or interactive relationship with God. We can come to know God is real and trust him just like we can come to know and trust many things in our world that are material in nature vs. spiritual. Spiritual knowledge can be trusted.
Dallas has helped me know “I’m an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great Universe” as such, I have a glorious future ahead of me. This has freed me from thinking “I’m old”, to excitedly think what my life with God will like and what we’ll be doing together in 500 years.
As a result the people in my family, apprenticeship group, work relationships, friends and time strangers are coming know about and trust God in the ways that Dallas has helped me. God’s life is moving and growing in others and myself in ways that without Dallas would not have happened.
Thank you Dallas! May Christ refresh you today and encourage you with how he is able to work with others and me because of you.
“Love=engagement of the will for the good of another.” This informs so very much of what I do as a mom, wife, friend and person in ministry. Also “stop trying to get people to do things.”
Dallas’ books, words and thoughts have impacted my life deeply. Time and time again, I find myself quoting Dallas. That doesn’t count all the ideas I’ve absorbed but have forgotten came from him (from God via Dallas, really).But the greater impact has been this: I am better able to believe God is fond of me after seeing Dallas interact with other people and after interacting with Dallas myself. When I look at the memorial photos of Dallas, what I see is God’s gentle fondness shining through.
Dallas confirmed what I knew in my heart: the kingdom is real, accessible, and glorious. I hope others will get that confirmed by me.
The kingdom “here” and “now” from right where you are…. Because Dallas taught and modeled what he did, Jesus is at the heart of a dental clinic in Oregon where others are being ministered to even as they are treated by a health professional regardless of their insurance benefits!
When I had my “15 minutes with Dallas” as part of Renovaré International Spiritual Formation Institute at Menlo Park we met in the old mansion at the retreat center. The mold and its smell were almost overwhelming . . . and Dallas patiently sat in it and saw God knows how many of us. He was tired, and looked it. I addressed him as “my dear professor”, and so he will always be to me. Yes, he reminded me of my dad, who was a department head at a small private college in Virginia . . . and loved his students as did Dallas. That day I wanted to encourage Dallas, so I let him know what Ocean View Church had been doing in my twenty-plus years as pastor, and what the United Methodists as a denomination were up to in the areas of discipleship and spiritual formation. His eyes widened, and brightened, and filled with tears. When I asked him what to do next, he said “O, keep going! Go on! Keep on doing, keep on following; just go on!”
Thank you is a great way to mark the transition in a great life. I am thankful beyond words for Dallas and for what his influence will be accomplishing for decades to come. I will never regret the decision to apply to participate in the Renovaré Institute in 2010. I am so thankful that I heeded the Lord’s prompting not to wait. Every bit of the time, expense, transcontinental travel and inconvenience was worth having the privilege to bask in his teaching and his lovely presence. God gives each of us the grace to follow in Dallas’s footsteps to some degree, and I aspire to be something like the kind of grandfather he was. What a joy to know that we will all be reunited!
I rejoice that God created, formed, and transformed Dallas. I’m almost rendered speechless as I think about how words might bear witness to how much God has done in my life as a result of Dallas. Thanks, thanks, thanks, for living in partnership with God to such an extent that everywhere you went and whatever you spoke, God was glorified. Ultimately, you didn’t care if a person walked away from an encounter with you saying, “oh my how brilliant Dallas Willard is!” You were most content, rather, if the person walked away saying, “oh my, how good and gracious is our God!” My prayers are with you, Jane, John, Becky, Bill and Larissa. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord’s face shine upon you and give you His peace. Peace, Roberta Mosier-Peterson
Prayers and love go out to each of you as you process and grieve the loss of Dallas. He has so many roles in your lives… companion, husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, guide, co-laborer and more. Dallas was also a rabbi to many and was loved by many, many people and I am among them. The qualities about Dallas that impacted my life made a profound and eternal difference in my life; countless others I am sure have told you the same.
THANK YOU FOR SHOWING US HOW TO LIVE IN THE KINGDOM. YOU NOT ONLY TAUGHT US, SHARED WITH US, AND LOVED US, BUT YOU TAUGHT US BY YOUR WORDS BUT MOSTLY BY YOUR LIFE. TO BE WITH YOU WAS TO BE WITH AN ABSOLUTE, AUTHENTIC DISCIPLE OF JESUS. YOU NOT ONLY HAD THE WONDERFUL GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, BUT YOU WERE ANOINTED TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO BE LIKE JESUS. WE WILL MISS YOU TERRIBLY. LET MY “LAST WORDS” TO YOU BE, “THANK YOU.” JAN
Several years ago, I came across the writings of Dallas Willard and was helped significantly in understanding how to live in a Christlike manner by them. Then, I had the privilege of hearing Dallas teach in The Renovaré Institute of Christian Spiritual Formation. I am grateful for the contribution that Dallas has made to our understanding of Christian spirituality and especially for helping me to know how to better follow Christ.
C. S. Lewis said it, but Dallas Willard for one lived it. “Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ…Christ is the Son of God…We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has – by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.” – Thank you Jesus for giving us your servant Dallas that we might see you more clearly in and through him.
I am grieving over Dallas’ death, yet rejoicing for his glorious entrance into the light of God’s presence. Struck down, but not destroyed. How I was hoping and praying that with the power of many asking, that Dallas would be another Hezekiah with 15 more years of life with his dear family. We, his larger family of Christ, needed his further meditations and teaching and books. To you, his family: A heartfelt thank you to you, Jane, in encouraging Dallas to write and share his wisdom. Blessings, Jane, John, Becky, Bill and Laurisa for cheering him on and for all the hours he was away from you. Thank you for sharing him with us and the larger body of Christ. Dallas modeled the power of asking for me: I was a new student starting the Denver Renovaré Institute, and recently thrust into the whirlwind tornado of breast cancer and treatments, cap covering my bald head. Along with my husband, we approached Dallas after one of his first lectures. We were wondering could this power of asking really be true for us? Dallas was sincere, warm, and welcoming. . . “yes, of course” and grabbing my hands he asked if he could pray for me. “Father, this is your DEAR CHILD”. . . repeated again with such tender emotion and rising concern, though he had just met me. He went on to pray for my cells to be corrected in whatever way that was needed, for healing and restoration, and for me to somehow know if the healing had taken place. So what is it that drew me to this man. . .Sincere, warm, welcoming, approachable impartial, open and non-defensive. Teaching in the most startling profound, authoritative way yet simple, understandable and with homespun stories and humor. Paradigm shift of the Kingdom being open and available NOW. That the central mission of the church is to make disciples/apprentices of Christ. Giving HOPE to those who have long been struggling or discouraged. Depending on, obeying and listening to the Father in an interactive conversation. Giving ENCOURAGEMENT that obeying what Jesus taught and modeled was really POSSIBLE! Why I am so drawn to this man. . . JESUS in Dallas, and Dallas in Jesus. More than any other human I have ever met, Dallas helped me see and experience the reality of Jesus here and now. GLORY! “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corithians 3:17-18
Martha Hendrickson Denver Renovaré Institute Cohort
I had the privilege of being in the first cohort of the Renovare Spiritual Formation Institute. I knew all the faculty would be good but I applied because of Dallas Willard. His writings had totally messed with my mind! My paradigm about life in the Kingdom has shifted in significant ways. I could not believe the gracious gift of God to be able to meet Dallas and talk with him. I had to stay on my tiptoes intellectually in his teaching sessions which I loved, but his life, his person taught me even more. I just kept thinking, “I want to be like that when I grow up!” And I was 47 at the time! Of course, what I really want is to be more like Jesus. But Dallas gave me tangible hope that this was possible. Dallas helped me know and love God. I could only wish that someone would say that of me some day.He walked up and sat down by me at breakfast one morning with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, and he said, “There’s going to be peanut butter in heaven! Do you want to know how I know?” Of course, I said I wanted to know. And he laughingly said, “Because God is GOOD!” I wonder how many peanut butter sandwiches Dallas has had since Wednesday.
Thank you Dallas for opening the door to truly understanding the reality of the Kingdom of God. Those two weeks I spent with you in 2007 sent me on a journey and a quest for living each day in the reality of the Kingdom. I am forever changed by your writings and speaking and will forever pursue the easy yoke of living in the Kingdom. Andrew Ranucci
Dallas, the days since your passing have been ones mixed with great grief and great joy. Great grief because we’re temporarily deprived of your presence, your warmth, your smile, your encouragement, your unhurried pace, your love, your walk with Jesus – for a little while. But also great joy in knowing like Bonhoeffer, you “are now more alive than ever before” and because of your work with Jesus, countless beachheads for the kingdom of the heavens and the “with God life” have been established and will be established in the years to come. Like the great reformers before you, you’ve helped clarify, reposition and invitingly put on public record the Gospel of Jesus for countless people and generations to come. Amazing grace indeed.On a personal note, thank you, thank you, thank you. You helped change my life from the inside out by helping me to hear Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom, and encouraging me to reach out to him in trust. He responded as you assured he would, he showed up! Since then, he’s continued to infuse his eternal kind of life into me by grace as I provide the needed effort to learn and open myself up to him – again, just as you assured he would. Thank you my dear mentor, friend and fellow apprentice of Christ. You are a blessing! May we bless you by carrying on your work empowered by Jesus – savior, teacher, Lord and friend.
I believe it has only been in the last five years or so (I just turned 71) that I discovered the writings of Dallas Willard. I have since given myself to seriously studying and reflecting on his teachings. I honestly feel today that no single person has been used by the Lord to impact my life for the Kingdom more than Dallas Willard. My understanding of life in the Kingdom and the meaning of discipleship have been forever changed. I am deeply grateful to the Lord for pointing me to Dallas’ teachings. To his dear family: my deepest sympathy, thoughts, and prayers are with you at this time.
Through the Renovare Institute (Atlanta) I was so blessed to sit under Dallas’s teaching in October 2011 & March 2012. Making the trek from Australia to learn under Dallas’s teaching was an experience that has changed my life and those around me forever to come. Dallas’s teaching was at a level that will take a simple mind like mine, many years to unpack, but what impressed me and left his mark on me was not his great insights, and weighty knowledge, but it was his humility and ability to talk to us in a lecture or over a meal in a way that just dripped of authenticity in Christ. A man that lived what he taught, and taught what he lived. I may never meet a man like Dallas again, who so modeled my savior, who engaged me to live a life that was more then I have ever lived before, to seriously pursue Christ. I will be eternally grateful for this man. May our glorious Father comfort you all in this time of loss, words will not express my heart felt love and prayers for you all. I like many will now share the load of Dallas’s work to see his vision continue to change lives for God.
Along with others in our Denver Cohort in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Institute, I spent two weeks under Dallas’s teaching. As I soaked everything in at Glen Eyrie and St. Malo and as I spoke with Dallas for a good half hour (he scheduled 1/2 hour appointments for those who desired them), I thought, “I know what Jesus is like.” And so now I weep that our teacher is gone. I have some sense of the sadness that the disciples must’ve felt when Jesus said he’d be with them no longer because he must ascend to the Father. The way Dallas communicated Jesus’s truth in this time in history is amazing. And though loved by thousands, he was a servant not a celebrity. He was the kindest and most others-centered person I’ve ever met (not to mention brilliant). As so many others have noted, he made us feel like we were the only people in the world that mattered–he paid so much individual attention to us and sought our good.But I think what is most important is that his life and death leave me hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Because of him, I want to be more like Jesus.
I would like the family to know what a profound difference Dallas made on my life. I was one of the few business guys in the first Renovaré cohort out of Menlo Park. Dallas was love on a mission. In response to Dallas’ encouragement I am going to redouble my efforts; pursuing Christ in the company of others, calling others to Kingdom adventures, and looking for opportunities to make my teacher smile.
Even though we know Dallas’ life continues in the full Kingdom; it is still a time of sadness and tears. Please remember that there are countless of us, your sisters and brothers in Christ from around the world, who stand beside you as you mourn. What can I say… mere words will be insufficient. I can only say that Dallas is (not was) an extraordinary disciple of Jesus! He literally reoriented my life to that of a kingdom life, first through his books and teaching, and most recently through the Renovare Institute (Atlanta). In kronos time (human time,) I spent only a few cumulative days with him. But in kairos time (God’s time,) Dallas had an eternal impact on my life.
I had been a Christian for 40 years and had been an ordained chaplain for 4 years but I was not experiencing growth like I had read about in the old classics. In fact, I had been raised under good teaching as a child so I knew by that time in my life and ministry I should be experiencing more maturity, illustrated by increased patience, joy and love. I shared my discouragement with my husband and a fellow chaplain and both of them, in God’s providence, were reading The Divine Conspiracy at that time. They both, independently, recommended that book to me. I remember so clearly that as I proceeded through that book over a period of a few weeks, I was overcome with tears, of hope and relief. Dallas Willard was explaining to me exactly what I needed to know to become again a disciple of Jesus not just a professor of the Christian faith. That was over 10 years ago and I have read and reread every book Dallas wrote on spiritual formation since. I praise God routinely for Dallas and the gift he has been to me and to my husband, family and every military service member I have ministered to since that day. God changed me eternally through His servant, Dallas Willard and I am so grateful.
Dear Family and Friends of Dallas, I only met Dallas briefly at the March cohort in Santa Barbara, but, through the years, have come to know him as a spiritual guide and mentor through his books. His clear thinking and profound commitment to Jesus Christ was an inspiration to me. I was reading the Divine Conspiracy again four years ago when I came upon these words, “Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us.” I stopped reading and meditated on those words knowing they were true but not true for me. They became my vision until they seized my heart.
Dallas, your words and books inspired me like no other. I looked forward for three years to see you in person and God provided the opportunity- I saw a man who was closest to St John, writing and speaking about love and being all that we were created to be. Your words will echo in my heart and be references for continuous transformation until I come face to face as well. I think of what you must be experiencing now, and although we grieve, there is joy knowing you are living in the promised land far greater than anyone can imagine. Your family is in my prayers. Thank you – Your inspiration will continue to feed those who seek the Kingdom of God first.
Studying under Dallas was one of the great privileges of my life. He is a wise, intelligent, and thought-full man who broadened and deepened me through his teaching. He is a kind and gentle man who reflected Jesus in this world, and who was tender to me in the grief of losing my daughter.
What a gift Dallas is to the family of God! I have been blessed beyond measure by the writing and teaching of this treasure of a man. Additionally, Gary Moon’s heart and natural way of embodying that which is admirable has shaped my life with God. The fact that these two great men come together in this work is a great encouragement to me on a personal level. I can’t wait to read the book!
I can’t say enough about Dallas. I first met him on the pages of The Divine Conspiracy, the book that changed my life. I sensed his sincere love of God by just reading his words. When I met him in person, I saw in his facial expressions, his body language, and his demeanor, that he lived the life he was talking and writing about. I knew that the Lord was his Shepherd. When I visited him at his home when he was sick, I realized that he actually lived a simple life. His attitude during his final illness is what really impacted me. I see a lot of sick and dying people in my line of work. The grace I saw in Dallas was different. It communicated hope in the life to come. Dallas: I love you. Thank you for letting God shape you to become the person you became. We saw Christ in you.
There is a word that encompasses a prayer for the way I hope to live the rest of my life. That word is “relaxed”. It was the word Dallas used to describe Jesus. I long to continually live in the reality of God’s presence and care, always with me. Wherever I am. Dallas had learned this well and wore it well wherever he was. How very thankful I am for his life, influence, and teaching.
The teaching of Dallas Willard was instrumental in the hands of the Holy Spirit in throwing open my life to Trinitarian participation and engagement. In a time of great upheaval with my physical body, I found Dallas’ teaching on the Kingdom of God to be life-saving and hope-fueling. I came to understand that what was going on was “grace” – God acting in my life. It was in the midst of trying to change my lifestyle toward health (a life-long battle) that I experienced a power working with me that made it almost easy. I didn’t understand what was going on until I heard (and devoured!) Dallas’ teaching sessions at the Knowing Christ Conference just before he died in 2013. A ripple effect went throughout my life and many other spheres were also transformed.
I was introduced to Dallas Willard’s work in 2015. Even though I have been a Christian all of my life, I yearned for more and knew there was more. While reading The Divine Conspiracy I discovered my soul language. Dallas opened up the Kingdom to me. I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast when the Beast gives Belle the library. What never ending knowledge, mystery, and possibility lie ahead! Through this knowledge and practical advice I have experienced some revolutionary changes in my soul and life. God’s grace is given here “like a 747 uses fuel.” I praise God for His workings through Dallas and for Dallas’s willingness and faithfulness to be used. I also praise God for Jane Willard’s faithfulness and encouragement to Dallas and all others around her. May we all carry our “lamps” into each moment and work collectively with Jesus to further God’s Kingdom here and now!
Click on a name to read their tribute to Dallas Willard.
Dallas is my spiritual director. Long before I met him, I was being shaped by his writings. The experience of being with him studying at the retreat center has forever changed me. The course was profound. The time was profound, and the man was profound. Those are all true, but what I most remember were his humility and his encouragement. About six months after the course I wrote him and asked for direction because I felt that my spiritual plan was not producing fruit. He graciously wrote back deep personal encouragements to me, with not a hint of judgment, and obvious grace and gentleness. He was what he said and did. He was a man growing into beautiful integrity. It continues to be my joy to study and teach from his writings.
Dallas’ exemplified what it is like to listen well to others, to not be hurried, and to live peacefully and joyfully, moment by moment, in the presence of the Lord. He encouraged me to write, to listen for God’s voice, and to teach others how to experience God. I will forever be grateful for his wisdom and friendship.
I am an ordained pastor today because of Dallas Willard. I was ready to give up working so hard to be a good Christian. I heard of, The Spirit of the Disciplines. A Christian bookstore had an expensive hardcover version. Leaving without it, a voice in my head said, “It is going to change your life, is it worth $16.96. I bought it. It changed my life. Over the next ten years, I sought to live out the message of the kingdom as described by Dallas. Eventually, Dallas participated in my ordination. Finally, I was able to take his DMIN class. That experience intensified my efforts to live and communicate apprenticeship to Jesus Christ. While I have developed my own language, my intention is to have Dallas’ teaching as the foundation of the ministry I share to this day, now more than twenty years since my ordination.
In 1994, my only knowledge of Dallas Willard was that I had read two of his books: The Spirit of the Disciplines and In Search of Guidance. And yet, there I was, a student in Fuller’s DMin program (’94-98), sitting at the feet of this sage. Listening to Dallas lecture brought new meaning to the concept of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). I’ll never forget him saying, “We live at the mercy of our ideas.” But it wasn’t just his impressive intellect that I remember; it was his kindness and compassion that I remember most. Dallas was the first living person I’d ever encountered who really believed living like Jesus was attainable and who exuded the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). I will forever be grateful for the influence Dallas Willard had on my life.
Kevin J. Navarro, CRM, Empowering Leaders
During the two weeks of the retreat Dr. Willard offered counsel concerning what direction I should take with my DMin project. I followed his guidance and developed one chapter in my thesis around a book he recommended during our time together. Also at the retreat he offered spiritual care, laid hands on me and personally and privately prayed for me. This was much needed and much appreciated at the time. Lastly, I included an entire chapter in my thesis on Dr. Willard’s observations relating to the Kingdom of God and the local church. Dr. Willard profoundly reshaped my vision of ministry and the church. Through him my call to ministry was reaffirmed, redirected and re-inspired. No other teacher has touched my life and deeply and profoundly as Dr. Willard. I give thanks to God that I had the privilege of sitting at his feet, a man who was truly one of Christ’s great apprentices.
I had little appreciation and understanding of the Kingdom of God and the effects of a “sin-management” gospel on me prior to my class with Dallas. From the first day teaching (including his instruction to tired leaders that “we all get 10 hours of sleep that first week because the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep”) I was inspired to become and be the kind of person where I would do what Jesus did if he were in my shoes. I have found the VIM paradigm useful not just in my spiritual journey, but in coaching and mentoring others. And the encouragement received to “experiment” in spiritual disciplines and discerning God’s voice was liberating. Such was his influence that I cried when I heard he had passed on to glory. Gratitude to him and to God fills me.
Through his Fuller course, books, and a variety of personal conversations, Dallas shepherded me into the spiritual practices that have shaped and sustained me over a long journey of life and leadership. His humble, powerful, Jesus-like presence cast a vision that made me want to become intentional in pursuing the means of grace ‰ÛÓ in hope of becoming just a bit more like him.
Dan Meyer, Christ Church of Oak Brook
One of the things I most appreciated about the Fuller DMIN was the carefully selected pre-reading list. The first course I took in 2001 included THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY by Dallas Willard. This book was to change the direction of my ministry and spiritual life. For example on (p344) Dallas mentions that he has never found a church which taught a six week course on “How to bless people who spit on you” and I thought that would be a good idea to try and write one for our local church at St Ninian’s Prestwick.
Based on some of the central tenets of the book and using film clips to try to make the topics as accessible as possible. And at the same time I wrote to the publisher asking if they would forward a letter to Dallas, in which I asked if he would be willing to come and lead a teaching week-end in our little church (100 members) should he ever be in the U.K.
Dallas graciously accepted and in 2002 taught a two day conference on V.I.M (a central theme of his book Renovation of the Heart which was about to be published.). All of our family greatly appreciated his friendship and encouraging presence. Looking back it was so typical of his kindness to come all the way to be with a group of people he had never had any previous contact with.
As we walked back home from the church he mentioned Renovaré to me. I had some information about this but I told him that I was always a bit wary of organized spiritual processes. He put an arm around my shoulders and said, “Philip just use what is good in it and leave the rest”. I said, “Dallas ministers in this country don’t usually put their arms round the shoulders of their colleagues.” He replied, “Well they need to!”
Following the visit I did get involved with Renovaré UK and served on their board for seven very fulfilling years. In 2003 I was able to attend the Spirituality and `Ministry module of the DMIN course. In was a most wonderful experience and certainly gave me a completely new vision for moving forward in ministry. I had been very active in the Charismatic renewal in Scotland but despite the fact that there had clearly been genuine spiritual awakening, I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of long term results It was as if the missing link in the Charismatic Renewal was being provided by the teaching and example that Dallas gave- stressing the constant need to pay attention to ‘growth’ in Christian Character.
Accountability groups such as those championed in the Renovaré movement were key in this and since meeting with Dallas I have always belonged to at least one such group. Not only that but several members of my family have become very influenced by his writing and example. I would put it down to the depth of spiritual insight that he exuded and the very real sense of goodness that he had grown into.
He did once say to me, “Philip if you had known me as a younger man you wouldn’t have liked me!” But I did like him and I doubt really if that could be true. Bless you Dallas for pouring yourself out for others in such a Christ-like way.
The concept of “living an eternal kind of life” was especially intriguing since I come from a Holiness Pentecostal tradition. Dallas helped me apply it in such a way that it became foundational to my doctoral project. More practically, the personal time he invested in me and my concerns during the class was precious. He assured me God was at work both in the areas of ministry concern but even more importantly in my greatest areas of personal concern. His words were prophetic in nature speaking both wisdom and peace. I have attempted to teach and follow his example of mentorship in my family, congregation, and my international influence within our faith tradition. It was a great privilege to be a part of the final Fuller class Dallas was able to teach. It has been an invaluable legacy of eternal living and future hope.
Prior to Fuller I have not heard of Dallas Willard. I audited in Aug 1999 because I had not been able to complete the required readings, and was still adjusting to a study sabbatical after almost 18 years of unbroken ministry… at the two-week seminar not only was I refreshed, but I found myself drinking in the ‘lectures’ as the lecturer was not speaking from his notes, but from his heart. A deep spiritual hunger was awoken, and I found myself being ‘fed’ and I drank heavily to quench my spiritual ‘thirst’. So I told myself I am returning to take the class for credit the following year. More prepared by the readings, reflections and receptivity in my spirit, I was thoroughly blessed as many, many things came together for me and I journalled with great freedom. I told the Fuller D Min Director that ‘if I had only attend the Dallas Willard seminar’ it was worth the entire D Min program… for I think I met God in the person of Dallas Willard.. only two or at most three persons have struck me in this way, and I am 71 this November! I thank God profusely for Dallas’ life as an example of integration of truth and grace, and for his writings … it encouraged me to see that it is possible to take Jesus’ teachings seriously for today, and to live them out from the transformation within … and I continue to be inspired today in my teaching, using much of Dallas’ books and DVDs on Christian Spirituality to bless many generations of students from Asia. I am a lecturer with the Discipleship Training Centre in Singapore.
Our class instructions were to leave computers at home and diminish cell phone use to experience Christ freely. I complied. Dallas explained, “Pastors must never hurry because God never gives anyone too much to do.” After sleeping the assigned ten hours for three nights, I began to love this guy! He taught me what it takes to survive as a minister and why survival is worthwhile. He told us that we cannot do the job so we must learn to rely on Christ and give the outcome to him.
Dallas met with each student individually. He did not shy away from affirming my concerns, which others usually dismissed. He helped me see where God might be at work in my concerns. I’ve followed his instructions to give more space to home, family, and my own spiritual health, which has provided greater reliance on God’s power, easing the weight of ministry.
Before taking Dallas Willard’s “Spirituality and Ministry” class, I didn’t know Jesus’ Gospel was about the Kingdom of God. I knew Jesus died on the cross and was risen from the tomb for my sins and for the sins of the world, but my life and my preaching was not about the Good News of God’s Kingdom at hand (Mark 1:15). Ten years later I still return to the notes and audio recordings I have from those days with Dr. Willard. Because of Dr. Willard’s gentle spirit and forceful teaching, my personal spiritual life and pastoral ministry is shaped by a dynamically interactive life with Jesus.
Dallas Willard blessed me by speaking at my ordination, serving on my ministry’s Advisory Board, endorsing my first book, and serving on my wife’s Ph.D. dissertation committee at USC. After auditing Dallas’ maiden “Spirituality and Ministry” DMIN class at Fuller, I jumped at the opportunity to take it for credit the next year. His voice echoes throughout my books and teaching. More importantly, I believe I am a better person because of my time with Dallas. He was a good writer and speaker, but he was an even better person. He embodied humility, contentment, and authenticity. Whenever I would ask Dallas what he would like me to pray for, he would always say, “Wisdom and strength.” Though more than five years have now passed since seeing him face-to-face, I still glean from Dallas’ wisdom and strength on my own road of transformation.
Thank you for the opportunity to share regarding the life changing impact Dr. Dallas Willard had on me. I attended the Spirituality and Ministry class in the Summer of 2008. I vividly remember by the first Tuesday morning of that course, approximately 10:30 a.m., I raised my hand and expressed to Dr. Willard that what he was presenting was amazing and could he please slow down? He looked up, smiled and continued at his pace. I had read his writings, but listening to him present the information was mind boggling for me.
My one-to-one counseling session with Dallas was completely life changing for me. I came to this class during a time when I had recently left my childhood church. I had been on staff at that same church for the past twenty years. I remember weeping as I shared that the new senior pastor had been hired and he asked myself and my husband to leave the church. Dr. Willard’s normally gentle spirit became very defensive for me. He strongly recommended clear boundaries for me to create with this church. Almost en years later I am still adhering to his helpful guidelines.
As a mental health counselor, during the two-week class, I was closely observing Dr. Willard. At one point I decided one of the women assisting him with the class must have been his wife. Admittedly, I was disappointed watching them interact. They were kind but didn’t seem close. Later in the week, I was the only person setting in the classroom, when Mrs. Willard walked in. Their embrace touched my heart. This was obviously the woman he adored. I gawked as I watched them embrace, he was caressing her hair and the depth of their love filled the entire room. I had to laugh to myself how mistaken I was about who his wife was and how much I enjoyed observing the beauty of the love between this married couple.
My airline schedule necessitated me leaving thirty minutes early on the final day of class. I calculated that I had heard sixty-five hours of him lecturing over the previous two weeks. As I got up to leave Dr. Willard began sharing a concept that was completely new and fascinating to me. What an amazing way to leave a two-week class, hungry for more.
There are many more stories I could share about the significance of those two week on my life and the joy of observing a humble man eating meals, singing, praying and celebrating life with Fuller students. Thank you again for this opportunity, I have regretted that I intended to write and thank him personally but he passed before I did.
Dr. Willard honored God by being a coalescing voice pointing the way back to Life in the Kingdom, here and now. As time has progressed, I have become increasingly aware of the many others within the Church that exist in our time. Of these, none has had a greater impact on me personally than Dr. Willard. This is most evident in the fact that I now live within a reality of being a Disciple who is naturally used by God to “make” fellow Disciples. These individuals in turn are doing the same.
Out of curiosity and passion, I started practicing spiritual disciplines in my early forties without much direction and guidance. After nearly twenty years of frustration giving up, I finally had a chance to enroll in the DMIN course taught by the master-teacher. The course offered much more than just instructions, which was my prior expectation; students lived with the instructors for fourteen days in an undisturbed serene environment. As an instructor, mentor, and spiritual father, Dallas lit up the lamps of the lives of students. The experience with Dallas has inspired and strengthened me as an advocator and leader of a personal devotion program in my church. This year (2017), I was given even more chances to light up other “lamps”as I accepted the adjunct professorship of teaching Spiritual Formation MDIV courses at Gateway (Golden Gate) Seminary and Truth Theological Seminary. “Lamplighter,” what an appropriate metaphor for Dallas!
It was just this week that I finished “Preparing for Heaven” by Dallas and Gary Black. In the opening chapters, Gary’s own story of taking Spirituality and Ministry took me back to my own experience 10 years ago. And how my view of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and my own vocation was forever changed. My notebook for Spirituality and Ministry stays on my desk. The congregation I now serve may be tired of me saying, “Dallas Willard once said,” and “Dallas Willard once wrote.” My children may tire of it as well. But I am not tired of having a deep well of wisdom to turn to that was so evident in Dallas’ life and writings. I am not tired of hearing a consistent call to discipleship…or as Dallas would say, apprenticeship to Jesus.
From Dallas Willard’s opening question “Was Jesus smart?” my 1995 classroom experience of Spirituality and Ministry led me to places I had never been and rearranged my ministry for the decades that followed. I took copious classroom notes, and even when he lost me, I always knew Willard was saying something important. I spent the next two decades studying those notes along with his other writings, and sometimes think I should apologize for referring to him so often. In my pastoral work, I spent two years teaching his book, Renovation of the Heart, and even in retirement, I find myself reading Dallas Willard again and again. It is no exaggeration to say that studying with Dallas Willard became the pivot point of my spiritual development and ministry.
Dallas Willard transformed my thinking and practice of the Christian spiritual life. Dallas had the audacity to take Jesus at his word that the Kingdom of God was present and accessible, and that regular people could experience its transformative power. Dallas’ view on spiritual training through the practice of classic disciplines revolutionized my view of Christian discipleship. Dallas’ teaching on the Christian life inspired me to incorporate a greater focus on spiritual training into my work as both a pastor and holistic health and wellness coach.
The greatest impact from the time spent with Dallas was getting to experience who he was as a Christ-like person… his tone, words, and actions portrayed the fruit of the Spirit in so many simple, yet profound ways. He listened so patiently to students going on and on. He deferred from the use of any fancy titles or special regard on his behalf. He gave us freedom to use any of his materials with or without giving specific credit to him. In every way, Dallas proved to be a person more like Christ than anyone I have ever known. He gave me a vision for a transforming friendship with Christ that has continued to shape my passion and pursuit every day of my life and ministry. He said, “Take these things you are learning from me, make them your own, and integrate them into the ministry God has given you.” That’s exactly what I have done in teaching and discipling others through the ministry of MentoringSacredArts.com. Thank you, Dallas! Thank You, Lord!
Like so many “good and faithful servants”, Dallas was a conduit of God’s grace. He not only helped me to “think again on my thinking” in so many arenas of life, he did so in such a way that gave me space to reconsider my ideological and theological constructs without a sense of coercion, manipulation or judgment. This spirit of Jesus in Dallas came through in what could have been an intense interaction with a student in class. When confronted, Dallas did as Dallas does with his uncanny way of agreeing or disagreeing with others in an agreeable manner, without criticism or insistence on his own ideas. Although the intensity of the moment was averted, I witnessed in that moment what I often sense in Dallas’ writing, namely, the highest form of humility that looks a lot like Jesus. And it is this kind of humility that continues to shape how I listen to and interact with others. Thank you Dallas for being a lot less heat than light in the kingdom and my life!
My final paper for GM720 was 80-pages in length! Because of Dallas’ encouraging feedback, I later turned that paper into a 208-page book titled Christ’s Empowering Presence: The Pursuit of God through the Ages (IVP, 2011). I dedicated the book to Dallas, intending it as an “homage,” an indication of how important his course and personal example have been to me. I still engage daily in the “pursuit.” Dallas inspired me to write about. Literally thousands of university students have been inspired to do the same. Thus, Dallas’ impact upon my life and ministry has been immeasurable! I’ll be forever grateful.
Dallas always took the time to listen deeply to whatever question was asked. He did the best job of anyone I know both living and defining what spiritual formation practically looks like. He blessed everyone he was around, often taking the time to put a hand on a shoulder, offer a prayer, or even place his hand on one’s heart as he prayed for you. His gentle yet profound words resonated deeply and always seemed to get lodged in my thinking and feelings in a way that no other teacher has ever done. He was one of several people who have most influenced the trajectory of my own calling in founding and leading SOULeader Resources for almost 20 years now. While I quote him often, I can still hear him saying, “there’s no need to reference who you’re quoting.” He freely gave away his words and his life – just a God freely gives grace.
I took Dr Willard’s DMin course on spirituality back in Burlingame, CA, back in 2003 I think. I was inspired to set the goal of doing a personal, silent, directed retreat within six months of the course. Well, it didn’t happen for ten years, but when It did, the retreat became critical to the unfolding of my life’s direction at a most crucial moment. Always grateful for having sat at the feet of this remarkable man for those two delightful weeks.
The two weeks I spent with Dallas were amazing. I regard that time as a highlight of my life: invigorating, challenging and formative. The ideas presented there, and in his books, have remained with me since and have strongly influenced my preaching, writing, attitudes and daily life. My favorite memory of Dallas, though, is not of his brilliant ideas, but his humility. Several times in the class he would teach for a while, and we would sit there stunned. Then I would tentatively put my hand up and push back on his ideas, saying something like “But how can that work? The Bible says this? Couldn’t that not be the case because of … ?” And each time, his response was similar. “Well Stephen, I may be wrong in this. You might want to look into this a bit further”. What a response! How could you not look deeper into an issue with a reply like that? He did not bother trying to defend his position. He had no need to be proven right, did not mind if others disagree. Similarly, I asked Dallas how he handled being a lightning rod for controversy. He replied that in honesty he does not give it a moment’s thought. If someone asks him a question he answers as honestly as he can, and then does not look to see how people have responded. He had no assumption that he was always correct, no need to self-justify himself. He modeled both humility and a quest for wisdom. Now if only I could do some of this myself!
Dallas Willard changed my life. My husband and I attended the Fuller Seminary course in 2000 and it changed everything for us. I still hear “whispers” daily, and each is Dallas saying “Is God really LIKE that?” “Try it; experiment” “See what gives you life”…” “If you hear shame or blame it’s definitely NOT Jesus speaking to you…”
Towards the end of 1998 I stumbled into a Dallas Willard Seminar as an audit DMin student from Fuller. Newly arrived from Singapore I had not heard of Dallas Willard, but as I sat listening, my heart hungrily responded. I exclaimed, ‘this man knows God. He is teaching from his heart, not from his notes.” I was resolute to take this seminar again, this time for credit. That was how I ended up attending his Seminar twice. I was blessed by interacting with him personally in and out of class, by his books and articles–what I truly found exceptional and inspirational for myself, is that the writings are an extension of the man himself. There is no dichotomy between his teaching/explanations and his life. I did feel that I was looking into the face of God when I sat at his feet. I was so blessed that I told the DMin head at Fuller, that if this was the only course I did I was fully satisfied. Today I teach classes on Christian Spirituality, and one of my textbooks is ‘The Renovation of the Heart.’ Personally, the book that helped me most is ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines. ‘Of course, I was saddened by the news of Dallas’ homecall on May 8, and will mourn his passing… but it is really my selfish loss of knowing I won’t have the privilege of hearing him in person again. I am very, very thankful for all that Dallas has tried to show us, teach us and lead us to the path of training to follow Jesus. My heartfelt condolences to Jane especially, to John, Becky, her husband and daughter, who so generously shared him with us. May God’s comfort fill your hearts.
Dallas, In 2005 I spent 2 weeks with you at Sierra Madre in a Spirituality and Ministry Retreat. It was one of the most formative times of my life. Thank you for all you have given and done for the Kingdom.
The first time I met Dr. Willard was when he taught my Spiritual Disciplines class at Fuller Seminary. When he entered the classroom, I experienced something unusual that I had never experienced before or since, the spiritual climate of the room shifted! I literally turned my head to the doorway to see who or what had just entered. He literally carried in such a weighty presence of the Spirit of God that it was palpable. For the next two weeks, I came to realize that Dr. Willard had a relationship with the living God that I had only read about in the spiritual classics ; he was amazing and I wanted what he had. Over the course of the following year as I got to know him, he encouraged me to lose my mind and find my heart, and that I did and I have never been the same. I will miss him greatly! When Dr. Willard would pray after each of our classes, he would always end his prayer with a hearty “WHOOPEE”. I can imagine, on May 8th, when he stood before the one he loved the most, they made eye contact, and the Ancient of Days looked at his servant, smiled and said “WHOOPEE, WELCOME HOME!”
Dallas was a wonderful mentor, professor and Christian disciple-maker. I enjoyed learning to know him through his writings and especially through my doctor of ministry class on Spirituality at Fuller Seminary. His prayers and affirmations for me were very instrumental in encouraging me in my journey as a Pastor. His teachings and example have made a tremendous impact in my own spiritual formation. His ministry has truly been a gift of grace and hope. May Christ bring His comfort among all of us!
Dallas was one of my professors when I was taking my D.Min. I found him to be extremely insightful, and a deep thinker. During my two weeks with him my understanding of Spiritual Gifts deepened and my desire to make them part of my daily living was strengthened. Of course if was because of what he was teaching, but mostly it was because of how he lived what he was saying. His faith, his grace, his agape love flowed naturally from him.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life – those were among the first words I heard from Dallas Willard when I attended his course on Spirituality and Ministry…. And they have left their imprint ever since. More recently, out of the Knowing Christ Conference, I took away the challenge of living into the vision reality of life in the Trinity. Now Dallas’ transportation from vision reality into reality of vision has further underscored that it is possible to live this way. He did in life as he did in death – setting an example as Jesus did. I am so deeply grateful for his life – and for the immense privilege to have met him in person.
O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother Dallas. We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and to love him as a companion, colleague, and teacher on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth as faithful followers of Our Lord’s divine conspiracy, until, by your call, we are reunited with Dallas and those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 493, adapted) Dallas was first, to me, a gentle man. His wisdom rocked my world, but his kindness changed my heart. He was a bearer of hope in a church often filled with learned helplessness. He comforted my tears durning difficult times in the pastorate, he spoke gentle truths in my ears in classroom settings and meal time gatherings, and although he was a giant among men he never ever made anyone feel small. I became a better person, better husband, better father, and a better servant of our Lord because of Dallas Willard.
My sincerest condolences go to Dallas’ family and closest friends as they mourn his death. You will deeply miss his day-to-day presence and Christ-like goodness. I had a relatively brief opportunity to experience these in a two-week Fuller DMIN class/retreat spent with Dallas. Of course, there was wonderful course content, but more inspirational was how Dallas embodied Jesus with us and for us. Even before the class, God had used Dallas to change my life and ministry. I first encountered him through his books with The Divine Conspiracy making a huge impact on my theological thinking and walk with Christ. He helped me to see that in many ways I had been preaching a “reduced Gospel,” reducing God’s gracious work in our lives primarily to justification and turning sanctification into primarily our work done in response. Dallas along with John Ortberg have opened my eyes to the amazing divine gift that we can become more like Jesus. If I am not feeling great loss today, it’s because Dallas has left us such an amazing legacy of theological thought that will leave me and many others with much to read, reflect on, and apply for years to come. My hope and prayer is that his influence will only grow as the Church rediscovers kingdom practices and the presence of Jesus in our daily lives. I understand that Dallas’ last words were “Thank you.” I want to say, “No Dallas, THANK YOU.”
Two things stood out for me. First, his interpretation of Matt 5 differed from anything I have had or read; it made me sit right up since my seminar with him in Aug 1999 and I have not stopped meditating on what he had taught or written. Second, is the very person of Dallas himself, who embodied what he taught. I audited the seminar in 1999 but took it for credit in 2000 to give myself enough time to reflect on the radical teaching he taught and embodied. My debt to him is deep, and though I miss him, what he has left is an ongoing legacy that I am building on and passing on to the students I teach in Singapore at the Discipleship Training Centre.
Dallas taught one of the most significant courses in the Fuller DMIN program. He impacted our students in a most transformative way and he helped to shape the DNA of the DMIN program. I am grateful for his contribution to our students, and to my life as the Associate Dean of the program.
My first course for the Fuller D. Min program was held in Colorado Springs in 1994. I will never forget the first session when Dallas began the two week retreat. Having been an Episcopal priest for 14 years by then, he literally transformed my entire world! The Gospel of the Kingdom renewed my mind and heart. 24 years later, I continue to study, read, and re-read all of his books. I am always inspired by his life and words. He lived a radiant life in Jesus, and showed me the way. Thank you Dallas.
Click on a name to read their tribute to Dallas Willard.
I asked him at a conference in 1983 what his sense of calling was, and he said, “I just want to be a light at USC. That’s all. I’ve just asked God to make me a light.” And he was.
Professor of Philosophy Rockhurst University
I remember fondly our days at USC, where I worked on my Ph.D. with him. He was down to earth and full of humor, had a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight, and was passionately committed to philosophy as something that really mattered. He was among the best philosophy teachers I have known, and many times in class I was afraid to look at my watch in case I would find the class was almost over! He was also always available to talk. We had lunch with him many times to discuss topics from our work. He loved hamburgers and strawberry milk shakes and a good laugh! So we often told jokes amid our serious discussions! Once before a talk, I and my great friend and fellow student of Dallas’s, Doug Geivett, presented him with four hats, inscribed with the names of some of his favorite philosophers: (Edmund) “Husserl”, (Thomas) “Reid”, (G.E.) “Moore”. The fourth hat was inscribed with the name of our favorite philosopher: “Willard”! He was taken aback, but it was obvious that he was very pleased.
In any lifetime, there are at best only one or two people who completely transform the way we think about our short time on this earth. Such people are exceedingly hard to classify because they see all the ultimate issues of life in ways that their generation has either missed or disregarded. Unquestionably, Dallas Willard was one of those larger-than-life figures for the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He grappled as seriously as anyone ever has with the fundamental questions concerning the nature of consciousness, the ontological structures of knowledge, the philosophy of mathematics and logic, the existence of God, the history of philosophy, phenomenology, systematic metaphysics, the philosophy of Husserl, the truth of Christianity, discipleship to Jesus, the process of character transformation, the nature of a good life, and how specifically to become a good person. One only needs to look at Dallas’ unbelievable output of articles, books, video series, and lectures to see this.
I have never met anyone who was so singularly alive to the lifelong pursuit of truth concerning the crucial questions of human existence, while remaining thoroughly humble and approachable. In appearance, he seemed utterly ordinary—even slightly grandfatherly— (he once said to me, “Greg, I’m just a peasant”), until he began to speak. Within a few sentences, you would realize that you had never heard anyone say so much in so few words. However, it wasn’t only the content of his words that was compelling; it was also the way he said them. There was such a firm, warm, concern conveyed in his voice that one seemed to get a glimpse into his sterling character through his words. Although he was never the least bit pretentious, his lectures and sermons were almost always an accessible and inviting tour de force of insights, humor, quotations, stories, and Scriptures presented in a wholly new light. Listening, one kept thinking, “I never thought of that.” I recall that he started one sermon by saying, “The key to all of human history is man’s rejection of God and His ways.” Again, “God loves to forgive if He can only find a way” (Matt. 23.37). The surprising part was that he made it look so effortless. …
Two lines come to mind whenever I think of Dallas Willard. The first is from John’s Gospel: “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). The second is Plato’s description of Socrates from the closing line of the Phaedo: “the best, the wisest, and most righteous of all the men whom I have ever known.” …
… And then there were the countless lines of verse and song, from Shakespeare to Janis Joplin (yes, Janis Joplin!), and of course countless lines of Scripture, that Dallas had committed to memory, with which he’d occasionally season his talks, lectures and conversations. I’ll never forget an instance after a talk at Wheaton when, in response to a question, Dallas quoted from memory what must have been nearly a full chapter from the book of Hebrews (the quote went on and on), weaving it into an impressive answer that left the audience amazed! …
… The scope of Dallas’ knowledge distinguished him from all but a handful of intellectual heavyweights. But what distinguished him even from them, intellectually, was his ability to distill the wisdom of the ages and present it in accessible, memorable, and maximally insightful terms. …
… Lines [that summarized] important concepts and encapsulated key insights from the history of philosophy were common fare not only in Dallas’ lectures, but also in informal conversation. They fell from his lips like rain, usually expressed with a nonchalance that was entirely disproportionate to their significance, but beautifully consonant with Dallas’ own intellectual humility. …
… Almost everyone who has ever written anything about Dallas mentions, and describes more adequately than I can, the aura of otherworldly peace and love that he exuded, and which suffused the whole atmosphere around him. …
… [I certainly experienced this] and on one occasion I was suffering from a rather severe depressive episode related to my spiritual angst. Dallas spent an hour or more praying over me after which the depression was simply and entirely gone, and it has never come back. Life has not been a bed of roses ever since – that’s the stuff of fairy tales – but since that moment I’ve always been able to find the strength to cope with life, often by remembering his prayer and invoking it over myself again.
… It’s impossible to put into words the multi-level, generational influence Dallas has had on Christian philosophers, pastors, theologians, psychologists, educators and spiritual formation directors; and that’s the short-list of different types of influencers!
… No doubt, a “Willardian” perspective will continue to influence, even though Dallas personally eschewed the mere reproduction of “Willard-ites” as a substitute for people themselves personally experiencing the Kingdom of God.
… Dallas didn’t set out to make a movement or foster a trend. He did intend to cast a big vision for a “big God” in a big world. Ordained as a pastor, he never lost sight of the value of shepherding and caring for people, whether as a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California (1965-2012), or as a celebrated author, conference speaker and dear friend.
Prof Willard always believed in me. Even when it was hard he pushed me on. I am now a teacher and hope that I can be as patient, kind, and generous as Prof Willard was. Whatever good I do in life, it will be because of having watched him and seeing what a difference he made.
I had Prof Willard as my professor for my four years as an undergrad at USC. These were also his last years at USC. I went with an open mind and didnt know which profs would be worth listening to and which ones would be worth believing. After my first class with him in his classroom in Mudd Hall, I remember calling my mom and telling her that he was the greatest man in the world. I was a broken record and all my family and friends would hear about for the next four years (and still today) is how great that man is. I changed my major to philosophy the next day because I knew that if this was what philosophy was about then I had to do it all day every day. I loved his classes and took as many as I could. He always believed in me. Even when it was hard he pushed me on. I am now a teacher and hope that I can be as patient, kind, and generous as Prof Willard was. Whatever good I do in life, it will be because of having watched him and seeing what a difference he made.
I have a lasting impression of Dallas: he’s standing with one arm out with his hand connected to a source of purified and purifying power and his other arm stretched out to anyone who might wish take his hand and partake of that goodly power themselves.
… When I think of Dallas’s legacy today, and I often do, I think of his calm joyful, loving, generous and wise presence spreading nationally and internationally far beyond university walls. Yet I can’t help but revert to my early days with him in the intimate classroom setting as his very person pointed like an arrow to a better way to live. If we allow for a moment Aquinas’ view that beauty is goodness made visible, then I would add to his legacy that he was the most compellingly beautiful man many of us have ever met.
Whenever we’d meet to talk, it was always clear that Dallas exceeded me in every important respect: he was decidedly sharper, more insightful, and more knowledgeable. But if you only paid attention to his way of relating to me, you would’ve thought we were equals.
Because Dallas respected me. He thought of me and treated me as one of his peers. To put it in his terms, though he knew we weren’t equally worthy, he believed we were of equal worth, and so he was prepared to act as though that were true.
… [Once while visiting in his office late one evening] … long after the last bit of light would fade from Dallas’s office window, I’d get to the bottom of my long list of questions, and I’d apologize for having kept him so long. But he’d tell me that I had no reason to apologize and then he’d lean forward, shake my hand, and say, “We’re friends.”
[Dallas Willard was] the teacher with the greatest range in the School of Philosophy [at USC], regularly teaching courses in logic, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, history of ethics, philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy from the 17th through the 20th centuries, including both sides of the 20th century split between analytic philosophy and phenomenology.
I had the privilege of having Dr. Willard as my teacher and mentor at USC. Ever since, I always think of how lucky I was to encounter this generous, curious and gentle soul, who gave me so much of his time in his cramped office, where we would spend hours and hours talking about…everything. Dallas Willard was the kind of teacher I wish my children (or any child) would be so lucky to have — at least once in their lifetime. Although I am not particularly religious and have never read any of his books or lectures on Christianity, Dr. Willard’s impact on my development as a young man and as a philosophy student will remain with me for the rest of my life. My final class with him was a graduate metaphysics course, which I took with some eight other students sitting around a big rectangular dark wood table next to a fireplace. It was an amazing, thrilling experience to be there and debate such basic questions about existence, and to listen to Dr. Willard as he patiently guided us. Before the final exam, he told us we would be taking it at the library without supervision, and I asked him: “but Dr. Willard, the library has all the books we need to get the correct answers”, and he replied, “Ricardo, if you were to refer to those books because I am not there to check on you, I would have failed teaching you anything at all during all those years”. … may I just say that he was a father, teacher and role model all in one.
Dallas Willard influenced the way I teach with a simple yet profound statement: “As Christian educators, our duty is to show students reality” (Interview with Steve Porter, Biola University Fall Faculty Conference, August 2011). That one sentence was very encouraging to me and has stayed with me in every moment of my teaching. Many staff and faculty in the Biola University community are mourning the loss of Dallas Willard. A photo memorial to him has been resting at the foot of the cross in the Talbot seminary prayer chapel. On a more personal note, this past Fall I was very ill, and listening to an MP3 version of the book “Hearing God” got me through the worst of my pain. Dallas’s words were like balm to my soul (and body) as I felt powerless to change my situation. They helped me stay connected to God and sustained my hope. Earlier in 2012, while drafting a chapter for a forthcoming book on “The Prospects and Perils of Christian Scholarship in the Twenty-First Century”, I had cited Dallas’s reflection on “the possibilities of a life of free-hearted collaboration with Jesus and his friends in the kingdom of the heavens” (“Hearing God,” page 12) as a model for Spirit-filled academic community. His writing in “Hearing God” is so eloquent and persuasive, but it later took on even deeper meaning when I found myself turning to his words for consolation in a time of suffering. I will add an extra footnote at the beginning of my chapter, dedicating it to his memory.
I first met Dallas Willard in mid-August 1982. I had just been accepted in the Ph.D. program of the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Dallas had played an important role in that decision. I was offered a position as a Teaching Assistant and was expected to begin both studying and organizing discussion sessions for undergraduates in the Fall. I flew in from Paris. Dallas came to pick me up at LAX, introduced me to the professors of the department, to Ross Scimeca, the head librarian of the Hoose library, and to the administrative staff. When I left after graduation many years later, we remained in touch. We did so for fifteen years. I went back to France and we never stopped communicating. We called each other, read each other’s articles, wrote letters and e-mails. Dallas was an outstanding teacher. I remember him teaching a seminar in metaphysics on the theory of substance. A large portion of it was devoted to a critique of George Bealer’s 1982 book Quality and Concept. I also remember him teaching Husserl’s Logical Investigations. Dallas was by then a Husserl scholar of international standing. I think it is fair to say that his conception of philosophy was of a conceptual and argumentative discipline with a historical dimension. I do not think of Dallas as a Christian philosopher, more as a Christian and a philosopher. He will be greatly missed by his students and the philosophical community at large. Today, a few hours ahead of the memorial service to be held for him at Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, I think of his wife Jane, whom I met twice during my long stay in Los Angeles. I think of her grief, and I wish to offer her my sincerest condolences. I think of Dallas as a dear friend, as a person who was remarkably warm, generous and receptive. I remember the kindness of his smile as we took strolls around the peristyle in Mudd Hall, talking either idly or seriously. It didn’t matter. He was never at a loss for witty words of solace.
Dallas: Thank you for your love for Jesus, your family (and their love for you), which has truly touched my life and a testimony of the harmony of the Kingdom Life that all believers will enjoy forever. Thank God for your life here on earth and I look forward to when we meet again. I arrived at USC as a professor in the business school in 1967, two years after Dallas came to USC, and for five years we were both on the Faculty Senate, where I got to know him. Dallas was the calming, wise influence in so many deliberations, listening intently in the back of the Faculty dining room, and only speaking at the end of long, heated debates. I remember he would start out by saying: “It seems to me ….” and then give a concise summary of the discussion and presenting a resolution of some difficult issue, in a very measured tone, which was holy oil holy on troubled waters. He neither lectured nor pontificated, but was more like a friend coming along side to help and earned the deep respect of his colleagues. Dallas was a true “tent maker” in the sense of the Apostle Paul, with a profession and also a dedicated layperson. This is a view that many who have only read his Christian books have not had the privilege of seeing. He took his role as professor and department chair with all the forthrightness and integrity that a Christian should, being in the world but not of the world. I once was asking a student once why he was so agitated, and he said he was in Dr. Willard’s philosophy class that day and the student was trying to argue that there is no God, and Dallas had gently lead him through the twists and turns of the student’s reasoning to see that his reasoning was not logical. With a mixture of frustration, joy and admiration he admitted that he now saw the light as he came “kicking & screaming into the kingdom.” Dallas was often that “small, still voice” at the university, whether with students, faculty colleagues or staff, which was the glue that was a corrective to the way of the world. He truly was the “salt of the earth.” I will always fondly remember our walks in the rose garden after lunch across from USC, sharing our thoughts about God and His kingdom and the struggles we encounter in this world.His scholarship in the field of philosophy was prodigious, and much like C.S. Lewis, he had another “life” that most Christians don’t know about. But it was his integrity and faithfulness to his profession that allowed God to use him so brilliantly in his speaking and Christian writings. From 1973-1981 when I was at San Diego State, I would bring Dallas down to Skyline Wesleyan church to be a retreat speaker on weekends or for a week during the summer for Bible lectures and many of us kept asking him if he was writing any of this down. He would simply open up his well-worn Bible, no notes, and seemingly, without effort, start talking for two hours at a time, with many of us writing furiously in our notebooks. My wife Gerry & I feel so blessed to have known Dallas and Jane over the years and to have read and reread his books, hearing his soft voice as we read. On my retirement cruise to Hawaii this February, I brought a new copy of Dallas’ Hearing God to read, and was two-thirds through, underlining and meditating about listening to God’s voice. My wife and I were enjoying coffee on board when a young steward from Columbia asked if I was reading about God, and lamented that there were no books on board about God besides his Bible to read. He had just shared that his mother had been praying for his salvation and she was ecstatic that he had become a Christian but that he should be reading good Christian material. Then Gerry gently said to me: “give him the book!” I stubbornly realized that God was speaking to me (as Dallas was explaining in the book) through providential circumstances, the book, my wife and my thick skull. I sheepishly surrendered my copy to this young man, realizing again that hearing God truly has many complexities.
Rick Hesse, Professor Emeritus, Pepperdine University
Dear Prof. Willard, in my doing a PhD, you have been the only source of my strength to fight against God-denying philosophies, paradigms, theories and notions. Thank you for your intellectual mentoring.
I feel extremely privileged to have known Professor Willard in my time as an undergraduate at USC. The best teacher I have had and probably ever will have, his insight into ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology drastically changed how I approached the world and living during my formative years. The personal attention, guidance, and care he gave to his students was unsurpassed, and the meetings we had during his office hours in his office are some of the fondest memories I have from my time as an undergraduate. When I think if him walking into the classroom proudly wearing his “Husserl” and “GE Moore” caps, I cannot help but smile. He will be forever in my memory.
Eric Kuo, MD Candidate, Yale School of Medicine Class of 2014
Dallas served on the Board of Trustees of Biola University during 6 of the years that I served as Provost. I have deep gratitude for his contributions to the deliberations of that Board, bringing deep spiritual and academic wisdom, and interpreting for business board members the workings of a university. In 1997-8 I experienced the greatest leadership challenge of my academic career, and I did not lead the Biola community through that crisis well. Near the end of the crisis, Dallas sent me a copy of his new book, The Divine Conspiracy. I wept as I read the book, finding light for so many of my blunders, and insights for spiritual living and leadership that I have treasured ever since. “Ask, seek and knock” has become a core value and practice for me in my family and work relations. I have recommended the chapter “A Community of Prayerful Love,” to hundreds of people. I thank God for Dallas Willard, and for this profound work that has shaped my life since my first reading. My wife, Judith, and I had reread this book in our devotional time this spring as part of our daily reflections on the gospel of Matthew. To the family, his legacy will live in us, in our children, and in hundreds of students with whom I have shared these truths since. And we look forward to joining him in the great cloud of witnesses gathered in paradise with the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has favored us with many, many outstanding Christian philosophers. But of all these excellent men and women, Dallas was preeminent in vision and heart. I owe more than I can say to his mentorship in the world of ideas. My prayers are with Jane and the family as they contend with this massive loss in thier lives. There will come a day for them, and for all of us, however, when we thank God for having shown us all a little bit of himself through the love, gentleness, grace, and kindness of this great man.
I was privileged to be a grad student at USC from 1998 – 2003 and blessed with Dallas’ time and attention as my adviser and dissertation committee chair. Even then I didn’t get as much time with him as I would have liked, but I’m sure that’s true for many because he was without any doubt the best and wisest man I have ever met face to face. The thing that I will always cherish, and pointlessly covet for my own, is his gift for saying such simple yet incredibly profound things, which would inevitably turn my understanding of a thing completely on its head. To borrow his own favored term, Dallas had a gift for seeing clearly without the “blurs” that mar so much modern thought. For example, I am struck now by the memory of him once saying that God’s plan was to gather unto Himself as many as possible, all who could in any way “tolerate” the kingdom of Heaven. What a lovely shift in perspective that was for me. Thank you, Dallas, for all that you gave while you were here. I will miss you, dear brother, but I will see you again. Now get busy and finish that book on the loss of moral knowledge before I get there. You didn’t complete it before you left, and I simply cannot tolerate not reading it!
Dallas was kind and encouraging. I was glad to have been his student. We will miss him very much.
Dallas was a beacon of light in the USC Philosophy Department, one of the few who were doing work that was relevant and important. The other faculty were good people but mistakenly thought that what they were doing was worthwhile, but most of the time it wasn’t. A lot of their research ended in a dead end, or was just wishful thinking or inspired by current fashion. A generation of students recognized that Dallas was a beacon and are indebted to him for his dedication to help them learn and think about large questions.
USC Student 2007
I know how awful I am feeling as a student of Dallas’ from USC, and I can’t imagine how much sadness and grief all of you are experiencing as family members. I have been without Dallas as my shepherd the last two semesters at USC, and it has been more than difficult. There has been a void in my life, because Dallas not only taught me knowledge of the Kingdom of God, but also brought multiple experiences of manifestations of the Kingdom through his words, prayers, and eyes. Dallas created events by being an instrument of God’s grace that has deeply impacted and radically changed me forever. I am not comfortable going into detail of all the Spirit filled experiences with Dallas, but lets just say I was a regular in his office hours at USC because I would experience the Kingdom of God at hand with the Holy Spirit filling his office. I write this knowing that I am one of most blessed Christians on the face of the earth, and as I graduate this Friday from USC, I am asking the question: “Why me God?” Why has God blessed me with a personal relationship with such a giant like Dallas? Why has God allowed me the experience of having Dallas grasp my hands with his big hands and will blessings into my life? I don’t know why, other than I am certain that I would not have survived my studies at USC without his professorship, mentorship, and friendship. Dallas became the Christian father that I always wanted, someone I could talk with and ask anything. Dallas was the Christian grandfather I always needed, someone who loved and encouraged me. We talked about everything, ranging from philosophy, the gospel message, religious studies, spiritual disciplines, girls (especially the difference between love and desire), sports, work, ministry, reading, church, and fun stuff in his office – like his picture of John Wooden and him. I had the privilege of taking four philosophy classes with him, and maximized his office hours weekly. I would follow him everywhere on campus when he would speak at the various Christian ministries. I did so for good reason too. My pastor of my home church described him as a modern day C.S. Lewis before starting school at USC, and I decided to spend the next four years of my life with Dallas to find out. My pastor was correct and my time with Dallas has become the highlight of my life thus far. I want everyone to know that Dallas had an incredibly gifted intellect, but his heart and love for people was even greater. And for those who have been impacted by his books and have never met Dallas, it might be hard to imagine that his heart was so much greater than his mind – but it was. Dallas’ heart was so special, that he became someone in my walk that I pray that God will change and transform my heart into something like Dallas’.Dallas would always seem like he had all the time in the world for me, never rushed or hurried. Dallas had kind words of encouragement and loved on me when I needed it the most. I am thankful I got to thank Dallas and say goodbye to him in Claremont at the Veritas forum back in February. I am heart broken since Dallas won’t be at USC’s graduation this Friday, because I waned nothing more than to give him a big hug and take a picture with him in my cap and gown. I would not have graduated without him! Fight On!!Miss you Dallas and can’t wait to have more chats with you in the ultimate kingdom! Thanks for making me a Disciple of THE WAY!!
Dallas was a clear voice in a crazy world. He has lucidly and calmly expressed the things that I was thinking. I could hardly believe it. I was most proud and delighted to find him as a Christian faculty member at USC. I was fortunate to be able to take 3 of his courses, listening to his lectures, the way he posed ideas, the gentle way in which he asked questions and guided discussions, his encouraging demeanor and a palpable love, intelligence and integrity. Some of my best moments at USC over the last 30 years have been in his company. I will miss him immensely. I am only sad that I did not have more time spent with him.May the Lord bless his family and all those who knew him.
Marc Schiler, Professor and Vice Dean, School of Architecture, University of Southern California
Dallas was my dissertation adviser, my greatest teacher, my mentor, and my dear friend. During our first brief encounter I revealed that I had spent the previous summer groping my way through Husserl’s Logical Investigations. Dallas scheduled a lunch together, which he of course paid for — a tradition he insisted on maintaining from then on. He didn’t talk about himself, though there was plenty he could have said. I only learned years later, for instance, that Dallas had translated the Investigations himself. His translation is no doubt sitting among his papers and notes. Over the years the depth of his philosophical knowledge astounded me. He seemed to have read and digested everything — not only the works of the great historical figures, but those of legions of minor ones too. And, of course, he stayed abreast of developments within both the continental and analytic traditions. His published philosophical writings comprise only a fraction of his written work. He composed extensive handouts and notes — upwards of 30 or 40 pages in some cases — on virtually every topic of philosophical importance. These were not hastily written, but exhaustively researched. I have only a small fraction of them, but they are among the most treasured items in my library. What set Dallas apart as a philosopher, though, is that he never allowed himself to get lost, in his words, in the “fog of language.” To the extent that it was possible — and he made it possible — he measured the claims of philosophers, not against this or that “__ism” or “intuition,” but against “the things themselves.” This was one of his remarkable gifts; I’ve never encountered a thinker with Dallas’s ability to state what is evident and display how a theory or claim conforms to or contradicts it. He appealed, ultimately, to what is obvious. But, as any reader of Dallas’s knows, the obvious things he points out are only obvious after he has pointed them out. Like a good joke, its infinitely easier to “get it” than to compose it, and no one had Dallas’s ability to compose it. Merleau-Ponty once claimed that language is a way of “singing the world.” Most of us, I fear, either sing out of tune or sing something else instead. But not Dallas. Dallas sang the world. And he shared his songs with thousands of students. I’m grateful and proud to have been one of them.
When I heard the news of his passing, I left my office, went outside to a bench and cried. I never had the privilege of meeting Dallas Willard but he was a wise elder and teacher to me. I have read the Divine Conspiracy more times than any other book in my collection. He taught me what the Kingdom was meant to be, and he inspired me to see how God intends to use all of us in his amazing plans. May the Lord’s Spirit of comfort help fill the giant hole in your hearts and give you the assurance that you will be reunited in the future.
I have had few heroes in my life, especially spiritual ones. Today I lost one of the few I had. Dallas Willard died today at age 77 of pancreatic cancer. Dallas did more for me than anyone else in making Jesus a real person who was ready to lead me and teach me how to do the life I actually had. He did more to teach me that spiritual growth was never by osmosis but by embracing and entering into a Kingdom life through specific and intentional spiritual practices. He was the wisest, most humble, most gentle…and yet the most rigorous intellectual I have ever encountered. Dallas did the kingdom life not in the bubble world pastors and Christian ministers sometimes live in but as a full professor of philosophy at USC. When you were with Dallas you felt like you had met a person that knew Jesus at a level you did not (that his relationship with Jesus had deeply transformed his inner character and outer life) .There was never an occasion when I was with him that I was not deeply impacted. And whether you knew it or not, his influence has been deeply felt in our church life feel profoundly sad today… We are poorer for his departure…yet Dallas is profoundly richer for now being with the Lord who he loved so much.
I had the great privilege of serving as a TA for Professor Dallas Willard for his introductory course on the Professions and the Public in American Life at USC. Dallas was greatly loved by USC undergraduates, and with very good reason – in his lectures and all of his interactions with students, he exuded a kindness, compassion, and genuine caring and concern for all of his students that is very rare to find in contemporary academia. I believe that the students were so drawn to him because they could tell (even if they did not consciously realize it) that he truly loved and respected each and every one of them.Dallas took an unusually hands-on role in undergraduate education; instead of delegating the grading of exams to the TAs as is standard, Dallas graded every exam himself because he wanted to personally check in on the progress of every student. He extended this concern to the TAs for his course, as well. It was an absolute pleasure to work for him. In the last few years, Dallas was working on a book about The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge in today’s American university. One did not feel that moral knowledge was disappearing when one took Dallas’s courses, because coming into contact with him at USC felt was to encounter firsthand someone possessed of great moral knowledge. He was a light in our Philosophy department, and will be greatly missed.
The first words I heard on the first day of my first class as a freshman at USC in 1989 were from Dallas Willard. He said, “There is a map in your mind.” Dallas is the most influential person in the development of my mental map. I took half of my required philosophy classes from him and attended several other courses he offered. He is my mentor. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to read the Odyssey to see who Mentor was. He motivated me to pursue a major in philosophy, introduced me to the master’s program in philosophy started by his former students, and supported my doctoral studies. He encouraged me in my career as a philosophy professor. I tell my students that every true and interesting philosophical idea I have owes its origins to Dallas. He modeled what a Christian philosopher ought to be. He demonstrated Jesus’ love for me (and all his students) with patience, kindness and goodness. At one particularly difficult period in my studies, Dallas said that the best thing I could do to get through my doctoral dissertation was to maintain an intimate fellowship with Jesus. He spoke from the depth of his own experience with our Lord. Dallas taught me what it means to be Jesus’ apprentice. Dallas is gone for a little while, and I grieve. We will see him again soon. Our joy will be full. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The first time I heard about Dallas Willard was at a Veritas Forum at Stanford University in 1997, I believe. Soon after that I read The Divine Conspiracy and realized that Dallas and his take on living Christianly was remarkable and compelling. I met Dallas a number of times–briefly–at later Veritas Forums at Stanford, at the InterVarsity Grad/Faculty meeting in Chicago on New Year’s Eve 1998/1999, at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and a few other times. I’ve listened to many talks and videos of Dallas about the Kingdom life: living cooperatively with God, and read a lot of his articles and all of his books. His influence on me has been profound. Two of my favorite talks are “The Fine Texture of Life in the Kingdom of the Heavens” and “Kingdoms in Cooperation.”Three occasions capture Dallas’ character for me. At a Veritas Forum at Stanford in autumn 1999, I remember the organizers announcing that the evening’s schedule had had to be re-arranged to accommodate Dallas’ schedule. “Dallas will be the second speaker tonight, instead of the first,” we were told, “and he will have to leave immediately after he finishes his talk and will not be able to answer questions. His older brother died today and Dallas has to fly home.” Of course, it would have been completely understandable to have cancelled his talk–but he came anyway and gave a fine talk as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. And the students and others got to hear about Christ and the Kingdom. The second instance was again at talk by Dallas at Stanford a few years later. He had spoken on reasons why he believes that God exists (which included dependency of events, awareness of consciousness, the occurrence of great events and great people, sense perceptions of beauty, and a sense of co-working with God). Afterward about 20 of us went up to talk in person. After waiting my turn, I got to ask Dallas my question, which I no longer remember. What I do remember is that Dallas’ entireperson seemed focused on me, as if he and I were the only persons in the room, as if he had all the time in the world to talk to me, as if there weren’t a dozen people still waiting their turn. I felt more cared for and accepted in that moment than I have most any other time.The last instance was just a couple of years ago. I ran across a blog entry–don’t remember which blog–where the writer had begun to perceive the scope and depth of Dallas’ teaching on, and example of, living cooperatively with God. He said, “When it comes to Christian living, Dallas Willard is the real deal.” That’s been my experience too. Thank you, Dallas Willard and family.
I first met Dallas when I was an undergraduate. When he shook my hand, with what I now know was characteristic warmth, I was startled to find I had met someone with a palpable halo. I am grateful for Dallas’ teaching on living as student of Jesus, and I am grateful to have known that that teaching sprung from Dallas’s deep experience of that life.
Click on a name to read their tribute to Dallas Willard.
One of the things my Dad often included in his prayers at the dinner table was this request, that God would help us to become the kind of people that will cause others to be glad he made the world and put us in it. And my mom pointed out recently that all the expressions of gratitude for his life that have come about during this time shows that in his case his prayers were certainly answered. And it’s wonderful to see the ripple effect of so many here who are developing and carrying on his work, and we are so grateful to see that.
I will always remember one sentence that really summed up everything he stood for, and everything I need to do. He might not have meant it as anything, but I kept thinking about it. He said it to me in the hospital just before his last surgery. We were walking out of the room, and he called me back in just for a moment, so we were the only two in the room. And he said, “Give ‘em Heaven.” At the time, I’m pretty sure he just meant it as a joke, or maybe he didn’t. He had a way of saying things that would be meaningless to him, but if you kept thinking about it, they would become so meaningful you’d never forget them.
So anyway, “Give ‘em Heaven.”
“Dallas has impacted the church—evangelicalism and beyond—through the power of historically informed thought that simply makes more sense of existence than the alternatives. He valued the scholarly guild and contributed to it. But he also knew the limits of the guild, and ultimately sought to contribute to moral and spiritual knowledge in a way that transcended current guild norms.”
Dallas touched many believers through his teachings and writings, which are often categorized as “spiritual formation.” But Dallas was more centrally preoccupied with the “kingdom of God”—what he called “the with-God life.” He said the four great questions humans must answer are: What is reality? What is the good life? Who is a good person? And, how do you become a good person? His concern was to answer those questions, and live the answers. And he was simply convinced that no one has ever answered them as well as Jesus.
“Dallas Willard made major inroads into our understanding of the huge philosophical issues of phenomenology and the philosophy of mind. To the general public he is best known for his Christian writings, the most prominent being The Divine Conspiracy. Again and again I have been profoundly struck by Dallas Willard’s ability to speak fully to both mind and heart. His intellectual stature and his deep devotion to Christ were distinguishing marks of his life. And, above all else, the humility and gracious character of his life were simply stunning.”
“My beloved friend and mentor, Dr. Dallas Willard, was the most brilliant and Christlike man I have ever known. He preached and taught the gospel of the available Kingdom of God, and lived it each day. Quite simply, his life and teaching radically changed my life for the good. I was privileged to have known him for twenty-eight years, and was richly blessed by serving as his teaching assistant at Fuller for seven summer courses, wherein I listened to Dallas teach about being an apprentice of Jesus. He lived with grace and dignity, free from anger or envy, and offered wisdom and kindness to all he met. My heart is in pain at his passing, but I am comforted in the certainty that at this moment he now rules and reigns in the heavens with the blessed Trinity, and that one glorious day I shall see him again.”
“He was the kind of figure and person that only is given by God once in many generations…. Dallas Willard has called evangelicals back to the ancients and their practice of the forgotten disciplines of silence, solitude, reflective reading of Scripture and unceasing prayer, fasting, etc. and their vision of the kind of life these can produce. We who have learned from him stand on his shoulders looking for how to build on his work.”
“Dallas was a lighthouse for all Christian academics and intellectuals. When I first met him, I was a new and bewildered Christian teaching in a secular university. I knew instantly—this is what Jesus would look like as a professor! Dallas was ever the generous spiritual academic father to so many of us. Now that he has become a part of that great cloud of witnesses, we must encourage one another to continue the work he so brilliantly, lovingly and faithfully began. The lighthouse still beckons us.”
“Many years ago in a private moment I asked Dallas, ‘What is your greatest concern about the kingdom-based spiritual formation movement?’ Without hesitation he answered: ‘Willard-ites.’ We sat silent for a few moments, that word hanging in the air. On his countenance, in his eyes, I could see a fear that someone might mistake Dallas or his teaching for the endgame, not the signposts he meant them to be of his profound love of Jesus and his kingdom. I can’t say much more or I’d run the risk of either hyperbole or sounding like what Dallas wanted greatly to avoid. Perhaps I could end with this: no human being taught me more about life in Jesus and his kingdom.”
“My friend Dallas deserves the finest tribute I could give to anyone: he showed me so much more of Jesus, and helped me want to know his friend Jesus and depend upon him with everything I’ve got. I saw Dallas imitate Christ and depend on him when facing smart-aleck students, sticky family situations and circumstances where I knew he disagreed with what was going on. Salt and light, love and power. Thank you, Jesus.”
Dallas Willard loved to say that for those who are living fully in the Kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place in which to live. The news of his death this morning grabbed that beautiful truth and shook it vigorously. The world, at least for a moment, seems less safe with Dallas not here. I sense a vulnerability. His captivating and enthralling vision of our life with God dismantled and rebuilt my understanding of God and His ways. He taught me to how to believe in God again. Dallas spoke about our life with God in a manner that often made me laugh with joy, thinking to myself, ‘It’s all true, isn’t it? There really is a God and He is wonderful!’ I don’t want to lose that. I heard Dallas say recently that some people will die and it will be a while before they realize they are dead. That is vintage Dallas. Eternity is real and it has already begun. He lived this. He once wrote, ‘You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.’ I cling to this truth today. But for now—in this moment—the world seems less safe. I miss him.
I was privileged to know and cherish the friendship of Dallas Willard…. I am grateful for the breadth of his wisdom, the quick flash of his humor, his sharp intellect. Whether we were talking about Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer or some lighter topic, he constantly encouraged me. He spoke well of my work, helped me to believe and trust in Jesus Christ and his promises.
I have had the delightful privilege of getting to know Dallas Willard through many of the authors we have published, particularly in IVP’s Formatio line. James Bryan Smith has shared with me of how Dallas would encourage him not to reference him so much, saying, ‘If it was any good, it did not come from me, but from the Holy Spirit, so consider it public domain.’ Todd Hunter likewise told me how Dallas encouraged him to run with many ideas that Dallas had seeded in him. Alongside the encouragement from Dallas came a gentle guidance. Keith Meyer has often recalled the message he received from Dallas after we had sent a book contract: ‘Keith, just remember, you are the donkey pulling the Jesus cart.’ So thank you to James Bryan Smith, Richard Foster, Nathan Foster, Gary Moon, Kent Carlson, Mike Lueken, Todd Hunter, Mindy Caliguire, Keith Meyer, Gayle Beebe, Glandion Carney, Emilie Griffin and Jan Johnson for giving me glimpses into what it is like to do life in companionship with Dallas. Dallas Willard was a person who repeatedly gave himself (even when it meant sidelining his own projects) to invest in the lives of others.
Dallas’s writings changed my life. I now understand so much better how to live as Christ’s disciple as an embodied self. How encouraging this is. Thank you, Dallas. You ran the race set before you so well and have set a lasting example for me.
Chris Hall, President, Renovaré
Dear Uncle Dallas, I want to thank you and Aunt Jane and my cousins, all the Willard’s and Heatley’s that have prayed for years that my that I may come to know and follow Jesus. As I try to read a little each day, (whether the bible or one of your books), it is you, that is in the background of my mind, watching me, encouraging me to learn more and to walk upright, and to be a blessing. Your lifetime of work has helped so many, I can only hope to bless a fraction of those whom you have touched. I wish you could have met my New Pastor, he (like you) is truly amazing, patient and full of grace, and I thank God for putting him into my life. I love you and I will miss you. I will see you in Heaven, Your little buddy from Omaha Nebraska Curt Squirt.
I don’t need to elaborate the marvel of the influence of this man, the profundity of his life, and the sense of deep affection that anyone that had any degree of association with him felt for him, and of course for Jane.
I know, and witness to the fact, that now is the moment to begin living in the kingdom and that God has a plan to reclaim, renew, restore us as we let him alone lead us and as we love him back.
Before my husband Ken began the Renovare cohort, I only knew of Dallas as the author of the dogeared copy of Divine Conspiracy on the shelf. I had scanned it for a minute and knew that it was “too deep for me.” But I also knew that Dallas had touched my husband’s heart through that book and in person – something about skipping across the room.
When we attended the [Knowing Christ} conference in Feb 2013, I left feeling personally renewed and wanting to know a lot more about Dallas. In March (praise God) I started a subscription to audio books that led me to find an unabridged version of Renovation of the Heart, read by Dallas, as well as a short version of The Divine Conspiracy, also read by him.
Eureka!! I found gold! Especially for a slower reader like me who takes frequent long driving trips. It’s taken more than one full listening – in fact I may have listened to the 13 hours of Renovation 4-5 times over the past year – but it was a big part of moving me beyond knowing about God to loving him and accepting Jesus love for me. Abiding in God’s love is becoming evermore real for me, praise Him, and thanks to Dallas.
It’s very much a part of my witness to let people know that now is the moment to begin living in the kingdom and that God has a plan to reclaim, renew, restore us as we let him alone lead us and as we love him back.”…and what others will do because of me?”
Hear my witness and find their own, I pray. Tell a new story and sign a new song. Know that we are made for renovation, it’s part of His plan. Live in the kingdom now.
I remember Dallas speaking to the first four generations of The Journey in 1998. I still have notes from those times. It was his challenge to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” that was a catalyst for my “An Unhurried Life.” I always experienced Dallas as an expression of the unhurried presence of Jesus with whom he walked. My life and ministry are measurelessly different because of Dallas’s. I’m grateful.
My husband and I are fellow pilgrims that took to heart the words and direction of Dr. Willard. We are forever changed, and our children are forever changed, and all of those that we share a bite of The Whole Peach are prayerfully forever changed.
In this quiet intelligent man I found a systematic approach to living and growing in the knowledge of what it means to be progressively more like Jesus. Most noticeable is the gentleness that has invaded my life.
I am a factory worker. In the fall of 2012 God began a renewal in my life. Both Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have been instrumental in the transformation that has been taking place in my life.
Life in a factory is a harsh life. I work 12 hour shifts in all types of weather. I am 60 years old. Because I have changed jobs several times I am not eligible to retire for some time. Factory work is by its nature monotonous. When things are running well there is little to do but watch. Watching promotes idle chatter. Factory English has its own dialect. It is intensely graphic. This had become my native tongue.
I heard Dallas talk about our intentions and I decided to become his student. I wanted an intentional life and somehow I knew that in this quiet intelligent man I had found a systematic approach to living and growing in the knowledge of what it means to be progressively more like Jesus.
I heard Dallas say that no man ever took a shower one drop at a time. I began to immerse myself in the word of God; I turned the monotonous hours at work into hours of meditation on what I had read. I read The Divine Conspiracy and began to apply Dallas’s teaching and advice to my life. My vernacular was still out of place. I would try to change but my degraded language had become habitual. I would repent and struggle but would fail to change. Finally I went to God in despair and laid it down; I confessed my failure and asked him to set me free. The presence of God filled me in the middle of a factory in the middle of the night. It was a Pentecostal experience, my language was changed. The change was immediate and healing.
This experience convinced me that real change was possible. If honest dialogue with God had been successful in my conversational life, it followed that he could change other aspects of my life too. There have been many changes since. Most noticeable is the gentleness that has invaded my life. I have always been confrontational, especially in the realm of politics. This was another passion that was purged from my life. It is now very difficult to engage me in political debate. The conflict that it formerly created in my life has been replaced with the peace of God. Now I can divert political discussion to a discussion of how real, meaningful change is accessed.
In the fall of 2013, I invited my pastor for lunch at my home. As we sat and talked he encouraged me to explore writing as my gift from God. I didn’t really see this as an opportunity because I didn’t realize anyway to affect the world around me with what I considered to be a limited gift.
I have a burden for my children. I was not a good influence during their formative years. They are scattered all over the country now. Our times together are limited. They don’t really get to see the change that has happened in my life. My relationship with God was so on again off again when they were young that any influence church might have had is fleeting at best.
I decided to begin leaving a record of how I think now. My children are not ready to read this yet. It is my desire to live my life in such a way that it causes inquiry. It is my quest that my life be so changed as to be noticed and questioned.
I write a daily devotional that I publish in a closed group on Facebook and also send to an email group. Together I get to share daily with about 50 people. This is what becoming intentional is about for me. I find that this commitment to sharing what God is teaching me has kept me in a searching posture. It has put me in a position of dependence on God.
My wife Susan has been praying for me for years. She edits everything I write. This process gives us opportunities to talk and grow closer. Our life is so good now. I can’t really say enough about how the teachings of Dallas Willard have changed our lives. I wish I could have met him to tell him. Someday I will.
I had planned to be with you at this conference. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. Bless you all.
As a student in the Institute I was deeply influenced by Dallas – from his books and lectures to talking and praying with him. Dallas has changed the way that many of us at our church think and teach. We now believe and teach a different gospel. Rather than telling people they need to get their ticket into heaven, we are inviting people into a dynamic and interactive relationship with Jesus – right now! And as a result, we are becoming students of Jesus – learning to live and love like Him.
Dallas’ first words I heard at a two-week in retreat training was: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” – and they stuck and made a difference to how I lived since. I hope how I now live can impact others.
Dallas was the first person who invited me to be a disciple—not just a Christian.
Jon Bailey, Board Chair, Renovaré
Dallas helped me see how incredibly attractive it was to be with God and to discover what it meant to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Paradigm Shift. Thankful.
There has been no greater teacher, no stronger influence, in the direction of Jesus, His Kingdom, and my full humanity—for me—than Dallas Willard. He taught and demonstrated that Jesus can be trusted with my existence in its entirety. He has allowed me to see Jesus, over and over, in ways that avail me of The Life that Jesus offers to me and to everyone else. I can’t conceive of what my life would have looked like without Dr. Willard’s words and example. I thank God for Him often.
Dallas’s teaching and example changed the way I think about Jesus – all for the better.
was a Naval officer when I first read The Divine Conspiracy, and it changed my perspective totally on what it means to follow Jesus. My wife and I are cross-cultural missionaries now in Kenya.
Thank you Dallas, for having written about the life with Jesus, for being my elderly brother and mentor, and your awesome dry humor.
At nineteen and newly wed, my wife and I started attending a church where the pastor was teaching on the Kingdom of God. It took months before we had “ears to hear,” but once it clicked it changed the course of our lives. It turns out the pastor had just read The Divine Conspiracy. Fourteen years and three kids later, there is no one whose work has shaped me more than Dallas’.
Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart gave voice to long-held frustrations and aspirations I held for my life and ministry. I return to them again and again for hope and inspiration. I read the first after reading Richard Foster’s comment that it was the book he had waited for all his life and discovered it was precisely the same for me.
Dallas said he “practiced the spiritual discipline of not having the last word.”
Mimi Dixon, Renovaré Board
Thank you Dallas for the joy of “Hearing God” – I wish I could have met you on this earth but I will in our true home.
I am thankful that Dallas made Christian intellectualism “popular.” In the tradition of Frances Schaffer, we learned from Dallas that we do not check our minds at the door of the church.
Dallas has always been such a clear guide to the Way of following Jesus. I still see his life as a shining example of humility, grace, peace and effective living. I am grateful for his life and his works and for the small slice of his life that I was able to experience. I will miss him and look forward to seeing him one day.
Even now as I read the beautiful words that all of your friends have written for you, I want to be just like you Dallas. I want to ooze patient love like you do. Thank you for showing me that it really is good to be good. I want to be just like Dallas Willard, so that I can be just like Jesus.
No writer has influenced me as deeply over the past decade. Both Renovation of the Heart and The Divine Conspiracy grabbed my imagination and ignited a passion for formation that has not cooled since. They are as well-thumbed and underscored as my Bible. An Episcopalian of a contemplative bent, I was struck by how effectively this learned Baptist was able to engage me. He was thoughtful, rigorous, and generous in spirit. I am greatly saddened that I won’t be able to look forward to a new book from him again. I only wish I had had the opportunity to hear him in person.
Prof Willard came to our church in Belfast, Nr. Ireland 31st May & 1st June 2004, and spoke at a two-day conference. It was a wonderful time – so good that he came, and such a blessing to have him here. We had 200 people from all over Ireland and further afield. I still meet people who speak of it as being the best, most encouraging, most helpful teaching on spiritual formation they have encountered. Prof Willard’s Christlike manner and way of being with us incarnated all that he taught us. For several years Prof Willard’s books had formed the foundation of my own approach to spiritual life and ministry, so it was a great joy to host him here in Ireland and to have the privilege of conversation over those two days.The impact of his teaching, his person and his life – all, always pointing to Jesus – continue to be at the foundation of my spiritual life and my ministry.
“Yet, in the gloom a light glimmers and glows.” I am sure Dallas Willard’s legacy will live on to point countless more people to the invitation that they have received. Thank you.
Like many others, I had the great privilege of both sitting at Dallas’ feet and also to have a brief time in one to one conversation. There are few men like Dallas in the Christian realm, who were truly God’s gentlemen. I ‘met’ him first through his writings, and then in person. My life will never be the same either, as others have shared. Through his very demeanor, he taught me what it means to look like Jesus. I have been blessed to know quite a number of deeply godly individuals, but no others of his public presence. If I miss him and cry when I think of his loss on this earth, I can only imagine how his family may feel. May you all be comforted with all those amazing memories you have of him. I am sure that he was always the most ‘real’ kind of person there could possibly be. All the time. His life has inspired me to live more like Jesus. To be changed. To become more like Jesus as I journey towards my home, where he now lives.
Instructed by Dallas that change was really possible. Returned to Dallas repeatedly when tempted to despair. Look forward to meeting him.
Thank you very much for making these teaching sessions available. They were a tremendous blessing to me and I needed to hear their message very much. Dallas Willard was in many ways my spiritual father and mentor through his books and I pray that my life will bear the fruit that he helped nurture. God bless you!
I first met Dallas and heard him speak at a 1998 weekend Vineyard Church retreat in Malibu. His message of discipleship and the immediate availability of Gods Kingdom was life changing for me. I felt right away that his message was the most important one for Christians – turn away from God as the golden ticket to Heaven, and turn toward the life with God as disciples of Jesus Christ – learning to do the things that Jesus did. Since then I’ve read his books, listened to many of his lectures, and my life with God has become the most important driving force in my life. Over the years I tried to attend any local event where he was speaking, promoted his books and message to others, and the things he taught me have become the way I live – in an ever deepening relationship with God. The truth of Dallas’ teaching has transformed my character and the way I live, and as a result God has opened new doors of ministry I never expected. I now really know that the grace of God is what allows me to do that which I could not on my own. Dallas not only had a message, but he lived it out, showing us by example, the truth of Gods Kingdom. Kind, humble, patient, he demonstrated the love of Christ in tangible ways. him. Our loss is Heaven’s gain.
When I think of Prof Willard, I see the vivid image of David kneeling at a brook. On his knees and in dialogue with God, he carefully and meticulously selects 5 smooth stones. He prayerfully weighs them in his hands and seeks their texture with his sensitive fingers. Every gesture an act of worship. His discernment, obedience, courage and faith turns every pebble into the stuff that slays giants. Prof Willard did this with his every word, action, prayer and the way he lived his life. Each prayerful and contemplated act, an unmistakable stone earmarked to slay a giant for the Kingdom of God.
My faith didn’t make sense until I began reading Dallas’ works. I never look back now. My condolences to Jane and the family. Dallas showed me who Jesus really is! Thank you
What does a person know about design unless he has witnessed a glimpse of God’s revelation in His design of life “Here on earth as it is in heaven?” Dallas and Jane, you have and continue to usher me to God’s throne daily where I learn the true meaning of Divine design. I will continue to live out my oath to you that I will pass everything you have taught me to those whom God entrusts me with. Your architect and fish way downstream.
Thank you – indeed! I will forever be grateful for the life that the teaching and understanding of Dallas Willard brings to my journey.
An “Imitation of Christ” – Incredible intellect, grace-filled and loving humility. A beautiful imitation of Christ. Thank you Dallas Willard. I wish I could be as much, but if I had the choice, I would opt for his humility.
I was mentored by one of Dallas’ students. It so happened that we walked a difficult road together at nearly the same time, though he being much older than myself. In a way, he is like my father, and in many senses of the term. So, today I feel as if I have lost my grandfather, even though we met only once. That meeting was one of the rare instances in life when I truly felt that everything would be alright. It was not in his words, but in his presence. He has made a divine impression on me, as have his “offspring”. I am honored to be part of that lineage. There are few things, if any, I could be more proud of.
I was driving along one day with minister Peter Lord when I asked him what he had been reading lately. He replied that he doesn’t read anything anymore “except the Bible and The Divine Conspiracy.” Soon, I got me a copy of The Divine Conspiracy and consumed it repeatedly. Over the next few years I read it – and Willard’s other books– over and over (the cover fell off of DC). One day I learned that Dallas Willard was speaking at a church in Houston (I live in Ft Worth). I made my way there and listened to him. On that Sunday night, he had a book signing after the service. Dozens of people lined up to have him sign their book. I had no book for him to sign; I just wanted to meet him. When I finally came face to face with him, he asked me where my book was. “Sir,” I told him, “I have read and pretty much memorized everything you have ever read. I don’t need you to sign any of them. I just want you to lay hands on me and pray for me; I have sins I cannot rid myself of.” I tell you… Dr. Willard responded to me as if I were HIS son! He embraced me, loved on me, even insisted on knowing what sin I was struggling with! I will never forget the way he responded to me….
Dr. Willard’s work is bearing fruit, even all the way here in Egypt. I thank God for speaking to me through Dr. Willard’s books and videos. Even though we never met in person I feel that I have lost a great friend. Thank you for opening my eyes to the reality the Kingdom.
All the years of listening, questioning, studying, and praying took on new meaning and a clearer direction after reading Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. Christ living in us – how simple it sounds, how eloquently Dr. Willard explains His purpose for us. Thank you for living your discipleship with Him for us.
Thank you Dallas for sharing your heart and the things you learned in life. I could learn a lot from you and there are still so many deep thoughts, things to learn from you – though I never met you! Thank you!
Thank you, Dr. Willard. Dr. Willard was an insightful philosopher and theologian. Dr. Willard inspired the spiritual disciplines movement, popularized by Richard Foster, which has profoundly shaped my walk with Christ upon reading Celebration of Discipline. I later went on to read and appreciate Dr. Willard’s book: Spirit of the Disciplines. The one time I met Dr. Willard in person, in April 2012, was when he visited New York City, and I was thrilled to meet such a humble, living legend.
I have used Dallas’ book Renovation of the Heart every semester in my Spiritual Transformation class at Moody Bible Institute. Dallas’ writing leads students to a clear picture of what following radically after Jesus means. His depth of understanding of the human heart, the nature of evil and what living in the kingdom means on a day to day basis has touched myself and many students. More than anything I am touched by Dallas’ heart and humility. Truly he was a man whose heart beat with Jesus’. He will be greatly missed.
They say that a classic literary work is established by those who return to its pages time and time again. Dallas is someone who we will continue to return to time and time again.
Dear Dallas, God knows how much He used you to form me into the man I am today. Thank you for teaching me how to live the “with God” life. Enjoy your blessedness! Yours in Jesus, Scott
We had the opportunity to attend a retreat that Dallas led during a visit in South Africa. Dallas signed our Knowing Christ Today book with the fitting words “Eternal Living – John 17:3”. We had this book returned to us yesterday, after we borrowed it to a good friend – and took great comfort from these words. We also read Dallas’ Epilogue to James Bryan Smith’s Room of Marvels to gain a fresh perspective on the glorious transition Dallas made on May the 8th. I (Willem) find myself in what Dallas describes as Life II, and read an interview (translated into Afrikaans) that Dallas had with Bob Bofurd a few year ago, where Dallas painted a picture of Life III, which he entered before us. What a joy to look forward to share with such a remarkable person – Eternal living in the kingdom of our good God!
I will always be grateful for Dallas. In one critical season of my life, God used his writings to reaffirm and inform many transformational thoughts I was discovering from the word and the Spirit. I cracked his “Renovation of the Heart” one night while settling into bed many years ago and ended up staying awake all night, excitedly reading almost the entire book and highlighting entire pages in yellow. I have referred to that book and many of his other resources often since then. Thank you Dallas for letting the Spirit of God use you to help me. I will continue to think of you as I teach others the ways of Jesus.
Thank you Dallas for allowing the Spirit to work through you to touch me and so many others. I listen to your talks over and over and never tire of them. I pray your legacy will continue to live through each person you have touched for the glory of God.
Dallas, I never met you in person, but you ministered to me through your books and through recordings. Your devotion to God and to your students (including me) shines through. Thank you for bringing us knowledge and for bringing it to us permeated with love. Thank you for giving me vision for a life lived like Jesus, for helping me truly intend to live His way, and for coaching me in the means to do so. Thank you for opening the scriptures to me. When I think of you, I think of Psalm 1 and 23, our Lord’s prayer, the Great Commission, John 14 and 17, Colossians 3, and II Peter 1. These passages are now shining passages for me, and the knowledge that you have given is helping me with each new reading of the scriptures. Thank you for helping me know that I need a praying life and a thankful life. Thank you
Dallas reintroduced me to Jesus in 1999 thru the Divine Conspiracy. I am so grateful for his writings and the unique lens in which the spirit of Christ shined through him. It was not just the complex simplicity that I loved to unpack in what he had to say about the kingdom of God but the presence of Christ himself which was so alluring to him that was so infectious in his writing and in his person. I am grateful for his example. A brilliantly flawed and imperfect man like the rest of us but one who openly longed and taught for it to be more about Jesus and his kingdom than about himself.
Thank you for the gift of these videos. They have been such a help in re shaping, correcting and, in some areas at least, affirming my thinking. It was a privilege to be able to watch them as I reflected on Dallas’s influence on my life and the lives of others through that influence. You have indeed been a means of blessing. May you be blessed.
Sean Mullan. Dublin Ireland
Thank you for touching my life through your books and the example of a Christian life well lived. And thank you Jane for sharing him with the rest of us.
Dear Dallas, When I received news of your passing, my heart rejoiced for you because I knew that you were meeting face-to-face with the One whom you loved most. At the same time, my heart broke for your family, your friends, and for those like me who grew to admire and love you through your ministry. I never met you or even saw you in person, but you have been and will continue to be a spiritual mentor to me through your writings, recorded talks, and example. Whenever I quote you in a sermon, or talk about you with my family, I tell these persons that you were one of the greatest Christians of our lifetime. Thank you for giving of yourself. You made a lasting impact upon my life.
Troy Johnson, Chapel Hill, NC
I had never read anything by Dallas Willard–I am ashamed to say–until I recently discovered RENOVATION OF THE HEART in a Salvation Army Thrift Store. I was blown away–I had never read anything like it. Now I want to read everything that he ever published. I was saddened when my pastor told me that he had passed away. His life and legacy will live on.
In Oct.2012, I created a list of people that have influenced me greatly and are still living. Then I prayed that God would direct me to the person on that list that I must go and be taught by. Resoundingly clear I knew that God said Dallas Willard. As I tracked where he would be speaking I encountered the Knowing Christ Conference. The opportunity to be in Santa Barbara was a providential gift from our LORD. I remain immensely thankful for God’s gift, once again, given through a person. The LORD bless you,
Dan Edmonton, Canada
I’ve had a number of people over the years who have had significant influence on my walk, but none comes close to Dallas’ enabling of me to “see the kingdom,” to understand what is meant by becoming a disciple/apprentice of Jesus, and to pass that on with clarity to others. My Following the Master and Thy Kingdom Come studies, the Apprehend–>Admire–>Emulate–>Be Transformed discipleship model, the Apprentice–>Vessel–>Vector how-the-kingdom-comes model were all seeded from things Dallas illuminated or elucidated for me. My conclusion from my few meetings with him: he was as he appeared; worth imitating him as he imitated Christ. I’m sure there are no mistakes on timing, though. God must have fulfilled his purpose for Dallas (Psalm 138:8); Dallas must have competed his training for reigning.
On furlough from Ukraine I read both The Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart. These recast my vision of Kingdom living, and we started a study group back in Ukraine when we returned. Over the years these and other writings have been more helpful than words can really describe. Thank you so much.
More than twenty years ago I received the pre-publication manuscript of “What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World,” the third chapter in Dallas Willard’s THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY. As I read it, at times I found myself literally shouting, catching anew the vastness and wonder of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is among us now and yet to be fulfilled. I went on to discover in that book, and later in RENOVATION OF THE HEART and other writings by Dallas, the depth and living power of his writing, which in many ways changed my life. Then I met Dallas and could sense in the Spirit how his life was “hidden with Christ in God.” Ever since, I have thanked God for his influence in my life. I have seen too the wonderful love affair between Dallas and Jane, and look forward to the time when God’s amazing family will be gathered around the throne to celebrate the fulfillment of the Kingdom as we join in the Reign of Christ forever.
Thank you for the profound influence you have had and continue to have in my life.
Tom GreenSachse, Texas
Our sincere love to the Willard family from those who knew and were influenced by Him here in West Plains, Mo. On the day I heard he went to be with Jesus I was reading his book The Great Omission, one of my favorites. I was able to take a walk with him a few years ago when he was visiting Bertha and discuss one of my passions, spiritual formation. His thoughts have had a lasting effect upon my life. I am very grateful. May we all “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)”Until Christ is formed in you.” Gal. 4:19
God’s peace be with you all, Richard Wright
Dallas, I met the love, compassion and hunger for us from One True Living God in your book, Hearing God. I read and share the devotional of the same title daily; sharing the Gift with family and friends.To you and all you care about I say: THANK YOU
Mark Ratley, Shreveport, Louisiana
Thank you, Dallas, for everything you’ve done and will continue to do in Heaven, and with the communion of the saints. Love you
At a critical juncture of my life when I was at a horrible crossroads, having decided giving up was preferable to going ahead, Dallas literally saved my life. He taught me about life before death. That the gospel was about putting my confidence in Jesus who would teach me how to live a life that would stand up in the ages to come. In doing so I would become a part of the greatest prize of creation, the People of God. Because of Dallas I did go on and now have the privilege of communicating the life changing good news of Jesus and lifting Him up as He really, really is to a small, poor mountain community and proclaiming to them, The Kingdom of Heaven is Open and anyone is welcome in. Thank you Willard family for sharing this wonderfully gifted and unique person with so many of us. Like Lewis before him, he was a prophet.
Dallas’ words penetrate into my heart such grace and truth. He is impacting my life for Jesus so deeply. May we all grow into the grace and knowledge of Jesus, as I know is Dallas’ prayer for us, and ‘do the things that Jesus said to do’ and bless others even half as much as our dear, dear friend has blessed us.
Like so many have said above, my life and ministry have been impacted by Dallas Willard…as some have described as “the real deal!” I had hoped to meet him in person, and look forward to a good long cup of coffee in Heaven some day. It is great to know that it really is possible to finish this race well…now to imitate a saint that has gone on before the rest of us. Peace to his family, friends, colleagues and students.
In 2006, I had two back surgeries and spent several weeks in recovery, not able to do much except read. I ran across an article about Dallas in Christianity Today. The article carried a response from one of Dallas’ philosophy students when he was asked why he kept coming back to take more classes from Dr Willard. “For two reasons,” the students said. “Because of his knowledge and because of his kindness.” This simple and honest declaration touched me deeply and I asked my husband to purchase The Divine Conspiracy for me. For the next several days, I lay in bed and read and read, pausing to hold the book to my chest and cry, “Can it be true?! Is this how it really is?!!” I then proceeded to read all of Dallas’ books that he had written up to that point and began practicing two hours of solitude and silence each week on my day off from work. I have been through “Renovation of the Heart” about 6 times, 3 times with the leadership team of a women’s group that I began many years ago. John Ortberg says, “There is no one like Dallas.” I agree. But Dallas Willard has been God’s means of opening my eyes to [begin] to see “There is NO ONE like Jesus.” Yet, he invites me to walk with him, learn from him, find rest for my soul, and to become like him in his character. Even me. He invites even me. Thank you, thank you, Father, for Dallas Willard, for Jane Willard, and for their family. Thank you for the Emmanuel presence of Jesus.
Anything good, Dallas said in reply to my question, “What do you usually pray for?” That was releasing for me. I had the privilege of doing a two-week intensive with him in Sydney, Australia in 2009. Although I knew him only for that brief period, no one else has impacted my life as Dallas has. I still listen to those lectures to refresh my soul and grow in my understanding of what “spiritual ministry” is.
I thank God for Dallas and the way God used him to challenge my wrong ideas about God, enlarge my view and experience of God’s goodness, love, presence and come to see Jesus as the most brilliant man who ever lived and the wonderful opportunity He gives me to organize my whole life around following Him as His apprentice in the Kingdom of God here now.
I interviewed Dallas Willard when I was a 25-year-old editor for a Christian counseling publication. We met in the lobby of his hotel. He was so generous with his time in answering my questions, and often would ask me for my thoughts on the question I had asked him. I wasn’t sure why the thoughts of a kid like me would be of interest to him, but he chose to be interested. I had met many famous Christians in my work with the publication, but I never experienced anyone with Dr. Willard’s thoughtfulness, humility, and kindness. Our interaction was so remarkable that it drew a young man to eavesdrop on the conversation. After Dr. Willard left the interview, the young man engaged me in further conversation about what he’d heard us talk about, and I was able to share the gospel with him. I don’t know what ever happened to that young man, but he is one of many that Dr. Willard influenced for Christ without knowing it. His books are some of my favorites, and I read them with the knowledge that the man who wrote them also LIVED them. I am so sad that there will be no more books for us, but so happy to know that he is with the Lord in glory.
I had always hoped to meet Dallas in person one day. And I imagined that, if I did, I would hug him and tell him how thankful I was to God for his life and work. I still imagine that it may happen someday, when all the followers of Christ from every age are joined together in the fullness of The Kingdom of the Heavens.Thank you Heavenly Farther for the life and work of Dallas Willard. Because of it, I desire so much to live the life that Jesus would live if he were I.
Other than Jesus, no one person has done more to shape and encourage my whole life toward Christ than Dallas Willard. From 2000 when I picked up The Divine Conspiracy I have, as Dallas would say, digested his work. I will never forget his warm and approachable manner when he quietly walked up to me at the Methodist church in Pretoria RSA in August 2010 and asked, “Are you getting anything out of it?” I was reading the UK version of Knowing Christ Today. We talked like old friends. When he saw my name tag he recognized me as a guy who had emailed him. What a considerate and thoughtful man. I would distribute his book to many national government officials in Zimbabwe. We would include the four huge questions and countless other thoughts from Dallas, woven into Shona and Ndebele and of course English literature distributed to thousands of rural folk in Zimbabwe. Through tears now I say, Lord, thank you for this dear man. Bless his precious family. We rejoice by faith in his reunion with You and with Mom, Mamie.
Dear Willard Family, I am very sorry for your loss. I feel the pain of his passing, but not nearly the level of yours. He was and will continue to be an inspiration to me. I will wrestle with my own spiritual disciplines as God reforms my character and life because I truly long to be a good apprentice of Jesus Christ. Mr. Willard through his writings will still to be a strong mentor of mine in that longing and journey. God bless you all and comfort you until we join him with Him.
I will be forever grateful to God for leading me to the writing and teaching of Dallas. It was over 30 years ago that I started to become serious in my faith journey and discovered Richard Foster and, subsequently, Dallas. He has had profound influence on my spiritual growth. I tend to read the spiritual classics because they have stood the test of time and I have no doubt that 200, 300, 400 years from now they will be reading Dallas Willard. Though I never got to meet him, I felt close to him through his devotion to God and to helping people like me find and know Christ in a real way. I will miss his presence deeply.
Dallas Willard is my minister, and it has been a wonderful work in progress to integrate his teaching into my life.
Though we did not meet in this life, your voice and words have so often been my companion thanks to audio books and messages online. I am so grateful for the body of work left here with us so that many, like me, can continue to grow into the fullness that is Christ.
I am so thankful for you. Your bible teachings and books have transformed my life. The Divine Conspiracy is the most profound work I have read. Thank you from grateful sister in New Zealand.
I cannot thank God enough for the good work Dallas has done through God. Dallas’ life and works have resulted in the glorification of our Father in heaven; in my life, surely. Thank You dear Lord for your student Dallas!
Sajo Thomas Andaman & Nicobar Islands India.
God brought Dallas into my life at just the right time. He opened the door to living in the Kingdom just before I began a 7+ year battle with cancer, which is on-going. My life has never been richer. Watching Dallas in the q & a session in the first video brought tears to my eyes. I love this man, and I miss him.
I was a workaholic physician… alive, but not living.Then, 11 years ago, my son, who was a senior in high school, and I read The Divine Conspiracy together. As a result, we began to learn how to walk with Jesus and experience a kind of life we had never imagined. I never will forget the time when, after beginning to experience LIFE for the first time, and talking about the book, he said with a big smile, “Well, Dad, you always knew there was more!” Indeed I did, but God used a sage to take me to where I didn’t just know, but believed, and believing, began the journey of seeing more, hearing more, trusting more
A few years ago I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with Dallas Willard in a hallway at a conference in Berkeley, CA. I asked him what advice he could offer me, being that I am young man in ministry. He replied, “Stop trying so hard to make ministry work. All YOU need to do is put the words of Jesus into practice.” That conversation has changed my life and my ministry. I have found life in the Kingdom. Thank you Dallas
I was a workaholic physician… alive, but not living.Then, 11 years ago, my son, who was a senior in high school, and I read The Divine Conspiracy together. As a result, we began to learn how to walk with Jesus and experience a kind of life we had never imagined. I never will forget the time when, after beginning to experience LIFE for the first time, and talking about the book, he said with a big smile, “Well, Dad, you always knew there was more!” Indeed I did, but God used a sage to take me to where I didn’t just know, but believed, and believing, began the journey of seeing more, hearing more, trusting more
Dallas Willard ha sido de profunda inspiración para mi. Su vida y su mensaje reflejó el corazón ardiente de un apasionado discípulo de Jesús. Su interés y preocupación constante por inspirar a otros a seguir a Jesús de manera comprometida y completa es un valiosísimo legado que permanecerá eternamente. Agradezco profundamente a Dios por la vida del Dr. Willard y le pido que llene de paz y consuelo a todos sus seres queridos que todavía permanecen en esta tierra. Esto no es un “adiós”, es solamente un “hasta luego”. Estaremos juntos nuevamente…
Con profunda gratitud, Marco Andrade V. Quito – Ecuador – América del Sur
Doy gracias a Dios por la vida de este gran hombre que supo hacer la diferencia y mostrarnos que sí se puede caminar para ser como Jesús. De su obra “Renueva tu Corazón” he aprendido la importancia de vivir como Cristo para ser como Cristo, un proceso de toda la vida, pero que debemos dar paso a paso, momento a momento. De su obra “la Gran Omisión” aprendí la importancia que tiene el ser verdaderos discípulos de Cristo para dar prioridad a hacer de otros discípulos de Cristo. Esto por sólo mencionar dos aprendizajes, pues si mencionara todos no tendría espacio para expresarlo. Dar pasos para ser como Cristo, recibiendo una transformación en el corazón y que se manifieste en la vida diaria, es posible hoy.Gracias Dios por habernos regalado a un hombre conforme a tu corazón, el Dr. Dallas Willard.
I picked up Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy, in seminary at a time when I was beginning to wonder if the church had anything to say that would engage my intellect beyond cliches and overdone figures of speech. I felt that I was living in a bubble where asking questions about the way we said things was almost considered off-limits. Then I started hearing the heart of a teacher’s in Willard’s words. I know there are plenty of good Christian scholars out there who speak intelligently about our faith, but Willard crossed over into writing in a way that engaged my intellect, but also avoided the tendency to loose the true-to-life implications in the midst of high-level discussion. I’ve always thought of his writing as not so heady that it was impractical, but also not so practical that it was shallow. I was immediately drawn to his unique way of saying things. Christianity Today reported that his comments after hearing of his cancer diagnosis was that “I think that, when I die, it might be some time until I know it.” Who says things like that? Only Willard. His accessible, yet challenging intelligence paired with his passion for showing us eternity, reminded me that Christianity had both intellectual depth and real humanity. Another way to say it is that I was able to see the mind of our faith, but also the flesh and blood of our faith. You don’t have to read much of Dallas Willard to see that he knew how to translate his astute observations into an accessible writing style. But it was never so pared down that I was bored with it; he knew how to raise the bar at just the right time so that the reader would keep reaching to understand. Also, he had a way of saying things that woke me up to old concepts by giving them new language. This made his writings irresistibly appealing to me. The Church will miss him, and we continue to need a voice such as his. Peace to his family. Peace of Christ.
I met Dallas Willard at the age of 13 when my parents, Doc and Letha Sellars, took the family to Dallas and Jane’s home for dinner. At the time, I was quite obsessed with the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The only thing that impressed me about him at the time was that he was completely unaware of the absurd accusations of some fundamentalists would level against the game. I guess all the books in his house struck me too. I think I told my dad, “He has more books than you!” I find my values and focus as a young teen to be funny now. Much later, I learned how deep a thinker Dallas is. He could show absurd, flashy doctrines and religious attitudes to be what exactly what they are. Many years later, I met Dallas in his office at USC again while I was student at Azusa Pacific University. I became very interested in philosophy as an undergraduate and came to ask about some philosophical and theological issues I was struggling with. I still remember the meeting. Firstly, I recall the feeling of warmth and his care for me the moment I shook his hand. I will never forget it. He helped me with some of my struggles that very day. His insights always seemed so simple, yet true, when he spoke. Thankfully, I had many other discussions and meetings with Dallas in the following years. He was always kind, but not always nice. If he had a firm word to share with me, he would share it without hesitation. Now that I think about it, I have not forgotten any significant word he said to me!
I grew up in an impoverished rural community not too far from the birthplace of Dallas. His story is one of such personal inspiration to me. I am grateful that his words will live on – there are so many more he will teach of the Kingdom of God. He has forever touched my soul.
Su obra “Renueva tu corazón: se como Cristo” impacto altamente mi vida, le doy gracias al señor por haber cruzado en mi camino sus palabras tan llenas de sabiduría, con una espiritualidad tan sublime que llega al nervio más profundo del corazón humano, como solo algunos bendícenos por el señor han podido lograr. Un maestro al que nunca conocí en persona, pero sin duda que me dio mucho sin yo darle nada. ¡Como quisiera que sus libros se estudiaran en las iglesias de mi país! ¡Como quisiera que alcanzáramos un poco de su gracia! Gracias profesor…
When I read Dallas I get Jesus heart burn. Badly, and repeatedly!
Though we have never met in person, I feel a special kinship with Dallas through the Spirit of the Lord. In this world I have known him only through his books and videos on YouTube, and I look forward with joy to meeting him “for real” in the heavenly kingdom. May the Lord comfort the loved ones who so unselfishly shared Dallas with the world. And a special thanks to Our Great God who chose to fill a meek and humble vessel with His eternal treasures.
I’ve spent the last week reflecting on the life of one of my most important influences, Dallas Willard, who passed away on May 8th. The morning he died, I awoke early with a sense that he was gone, and later discovered that my good friend, Gary Black, had been with him in his final breaths. I became familiar with Willard’s work in kingdom theology and spiritual formation in 1998 during a dramatic transition in my life. Willard’s broader and more cosmic understanding of Jesus Christ and his message helped me adjust my lens on faith to the pluralist context of San Francisco. In Divine Conspiracy I discovered language for what I long thought true about the present availability of the divine life. His earlier book, Spirit of the Disciplines, became something of a primer for the journey of integration I’ve sought to experience and share with others. As a person, Dallas became an important part of the early development of ReIMAGINE. Our team participated in forums and intensives he taught in Southern California. Because of my cofounder Dieter Zander’s connections, Dallas spent time with our little group in San Francisco on several occasions. In person, Dallas was his message: utterly calm, centered, humble, present, quietly engaging and profoundly wise. Because of this I tended to refer to him as “the buddha like one.” As a young man of action, urgency, ego and emotion I felt like a bull in a china shop whenever I was around him. At a large conference I helped organize, I tried to convince Dallas to wear a court jester’s hat onstage. “We are going for a holy fools sort of thing,” I explained. He declined by saying, “I’m still working on the holy part.” I wanted strategy, tactics, drama and demonstrable evidence and was often frustrated by Willard’s deceptively simple responses to my agitated questions. Gradually I’ve come to understand that Willard’s radical calm and modesty came from his confidence in the absolute goodness of God expressed in this moment. As a young man I asked Willard how a community might experience the reality of God’s kingdom. His reply became the mandate of our work over the past 12 years, “a group of people should simply look at what Jesus said and did and try to do those things.” We eventually designed a years worth of curriculum, exercises and Learning Labs based on this premise, informed by his understanding of the dynamics of spiritual formation.
Dallas, thank you for teaching me early that “life” is something of depth and infinite richness now that begins in ever-present possibilities for abundance rather than merely something reserved for the masquerading “religious” “later on.”
I am a division 1-basketball coach… and I got connected to Dallas and his work thru one of his students/friends, James Bryan Smith, when I took his apprenticeship class in Wichita… What I learned from him changed my life… I was honored to visit with Dallas and Jane and often shared meals together as i wrote down about everything he said…a lot of it, he related to my topic of interest, kingdom coaching….a couple of years ago during my season I was in southern California and I met Dallas and Jane for breakfast…although he rarely asked if my teams won or lost, he asked me that morning how we had done the night before….I started kind of whining about losing again, how we couldn’t finish the game off, how we were right there, but … He smiled really big and said, “WONDERFUL!!! HOW WONDERFUL JANE!!!!” I had my pen ready to write down everything he said, but this. I asked him to elaborate on his enthusiasm…and he did…”It is wonderful that you are in a position that you get to teach those young women that even though they lost a game, they are still winners…In a culture that seems to value winning and only winning, you get to be the one who can teach them the real meaning of sports…”my attitude instantly changed….and so did I….after telling my coaching friends this great story, some of them would text me after we lose….and simply say WONDERFUL….and it is…thanks Dallas…I will continue to read and reread your books, and study the King, who you always pointed to….yes, he told me once he was only the nozzle on the hose and it was the water that I really liked…all of us can’t wait to see you again….we will work hard to put into practice all the wisdom you taught.
In 1998 I was failing at planting a church in Denver, Colorado… the failure was finalized 1999. I had read Dr. Willard’s Disciplines book in those days, but that was it. In fact, there wasn’t much else in print from him at that time. I was at a conference when the speaker made an off handed comment about DC being in print and “if the rest of the book is like the introduction, this could be a life changing book.” I went and got it… read it… and, to this day, it is the most treasured extra Biblical book in my library. Should a fire strike the church I serve, I have one Bible and my copy of DC — brimming with my notes and tear stains — that I will grab on the way to safety. A few years after reading it, I brought it to a conference where Dr. Willard spoke. He signed it, “In the fellowship of the Divine Conspiracy, Dallas” with the tag of Isaiah 64.4. Like everyone in “The Fellowship”, I’ve lost a mentor, disciple-maker, pastor, prophet, sage, evangelist, and friend. And, tho the only time we met was when he signed my lonely but tattered copy of the book that God used to saved my faith and life in Jesus and my hunger for His Word, I’ve been in a season of sadness this week beyond grateful for His work and words and life and ministry in my life.
I first “met” Dallas a little over ten years ago through his writing. “Spirit of the Disciplines” was my introduction to the man who would so profoundly shape my thinking about my life from Christ from that point forward. I read many of Dallas’s books and had the opportunity to hear him teach both at conferences and on video through the years. Somewhere in that process he became a mentor to me – perhaps the person who influenced my life with God more than anyone I have encountered outside of Christ and his apostles. Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to meet Dallas while at a conference. It was a small gathering of friends from the Ecclesia Church Network, and we all had many opportunities to connect with Dallas over our days together. One morning I came down to breakfast to find Dallas eating alone. I worked up the nerve to ask if I could join him, and of course he graciously said yes. We spent the next hour together talking about a variety of subjects. Meeting someone you have grown to know and admire from a distance is an anxious moment. Too often the private image does not match up with the public image portrayed on stage or in books. In Dallas’s case it was the opposite. He was more gracious, more kind, more generous, and more knowledgeable than I could have ever hoped. I walked away from that breakfast thinking, “I want to know and walk with Christ as a part of his kingdom the way that he does.”
My last meeting with Dallas was at a lecture he gave a year or so ago at a church in Southern CA. After the lecture he greeted all who wished to talk with him. When it was my turn I told him that apart from the Lord Jesus that he was the greatest example of life with Christ that I had. I thanked him for mentoring me through his writings and lectures through the years. I asked him “would it be appropriate for me to give you a hug?” Like a teddy bear…an older, loving, gentle voiced teddy bear he said with a big smile “a hug…? it would be appropriate for you to give me a kiss!” I told him a hug would suffice. I will always remember that moment. If Christ himself were here to give me a hug I have to imagine that it would feel as warm, as accepting and as loving. Dallas shared in and experienced the love of Christ and we all experienced that and know it’s true.
I first met Dallas in 2002 when he was speaking at a church in Kansas City. I walked down to the front after his lecture and told him what a blessing he was to the church and thanked him for all he did for us. He kindly put his hand on my forehead and said thank you for all you (a then 21 year old kid) did for the church. I was speechless and felt the presence of God wash over my body.
My first real encounter with Dallas Willard was during a visit to a friend’s home shortly after my wife of almost 42 years had died from cancer. My friend was a relative of Dallas, and although I had heard of Dallas Willard prior to this visit I didn’t know that he was my friend’s relative. My friend asked if I would mind watching a video. As it turned out it was a video from Dallas’ teaching on Renovation of the Heart. As Dallas talked in that video about becoming a disciple of Jesus and about the life of the easy yoke the thought came to my mind “I can do that!” From that moment on I was hooked. Since then I have read all of his books and listened to many of his talks. About a year after that visit with my friend I was invited back to my friend’s home to meet Dallas in person. I got to spend several hours with him one on one. I will always treasure that time. I don’t remember much of what I said to Dallas or what he said to me but I will never forget the feelings that I had. Since then I have told many people that “I have never been listened to like that”. Everyone else seems to always be in a hurry, checking their watch, etc. But Dallas told me several times that he had as much time as I needed. Wow!
Having only recently discovered the rich vein of Truth contained in Dr. Willard’s work, I am saddened to hear of his passing. His written and spoken words have built my faith and understanding of The Eternal. May his life’s work and passion remain available to those of us hungry to travel forward in faith.
Without question Dallas’ teaching and books were and are the most important and formative part of my own spiritual development. I had the privilege of personally meeting him on three occasions–pure delight! A sweet, gentle spirit. On one occasion I was troubled by a matter and I raised it with him. In one single sentence and breath he completely resolved the matter–in my head and in my heart. So grateful for his life and his mentorship, even from afar. He lit up my path! And continues to do so.
I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Willard (a few years ago) at the EPS conference in Berkley and…at the “Knowing Christ Conference”, which was one of the great experiences of mine and my wife Diana’s lives. What a gracious man Dallas was, taking time to talk and sign two of his books for me. The last book he signed was for one of our pastors who was very ill, in the hospital, and had to cancel his trip to the February conference. As ill as Dallas was at the conference, he took the time to write a personal word of encouragement which our pastor was overjoyed to receive. I loved hearing about Dallas’ last words; how fitting of this great man of God. “Thank you” is the title of one my favorite Christian songs that I sing. Part of the lyrics of the song is what Dallas just might experience in Heaven
I will always remember Dallas and his unselfish input into my life — and that definitely includes Jane, too. They have laid hands on me and prayed, offered counsel during some difficult periods of my life and just pure and simple friendship. I count it an incredible privilege to have even been just a tiny part of their lives. Dallas, you will be sorely missed and I hope that you’ll be rushing out to greet me when I step into that beautiful hallway that’s full of everlasting light!
We all remember when we were thrown a lifeline. Dallas extended lifelines to me through his teaching and several brief conversations over the last 17 years. Like so many, I wanted to be in his presence, soaking up “the easy yoke” in which he lived, learning how to fall more in love with Jesus. Divine Conspiracy came shortly after a difficult time of divorce in my life. Though raised in the church, life with God wasn’t looking anything like the abundant life Jesus offered…until I was given a copy of The Divine Conspiracy. I devoured the book, waking up in the early morning hours to read as much as I could before I left to teach each morning. As Richard Foster said in the Foreword, it is a “soul-satisfying banquet”, and my first real understanding of Kingdom Living. It reawakened a hope that there was indeed an abundant life yet to be lived.
Dallas Willard was a major mentor to me through his wonderful books and teaching. Over the last five years I have navigated through some difficult times and his writings have helped me become a better disciple of Christ and to live interactively with the Kingdom of God and helped me come through and out the other side a much better person. I am always encouraging people to read his works to help them reconnect with the true meaning of discipleship and becoming more like Christ. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the God inspired wisdom that you spent many hours pouring into your writings. Thank you to your family and friends for allowing you the space to do this and all the encouragement and sacrifice that must have been present.
Dear Family and Friends of Dallas Willard, Only twice – in March 2002 at Wheaton, Maryland, and in October 2007 at the International Conference in Seoul – did I have a chance to see and hear Dallas Willard in person, and only on the former occasion did I get a chance to talk with him briefly and thank him for THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY. Now, as he enjoys eternity, he has been given the encyclopedic view of humanity (well known to those who have had near-death experiences) that allows him to know how much or how little each person, who encountered his writings or his in-person teachings, has contributed to the cause of Christ.
I was a young and confused boy, tired of legalism but not aware of any other alternative. Then I read your book on the Divine Conspiracy, it was what I needed then and what i return to, when my soul is parched for truth and in need of grace. The call to discipleship, the challenge to see Jesus as the smartest person whoever lived and your interpretation of the beatitudes all changed my life and walk with Jesus. Thank you!
Thank You Dallas Willard. For being one who communicated and expressed Christ into my life through your books and audio lectures. Dallas Willard and Francis Scheaffer have been, next to Christ, the two people who have influenced me the most in 36 years as a believer during this journey.
The Divine Conspiracy changed my life in 2000 and the writings of Dallas Willard continue to show me what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. At first I was saddened when I heard about his passing, but it was quickly replaced with waves of joy knowing that, at this very moment, seeing Jesus face to face.
The Divine Conspiracy provided rich reading while serving as a Navy chaplain in Fallujah, Iraq in 2007. I’m thankful for Dallas Willard’s ministry which greatly influenced me.
Than you Dallas Willard for making my spiritual journey clearer and deeper.
Dallas was so gracious to me. He spoke at my ordination. He served on RobbinsNest’s advisory board. He would meet with me in his office and treat me to lunch at the Faculty Club. He endorsed my first book. He served on Ruth’s Ph.D. committee. When I asked him to speak to the board on 10/10/10 on the topic of “The Top 10 Things Dallas Willard Wants to Say to Pastors,” he graciously shared his insights for over two hours, though only presenting 8 things! While in high demand, he never charged or requested a contract. He was unpretentious, known simply as “Dallas.” I treasure the spring evening when Dallas and you, Ruth and I, and Dan and Ruth Fuller met at the Fuller’s home on Mentor Avenue (what an appropriate street name!). Thank you for sharing Dallas with me and with the world. You, too, are gracious and one in whom Christ dwells and delights in. Whenever I asked Dallas for his prayer requests, he would inevitably answer, “Wisdom and strength.” God graciously granted Dallas his requests while living in the kingdom among us, and now even more so.
I had the great pleasure of being introduced to Dallas’ writings through a spiritual formation course I took under Gary Moon in Atlanta in the mid-90’s at The Psychological Studies Institute, when we read Spirit of the Disciplines. Later on I devoured Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart, as they and many of his talks available online were food for my soul. Just in the past year, my Dad and I were able to read through Knowing Christ Today and get together weekly over Skype to discuss it. And the one time I got to hear Dallas speak in public and was able to meet him, I was deeply touched by his warm and gentle spirit. Thanks Dr. Moon, for introducing me to Dallas, and thank you Dallas for having a profound impact on my life relationship with the Lord.
…As I have heard him speak on several occasions and read a number of his books, God has deeply touched my life and thinking through this brother. Mine is both sadness and gratitude.
Dallas Willard inspired my passionate pursuit of Christ and His kingdom. I am glad to have known Dallas through his work and brief meeting when he came and spoke at my church. His teachings are infused with such wisdom, grace and peace rooted in Christ. They are like precious pearls to be cherished. What a great witness! What a great model of how to follow Jesus! He has left such a rich legacy of truth and knowledge of the kingdom of God to bless the church.
Dallas Willard has inspired me to live more deeply as an apprentice of Jesus. His profound simplicity on living an abundant, supernatural life has been no little influence. I will be forever indebted to him, and will sorely miss whatever additional teaching ministry he would have continued to offer. May God spread the wisdom he gave him and direct others to the fullness of the God-life!
I knew when I was at Heart and Soul that it was an honor but I had no idea what an honor it would become to be able to see Dallas speak for his last event. What a tribute and what timing. Our family has been so blessed by Dallas and Jane and the work he has done with the Wilder’s and so on. At Heart and Soul a pivotal moment for me was when Willard said, “We don’t try to do these things, we become the kind of person that does these things.” He had a way of speaking so eloquently and simple to say something so profound. I think he was the Paul in the Bible of our time…
I was given a series on cd called “healing the heart” and couldn’t get enough of it. I started a notebook that I call “Dallas nuggets”. In February I was able to hear Dallas speak in Santa Barbara and came away with the thought…..I want what he has! I am thanking God for his amazing insight and will treasure all that he has written and done, he has changed my life! Thank you for sharing this amazing man with me. I will be praying for you as the weeks pass and the pain of his not being here is felt. I think that can be the hardest time.
I only knew Dallas Willard through the pages of his books, The Divine Conspiracy and The Spirit of the Disciplines, both of which I just recently read within the last year. His writings have had such a profound impact on my growth as a Christian and my understanding of God and His Kingdom. To me, he was a modern-day C.S. Lewis.
Dallas’ books and lectures and his life have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me, and no doubt to thousands of Christians. His spiritual life and maturity were coupled with a wonderfully dry sense of humor. During a lecture introduction someone referred to Dallas as radiating warmth and “southern comfort.” After the introduction, Dallas remarked dryly”I wonder if he knows what “SouthernComfort” is?
Praise God for the work and life of Dallas. I met him only once, when he spoke at Bethel College in Minnesota. He was so very gracious as he signed my books. And though I spoke with him just that one time, his writings spoke to me often. The insight and wisdom of this godly man changed me and changed how I did ministry.
The feeling that many have shared, I will echo: I also miss Dallas. Gordon Cosby said that what the world desperately needs is Saints. …While Dallas was with us, I never met him in person…it was just the meeting of hearts and minds and souls, at a critical juncture for me. I think every spiritual director or mentor becomes a father or mother to us. Though we never spoke a word to one another, Dallas was a director, and therefore a (grand)father to me. I sincerely don’t know where I would be with Jesus right now, were it not for him. At the time when I first encountered The Spirit of the Disciplines, several years ago, the Church no longer held anything for me. I was a battered child of evangelical fundamentalism; an arrogant “intellectual” who had, since those formative years, learned just enough to have no meaningful confidence in Jesus or his Father; a young husband and father beset with vices and relational strains for which I had no adequate tools to remedy, or even explain. But then, there was Dallas, who came to my attention via Richard Foster’s Streams of Living Water, speaking a language I had never dreamed of, opening (along with Richard) my eyes to categories, concepts, and spiritual vistas I had been unknowingly longing for. It seemed he “knew” me, was speaking to someone just like me…and I understood him. I’m sure I didn’t understand every word, but I “got it” – and “it” was exactly what I needed to hear. It was the final nail in the coffin of the stultifying Christianity I had known up to that point, and it just as forcefully freed me from the paralyzing functional agnosticism into which I had drifted. Dallas made Jesus real to me again (or perhaps for the first time), showing me how he must surely be all-sufficient, admirable, desirable, breathtaking
Thank you Dallas for sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning, and then so willingly and sacrificially giving to all those around you. Thank you King Jesus for trusting our brother Dallas with so many of your treasures to share with your people. We are more whole, more joyful, more at peace and more loving because our journey intertwined with his. To God be the glory!
It was reading The Divine Conspiracy over 10 years ago that gave me hope again that I could be a new person, that Jesus could live his life through mine. It made “spiritual formation” a life pursuit. Thanks for that, and all your other books. You’ll be missed here by many, but well met on the other side.
I learned so much from Dallas Willard’s books. I’m so grateful…so grateful… “The Divine Conspiracy” truly is, as Richard Foster says in his foreword: “A masterpiece and a wonder…” Far too many quotes come to mind to pick just one…but I was challenged to live the eternal KIND of life…to go to Heaven before I die…to give up my right to retain anger, contempt and condemnation… Looking forward to meeting in that other room….
He introduced me to the Heavens. And lately I noticed they were brighter–now I know why.
Thank you, Father, for teaching me through Dallas to think about the person I’m becoming. So many of those precious words have been life to my mind and spirit and reached deeper than sentiment and feeling into the way that I think. Dr. Willard’s writings have changed my life. I’m eternally grateful.
Dallas was an amazing person. I am grateful for all the stories of your dad [Becky] and the amazing books and lectures your father gave. Your father is in heaven and I know you will see him again.
I’ve had the opportunity to teach Renovation of the Heart to a group at our church. Taking the time to really study his book meant so much to me. God really used the book and the video to bless our group.
The year of the Houston conference, 1999, I was able to attend and what a privilege that was. It was just prior to that that I was able to complete a cassette taping of The Divine Conspiracy for my blind friend Russ Reinert. He was for 30 years the Personnel Director of Wycliffe’s Peru branch. I had put a number of books on tape for him and when Dallas’ Conspiracy came out I didn\’t even need to ask Russ if he would like it–I just got busy taping. I think by now I have read the Conspiracy at least three times. Whenever a security question asks which is my favorite author, I always say “Dallas Willard.”
I first heard Dallas at the 2003 AACC conference and his challenge to personal holiness that day touched the Spirit of God in me and reached deep into my soul, starting me on a journey to get to know Jesus in every way He designed me from before the foundation of the world. Since then I have pursued God and opened myself to His pursuit of me, and along the way have turned to Dallas’s writings and the influence he has had on the hearts of such men as Larry Crabb and John Ortberg. My heart aches that this most Christ-like of men will no longer be here to show us the way. Dallas will continue to touch all our lives, as we ponder his words, and as the influence he has had on other godly men and women helps us pursue a more godly path in our lives.
I am referring to Dallas as the most important unofficial mentor in my life the past 3 or 4 years. I only met Dallas once, fortunate to spend a couple of hours with him at his USC office just over a year ago. Toward the end of our time together, I asked him how life was for him, and he said, “Steve, I am 76 years old, and I don’t have the energy to get done all the things I would like to. And I don’t like that very much”. My guess is that he has abundant energy now. I cannot wait to see how he is contributing to the Kingdom now. The last thing he said, and that has become somewhat of a mantra for me, was “Trust Jesus for EVERYTHING”.
others have also said, no one taught me more about Jesus and life with him than Dallas. When major questions faced me I repeatedly thought, “What would Dallas say?” One of my great joys was watching a live streaming video of the Knowing Christ conference. It was the closest I ever came to him–Dallas, John, many others and me, all sharing a moment in God’s presence. It was a gift to see Christ’s humility, humor, love and wisdom shining through Dallas. Well done sir!
I have come but lately, less than two years, to discover the writings of Brother Dallas. There are no accidents in Father God’s universe, so it was by His kind providence that I read a book by a Keith Meyer, “Whole Life Transformation”, which introduced me to Renovare and the writings of Dallas Willard. To say that Dallas has made a deep impact is to say the very least. Several people in the church I pastor are being influenced by “Hearing God”, “Celebration of the Disciplines” and “Divine Conspiracy”.
Annie Dillard wrote: “I think that the dying pray at the last not please, but thank you; as a guest thanks his host at the door.” Dallas was a man who knew that gratitude was the proper response to the Creator for the gift of mortal life. My guess is that he is still saying Thank You, and now he has a thousand tongues to sing God’s praise!
I am so happy that I got to hear Dallas speak at a conference 2 years ago. It helped me to read his books better and as a result, I have been more ministered to by him than I can describe. To me there are a few “must read” books for all believers and permanently on that list, for me, will be Renovation of the Heart. Most of my copy is highlighted and I refer back to it often. He is and was a gift to the body of Christ. I hope that his family finds comfort and peace knowing he is with the Good Shepherd and they will be together some day.
Like so many others, after several hundred hours of having Dallas Willard’s voice in my head through reading and re-reading his books, listening to his lectures online, and the many inner conversations I’ve had with him as I processed this stuff, I have begun to consider him my friend. I only heard Dallas teach live once… about 10 years ago. As my friend and I absorbed his words over a couple of days, at one point, my friends leaned over and said… “this must be what it was like to have listened to the Paul.” Exactly. Dallas Willard is one of the few people I’ve known who could actually pull off saying…. “live as I live.” Not long after hearing Dallas speak for the first time, I read “Divine Conspiracy.” I distinctly remember a particular night when I woke up after only a few hours time. I read for the first time the chapters (perhaps 3 and 4?) about what the human soul is like, and will be like, without the life of God transforming it; and then the chapter following that describes what can (and will) happen to those that are transformed by God. Actually thrilling stuff! His thoughtful, thoroughly Biblical, and intelligent words struck me like a ton of bricks. After perhaps 10-12 years of believing in Jesus, learning some important things about him, and, once in a while, actually experiencing him directly… somehow Dallas’ explanation of life with God … so inspiring, provoking, and compellingly, came to me as new revelation.
Dallas Willard’s radical discipleship and Kingdom vision have shaped my world and life view. His writings have profoundly influenced my teaching and preaching. Now he’s singing with the saints in heaven….”Alleluia! Alleluia to God’s Almighty Son.” Glory be to God.
My life has been immeasurably impacted by Dallas not only directly through his teachings and writings, but indirectly thorough the writings and teachings of those he has mentored either directly or from afar. I will be forever grateful for his life and teachings. I look forward to one day telling him so.
From the A.A. community in northern Indiana. We studied Dallas’ writings day after day for the teaching and comfort contained within. Those of us who were in the audience when you visited South Bend were blessed with the simple understandable words describing Jesus’ powerful message found in Mathew 28. As I recall, you addressed it, “the modern day apprenticeship program.” A kind and gentle man, a great humble servant.
My first encounter with Dallas Willard was in reading the Divine Conspiracy. I “stumbled” upon the book when I was emerging from a serious battle with depression. Reading the Divine Conspiracy helped bring me back to life. The experience was for me like meeting Jesus “again for the first time.” It was the doorway to a depth of relationship with Jesus that up until that encounter I did not think was possible. My second encounter with Dr. Willard was at the Renovare Conference in Houston in 1999. I was deeply moved by the depth of his intellect but more so by the humble servant I saw and heard as he stood before thousands of people. Thanks be to God for the life of Dallas Willard.
To all friends and loved ones of Dallas, I am so sorry for your loss. Our church book group recently read The Divine Conspiracy and watched the video series that accompanies it. Through the readings and videos, I feel as though I knew Dallas personally. I call him the “people whisperer.” Just listening and watching him, made me feel whole, peaceful, and amazingly joyous! I feel sorry for myself that I never had an opportunity to meet him, but I am so gloriously happy that he is now with our Lord Jesus!! Please accept my prayers and sincere condolences to you.
I have started to write this many times, but find it hard to express the impact Dallas had on me. I first heard of spiritual formation at the Spiritual Formation Forum in Long Beach 7 years ago. Dallas talked about kingdom living, the easy yoke, that salvation was not just a ticket to heaven, that eternal life begins now, and that its possible to actually become more like Jesus. I so longed for that life, instead of the trying-hard, sin-management life. At the time I was just entering full time ministry at my church, and I emailed my senior pastor after hearing Dallas, and told him: “I don’t want to be the Teaching Director, I want my title to be Director of Spiritual Formation”. In the years since, Dallas had helped me be more than a teacher, to enjoy the with-God life myself, and to have something to say to people that actually helps them grow to love God and become more like Jesus.
Our tribute at this link:http://www.renovatorministries.org/dallas-willard-an-apprentice-of-christ/
Dallas, you will be missed dearl my friend. Here is the tribute I have written for you: http://bit.ly/YzmUyn (Remembering Dallas Willard – A Man Who Invited Others to Live in the Reality of God’s Kingdom.
I will never forget sitting by the river in our town and reading Divine Conspiracy. Chapter 3 in particular. Every sentence it seems caused me to pause, took my breath away. One time only did I get to hear him in person at a Renovare’ conference. Same effect. Humble, simple, profound. How Dallas was able to open doors, and to ask the questions that led us forward. So grateful for this dear saint. Blessings to his family and friends.
I still have my first edition copy of The Divine Conspiracy. It promised a worldview, and didn’t disappoint; thankfully my faith has never been the same since reading it. While I went on to read as much by Dallas as I could, living in the UK meant I heard him speak in person only a few times. But on one of those occasions, one day in Oxford in 2004, I had the slightly strange experience of seeing him turn up almost everywhere. I went to Starbucks for coffee, and Dallas was standing patiently in line. I went to St Aldates, and heard him speak softly words of Christian revolution once again. And later I went to Blackwells bookshop, and Dallas was there too, down in the cavernous basement, quietly working his way round the Theology section. And now I reflect how his teaching and example has become a routine part of my ordinary, daily life in Christ, and that I usually forget – I suspect as he would wish – who the Spirit used to inspire me in so many ways. I no longer fear the Beatitudes are dreary commands to a forced, life-defying existence: as Dallas helpfully explained, they’re proclamations, much-needed invitations to come out from a broken, hurting world into a wonderfully good and exciting Kingdom. His breakdown of Colossians 3 as a model of Christian life and transformation is something I use myself and pass on to others whenever I can.
I’ve only read books, seen him speaking at Menlo Park church on footage about tough questions, But the most profound thing is that he said he hoped to be so close to God that he wouldn’t know he died till later. I see lots of comments about people being “lost” because they died. He’s not lost we know exactly where he is. Think before you speak. I know I’m picky but I don’t like losing.
The Divine Conspiracy was the first reading assignment given me when Jim Wilder started mentoring me. Since then I have enjoyed all of Dallas’ works. I feel incredibly blessed and honored to have crossed paths with such a special, godly man. Having the opportunity to read Dallas’ books, hear him speak and meet him in person has given me much inspiration, encouragement and hope for living the kind of life that leaves a Christ-like trail of love, joy and kindness behind.
I did not have the opportunity to meet Dallas face to face, but we surely have spent much time together through the printed and spoken word. He has impacted my life and I am forever grateful. I will miss Dallas, but feel blessed that through a little piece of my life, his legacy can live on.
Dallas,You helped me to understand my need to be a disciple of Christ more than anyone else ever did. For that I am eternally grateful. Looking forward to seeing you in Heaven.
Like so many others, I too have been greatly impacted by Dallas though his books, his audio talks, and a few times I met him in person. What he wrote, what he talked about, what he helped us understand, he lives. Dallas is not a “was” he is as much as “is” as ever. He reminded us that we co-reign with God and his infinite goodness. Dallas now is doing that! I wonder if he’s teaching classes to those who perhaps didn’t quite learn what they needed to before there own home going? Imagine? Jane and family, thank you for sharing Dallas with us all. No doubt at times it was difficult for you to have him gone so much, but we are all reminded that there is so much more life ahead of us then behind us. Bless you as you miss him, what a truly good man.
Dallas was so important to me personally. He was the first person I had ever met who told me to “never believe anything bad about God.” I was, at the time, active in my church’s college group and he delivered his series on The Sermon on the Mount. It was so different than anything I had ever heard – it was such good news that I could scarcely believe it. The Jesus that Dallas knew was so scandalously generous. And the spirit that Dallas delivered this news with was so persuasive in an attractive way, not a manipulative way. “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” I had to ask him all sorts of questions. Dallas was very patient and answered my questions. I knew when I had come to the end – he would say something like “I don’t think we’ll gain anything by dwelling on the furniture of Heaven or the temperature of hell.” A beautiful man. So elegant in his practice. Dallas gave me lots of good advice about loving others – some of which I followed. It was so much like Dallas to know that it is God’s Spirit that does the heavy lifting. “Burning grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff.” I’m just guessing that Dallas prayed daily for the knowledge of God’s will for him and the power to carry that out and didn’t worry about how God would use him. He just planted the seeds in my life and patiently waited, watched, watered and pruned. He knew God would save me. He knew I was in the hands of the good, wise and powerful God. I didn’t at the time. I was very happy when Dallas started publishing books because I could picture him speaking these words to me.
I periodically I do a Google search just to make sure that Dallas Willard has not published something new. Tonight I thought I might better “check for Dallas news”. I am so sad the news I found was his death; but his profound understanding of “God’s Kingdom within” lives on in a lifetime of creative works just as his “eternal spirit” continues the journey. I will hold even more dear, one of my Google searches that found this: Your Place in This World Published in 2005 by LifeWay Christian Resources in the Holman CSB Graduate’s Bible, this was Dr. Willard’s commencement address at Greenville College in May 2004. Transcribed and edited by Steve Bond of Holman Bible Publishers. I refer often to my abbreviations version that follows. 1. Remember who you are. I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. 2. Remember to keep God before your mind. You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it is trusting in You (Is 26:3).
It was through Dallas Willard’s thought and teachings, as expressed in The Divine Conspiracy, that my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a living and real Teacher was restored. One day does not go by in my life that does not bear, in some way, the mark of what I learned in and through his writings. Thanks be to God that Dallas was willing to put this great intellect to use in the service of Christ. We will miss him here.
The Leadership Transformations ministry family is profoundly grateful to the Lord for the writing, teaching, and leadership ministries of Dallas. He lived what he taught, experienced what he wrote, and his influence upon countless lives is a legacy we honor with thanksgiving. We use all of Dallas’ books in our spiritual formation ministries to leaders and teams and will continue to do so for years to come.
A tribute to Dallas Willard: http://www.facebook.com/patrick.watters1/posts/3008964958800 Our diversity as a community of faith and as individuals enables us to serve the diversity of His Creation. We are not meant to look like or follow each other, but to find our unique identity in Christ then follow Him in obedience. }:-Thanks to Dallas Willard for helping me grasp this truth of incarnational living, contentment in our daily lives as we follow Christ.
How I am indebted to and thankful for the life and ministry of Dallas Willard! No one has influenced me in the last 30 years since I have come into touch with Dallas’ life and teachings as Dallas. Most of all, through his life and ministry, Jesus has more of me, and I of him! My heart is sad, knowing I won’t see or hear him again this side of heaven, but I rejoice in the legacy he left and which will continue, and in the gain he now enjoys!
Dallas Willard’s writings and ministry have been significant in helping shape my own journey with Christ–and the ministry work to which I have been called. I had been looking forward to hearing him in person as a guest lecturer soon, and am sorry to miss that blessing. But his legacy will linger with me, and I am grateful for his life and faithfulness.
Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much), Dallas’s words always came from his keen mind and warm heart. Hearing him speak at conferences and reading his books always challenged my thinking and moved me toward the God he loves. Now he fully knows even as he is fully known.
Thank you, God, for our dear brother Dallas, who invested his life into shaping a Christian worldview for this generation. May we continue to live with a strong rationale for the importance of taking care of our soul in light of Your perspective and economy. Amen.
Christy Hill, Grace College and Seminary
Dallas, Your writing’s have helped me move into the world of the spiritual formation as well as helping to reorient my view of evangelism; I no longer mainly believe my job as a living witness is to walk up to someone and sell them a piece of goods… It is not my job to close a deal, I bare witness to the power of the resurrection and the knowledge of the Kingdom of God in my every day dealings at work, at home and where ever I find that I am. Thank you Dallas. Who you clearly are is perhaps what challenges me the most, I want to be an unhurried, unworried, disciple living currently in a kingdom that will not be shaken. One last thing, I met you a couple of years ago at the Anaheim Vineyard and was so grateful to hopefully honor you in sharing how I had used the ideas in the divine conspiracy to create an experiential labyrinth for a Middle Eastern youth group that I was pastoring. That labyrinth which brought those young people face-to-face with Christ’s teaching through the ideas in your book, had more of an impact on them, than perhaps anything I ever preached in a sermon. Thank you Dallas for sharing your intellect and your own story of Christ formed in you.
I live in the Kingdom of the Heavens. That changes everything. Thanks for helping me see. P.S. I wrote this post last night after much reflection on what I have learned as a young pastor from reading Dallas Willard called, “(At Least) 9 Reasons Why Young Pastors Should Read Dallas Willard”.
Thank you, Dallas. Thank you that you allowed God to shape and guide you in the way of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Your perspective on a holistic Christian faith indwelling the kingdom of God has forever changed my life. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift in you!
What a gift! I met Dallas in 2005 during a weekend conference at our Church. Dallas spoke of the Christian as already “in the Kingdom and when we die, we just step over into the Kingdom of Heaven”. Recently, I heard Dallas respond to a question, “what happens when you die?” Dallas said, “you may not even know your dead for awhile”…well Dallas…the applause you received upon your arrival just woke you up!!!!! Heaven’s gain. Thank you for being my mentor through your writings. Thank you Jane and family, for sharing Dallas with all of us and may God bless you with His agape love during this time of separation.
Like some of you, while I never met Dallas personally, I felt I knew him and he knew me. His writings and lectures were so exciting, maybe the word is enthralled. I saw real possibilities of being a committed Christian. So I am now an “apprentice,” albeit late in life. I am sure Dr. Willard, who insisted upon being called Dallas, would offer words of encouragement: “Mike “now is the appropriate hour,” who cares about “time,” we are in Eternity Now!”
When I first picked up The Divine Conspiracy nearly 20 years ago, it was like water to my soul. It was the book I had been looking for my entire adult life. Since then I have been blessed by reading nearly everything Dallas wrote about the Christian life, hearing him present, and finally meeting him and Jane. I can honestly say I have never met anyone who radiated the Light of the world more than Dallas and Jane. They will always be dear to me. And I am forever grateful for their impact on my life with God.
Dallas and his beloved Jane taught me grace in marriage. They modeled marriage and offered a witness to Christ which has been a gift to my husband and me. Jane continues to hold that hallmark and example for us.
Dallas wrote me a letter once, offering prayers and encouragement in my pastoral work and spoke of the importance of that call. He recognized the blessings and challenges of the a pastor’s ministry and work. Unsolicited, this missive was a gift at a time when I needed his reminders. Through his vast work, I know Jesus more deeply and have a focused understanding of the kingdom.
Dallas Willard was a lamplighter Himself, always pointing to the Light of the World. Whether in a shared prayer, a hymn sung, a kind or suggestive word, he was a man who lived a gratitude for His Lord in palpable ways.
Dallas was a favorite guest teacher at our church. The room was packed to hear him speak. In his quiet and brilliant teaching, we were spellbound and encouraged to hear God speak and live a “with” Christ life.
So grateful that he once challenged me in the spiritual discipline of sleep- “Care you must be faithful to get regular and more sleep!” What a kind word!
In one of his favorite hymns, ‘Lead, kindly light’, there is a repeated phrase,
‘Lead thou me on!’ Dallas Willard was led by the Triune God who knew and loved him well and is leading him on even now in heaven’s embrace.
Honored and blessed to have known Dallas and each time my husband and I have time shared with Jane, we see her partnership in his life and work lived out.
I never met Dallas in person, but I consider him my primary mentor over the past decade. His words and his way of life inspire me and make the words of scripture open up like never before.
I come back to his teachings over and over, because his gentle honesty speaks right into the heart of things, and right into my heart.
Dallas has become my primary Christian mentor, although I never met him. His gentle spirit in his talks and his incredible knowledge and wisdom won me over.