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The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship Paperback – 20 Oct 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Monarch Books (20 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854247921
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854247926
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 588,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Dallas Willard is a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Philosophy. He is author of the groundbreaking books The Divine Conspiracy and The Spirit of the Disciplines which forever changed the way thousands of Christians experience their faith.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on 10 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Willard is an emotive writer who inspires. I find this book to be more refreshing and useful than academically relevant
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 71 reviews
147 of 152 people found the following review helpful
Rev. 3:2 31 July 2006
By Paul M. Dubuc - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dallas Willard's latest book is a collection of previous writings and lectures surrounding the importance of discipleship for Christians. This book is a great introduction to Willard's other books and a stirring exposition of his chief concern: That becoming a disciple of Christ is seen as optional in most churches today. It is enough that a person accept Christ as savior and affirm certain beliefs to be a Christian. While these things are absolutely essential, they are not enough and they only partially fulfill the teachings of scripture and the commands of Jesus.

When many people consider discipleship, or spiritual formation, they think of what it costs (a la Bonhoeffer). This is a valid perspective, but Willard asks us to take a look from the other side: The cost of nondiscipleship:

"Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith
that sees everything in the light of God's overriding governance for good, hopefulness
that stands firm in the most discouraging circumstances, power to do what is right
and withstand the forces of evil. In short, nondiscipleship costs you exactly the
abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10)."

Discipleship is essential for every Christian, not just for the "super Christians." There is nothing in the teaching of scripture that suggests that being forgiven and "saved" is all there is to being a Christian. To the contrary, Willard shows that Christians need to be undergoing a profound transformation in character becoming more like Christ from the heart. How does this happen? By the faithful acceptance of everyday problems, interaction with God's Spirit in and around us and spiritual disciplines. He recommends four spiritual disciplines as basic to discipleship: solitude, silence, fasting and scripture memorization. For those to whom spiritual disciplines sound like "works righteousness," Willard repeatedly emphasizes the difference: "Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action." The process of transformation isn't passive on our part. Its effectiveness is all due to God's grace. But our effort makes us receptive to this grace. God will not impose it upon us. Willard likens spiritual discipline to the physical discipline of an athlete (cp. 1 Cor. 9:24-27). The spiritual disciplines aren't meant to be burdens that we groan under. They are tools which we can help us make God's grace more effective in our lives. In fact, our bodies themselves are tools for spiritual growth.

The heart of the book is chapter 9, "Living in the Vision of God." Here Willard distinguishes between the substance of devotion to God and its effects. When we become too attached to the latter we are in danger of losing the former. Here there is a very good analysis of how this happens and what can be done about it. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength in Mark 12:30 and Willard assures us that, "It is something we are to do, something we /can/ do. We /will/ learn learn how to do it if we /intend/ to do it. God will help us, and we will find a way." Amen! Let it be so.

The book ends with a few short chapters about various books on spiritual living that have been a tremendous help to Willard and which he commends for our use. I've added a few of them to my reading list.

Dallas Willard is a very wise, and practical teacher. He has deep and valuable insight into what it means, and what it takes, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ today. He is a trustworthy guide for the efforts of any Christian who wants to break an addiction to mediocrity in their relationship to God. This book will never be the classic that _The Divine Conspiracy_ is bound to become, but it provides a a much needed impetus for modern evangelical Christianity to reclaim the great omission for its life and mission. I hope it gains a wide reading.
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
By MERCURY - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Five Contemplative Stars! This very absorbing book is a compendium of individual writings and speeches on discipleship from 1980 to 2004 by the awesome Christian idealogue and writer, Dr. Dallas Willard. In this book, some deeply acerbic questions are asked, while providing straight answers to those adhering to Christianity. No shortcuts, no easy way out, and no really radical thoughts. He appears to me to be right on target based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, but he's looking deeper than most as he develops his topics in the book.

The book's title references Jesus' "Great Commission" to his disciples just before He ascended to Heaven. Willard feels that for many Christians there has been a "Great Omission" in achieving the true goals of Christianity. He even takes issue with the term "Christian" early on, which he says is mentioned only a few times in the Bible and originally was a way of differentiating Jews from Jesus' jewish and non-jewish followers. Indeed, Dr. Willard finds a "Great Disparity" (my caps) between the life Christians should be living and the secular life that many actually live, which is also certainly being observed by those who are not Christian and who see no difference between lifestyles of Christians and non-Christians. He urges that we make disciples of ourselves first, before making disciples of the Church and the world.

Dr. Wiliard rationally makes a powerful case for a new Christian discipleship and tells those disciples how to live in this age of confusion and temptation. Spiritual formation, living one's life as if Jesus was in their place, changing our mindset, and the critical role of "grace" leads us to the literally change our feelings. Other too-seldom heard relevant terms like "piety" abound in this book to flesh out Wiliard's concepts. He also gives numerous examples along the way, as well as plain language 'translations' of some verses of the Gospel. He does make lofty claims: like the "one verse in the Bible that is worth more than any college education" (you'll have to read the book to find out which one it is, but it is a powerful verse. The worth of it is up to the reader.)

In the "Books on Spiritual Living", he references books by two disparate but awesomely empathetic sources which have greatly affected Dr. Willard: the consummate "Each One, Teach One" missionary (Dr.) Frank C. Laubach, who worked among indigenous peoples and urged keeping God in mind every minute of our waking hours, and the wonderful mystic nun (Saint) Teresa of Avila whose awesome "The Interior Castle" describes her very close spiritual union with God and how we can do it.

It took great scholarship and courage to compile this book, and to not only challenge general contemporary Christian thought in this modern world, but to lay out a blueprint for how to live our lives amidst secularism and temptation based on Jesus' teachings. Ths scope of the book is IMPRESSIVE. Some may find this book beyond their understanding; others may find it the first step to even deeper levels of understanding of Christianity, and others may find it the spiritual breakthrough they have long sought. God Bless! Five "Spirit-filled" Stars!!

* This is an 8 1/2 inch by 5 3/4 inch 'small-size' Hardcover book with 233 pages and a highly colorful dustcover.
* Two related books by Dr. Willard, which may interest some of you are: "The Divine Conspiracy" and the award-winning "Renovation of the Heart".
* In even approaching this book, one must have a bare minimum of exposure to Christianity in order to understand Dr Willard's concepts and the imperatives coming from the Bible, in general, and from Jesus, specifically.)
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Discipleship - the key to interior transformation 11 July 2006
By T. Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since most of this book is a collection of previous articles and speeches from the past twenty-six years, it testifies to the consistency with which Dallas Willard has articulated the need that believers be disciples - learners and apprentices to Christ. Wordplay on the Great Commission seems flippant - but is his attempt to draw attention to what Jesus really commanded regarding teaching in Matt 28. The disciplines are the key to inward transformation - experiencing the new life in the Spirit that Jesus promises. Not doctrine. Not experiences. Not works. Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning. Discipleship is not trying but training - obeying Christ to all we do. The first half of the book contains restatements of ideas and ideals found in The Spirit of the Disciplines and The Divine Conspiracy. The latter part includes some broader considerations, and includes five book reviews of classical books on spirituality, highlighting their value to the apprentice of Christ.

There is a theological challenge here - "Dare I tell ... believers without discipleship that they are at peace with God and God with them?" (p 11) And "A gospel of justification alone does not generate disciples." (p 62)

Some of the themes consistently put forth:

Christian practices abound today that are not up to the standard of the Great Commission, such as the idea that Bible study equals discipleship, or that right profession of doctrine equals salvation, or that experiences with the Holy Spirit bring or prove spiritual growth, or that rule-following brings holiness;

Growth in discipleship requires the interaction of three aspects of life, to wit, the experiences of life as God uses them to changes us, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the exercise of the classical disciplines to train ourselves to respond to God and not the flesh.

How to practice the disciplines without falling into legalism? That requires reading the book.

There are some unresolved tensions - space for future writings. There is no simple twelve-step formula for discipleship here. [Others - e.g., Foster, Ortberg - have written more applied books.] The actions of Jesus in confronting evil and injustice seem counter to the peaceable fruit of the Spirit, yet there is little on how these seemingly conflicting aspects of the Christian life can be synthesized into the disciple's life. Both should be significant dimensions of discipleship, yet there is little to guide the police officer, soldier, or social activist. Finally, emphasis on the spiritual disciplines is complementary to the books reviewed, which mostly fall into the "Christian mystic" genre - leaving the open question of how to prioritize or reconcile character development with direct communion with God and experiences of His presence.

The case is consistent but understated - the reader must seek God on his or her own.
77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Willard's Omissions 9 Jan. 2007
By Keith M. Abolnik - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When I first picked up this book I had certain expectations and hope based on the author's long standing reputation. This subject has been a high priority for me as I am most concerned to do all that is possible to engage people in authentic Biblical transformation. This has been the passion and pursuit of many leaders in the Body of Christ. I feel the author has underestimated many of the called of God who have tackled this disparity, who have drawn similar conclusions, and who have indeed laid out plans to genuinely "make disciples," not just converts.

Certainly Mr. Willard communicates his passion and thinking about this subject well. I feel that I most benefitted from his definitions of "spiritual formation," and his presentation of the idea that "Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning." The most exciting chapter was his presentation of "Jesus the Logician." This chapter would be great for all believers to strengthen their understanding of Jesus and their appreciation for His participation is every part of their life.
I find it ironic that what the title of this book suggests the author has seemed to have done himself. I feel a few things have been "omitted" by the Mr. Willard.

1. He failed to present a model of discipleship. One of Willard's complaints was that he has not yet found a church that has a master plan for accomplishing the call to make disciples. It would seem that since we are all called to this task that the author himself must be discipling people. How does he accomplish this great task? This could have been a significant contribution to the thinking and life of his readers had he presented some kind of solution to the problem discussed. Just emphasizing spiritual formation doesn't cut it.

2. A revision to the "Invitation System" needs to be addressed. The church at large has miserably failed in presenting the Gospel when people are simply called to come down front and pray a prayer. Jesus did not do this, He called people to follow Him as disciples from the very beginning. The whole "invitation system" needs to be completely changed to fit the call of the Great Commission. What an important thing to discuss if we are to take the author seriously in making disciples instead of converts.

3. The "relational" part of discipleship missing. Discipleship cannot be effectively carried out by programming. The unique relationship between the one who does discipline and the one being discipled is critical to it being authentic. But, this was not addressed.

4. Explicit "discipleship" passages missing from the discussion. It would seem appropriate that any real discussion on discipleship should include those passages that are explicitly in disciple language - like "bearing the cross, denying your self," and so on.

This may seem like a pretty critical review, however, these are my feelings and expectations, and I (like the author and you I'm sure) am passionate about resolving the disparity and inadequacies in our churches when it comes to our presenting (and living) the life-transforming power of the God's truth. It was my expectation that the author would have made more of a contribution toward this end. I welcome comments from any readers of this review.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Introduction to the disciplines - nothing new here 15 Aug. 2006
By Derek Luptak - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dallas Willard is a joy to be able to bump brains with in book format. No other book has had the effect on me that Divine Conspiracy did, and still does. However, if you have read Willard's other works, you will find little new here. The Great Omission is a collection of essays, which overlap each other quite often, and can get very repetitive. This one is for completists only. Good for maybe picking up and reading a different essay every so often, but reading from front to back can get exhausting. Still, it's Willard, so it gets 4 stars. If you've never read any Willard, this is not a bad place to start. Maybe his most accessable work to date.
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