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! Highly Recommended. 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.)