"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

“The Divine Conspiracy” In Review

Posted in Stuff I'm Reading, Theological by matt on Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today I finished a book by Dallas Willard called “The Divine Conspiracy” and I’m in awe. Seriously. There are so many reasons for a person to read this book.

For starters, it’s holistically written. Willard doesn’t just toss you a sliver of the pie, he hands you the whole thing. The thing is, it’s up to you whether or not you’ll dig in because it’s a big, big pie. There’s just so much there to process. I kept reading and then putting the book down to think about what he’d said, and Cayla graciously endured my excited rants about the book the entire time I was reading it.

Mr. Willard’s book is basically a loose interpretation of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (which he calls the ‘Discourse on the Hill’) with some other teachings thrown in.

The most valuable theme of the book for me, though, was its emphasis on discipleship. Discipleship is one of those terms that I’ve heard emphasized w/out much explanation, so this book helped clarify things a lot.

Willard reminds us that Jesus was not just our savior or friend, but also our teacher. He writes, “Jesus is not just nice, he is brilliant…” I can’t remember a time when I thought or said, “Jesus is brilliant.” That’s just not who we think of when we think of the word ‘brilliant’, but Jesus is a supremely capable teacher calling people to become his disciples. But the disciple won’t be devoted to a teacher they don’t consider capable or intelligent.

I would actually take Willard’s idea further and say that there are many who study Paul as a brilliant teacher and only admire Jesus as being ‘important’ or ‘necessary’, but not someone to be studied. I can remember a specific time when I called Jesus’ teaching ‘the milk’ and Paul’s letters ‘the meat’. That was so dumb, and this book has helped me see that. A disciple must not focus on teachings that are difficult to understand at the expense of a teaching that’s difficult to live out.

Willard writes, and I think rightly, that discipleship to Jesus, the brilliant teacher and Lord, requires serious intentionality and discipline. This process is marked by maturity through both failure and success  – and especially risk. In short, pick up a copy and work through it. It’s a great read.

2 Responses

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  1. Dad said, on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Good word! I might read it someday … if I can find mine… j/k. Prouder and prouder…

  2. aiyanmernerd said, on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve been thinking/wrestling/struggling with the idea of discipleship and discipline a lot recently. I’ll have to pick it up.

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