Jesus, according to Dallas Willard

I’ve been re-reading Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. You can keep up on other posts as I do by clicking the “Dallas Willard” Category link on the blog.

The opening chapter of TDC outlines the plight that Willard claims that we have as humans in this current historical moment. Willard takes great lengths to outline what he would suggest is a confusing situation for us; perhaps a “blind-leading-the-blind” situation. In the midst of it all there is a “light [that] glimmers and glows.” Willard claims that this light is Jesus and in a few pages, Willard makes some remarks of who Jesus is. I thought that I’d share a few.

“Along with two thieves, he was executed by the authorities two thousand years ago. Yet today, from countless paintings, statues, and buildings, from literature and history, from personality and institution, from profanity, popular song, and entertainment media, from confession and controversy, from legend and ritual – Jesus stands quietly at the center of the contemporary world, as he himself predicted. He so graced the ugly instrument on which he died that the cross has become the most widely exhibited and recognized symbol on earth.” (11-12)

“Jaroslav Pelikan remarks that ‘Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?'” (12)

“I think we finally have to say that Jesus’ enduring relevance is based on his historically proven ability to speak to, to heal and empower the individual human condition. He matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weakness he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.” (13)

“If he were to come today he could very well do what you do. He could very well live in your apartment or house, hold down your job, have your education and life prospects, and live within your family, surroundings, and time. None of this would be the least hindrance to the eternal kind of life that was his by nature and becomes available to us through him. Our human life, it turns out, is not destroyed by God’s life but is fulfilled in it and in it alone.” (14)

The last two quotations are important. The hope for spiritual formation ends before it starts if we suggest that Jesus did not really become one of us. But, if we believe the confession that he became one of us, then we can believe that we can share in his eternal kind of life.

The church struggled the first several centuries to communicate Jesus’ divinity, perhaps in these last few centuries, we’ve struggled with Jesus’ humanity.

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