7. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

According to my records, I have read this five times since 2009. It took me four months to read it the first time. Now, I seem to fly through it.

It is interesting to read what I wrote about this book while reviewing Summa Theologica in 2012:

"I am not big on theology. As I told my friends who were gathered around a picnic table hotly debating theology one summer afternoon in 2001, "I just don't 'think' about God." This was followed by uproarious laughter because they all knew I had been studying and leading Bible studies  for over 30 years (www.3yearbiblebookclub.blogspot.com). I don't think about God just as I don't "think" about my husband, I LOVE him. I ADORE him. I want to KNOW him. I don't want to THINK ABOUT him!  So that is where I get hung up on theology.
BUT I believe this is how some people's brains work. So, I have slowly and painfully tried to read theology in order to become "all things to all men." I like Piper and Tozer, but they make it so practical. I still struggle with Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy because it is too philosophical and just not practical. But others gobble it up. Therefore, I muddled my way through it, twice. (Part of my reason for not thinking that book is too earth-shattering is that I say, "Duh, isn't this how all believers should live? Isn't it obvious? Don't people already know this stuff about the Kingdom of God?" But apparently not for those raised in a traditional church culture. I was nurtured in the Navigators which was radically different and more like what Willard describes. The Navigators were more practical than Willard though. I do like Willard's Spirit of the Disciplines though. But I digress. . .)" 
After reading this quote, I feel like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1995 mini-series version) in this memorable scene with Mr. Darcy:

Darcy: "You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April (when she hatefully rejected his marriage proposal), tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever."
Elizabeth: "Oh my feelings. My feelings - I'm ashamed to remember what I said then. My feelings are so different. In fact, they are quite the opposite."

So this is sort of how I feel about this book. I sort of grows on you or maybe I have grown. I have an easier time reading this (which on reflecting on my previous quote above is really not "theology" at all). Maybe my head is bigger because C.S. Lewis is also easier for me to read these days too.

It wasn't that I didn't "get" what he was trying to say, but it seemed too long-winded and I figured everyone believed this, and it was obvious. Now I see that this is not the case, and it is why I like it so much now.

 I was so surprised to see every person in this year's kingdom community EAT IT UP with their first try. They all bought their own copies! So, that was nice.

So, I recommend you read it. It will be good for your soul.

Here are my previous reviews with quotes:

2014: The ultimate goal of this book is that you will “join God in a divine conspiracy to advance the invisible kingdom of God here on earth,” and you do that by “choosing to be an apprentice to Jesus, who stands at the center of everything – having died on a cross ‘to undermine the structures of evil’” (Study Guide, p. 5, DC, p. 188).

Willard writes:

Whatever the ultimate explanation of it, the most telling thing about the contemporary Christian is that he or she simply has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to his or her life, and certainly not that it is in any way essential. … More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today. . . . It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being. (introduction, p. xv)

This book . . . 
. . . presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The really good news for humanity is that Jesus is now taking students in the master class of life. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in this present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits.

2013 Review (I mention that this is my third time, and that is when the book clicked for me): http://carolhomeschool2.blogspot.com/2013/12/64-divine-conspiracy-rediscovering-our.html

What I REALLY like are his two others book: The Spirit of the Disciplines and Hearing God. I also love his DVD series with John Ortberg: Living in Christ's Presence. Actually the DVD series is my favorite of all!


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