The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

by Dallas Willard


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In an era when many Christians consider Jesus a beloved but remote savior, Willard argues compellingly for the relevance of God to every aspect of our existence. Masterfully capturing the central insights of Christ's teachings in a fresh way for today's seekers, he helps us to explore a revolutionary way to experience God--by knowing Him as an essential part of the here and now, rather than only as a part of the hereafter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060693329
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 67,381
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Dallas Willard was a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Philosophy until his death in 2013. His groundbreaking books The Divine Conspiracy, The Great Omission, Knowing Christ Today, Hearing God, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Renovation of the Heart, and The Divine Conspiracy Continued forever changed the way thousands of Christians experience their faith.

Read an Excerpt

Entering the Eternal Kind
Of Life Now

God's care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique Son among us, so that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God Himself.
JOHN 3:16

Jesus' good news, then, was that the Kingdom of God had come, and that he, Jesus, was its herald and expounder to men. More than that, in some special, mysterious way, he was the Kingdom.


Life in the Dark

Recently a pilot was practicing high--speed maneuvers in a jet fighter. She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent--and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down.

This is a parable of human existence in our times--not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that--but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up. Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference--or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.

Rumors from the Intellectual Heights
That suspicion now has the force of unspoken dogma in the highest centers of Western learning. Of course, one has to assume in practice that there is a right-side up, just to get on with life. But it is equally assumed that right-side up is not a subject of knowledge.

Derek Bok was president of HarvardUniversity for many years, and in his "President's Report" for 1986-1987 he referred to some well-known moral failures in financial circles and the political life of the nation. He wondered out loud what universities might do to strengthen moral character in their graduates.

"Religious institutions," he continued, "no longer seem as able as they once were to impart basic values to the young. In these circumstances, universities, including Harvard, need to think hard about what they can do in the face of what many perceive as a widespread decline in ethical standards."'

Bok points out that in other days "the instructors aim was . . . to foster a belief in commonly accepted moral values" (p. 10). Now all is changed: "Today's course in applied ethics does not seek to convey a set of moral truths but tries to encourage the student to think carefully about complex moral issues." One senses that the governing assumption of his discussion is that these two objectives are mutually exclusive.

"The principle aim of the course," Bok continues, "is not to impart 'right answers' but to make the students more perceptive in detecting ethical problems when they arise, better acquainted with the best moral thought that has accumulated through the ages, and more equipped to reason about the ethical issues they will face" (p. 10).

Later he quotes Carol Gilligan to the effect that "moral development in the college years thus centers on the shift from moral ideology to ethical responsibility" (p. 30). One should not miss the point that Bok puts "right answers" in queer quotes, and that Gilligan holds what one has before college to be "ideology"--that is, irrational beliefs and attitudes. They are faithfully expressing the accepted intellectual viewpoint on the common moral beliefs that guide ordinary human existence.

Finally, in coming to the conclusion of his report, President Bok remarks, "Despite the importance of moral development to the individual student and the society, one cannot say that higher education has demonstrated a deep concern for the problem . . . Especially in large universities, the subject is not treated as a serious responsibility worthy of sustained discussion and determined action by the faculty and administration" (p. 31).

But the failure of will on the part of educators that Bok courageously points out is inevitable. Had he strolled across Harvard Yard to Emerson Hall and consulted with some of the most influential thinkers in our nation, he would have discovered that there now is no recognized moral knowledge upon which projects of fostering moral development could be based.

There is now not a single moral conclusion about behavior or character traits that a teacher could base a student's grade on-not even those most dear to educators, concerning fairness and diversity if you lowered a student's grade just for saying on a test that discrimination is morally acceptable, for example, the student could contest that grade to the administration. And if that position on the moral acceptability of discrimination were the only point at issue, the student would win.

The teacher would be reminded that we are not here to impose our views on students, "however misguided the student might be." And if the administration of the university did not reach that decision, a court of law soon would.

Of course, if a student seriously wrote on a test that 7 times 5 equals 32, or that Columbus discovered America in 1520, we would be permitted to "impose our views" in these cases. It would not matter by what route the student came to such conclusions because these cases concern matters that--quibbles aside--are regarded as known. That is what marks the difference.

Why Be Surprised?
But if indeed there is now no body of moral knowledge in our culture, then a number of things highly positioned people express surprise about are not surprising at all. Robert Coles, professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard and a well-known researcher and commentator on matters social and moral, published a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education on "The Disparity Between Intellect and Character."' The piece is about "the task of connecting intellect to character." This task, he adds, "is daunting."

His essay was occasioned by an encounter with one of his students over the moral insensitivity--is it hard for him to say "immoral behavior"?--of other students, some of the best and brightest at Harvard.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now1
Chapter 2Gospels of Sin Management35
Chapter 3What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World61
Chapter 4Who is Really Well Off?--the Beatitudes97
Chapter 5The Rightness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees129
Chapter 6Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputation and Wealth187
Chapter 7The Community of Prayerful Love215
Chapter 8On Being A Disciple, Or Student, of Jesus271
Chapter 9A Curriculum for Christlikeness311
Chapter 10The Restoration of All Things375

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Divine Conspiracy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
ResearchGuy More than 1 year ago
Dallas Willard presents here one of his best works, detailed and incisive in logic and practical in application. This large work focuses primarily on the Beatitudes of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount." Willard's title arises from his thesis that Jesus presents God as doing something radical and unexpected in the world. He shows how the whole activity of God in history, as portrayed in the Old Testament and New Testament, is consistent, and these beatitudes express that consistent intention of the Conspiracy. Willard declares that the thrust and focus of the "Beatitudes" of Jesus are virtually the opposite of how they have generally been interpreted over the years in popular tradition. Willard then backs up every detail of this claim and its implications through artful exegesis of the passages and related texts in the New Testament. He presents enthralling analysis confirming every detail and captivating life and drama applying the implications. This can be considered from several views. Initially we can consider this a Bible study, the topic of which is the Beatitudes. These statements of "blessing" are found in Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" (the popular name from the setting of these teachings in Matthew's Gospel) or the "Sermon on the Plain" (the name often used in scholarship for the setting of the version in Luke's Gospel). Willard contends that the reason these "Beatitudes" tend to be so ignored or dismissed is that they have been notoriously misread. They seem unconnected to real life, too fanciful and idealistic to have real application to everyday life. Basically, the problem is that the popular concept generally holds that the groups mentioned as "blessed" are receive the Kingdom of God as a reward for being this way. Or alternatively, this is the character or quality expected of those who coming into the Kingdom of God. Willard makes sense of them, consistently and meaningfully, by showing us that these statements focus on groups in society TO WHOM the Good News of the Gospel has come. The "poor in spirit," for instance, are "blessed" because they have such good reason to welcome the Kingdom of God, the personal Rule of God over their lives, because the Rule of God promises vindication and justice. for the exploited and downtrodden. Willard's work can also be thus considered Theology. And he is philosophically adept, skilled in logical analysis and critical comparison. But this is not "theology" in the sense of dry, academic, medieval abstraction. This is dynamic, powerful, life-changing interpretation of Divine Power in human contemporary life. Willard makes amazing connections at every point with current and common life examples, showing how the intent and meaning of these declarations of the Rule of God among us present a Good News that can restore and integrate our lives.
cdr1 More than 1 year ago
Willard is a scholar and as such asked the reader to think about why Christians do what they do or why they do not do what they should. Being saved in one thing becoming a Christin is another and Willard challenges the reader regarding what it means to be Christ-like.
Michael__M More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to have a deeper relationship with God. The book is written with breaks every page or so - which is good for me. It allows time for me to think about the subject discussed before moving on. Great insights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the book I've been searching for for years, but didn't think it existed. Dr. Willard superbly reveals the muddled thinking of both the right and the left end of the theological spectrum. Conservative Christians have their works theology of salvation focusing on specific beliefs and attention to avoid doing wrong. Liberal Christians have their version of works theology of salvation with a theology largely focused on sincerity and doing the right thing in society. Willard shows another way. Focusing on the Sermon on the Mount he leads us to a theology and ethic based on the changed heart engendered by the Gospel which only happens through our relationship with God. I encourage thoughtful persons to read this book and allow it to speak deeply to your spirit. Pastor Lou
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intelligent. Meaty. Profoundly insightful. He opened my eyes to understand Scripture and Jesus's teachings in ways I hadn't meditated on before. Dallas Willard has a large place in my library and I share his books with fellow Christians who are committed to live the life Christ died to give us. I also highly recommend another great book he authored "The Great Omission" which underscores and expands on what it means to be a disciple and profess to be Christian. Being a Christian and being a disciple of Christ are not mutually exclusive. They are one and the same. "The Divine Conspiracy" shakes us from comfortable, complacent, ineffectual, tepid Christianity and helps us see who we are in Christ and challenges us to recognize, accept and commit to fulfill the purpose for which we were made and placed on this earth at this precise time and place. Dallas Willard, who died just a month or so ago was a brilliant author, a thoughtful Christian thinker and will be greatly missed. Other authors I recommend: CS Lewis - (his insight and thoughtfulness are on par with Dallas Willard in my view). I also recommend David Platt (especially "Radical" and "Follow Me"-- his writing is easier to digest in a first reading than Willard or CS Lewis" but equally challenging, insightful and transforming). I buy his books and give them away as well. Really good stuff-- required reading I believe for the church universal.
charleswood1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Half way through and I can already say that every Christian should read this book (in fact they should read all of Dallas Willard¿s books). It will take patience and determination to stay completely engaged because the reading level is not for the faint of heart. He¿s a Philosophy Professor at USC and his writing is a direct reflection of higher education. If the Lord Jesus tarries, his writings will be considered classics. I wish he were a professor at my seminary, I would have taken every one of his classes. If you are involved in any kind of ministry, you need to read this book!
Scott_Morris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. Brutal to read, but worth the pain. Opened my eyes to Kingdom and the experience of God like no other book.
GwG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simply stated, perhaps the greatest contemporary Christian book I have read.
deanc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you are a Christian and want to take in something that will challenge you to live a radically Christlike life, then this is one book you must read. Willard, a professor of philosophy at USC, uses the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5-7 as the basis for this 1997 work that is already widely recognized in evangelical circles as a classic in the genre of Christian spiritual formation. He gives practical, concrete teaching on living as subjects of the King in the ¿kingdom of the heavens¿ (Willard¿s preferred rendering of the Greek). While his understanding of Christian theology at times seems to be influenced more by Plato than Moses ¿ and this is a shortcoming in my opinion ¿ he skillfully explains discipleship in terms of present kingdom realities. His ¿curriculum for Christlikeness¿ (chapter 9) is worth the price of the book alone. Willard¿s syntax is sometimes complex, even cumbersome, which means it may not be the easiest reading for some. However, those willing to work slowly and carefully through the book, as I did, will enjoy an abundant feast of spiritual nourishment. There is an ample index and a wealth of endnotes.
brusk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insights for practical living from the teachings of Jesus. I hope this book will become a manual for use by Christians in the next generation.
beanbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this could go down as one of the great Christian books of all time, but who am I ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Up there with Mere Christianity
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markwmcintire More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Willard and find this to be my favorite. This comprehensive and practical study of the Sermon on the Mount marvelously releases the believer to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and to live a live of victorious love.
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