I can't believe I first bought this book 19 years ago - and you wouldn't believe how many times I've read it.
Dallas Willard's book "Divine Conspiracy" came into my hands at just the right moment - and I still remember when my eyes landed on it where it was displayed on a lower shelf of the Barnes & Noble on the complete opposite side of town from where I lived in Albany, NY. It didn't take a second look for me to trot it up to the cash register and start reading it over an americano in the cafe.
Willard's writing style appealed to me because somehow it reminded me so much of some of my favorite professors back at Michigan State - and what do you know - Willard was a professor - of both Philosophy at University of Southern California - as well as occasionally teaching courses at Dallas Theological Seminary.
The idea behind Divine Conspiracy was to move the conversations Christ's followers tend to have about forgiveness, redemption, transformation, discipleship and grace beyond the common traps of conservative vs. liberal theology - and to a place that offers a deeper look at a more fundamental truth about what Christ's work on the cross means for every believer. Dallas challenges the smallness of viewing the Gospel as merely "sin management" or "Lordship Salvation" and challenges the smallness of viewing the Gospel as merely about social ethics. He takes both of these apart to peer into how so many Christians have come to accept the Gospel as something that doesn't really change Christians - despite that being the very promise that Christ makes to all of us yearning for an easier yoke, lighter burden and an abundant life. He leads us to this conclusion by opening up the Beatitudes in a light that at least I'd never seen them through before and returns the "Good News!" factor to the Gospel.
Once leading us on this whirlwind tour of the crux of the New Testament reimagined and revealing a new hope for our walk with Christ - Willard tackles the two most likely trip points left: the deceptive allures of reputation and wealth. Just reexamining Willard's words on these above points for this post left me eager to take my four-legged hiking buddy, Phoebe, and head outside for a little walking and reflecting - because this is a message that sometimes it seems life can threaten to devour on the daily - so - to that end - please pardon the lateness of the post. In truth - a single post cannot do this book justice - and I'm personally very happy to have had the chance while Dr. Willard was still alive to meet him face to face, sit under his teaching for a wonderful weekend of intensive note taking and be able to tell him how much his work has impacted my own understanding of grace.
If you haven't read this book yet - or haven't re-read it recently - I whole-heartedly recommend it. It's not just food for thought - but a feast for thought!