Becoming Dallas Willard
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
— William Butler Yeats
Becoming Dallas Willard is a book that gazes at the fire that was lit within Dallas at a very young age. It was lit by the Holy Spirit and fanned by Dallas’s abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. It grew brighter through heartbreaking events in the midst of a joyous and loving family and burned hotter as teacher after teacher added fuel. That fire led Dallas on a joy filled trajectory that brought him to USC as a philosophy professor for 47 years and, oddly, to a place of having a profound influence upon the Western Evangelical church.
Sponsored by the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation and authored by Gary Moon, this biography gives us an opportunity to discover the many influences that helped Dallas grow in faith and knowledge throughout his life. The chapters dealing with his education help us understand how Dallas’s work in philosophy was foundational to what he taught about Christian Spiritual Transformation. We can see and better understand how he become one of the most respected and beloved teachers at USC and a gentle force guiding Christians everywhere back into abiding discipleship to Jesus.
Becoming Dallas Willard provides the reader with a greater understanding and insight into the substance and character of the author who penned The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart, Hearing God and Life Without Lack.
Dallas’s nieces have been documenting the Willard family history for many years. We invite you to visit their website if you’d like to learn more about Dallas’s heritage.
Gary Moon has put his heart and soul into this project―researching, writing, and carefully crafting what has become a quite remarkable book. . . . The result is a fascinating perspective on a big man who will continue to cast a long shadow over the church and its people for many years to come.
– James Catford, chair of Renovaré Britain and Ireland, former publisher at HarperCollins
One of the most astonishing things about Dallas Willard was how his speaking, teaching, and writing seemed so effortless. But, as this official biography so beautifully chronicles, 'Dallas Willard had to become Dallas Willard,' the beloved man whose words and ways have uniquely touched a whole generation. Here, through hard and often heartbreaking times, one can see God structuring Dallas's character and life. This book presents the powerful message that there is hope for each of us, because God's kingdom is here for the taking―if we want it.
– Greg Jesson, writer and speaker
Dallas was a wonderfully disruptive presence in the world,' may be the best description of the man whose theology has helped all of us understand and experience God and his kingdom in clear, hopeful, and magnificent ways. But Dallas's humanity was, to me, as strong a draw to him as his mind. Gary has managed to capture both the brilliance and the brokenness of Dallas, and I think the weaving of those two threads together is what God used to shape this most unique and winsome of men. This story is ministering to some of the most broken and wounded parts of my soul.
– Nancy Ortberg, CEO of Transforming the Bay with Christ
I think many people will surprised, encouraged and, yes, pained by Dallas's journey. Still, this is a story that will prolong his important legacy.
– Keith Matthews, Chair of Department of Ministry, Director of M.A. in Pastoral Studies, Professor of Spiritual Formation and Contemporary Culture, Azusa Pacific University
The Willard wit and charm appear on nearly every page of this edifying book. Those who knew Dallas well will learn more besides, much of it truly captivating. Gary Moon manages to weave what is anecdotally interesting with what is spiritually compelling, and the whole thing is layered with philosophical richness without which there would be no Dallas Willard.
– R. Douglas Geivett, professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
If you are reading this book to learn more about Dallas Willard, you will be richly rewarded with an intimate portrait of a brilliant, complex, wounded, and generous man. Even better, through Dallas you will learn more about Jesus of Nazareth and how to have a life of loving interaction with him here and now. Through faithful research and sensitive interviews, Gary Moon fittingly honors Dallas while supremely exalting Jesus. Dallas would want it no other way.
– Sandra D. Wilson, spiritual director, retired family therapist and seminary professor, author of Released from Shame and Into Abba's Arms
Intervarsity Press (USA), 2018) 304 pp., ISBN 0830846107
Foreword by Richard J. Foster
PART ONE: First Thirty Years
Chapter 1: Keep Eternity Before the Eyes of the Children
Chapter 2: There Are No Unwanted Children
Chapter 3: Coming of Age in Rural America
Chapter 4: Running into Jane
Chapter 5: Running into God
Chapter 6: Academic Awakening
Chapter 7: Which Path to Take?
PART TWO: Three Kingdoms
Chapter 8: Early Years at USC
Chapter 9: King and Queen of Campus
Chapter 10: Formation at Home
Chapter 11: Accidental Birth of a Movement
Chapter 12: So Long as We Are Doing the Work Ourselves
PART THREE: FINISHING WELL
Chapter 13: Ideas That Matter for Time and Eternity—Part One
Chapter 14: Ideas That Matter for Time and Eternity—Part Two
Chapter 15: Thank You!
Chapter 16: Healing Light
Afterword by John Ortberg
A Letter from the Willard Family