I read this book as part of a small group at church. I'm trying to think of something redeeming to say about the book, but nothing comes to mind. The theology is arrogant and shallow. There is very little insight that does not come from even a casual reading of Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount). Sometimes Willard even says things that are absurd: pg 229 (on Mt 7:6) 'forcing religion on the young even though it makes no sense to them is the reason why they 'graduate' church, like school, and never come back.' I'm astonished at the complete departure from biblical parenting that is.
In addition, the writing style itself is the worst I've seen. Willard seems to delight in waxing high prose that doesn't actually say anything. Page after page can go by without being able to land on a concrete thought. He will also condemn a practice or interpretation without offering any solution.
I have enjoyed the discussions in our group about the biblical text the book is based on, but this book itself is dreadful.
Great premise...horrid doctrine and misquoting scripture
March 2, 2015
Dallas Willard makes some valid criticisms of Christians/Christianity but his theology is seriously messed up. My biggest problem with his book is that he says that he is using the KJV in his quotes of the Bible unless otherwise noted, but it isn't the case. He rewords verses that he places in quotes to support his theories. Here is an example of his 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 "From now on we disregard all common distinctions between people, and even though we have know Christ in human terms, we no longer do so. So if anyone is 'In Christ' they are a new type of creation, where the old categories drop away and the individual emerges in a new order."
Here is what the actual verse says NKJV: "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
He actually does this with all of his verses and has created his own "translation". Big Red Flag if you have to reword the Bible to fit your purpose.
Wow... this book has impacted my spiritual walk, my grasp of the Word of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. There are a couple of folks reviewing here who struggled with it, I guess that they can have their opinion. What you will find is a deep read... it may raise questions to the 'traditional interpretation' of Biblical truth many churches have given over the years. Why? Because it goes deeper. How? looking at historical, cultural settings. It takes the message of the Sermon on the Mount and gives clearly the meaning. The book has focused me on the good news of the gospel. Too often we 'go after' the unsaved from a 'turn or burn' perspective. Williard emphasizes Jesus' message of the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of heaven - NOT the western perspective of condemnation of man. John 3:17 says it well 'he did not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved'. This is not a denial of sin - for God hates sin. It comes from how Jesus taught - the reconciliation of man to God!
Dallas Willard takes the Sermon on the Mount and shows you how to get to the heart of God. He shows the reader how God is always at work even when we don't realize it or take part in His plans. The book lets you know that you can be a part of the divine conspiracy or be a part from it.
Reading this book was torture. I had to read it as a class assignment and wanted to pull out my teeth because of the absurd doctrine! There are so many examples given and beliefs taught throughout the book that are contradictory to the Truth of the Bible. The only redeeming factor of this book is that I have a better foundation of my beliefs because I read so many falsehoods.