In the thin, pure air of a Colorado morning, Saturday 18 July 1998, about twenty of us gathered in a small room. Richard Foster was there, as leader of our little group called Renovaré, patiently sipping coffee until we were fully settled. Dallas Willard’s new book The Divine Conspiracy (HarperCollins 1998) had only been released a few weeks before, but this was its first airing among the ministry team that he had helped Richard set up over a decade earlier.
Dallas stood to present the book that was to define his Christian ministry around the world. This time was also to change the direction of the lives of all of us scribbling in our notebooks on that crisp morning: Dallas, as it turned out, was about to unlock an understanding of the Kingdom of God that few of us had encountered before.
In The Divine Conspiracy Continued Dallas picks up where he left off in The Divine Conspiracy; and takes us further, way beyond the confines of what we usually call the Church. Collectively, we might call these two books ‘the Divine Conspiracies’ – and this second volume sees Dallas Willard at his conspiratorial best. Anyone who has waded into the depths of the first volume will want to swim out further into the crystal clear water of the second.
Only a few great Christian books outlive the life of their author, The Divine Conspiracy Continued is one of them. Yet, like the best chocolate cake, and the great classics of old, it needs to be eaten slowly, and with a small spoon. Every page is rich with the Kingdom of God as lived reality.
The last time I saw Dallas was in the summer of 2012, some months before his death in May 2013. He was with us again, back in exactly the same venue in the foothills of the Rockies, fourteen years, almost to the day, after The Divine Conspiracy was given its first hearing. This time he was teaching on the Book of Acts. With its emphasis on living in the Kingdom of God in an often hostile context, Acts makes for an excellent companion to The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
In the years since that first chilly meeting in 1998, the divine conspiracy that Dallas introduced me to, and knew how to live better than anyone else I have met, has swept through my life. Then, I was a young book editor with the most to gain from meeting Dallas, and I drank deeply. Later, I left a successful career in commercial book publishing and radically changed direction to lead Bible Society, founded in 1804 by William Wilberforce, the heroic abolitionist of slavery.
Such was Dallas’s impact on me that I joined the Renovaré US ministry team and board and began teaching on some of the themes in The Divine Conspiracy and The Divine Conspiracy Continued. Walking, talking, laughing and living alongside Dallas was a joyful, wonderful and unforgettable experience that changed my life. I can never thank God enough for bringing us together.
At the end of the final meeting with Dallas, it so happened that my ride to the airport was the last to leave. In one corner of the empty room where I had rejoiced, wept, spoken, and even danced over the years, a flip chart caught my eye. On it was written some of Dallas’s notes from his presentations on Acts. Something in me pushed me forward to reach out and tug one of the sheets from its pad. I looked at it. The writing was unmistakably that of a professor; simple, deliberate, almost childlike. I tucked it into my briefcase, pulled the door closed behind me, and ran out to the car.
On that sheet Dallas had written one of his most well-known sayings. It leads us neatly to the heart of The Divine Conspiracy Continued. It said ‘grace is power exercised on my (our) behalf to achieve want we can’t do on our own – even by trying really hard.’ What you will read in this book shows how to unpack Dallas’ powerful statement and experience it as lived reality, right in the midst of today. Get out your small spoon.
The Divine Conspiracy Continued is no mere conspiracy theory – but an abundant life with God lived out in the world. Now it’s our turn to share with others the life that Dallas shares with us in the pages of this extraordinary and life-giving book.
June 23rd, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine