Title: The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
Author: Dallas Willard
This was an astoundingly perspective altering book for me to get ahold of. I'd certainly been aware for most of my life that what I saw active in the Christian community lacked, in many ways, what Jesus Christ actually seemed to be saying in the bible, but lacked the correct structure of linguistic context to state how that lack of alignment seemed to play out.
Then, on the recommendation of a friend, I picked up "The Divine Conspiracy".
Willard is a pastor, as well as a Philosophy and Theology professor, and that comes across very quickly. This is not easy reading, this is not a walk in the park with Max Lucado. This dives straight in to some extremely serious, heavy duty thinking about why we're where we're at as a society, as a world, as a religion, and how that does or does not match up with what Jesus seems to say about it.
Willard's points are as follows:
- We know that right and wrong exist, as a society, but have little appreciation of why they should, because there's little practical modern basis for right and wrong, outside of how they support society's ability to replicate itself.
- Much of Christianity seems to fall into crisis-moment centered salvation experiences, followed by a lifestyle of sin-management, where we attempt to live good lives so that we can go to heaven.
- Only about 4% of what Christ talks about in the New Testament actually dealt with going to heaven... most of it deals with how the Kingdom of Heaven is here, among us... not located in some distant realm, but literally, if you will, in another dimension along side of us. And that disciples of Christ are actually called to live a life here on earth, empowered by a relationship with God that recalls the original relationship between man and God in the Garden of Eden.
Willard goes on at length to lay out both the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes, and show how they are a consecutive, meaningful whole that lays out the heart of Christ's message to the world, that life has meaning here and now, not just after this life is over. He takes points which have often been taught separately, to their own damage, and renders them in meaningful illustration, and shows how discipleship is in fact meaningful, and accomplishable, and is a lot more than 'being nice' or 'not doing bad things' or 'being Christian'.
I would highly recommend this book to anybody looking for something to challenge their thinking about what it truly is to be a Follower of Christ.