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Dallas Willard reading Matthew here


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#1 jkgayle

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 06:36 AM

The late Dallas Willard, a philosopher at University of Southern California and a trained reader of the Greek New Testament, once spoke to an audience about what we encounter in today's reading of Matthew.

 

When you read this gospel, do you see this? Here's what Dr. Willard said:

 

When Jesus was in the garden, many people present that as a time when he was cringing in the garden out of fear. I just invite you to rethink that story. There may be another way of reading it. Uh, Hebrews 5:7 has this to say,
 

"in the days of his flesh, he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to one able to save him from death, and was heard because of his obedience."
 

Apparently because of that perception Jesus's prayer was answered in the garden. It will follow that if that's true he was not praying to avoid the cross. In fact his ambition was to reach the cross. The garden I suggest to you was Satan's last chance to stop him and kill him in a corner and not allow him to triumphantly ascend on the cross to the exultation in human history that he carefully planned with his father. He was not cringing. He was fighting. And he made it to the cross. And he endured the cross despising the shame. And has sat down at the right hand of God. See that goes with the kenosis passage. He laid aside his glory. He took human form, the form of a servant, and became obedient under the death of the cross. But you see that was a glorious reality. That was not a defeat because it was lived in the presence and power of God. Jesus was not avoiding the cross. He was joyfully embracing it.
 

We want to follow him in that same way you see. We want to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us. We want to lay it aside why? Because of the richness of our fellowship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing that takes the place of that. There is nothing that can possibly compete with it.

 



#2 Paul Meiklejohn

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 07:17 AM

I'd love to see Dallas Willard's books in Accordance.  I have found his material to be invaluable for my walk with God.


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#3 jkgayle

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 03:50 AM

Thanks, Paul M. I'd love to see us discuss Dallas Willard's works more too, especially as he helps us read Matthew!

Earlier in the year I posted in the now-private facebook group Nerdy Language Majors a bit from a talk Dallas Willard was giving. The quotation began this way:

 

Anger is in our body. We've talked earlier about how we farm character out to our bodies, and that's why it so easily bypasses our mind and our spirit if we are not well formed to recognize what's happening. We will act in anger before we think…. Where do you train as a Christian to deal with anger and to come out of that situation that Jesus describes? Look, here's what he says:
 

The first comment in reply to that from a member of that group was this:
 

Willard is a great philosopher and Christian thinker, and worth learning from. However, he is not a biblical scholar, and often makes mistakes typical of an amateur when commenting on particular passages. I have not seen evidence for the claim he makes about raka.

 

Of course after showing this individual clear and strong evidence for Dr. Willard's claim about the Aramaic word Matthew puts in the mouth of Jesus in the Greek gospel, the fb commenter backed down, just a bit, from his own claim that Dr. Willard "often makes mistakes typical of an amateur when commenting on particular passages."

 

In my reading of the Greek scriptures, and especially my readings of the canonical gospels, and particularly my reading through Matthew's gospel where Dr. Willard reflects a great deal, given the brilliance of the Beatitudes of Jesus and of the Sermon on the Mount there, I think his understanding is brilliant, expert, not-at-all-mistaken if much, much different from the well-worn perspectives of others who might look down on his abilities in reading the Greek.

What do you think, then, of how Dallas Willard reads this Matthew account of Jesus in the garden? Elsewhere he describes what he reads in the Greek gospel at this very point this way:

 

Thus one might suspect that the very language, "the Passion," is misleading as to the nature of the events involved in Jesus’ crucifixion. The phrase is often understood to simply mean "the suffering" of Christ. It conveys the idea of passivity, of something being done to someone who is totally at the mercy of surrounding people or events. Jesus is thus often presented in the Garden of Gethsemane as cowering in the face of upcoming death, as begging God to allow him to live, and as unable to do anything about what was being done to him, a helpless rag tossed about by the dogs of hell. He was, in short, a pathetic victim.

 

But in the light of who, on the Christian reading, he really was and is, we would err badly if we were to describe his torture and death simply as "the Passion." Suffer he certainly did. But it is Jesus himself who was in charge of events and people involved in the story. He "played" them—not exactly like a piano, for the people involved still had their choices to make—to achieve his end of blowing open a carefully prepared but tiny cultural enclave of redemption and stepping upon the stage of world history, where he has remained up to the present.


Edited by jkgayle, 22 March 2018 - 03:50 AM.


#4 Paul Meiklejohn

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 04:25 AM

JK, I'm really happy to pick this discussion up with you, I find it fascinating. I'm equally interested in his teaching on discipleship and spiritual formation.  Although he was clearly a learned scholar, he was also a dedicated practitioner of the faith.  Alas, because of my own workload, up to Easter, I'm unable to pick this conversation up at the moment, but will be happy to have some private chats with you after that.  I'm delighted that you are so keen on his writings.  God bless, Paul.


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#5 Alistair

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 05:02 AM

If Willard's works relate to understanding and applying the biblical text, there may be a clear case for considering him in Accordance.

 

He is one of those people I have heard about but not actually read.

 

I would echo Paul's interest in "teaching on discipleship and spiritual formation" but I cannot easily process anything dense.

If there could be another public or shared context outside the Accordance forum I would be interested.

 

God bless,

 

Alistair 


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#6 Graham Buck

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 07:19 AM

Could you provide link(s) to Willard's material. I'd love to take a look at this before next Friday, if you know what I mean… ;)


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#7 jarcher

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:27 AM

http://dwillard.org/books

 

I believe some (most?) of the material mentioned above is from The Divine Conspiracy.


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#8 Michael Hunt

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 05:15 PM

Personally I would see any if not all of Willard's Corpus as being a useful addition to my Accordance library (and no doubt many others). His style of writing certainly gets you thinking about the text in ways you may not have previously considered.
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