“and may the change abound”: RIP Dallas Willard
Dallas Willard passed away this morning after battling cancer. His last words were, “Thank you.”
Many of his words, I think, are going to have a lasting impact on a lot of us. For many Christians, he’s a speaker and author who has critiqued the church and has promoted life transformation in the most positive ways. For many college students and philosophy colleagues, Dr. Willard is one who got them interested in phenomenology and particularly in how Edmund Husserl founded phenomenology. For readers of Husserl’s works, he is their translator.
For me, Dallas Willard is one who helped me engage ideas with my own father. The two men went to college together and took a course in Logic together. (Coincidentally, when I was an undergraduate student, I went to the same college and took the same course in logic and took it from the same professor who had taught my father and Dallas Willard; I have mentioned a bit of this little factoid in a blogpost elsewhere.) When I started reading some of what Dallas Willard wrote (when my mother gave me one of his books for my birthday some years ago), there was new reason for me and my father to talk. Both he and Dallas Willard were Southern Baptist ministers, and former classmates of course, and the former for that respected the latter. Besides all that, Willard challenged my thinking and pushed me and my father to think more, together, about our differences, about logic, for example, and much about Christianity and Southern Baptist life.
Others in the blogging world now are beginning to remember Willard. For example, Rachel Held Evans is calling on her readers to recall their favorite quotations of the writer. (A couple of my favorite Willard quotations are here, fwiw.) T. C. Robinson quotes the Christianity Today blog and also links to one of his own earlier posts on him. And Alan Fadling (from the blog “Notes from an Unhurried Life”) has written a tribute to Dallas Willard, noting his indebtedness to the speaker/author, who lived and said, “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” [UPDATE: Brian LePort has posted a round up of tributes to Dallas Willard and to Geza Vermes here.]
If there’s one thing this man was about it was about transformation of life. He was committed to changes for the better. And so I’ll just leave us with his last words from the Forward he wrote for How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals:
So the issue of women in leadership is not a minor or marginal one. It profoundly affects the sense of identity and worth on both sides of the gender line; and, if wrongly grasped, it restricts the resources for blessing, through the Church, upon an appallingly needy world. The contributors to this volume have served well in allowing us to see the paths of study and experience through which their minds were changed, and may the change abound.