A person who has influenced many of us, Dallas Willard, has passed away from cancer. I met Dallas only once at a Renovare conference and it has a special memory for both Kris and me. I told him his voice sounded like Johnny Wooden and he smiled and nodded, so I said, “Do you know who he is?” He said, “Johnny Wooden and I were friends.” That was so cool to me. Kris and I were both impressed with his kindness, gentleness and grandfatherliness. We’ll miss him but every time I open one of his books I will think of what happened in my one time with him alone.
We had about thirty minutes alone sitting in the hotel lobby so I asked him about virtue ethics because I was concerned about how so many have turned the ethics of Jesus into modern day philosophical categories. I asked him about Aristotle, and Dallas observed to me that he was “cold.” I learned much that day and he said Jesus didn’t fit into any category but his own.
John Ortberg knew Dallas well, and this is from John’s piece in CT.
What are your favorite lines from Dallas Willard?
John Ortberg: One of the games I used to play with Dallas was to ask him for definitions of all kinds of words; every one would come with a clarity and freshness and precision that would require folks to sit and reflect for a while.
Spirit is dis-embodied personal power.
Beauty is goodness made manifest to the senses.
A disciple is anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.
Dignity is a value that creates irreplaceability. (This he graciously attributed to Immanuel Kant.)
Joy is a pervasive sense of well-being.
Once when I was asking him questions at a conference we talked about work, which he defined as “the creation of value.” He said something about play—so I asked him to define that one. There was a brief pause—with Dallas there was always a pause—and he said: “Play is the creation of value that is not necessary.”