Do you agree with this understanding of our responsibility before God and capacity? “Humanity was created by God to possess the responsibility for becoming what it wills to become by the sum total of the choices made during one’s lifetime. As such, God requires that humans beings choose (will) to act on the basis of their inner desires and therefore must freely decide what one “will” live for. What is chosen … determines what kind of persons we become… the development of character … This is an existential spiral ascending toward godliness and truth as opposed to a spiral descending into denial and disintegration.”
So Dallas Willard as summarized by Gary Black, Jr., in his exceptional study, The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith (Pickwick), 112.
This set of lines above provides the heart of Willard’s theory of the Christian life, theory of life, theory of protevangelical faith. It brings into a set of lines what we find in Spirit of the Disciplines, Divine Conspiracy, and Renovation of the Heart. At the heart of this set of lines is Willard’s anthropology, and what he taught was that humans are to respond to God’s powerful, Spirit-given grace by dethroning the self as God and enthroning God as God and so over time allowing God to do this work in transforming us into Christlikeness.
God is a loving, benevolent Father, full of grace and mercy and love. To know this God is to know the God who loves us. The Christian life is the “with God” life; being with God leads to Godliness.
Willard argues from the beginning of his career to the very end for dualism (or some kind of non-monism), that is, that humans are not just bodies but are “embodied spirits” and that the heart/will/spirit is the core reality of human existence. The Spirit speaks to our spirit. The human “spirit” is unembodied personal power” and that means the Spirit is “unbodily, personal power.” This is a nonmaterial spiritual reality that “actualizes, controls, creates, and forms the physical realm” (92).
Humans, from inside out, and in constant interactive relationship, are composed of or humans can be conceptualized as… heart/will/spirit, mind (thoughts and feelings, not just thoughts), body, relationships and soul. Black sketches (mostly from Renovation of the Heart) how Willard understands each and how they relate to one another interactively.
The “fallen condition” is the “ruined soul” and it leads increasingly from choice to be one’s own ruler (captain of the soul) to the disintegration of the soul. It leads humans more and more to trust in sensuality and it leads to self-idolatry.
But the restored soul is the soul reborn and remade — as above in the opening section — where Willard expresses his virtue ethics of habits leading to transformation and character development.