The so-called wall of separation between church and state

Dallas Willard crushes the “wall of separation” argument when it comes to the First Amendment.

The First Amendment is about something Congress (and, as interpreted by the the Supreme Court and state governments) cannot do. It is not about what Christian should not do. We now live under the influence of a gigantic myth about a “wall of separation” between “church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution. It is a metaphor that describes one theory of the First Amendment… The phrase may have some value in its suggestion of an institutional separation of church and state, but (my emphasis follows) it is positively demonic when it is interpreted to require separation between religious morality and the state

Think of a world without the incredible work of William Wilberforce, who ended slavery in Great Britain without a war, or the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Think of the United States, even in our mixed up views of racism now, without the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if these people had been forced to separate their Christian morality from their demands on the state?

…the crucial importance of Christlike leadership is found in the blessed lives of those citizens who provide knowledge, insight, and guidance, by God’s grace and for his purposes and ends in our world.

Quotes are taken from The Divine Conspiracy Continued, p. 194

What is Freedom?

I am working my way through The Diving Conspiracy Continued by Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr. It is a continuation of Willard’s work, but moving into the realm of society.

He has a chapter called “Economics and Politics” and describes the difficulty of even defining the word “freedom.”

1. I am “free” only if no one is telling me what to do or preventing me from doing what I want. 

2. I am “free” only if I am actually able to achieve what I want to achieve.

3. I am “free” only if I am able to achieve what is good,  and that which is most conducive to the fullness of my life or the realization of my potential toward the highest and best result.

Personally, I think Americans are infatuated with #1.

The when and where of the Kingdom of God

An extension of the interview with Gary Black, Jr., over at BibleGateway included this blurb from his just released book:

What is important to understand here is that there is no “then” or “when” to the kingdom of God. This reign is a current, progressing, maturing reality, which means Jesus rules today. Jesus is the one who sits on the throne of the cosmos, and all authority, over all things, has been given to him (Matt. 25:3128:18). God is the God of all humanity (Jer. 32:27). God rules today through his Son, Jesus, the king, and he rules over everyone and everything—not just Christians or religious organizations. He is the King of Kings, the ruler of rulers (Rev. 1:5), and the dominion of his Spirit extends to every corner and crevice of the universe at this very moment—a fact even the demons appear to understand perfectly well (Mark 1:245:7James 2:19). The kingdom has come, and there is more to come. Thanks be to God.

It is my continual prayer that I live under the constant awareness that my King reigns NOW… and I need to hear his call. Now.

 

The Divine Conspiracy Continued

Gary Black, Jr. has co-authored a continuation of The Divine Conspiracy with Dallas Willard, finishing it off after the passing of Dallas.

Biblegateway has this interview with Gary Black, Jr. The new book is now out. I hope to have it in the near future.

Explaining the title and what “conspiracy” means, Black had this to say:

The word “conspiracy” comes from the idea that much of God’s action in the world is very different from what we might expect. Human action tends to be overt. We tend to like big, dramatic displays of power. In contrast, God’s activity throughout human history, and Jesus’ strategy demonstrated in the New Testament, is routinely covert, sly, often ironic, and even unsuspecting. Perhaps the biggest conspiracy theory is demonstrated in God’s plan to save the world through the birth of a small baby boy, in a backwater country, to a teenage mother, in a stable under the cover of relative anonymity. There was no human display of pomp and circumstance in Jesus’ birth. Just a few lowly shepherds watched in awe. Such is the act of a conspiracy, a covert plan, that sneaks up on us in surprise, like a resurrection after an execution, to overwhelm the kingdoms, strategies, plans, and priorities of this world, not with evil, but with good.

It is marvelous to see the work of Dallas Willard extended. This book looks good. John Ortberg’s new book on Soul Keeping is excellent. The “conspiracy” continues.

 

Being DONE With Living Like a Christian?

This post intrigued me. What intrigued me more was he quoted Dallas Willard. I think it strikes at the heart of what Willard is saying in The Divine Conspiracy. We need our spiritual DNA changed. Too often we are trying to DO things and the core of who we are remains the same. We’re taping oranges onto apple trees.

It’s not a matter of forgetting the poor or praying for the sick. It’s a matter of transformation. When the inside of the cup is clean, the outside is changed as well.

The Ravishing Beauty of Jesus

In Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy the point of the Sermon on the Mount, the point of Jesus’ life, is to call us to apprenticeship. The call is to intentional discipleship. It needs to be a high priority in the life of the Church.

You lead people to become disciples of Jesus by ravishing them with a vision of life in the kingdom of the heavens in the fellowship of Jesus. And you do this by proclaiming, manifesting, and teaching the kingdom to them in the manner learned from Jesus himself. You thereby change the belief system that governs their lives.

It isn’t about more information. It’s about a new belief system. In our over-saturated age of information and social networking, we’ve created Christ in our own image. We need a new vision. We need our belief systems overhauled. We spend too much time in the Church trying to get people to do good things. If we would work in belief systems, what is the deepest matter of the heart, good things would flow out naturally.

It’s like we’re trying to tape oranges onto apple trees. “Look! An orange tree!” But the DNA is still apple.

We need to get to the core. We inquire, we teach, lead by example, pray, and rely on the Spirit. We work to change the beliefs that are contrary to the ways of Jesus. Then, we will have an orange tree producing oranges!

Willard speaks of making disciples first. Let conversion be a by-product. Just love Jesus. Let OUR belief system by truly the DNA of the Kingdom. Then, we disciple people all around whether or not they are Christians. When we are living out the ravishing beauty of Jesus, others can be drawn to readily consider being apprenticed to Jesus.

The Intentionality of Discipleship

Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy puts it this way: Our focus as the Church needs to be on intentionally making disciples. Instead, we focus intentionally on making converts.

Our goal, as the Church, should be to intentionally make disciples and let converts “happen.” Right now our focus is on making converts and hoping disciples “happen.” That’s quite a difference.

We Do Not Drift Into Discipleship

Following Christ is to be intentional. It is not something we accidentally find.

Dallas Willard breaks it down in The Divine Conspiracy.

1. We ASK. The nature of the Kingdom is to ASK. We ASK to be his disciple. We consider the costs. That includes the costs of following Jesus, and the costs for NOT following Jesus. But when we have truly discovered the pearl of great price, WE ASK for this opportunity!

2. There is DESIRE. We reside in his Word and his presence. We refuse to devote mental space and energy to the fruitless stuff of this life that is constantly clamoring for our attention.

3. We DECIDE. We have measured the costs. We will not drift into discipleship. We decide to walk with him. He IS worth it.

Christ is that treasure. Once we realize this we will find ourselves not even questioning the cost. It is the opportunity our souls have longed for and we will not let it pass us by. We go for it.

 

Being a Disciple

Dallas Willard walks us through the meaning of “disciple” in The Divine Conspiracy. The call is to BE with Jesus. It’s not about perfection. It’s about learning as a beginner from the Master.

The disciple is one who lives in the kingdom of God, applying that kingdom for the good of others, and even makes it possible for them to enter that kingdom for themselves.

“I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.”