Westmont is remembering the life and teachings of American philosopher Dallas Willard who died May 8 at the age of 77 following a battle with cancer. Willard taught at USC since 1965 and wrote many spiritual formation books including “Renovation of the Heart,” “The Spirit of the Disciplines” and “The Divine Conspiracy.”
“Dallas has stood at the intersection of Christianity and culture throughout the last 50 years, and he has written on wide-ranging topics,” President Gayle D. Beebe says. “His well-known works and distinguished career at the University of Southern California are compelling. His willingness to engage spiritual thought, academic achievement and Christian community is especially noteworthy. Most significantly, during the last 25 years, he has emerged as the most compelling voice shaping this important conversation.”
In 2010, Westmont established the Martin Institute for Christianity and Culture and the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation (MI/DWC), which is dedicated to the intellectual legacy of Willard. Part of its mission is to develop a library and study center dedicated to Willard and other leaders of the spiritual formation movement in 20th century. Last February, MI/DWC hosted a sold-out conference with Willard, who spoke to help Christian leaders embrace their role as teachers of the knowledge of God.
Willard also spoke at Commencement 2011, imploring the graduates to remember who they are. “You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe,” he said to the more than 4,000 in attendance at Russell Carr Field. “When you seize that truth and put it into practice, you are living eternally in the moment.”
“This morning our wonderful teacher and friend awakened to the full goodness of the Kingdom of the Heavens he had described so beautifully,” says Gary W. Moon, director of MI/DWC. “I believe Dallas Willard was one of the great reformers of Christian thought of the past century and that his most powerful lessons were in how he lived an unhurried life with God.”
The Dallas Willard Center has established an online memorial guestbook for people to share their reflections.