The Divine Conspiracy Review
The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our hidden life in God
Author: Dallas Willard
First Take: Mixed feelings
When did I read it? Nov 2018
This is a fairly large book dealing over ten chapters with the Sermon on the Mount and covering a range of related things.
The central theme is the immediacy of the Kingdom but in a very specific fashion. Mr Willard references the “heavens” and suggests that the first of the heavens is in the atmosphere around us. Thus, he says, the kingdom of God (assuming that it will be in the heavens) is all around us.
I recently wrote an article on my thoughts as they relate to “heaven”. I don’t think the very present Kingdom needs a physical presence around us in the three or four dimensions that we understand. The atmosphere is not heaven in that sense in my view.
Suffice to say that setting aside this quibble, I agree that the kingdom exists and that we are to live with “kingdom hearts”.
You will get a picture of this concept from this quote of Mr Willards:
we get a totally different picture of salvation, faith, and forgiveness if we regard having life from the kingdom of the heavens now—the eternal kind of life—as the target. The words and acts of Jesus naturally suggest that this is indeed salvation, with discipleship, forgiveness, and heaven to come as natural parts.Dallas Willard
So the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’ continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.Dallas Willard
There is some controversy around Mr Willard’s interpretation of the Beatitudes with reference to the Kingdom Heart where he attempts to flip them so that the characteristics describe are negative rather than positive attributes. I don’t subscribe to his view.
The activities of a Kingdom Heart are in some degree summed up in the following:
We are meant to exercise our “rule” only in union with God, as he acts with us. He intended to be our constant companion or coworker in the creative enterprise of life on earth. That is what his love for us means in practical terms.Dallas Willard
Or what about this one?
It is crucial for our walk in the kingdom to understand that the teachings of Jesus, which we have been examining at such length in this book, do not by themselves make a life. They were never intended to. Rather, they presuppose a life. But that causes no problem, for of course each one of us is provided a life automatically. And we know exactly what it is. It is who we are and what we do. It is precisely this life that God wants us to give to him. We must only be careful to understand its true dignity. To every person we can say with confidence, “You, in the midst of your actual life there, are exactly the person God wanted.”Dallas Willard
Indeed, there are some great concepts that are put forward in this book and I recommend it as a very good read. Just don’t read it with uncritical mind. Certainly some of the chapters on creating a community of Prayerful Love are very good.