So I was somewhat surprised when Willard began rehearsing familiar arguments for Gods existence and miracles as part of his reasoning for why we can trust spiritual knowledge. I am not sure how I expected him to argue for how we can trust spiritual knowledge when I began the book, but I didnt expect arguments for Gods existence. We can trust all these things, but we learn what each says in its own way (i.e., the scientific method is not how we learn spiritual truth). If, as Willard argues, there is spiritual knowledge and this truth rests in Jesus Christ, then how one handles diversity and disagreement becomes vital.
Thesis: A life of steadfast discipleship to Jesus Christ can be supported only upon assured knowledge of how things are, of the realities in terms of which that life is lived (Willard 7). Correct knowledge gives us secure access to reality. (3) P is false; therefore, q (2; Disjunctive syllogism) (4) The causal closure principle of the universe is false since it cannot explain the cause of the physical universe (see 1). Willard notes that common regularities in nature all depend upon certain conditions that lie deeper in reality, and if those conditions are modified, then the regularities are interrupted (125). Knowledge of Christ in the Spiritual Life Here Willard summarizes his work on spiritual disciplines. Willard defines it as a pluralism based upon the generosity and justice of the God revealed in Christ (170). This raises a problem: if by knowledge of Christ we have secured access to reality, then it seems that others are wrong. (3) Willard is *not* saying people from other religions *will* be saved apart from Christ. He says it is in the context of meaning no other access to Gods kingdom powerresulting in the previous miracleexcept through Jesus name. Willard shows the importance of Christianity as a knowledge-tradition and that we have access to it.
Dallas Willard's theme in this book is knowledge and the role knowledge plays in the Christian faith. After proving God's existence and Christ's resurrection, the last three chapters give details of the consequences for these facts. Chapter 6 gives details on what it is to live in Christ's Kingdom (which is probably one of Willard's bests chapters I've read in any of his books), Chapter 7 explains Christian pluralism, or what the consequences are in matters for other religions or people outside of Christ's Kingdom, and Chapter 8 details how pastors must play an influential role in disseminating real knowledge in today's contemporary world - both in the Church and the secular world. He could've given a better proof for God's existence in my opinion, and in Chapter 5 he could've gone over more supplemental evidence for Christ's resurrection. Maybe this book is better for those who are already disciples of Christ and are already believers, or for those who believe but would like a bit more evidence for their beliefs rooted in a firm foundation of knowledge.
In typically Willardian fashion the author writes with both gentleness and humor as he takes apart so much of what passes for deep-thinking on the part of Christianity's (and other faith's) cultured despisers.
Willard utilizes his philosophical skills by arguing that religious knowledge is true knowledge, and deserves a hearing equal with that of physics, mathematics, sociology, and other intellectual endeavors. In this book, Willard seeks "to show the way in which knowledge is a friend of faith, essential to faith and to our relationship with God in the spiritual life." This is not to say there isn't "bad" religious truth or truth that is applied in "bad" ways - just as exists in any field of knowledge. Jesus himself was the greatest critic of "bad religion." But the fact that religion offers genuine knowledge has great practical import to those who seek to live in accordance with that truth. You want to be sure to take your life into his life, and in that way to find your life to be 'eternal,' as God intended it.
Willard is responding to the pervasive assumption in society and the academy that when it comes to religious faith, a person can believe whatever they want because we cant really know anything about God (if he even exists). Religious faith is treated as an optional extra (either cute or sinister, depending on ones perspective) some might entertain, but not regarded seriously as actual knowledge. Willard goes on to talk about the good reasons to believe that the God of the Bible is indeed real and the reasons we can trust the knowledge we have of him. Willard does not assert that such people can, but based on God as revealed in Christ as perfectly loving and just, he leaves open the possibility that some may encounter and trust in the cosmic Christ without knowing him as such.