Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation being ‘Profoundly’ Social


At my Forge Canada gathering yesterday, the person leading our session mentioned that the work of Dallas Willard could very well become more prominent and important after his death than it ever was during his life.  It speaks to the impact Dallas Willard has had on many and the timelessness of his work.  Many of the people who are significantly influential in my life have been deeply formed by Dallas Willard.  May he rest in peace.

Below are wonderful words on how spiritual formation is ‘profoundly’ social.

SPIRITUAL FORMATION, GOOD OR bad, is always profoundly social. You cannot keep it to yourself. Anyone who thinks of it as a merely private matter has misunderstood it. Anyone who says, “It’s just between me and God,” or “What I do is my own business,” has misunderstood God as well as “me.” Strictly speaking there is nothing “just between me and God.” For all that is between me and God affects who I am; and that, in turn, modifies my relationship to everyone around me. My relationship to others also modifies me and deeply affects my relationship to God. Hence those relationships must be transformed if I am to be transformed.

Therefore Jesus gave a sure mark of the outcome of spiritual formation under his guidance: we become people who love one another (John 13: 35). And he does not leave “love,” that “many splendored thing,” unspecified. Instead he gives “a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (verse 34, NRSV, emphasis added). The age old command to love is transformed, made a new command, by identification of the love in question with that of Jesus for us (see 1 John 2: 7-8).

Willard, Dallas (2011-12-21). Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ with Bonus Content (Designed for Influence) (pp. 182-183). Navpress. Kindle Edition.

How does your spirituality impact your relationships?  In what ways do you see spirituality being social in your particular time and place?


  1. Robert Martin · May 9, 2013

    That book was the first one I read by Willard… I read “Spirit of the Disciplines” later… and I regret not reading more… perhaps I’ll need to fix that…

    But suffice it to say, when it comes to understanding spiritual formation, I don’t know of anyone who taught it better than Willard.

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 9, 2013

      Amen Brother,

      This is the only book by Willard I have looked through. Very good stuff. I too need to get my hands on more Willard!!

  2. Pingback: Things That Make You Go Hmmm…. | Sign of The Kingdom

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