mē genoito

May it never be! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” (Ro 3:4)

What Does Dallas Willard Believe?

Dallas Willard (Dallas to role-play an evangelistic conversation with a 20 year old girl)

But you cannot stay at such an abstract level for very long. You’re going to have to bring it down to a practical level with questions like: what do you believe about Jesus?

“Okay,” she says, “I can acknowledge that. You know, I have read the gospels, and I think that Jesus was the greatest teacher there ever was. In fact, I’d like to live my life like him. But it feels like I have to ‘buy’ an awful lot more.”

What I would say is this: you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want. We have to help people understand that belief is something that comes along as you experience. You don’t have to fake anything. The way faith works is this: you put into practice what you believe. If you’re attracted to Jesus, what do you believe about him that you can act on? Experience shows again and again that when you allow people to act on the little that they do believe, the rest will follow.

“But I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I’m not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?”

I would take her to Romans 2:6-10: “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say “he can’t save them.” I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: “There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.” (emphasis are mine)

The above excerpt was taken from his own website. As you can see Willard is unambiguously promoting a form of universalism and salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Willard knows exactly what Christians believe, that is absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The reason we know this is because God tells us so. Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 5:9; Psalm 140:3; Psalm 10:7; Romans 3:9-18; Romans 8:7-8; Jeremiah 13:23; Isaiah 59:7-8; Psalm 36:1 (ESV) It appears Willard disagrees with God that there are people like some Buddhists who are worthy to be saved, because they are almost totally good. As a Christian given the choice of choosing between God and Willard as to who is right? I think I will choose to side with God. Almost totally good is not enough to be saved. We need to be perfect as God is perfect. Hebrews 4:15; Galatians 3:3 (ESV) Besides, let us be realistic for a second, are there really any almost totally good people around. I know I’ve sinned more than my fair share.

The other question is what does it mean to be almost totally good? Does it mean that a person is perfect as Jesus Christ was perfect but only missed the message about Jesus? We know that can’t be true according to the Word of God. Willard is making a claim that a person is almost totally good according to Willard’s own standard and judgment. The problem for Willard is that I don’t think he is omniscient and his standard is irrelevant for salvation. There is no way Willard can know what is inside the heart of even an almost totally good person just by his external actions.

The most offensive statement by Willard is this: “What kind of a God would do that?“. Who is Willard to question God. What Willard is saying is that if God would allow someone to go to hell because they didn’t believe Jesus then that is something wrong with God’s morality. How dare of Willard to challenge God that way. Willard’s platitudinous statement, “but anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus.”. What does that mean? It would appear that Willard is saying he will only believe in a God that conforms to his sense of morality. Willard has just created a god in his own image. Willard in one fell swoop has eliminated the necessity of Christ’s propitiation. Christians no longer need to preach the gospel anymore, all we need to tell the Buddhist, Hindu, New Ager and Muslim is that you just need to be almost totally good within your religion and you will be saved by Jesus. Willard is preaching another gospel.

Additionally, this is nothing more than an empty rhetoric. It blows my mind that Christians can’t see through this veiled deception. What is missing from that vacuous platitude? It should be obvious. Willard makes the connections that God will save all those almost totally good people and if we disagree with that then we are standing in the way of God. Yes, that’s right when you start with a false presupposition then you will get the wrong conclusion. The God of the Bible does not save those almost totally good people.

And to be honest Willard has to twist Scripture to do it when he refers to Romans 2:6-10. Willard is a well trained scholar and therefore I can’t imagine that he could have made such an exegetical error by accident. I am trying to avoid being pedantic so let me just say this, Romans 2:1-11 is Paul’s indictment of the Jews thinking that they are better than the gentiles merely because they have Abraham as their father. Paul was chastising them against their faith on their ancestry and their lack of faith in the obedience to God’s laws, that becomes clear in Ro 2:17. Paul was not saying that Jesus will save someone outside of the gospel that he is preaching. That becomes even more clear in ch. 3. But even if Willard would only quote Paul a little further in Ro 2:12 he will see that all who sin will be judge by the law and perish by the law. Most importantly Willard seems to have forgotten about Ro 3:9-18.

What Willard is promoting is a heresy. Willard is creating a new standard for salvation, that an almost totally good person is worthy of salvation. For the sake of argument, what if we tweak his statements above. Do we think this would be acceptable?

I am not going to stand in the way of Hitler whom God wants to save. I am not going to say “he can’t save Hitler.” I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for Hitler who does not know Jesus to be saved. But Hitler who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: “There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.”

The hope of salvation and humanity is not in our ability to save ourselves outside of the gospel, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His imputed righteousness to sinful Man.

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