Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday's Meditation: The Defense Calls Dr. Dallas Willard

Abraham, or Dallas Willard?
Over the last three weeks we’ve been talking about the power of imagination applied to the scripture. Surprisingly, many people are skeptical about such a “subjective” approach.
One of the best defenses for a near-heretical position is to cite an authoritative source, so this week’s Meditation calls to the witness stand Dr. Dallas Willard, ordained Baptist minister, PhD in philosophy, and all-around nice guy. The following segment (used with permission) is from his devotional, “Hearing God:”
The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." . . . When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces [of the sacrifices]. Genesis 15:1, 17
One way in which people are addressed by God within the biblical record is with a phenomenon plus a voice. A phenomenon is an occurrence that can be perceived by any of our senses. For example, it might be an appearance of something unusual. God often accompanies such phenomena with a voice. Such divine-human encounters are richly represented in the events of Scripture, and we need to use our imagination to identify with them.
God's covenant with Abram, a major foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, was solemnized when fire from God passed through the air to consume Abram's sacrifice while God intoned the promise to Abram and his seed (Genesis 15:17-18).
MEDITATE: Read Genesis 15:1-17. Notice Abram's questions within the conversation between God and him (vv. 1-9). Now imagine Abram preparing sacrifices and desperately driving away the predatory birds from them. See the setting sun and the dreadful darkness as Abram falls into a deep sleep. Once again God speaks to Abram and the torch-laden firepot lights the sacrifices. Reread the passage and sit quietly basking in Abram's experiences.
Thanks, Dr. Willard. The defense rests--but not before recommending his iPhone app, Hearing God, available for $2.99, which comes to just under a penny a day to have morning devotions with formidable spiritual director.


  1. Oh how I love Dallas. He utterly changed my view of Jesus. It was like the scales fell off my eyes.

  2. Ah, this is a perfect example of what it means to use our imagination while reading scripture! And the iPhone app sounds like a must-have. Who knew there was such a thing? :)

  3. Hi Mary: Dallas Willard is a gift to the Church, eh?

    Kristin: So happy to spread the news of an iPhone devotional App of such depth and quality. It goes to show you can learn a lot by reading Students of Jesus! ;-)