Becoming Dallas Willard

The Formation of a Philosopher, Teacher, and Christ Follower

Gary W. Moon

Dallas Willard was a personal mentor and inspiration to hundreds of pastors, philosophers, and average churchgoers.

Available in hardcover (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book), ebook (Kindle) and audio (cd, audible, download) formats.

Intervarsity Press (USA), 2018) 304 pp., ISBN 0830846107
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Becoming Dallas Willard is a book that gazes at the fire that was lit within Dallas at a very young age. It was lit by the Holy Spirit and fanned by Dallas’s abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. It grew brighter through heartbreaking events in the midst of a joyous and loving family and burned hotter as teacher after teacher added fuel. That fire led Dallas on a joy filled trajectory that brought him to USC as a philosophy professor for 47 years and, to a place of having a profound influence upon the Western Evangelical church.

Sponsored by the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation and authored by Gary Moon, this biography gives us an opportunity to discover the many influences that helped Dallas grow in faith and knowledge throughout his life. The chapters dealing with his education help us understand how Dallas’s work in philosophy was foundational to what he taught about Christian Spiritual Transformation. We can see and better understand how he become one of the most respected and beloved teachers at USC and a gentle force guiding Christians everywhere back into abiding discipleship to Jesus.

Becoming Dallas Willard provides the reader with a greater understanding and insight into the substance and character of the author who penned The Divine Conspiracy, Hearing God, and Renovation of the Heart.



Gary Moon has put his heart and soul into this project―researching, writing, and carefully crafting what has become a quite remarkable book. . . . The result is a fascinating perspective on a big man who will continue to cast a long shadow over the church and its people for many years to come

James Catford, chair of Renovaré Britain and Ireland, former publisher at HarperCollins

One of the most astonishing things about Dallas Willard was how his speaking, teaching, and writing seemed so effortless. But, as this official biography so beautifully chronicles, 'Dallas Willard had to become Dallas Willard,' the beloved man whose words and ways have uniquely touched a whole generation. Here, through hard and often heartbreaking times, one can see God structuring Dallas's character and life. This book presents the powerful message that there is hope for each of us, because God's kingdom is here for the taking―if we want it.

Greg Jesson, writer and speaker

Dallas was a wonderfully disruptive presence in the world,' may be the best description of the man whose theology has helped all of us understand and experience God and his kingdom in clear, hopeful, and magnificent ways. But Dallas's humanity was, to me, as strong a draw to him as his mind. Gary has managed to capture both the brilliance and the brokenness of Dallas, and I think the weaving of those two threads together is what God used to shape this most unique and winsome of men. This story is ministering to some of the most broken and wounded parts of my soul

Nancy Ortberg, CEO of Transforming the Bay with Christ

I think many people will surprised, encouraged and, yes, pained by Dallas's journey. Still, this is a story that will prolong his important legacy.

Keith Matthews, Chair of Department of Ministry, Director of M.A. in Pastoral Studies, Professor of Spiritual Formation and Contemporary Culture, Azusa Pacific University

The Willard wit and charm appear on nearly every page of this edifying book. Those who knew Dallas well will learn more besides, much of it truly captivating. Gary Moon manages to weave what is anecdotally interesting with what is spiritually compelling, and the whole thing is layered with philosophical richness without which there would be no Dallas Willard.

R. Douglas Geivett, professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

If you are reading this book to learn more about Dallas Willard, you will be richly rewarded with an intimate portrait of a brilliant, complex, wounded, and generous man. Even better, through Dallas you will learn more about Jesus of Nazareth and how to have a life of loving interaction with him here and now. Through faithful research and sensitive interviews, Gary Moon fittingly honors Dallas while supremely exalting Jesus. Dallas would want it no other way.

Sandra D. Wilson, spiritual director, retired family therapist and seminary professor, author of Released from Shame and Into Abba's Arms




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Foreword by Richard J. Foster


PART ONE: First Thirty Years

 1. Keep Eternity Before the Eyes of the Children
 2. There Are No Unwanted Children
 3. Coming of Age in Rural America
 4. Running into Jane
 5. Running into God
 6. Academic Awakening
 7. Which Path to Take?

PART TWO: Three Kingdoms

 8.  Early Years at USC
 9.  King and Queen of Campus
10. Formation at Home
11. Accidental Birth of a Movement
12. So Long as We Are Doing the Work Ourselves


13.  Ideas That Matter for Time and Eternity—Part 1
14.  Ideas That Matter for Time and Eternity—Part 2
15.  Thank You!
16.  Healing Light

Afterword by John Ortberg

A Letter from the Willard Family




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