Theology of Dallas Willard

Discovering Protoevangelical Faith

Gary Black Jr.

Dallas Willard's unique understanding of the reality present within a life lived as a disciple of Jesus in the kingdom of God is attracting both new and traditional Christians to reconsider their faith.

Available in hardcover and paperback (, Barnes & Noble,, and ebook (Kindle, Nook).

(Eugene, OR. Pickwick Publications, 2013), 268 pp, ISBN 13: 978-1-62032-963-4


Evangelical Christianity in the United States is currently in a dramatic state of change. Yet amidst this sometimes tumultuous religious environment a rather unique blend of both ancient and contemporary Christian theology has found its way into the hearts and minds of emerging generations of Christians. The Theology of Dallas Willard both describes and conveys the essence of this increasingly popular and perhaps mediating view of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Blending both a prophetic critique with pastoral encouragement, Willard's unique understanding of the reality present within a life lived as a disciple of Jesus in the kingdom of God is attracting both new and traditional Christians to reconsider their faith.

Gary Black, Jr. is Chair of the Advanced Studies Department, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, and Assistant Professor of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. His Ph.D. dissertation was the first to organize and track Dr. Willard's influence in today's culture. Gary's theological specialization focuses on the changing nature of American evangelical theology and the effects and opportunities that exist for the Church during the transition toward an increasingly post-Christian culture. His passions lie in helping current and future church leaders navigate the evolving realities of our world while discovering and achieving their own discipleship through the process of spiritual formation, leadership development, and transformational scholarship.

Dallas enjoyed working with Gary on this project, and hoped that this book would help spread the vision that transformation toward Christlikeness should remain the overarching focus and intent of any Christian revival, renewal or restoration movements.


Dallas Willard has impacted countless numbers of us looking for a fresh perspective on the dynamic, surprising, compelling life Jesus invites us into. And Gary has been on the leading edge of helping explain this new movement that’s brewing. . . . People from a broad range of perspectives will find Gary’s clear, informed, nuanced, and hopeful voice a welcome guide as we navigate the shifting landscape we’re living in.

Rob Bell, author of Love Wins

There is simply no one whose understanding of Jesus and his good news has the power and depth of Dallas Willard. Gary Black offers us all a tremendous gift a journey of thought that will illuminate your faith and change your life.

John Ortberg, author of Who Is This Man?

No one has had a greater impact on my understanding of spiritual formation and life in God’s kingdom than Dallas Willard, and I know of no one who has a more thorough grasp of Willard’s teachings than Gary Black. . . . The hopeful vision of life in God’s realm expertly summarized in this book has the potential to revolutionize the church and our world if only we summon the courage to make it our way of practice.

Mark Scandrette, author of Practicing the Way of Jesus

Gary Black writes a comprehensive and penetrating survey of the thought and context of one of American evangelicalism’s most influential reformers. The resulting analysis The Theology of Dallas Willard is worth studying and then studying some more, because Dallas Willard is that important to the future of the church in North America.

David Fitch, author of Prodigal Christianity

Black has given us a window into Willard’s thoughts, showing his deep and systematic approach to living life as a disciple of Jesus. This is an excellent read for understanding the depth and beauty of a contemporary theological giant. I highly recommend it!

Keith J. Matthews, coeditor of Dictionary of Everyday Theology and Culture

The present volume is a masterful and accessible presentation of Willardian theology, which is, at its heart, an invitation to step into a real, present, holistic, experiential, and incarnational form of Christian faith. This is an important book.

Gary W. Moon, author of Apprenticeship with Jesus

Quite possibly some of the theologically richest, deepest, and most well-formed thoughts for God’s church are in these pages. Excavating below leadership tactics and spiritual formation approaches lays this breathtaking vision of God. Read slowly, savor, and ponder. Let it simultaneously affect your heart and your mind. It is a distant light leading us home.

Nancy Ortberg, author of Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands




Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Nook


Foreword by Scot McKnight

Chapter 1: Willardian Theology in Context
  1. Modern Evangelical Theology
  2. Contemporary Evangelical Movements
  3. Post-Evangelicalism
  4. Contemporary Context

Chapter 2: The Willardian Adaptation
  1. Biblicism in Willardian Theology
  2. Conversionism in Willardian Theology
  3. Activism in Willardian Theology
  4. Crucicentrism in Willardian Theology

Chapter 3: Essentia Dei And The Protoevangelical
  1. Pneumatology
  2. Anthropology
  3. Theo-Ontology
  4. Christology
  5. Ecclesiology

Chapter 4: The Willardian Correction
  1. Belief vs. Faith
  2. Gospels of Sin Management
  3. Doctrine of God

Chapter 5: Realism, Postmodernism And Willardian Theology
  1. Postmodernism
  2. Moderating the Divide
  3. Summary

Chapter 6: Conclusion



Reviewed by Chris E. W. Green in The Other Journal, September 15 2014.

Reviewed by Scot McKnight for Patheos, September 5, 2013, and for Christianity Today, May 27, 2014.

Read a Chapter-by-Chapter Overview of the book by J.R. Rozko on the MissioAlliance blog.

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