Dallas Willard's Study Guide to The Divine Conspiracy


This study guide expands the discussion begun in The Divine Conspiracy, focusing on and clarifying key issues and encouraging a fuller understanding of Christian discipleship. Here you will find:

  • Overviews and summaries of each chapter of The Divine Conspiracy
  • Scripture meditations to enhance your understanding of the text
  • Study questions to facilitate stimulating discussion...
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This study guide expands the discussion begun in The Divine Conspiracy, focusing on and clarifying key issues and encouraging a fuller understanding of Christian discipleship. Here you will find:

  • Overviews and summaries of each chapter of The Divine Conspiracy
  • Scripture meditations to enhance your understanding of the text
  • Study questions to facilitate stimulating discussion and reflection
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060641009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 523,517
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan Johnson is a writer who specializes in books on spirituality and religion. She lives in Simi, CA.

Keith J. Matthews worked as a teaching assistant for Dallas Willard at Fuller Theological Seminary and is the Executive Pastor of New Life Community Church of the Nazarene. He lives in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Dallas Willard was a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Philosophy until his death in 2013. His groundbreaking books The Divine Conspiracy, The Great Omission, Knowing Christ Today, Hearing God, and The Spirit of the Disciplines forever changed the way thousands of Christians experience their faith.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now

We are currently flying upside down -- without knowledge of what is right or how to do what is right. But it does not have to be that way. Jesus Christ lived in this world, teaching us how to live so that our life counts. He enables us to mesh our existence, our will, and our work with the work of God in this world. This is how we enter the kingdom of God and begin to fly right-side up.


Taking our culture's pulse reveals that we are in a moral "free fall." We are "flying" without a compass to guide us through the many moral and ethical decisions and dilemmas that face us daily. Even for Christians, spirituality relegates Jesus to a position of "Savior," the great forgiver of sins, but sees little effect of him within the "real issues of life." Jesus is simply not a person you would think of as having much ability outside the realms of religion.

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard writes, "Very few people today find Jesus interesting as a person or of vital relevance to the course of their actual lives. He is not generally regarded as a real-life personality who deals with real-life issues but is thought to be concerned with some feathery realm other than the one we must deal with, and must deal with now" (introduction, xiii).

Because we all behave according to our core thoughts, our misunderstood ideas of Jesus and his gospel keep us from flying right-side up. Jesus invites us to a life that does have a compass that keeps us from flying upside down.

Willard talks about Jesus' invitation: "We areinvited to make a pilgrimage -- into the heart and life of God.... The major problem with the invitation now is precisely overfamiliarity.... People think they have heard the invitation. They think they have accepted it -- or rejected it. But they have not. The difficulty today is to hear it at all. Genius, it is said, is the ability to scrutinize the obvious" (p. 11).

God's divine conspiracy asks that we scrutinize what has always been standing before us in Jesus. Jesus the king came into this world to proclaim and reveal the life of his kingdom. And Jesus invites us to enter this kingdom in which we discover the "abundant life" through discipleship to him. He will turn us "into the same kind of thing as Himself' (C. S. Lewis, as quoted on p. 20). He enables us to mesh our daily life into his life. This is entering the kingdom of God. This is flying right-side up!

Scripture Meditation

Read Col. 1: 15-17; 2:1-3, 9-10. The Apostle Paul experienced Jesus beyond his ability to forgive sin. He saw Jesus as one positioned to know the mysteries of the universe and the keys to all knowledge, both seen and unseen. In what areas of knowledge are you unaccustomed to viewing Jesus as an authoritative expert? Geology? Nuclear physics? Human relations?

This week, reflect on the aspects of your life -- family, job, friendships, leisure, ethics, morality -- and ask yourself:

Do I regard Jesus as a sufficient guide and teacher in those areas?

Do I believe Jesus really has "all wisdom and knowledge" about everything, as the passage from Colossians declares?

In what ways do I have confidence in Jesus to guide me in those areas of my life?

In what ways do I not have confidence in Jesus about these areas of life?

Life in the Dark

1. In today's world, what guidelines are used to try to fly right-side up? Having an education? Being a careful thinker? Being empowered with personal freedoms?

Why Be Surprised?

2. Recall the story of the student of Harvard University's Professor Robert Coles, who experienced the disdain of another student, a young man. He received high marks in an ethics course but behaved unethically toward her. She asked, "What's the point of knowing good if you don't keep trying to become a good person?"

This shows how people routinely put intellectual effort into knowing facts about ethics, but not into knowing what it takes to be a good person. If knowing facts about goodness does not make a person good, what does make a person good?

The Incredible Power of "Mere Ideas"

3. In contemporary culture, we try to solve problems without examining the ideas behind them and how they are communicated. For example, we look for solutions to violence among young people, yet enjoy media full of violence. What "mere ideas" have had drastic consequences in your lifetime?

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Table of Contents

Foreword 1
Introduction 5
1 Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now 13
2 Gospels of Sin Management 21
3 What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World 29
4 Who Is Really Well Off?--The Beatitudes 40
5 The Rightness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees (Parts 1 and 2) 49
6 Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputation and Wealth 67
7 The Community of Prayerful Love (Parts 1 and 2) 74
8 On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus 88
9 A Curriculum for Christlikeness (Parts 1 and 2) 98
10 The Restoration of All Things 117
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