The Mind of God – In Memory of Dallas Willard
Like many others, I was saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Dallas Willard. Although I never met him or even heard him speak in person, I have been greatly blessed through his writings. My favorites include The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, and The Great Omission.
Although Willard grew up in very humble circumstances, he became a prominent academic as a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. Most of us, however, will remember him best for his challenging but accessible insights into the kingdom of God and spiritual formation as a means of shaping us into disciples of Jesus.
Christianity Today published an excellent tribute to Dallas Willard yesterday by John Ortberg. One quote Ortberg shared had to do with the distinction Willard made between the brain and the mind: “God never had a brain, and has never missed it.”
This quote reminded me that even though the human brain is one of God’s most wondrous and complex creations, it functions as a pale reflection of the mind of God. The brain is finite, whereas the mind of God is infinite; the brain struggles with complexity, whereas the mind of God creates complexity; the brain can be deceived, whereas the mind of God perceives everything clearly. In addition to the inherent limitations of the brain, its capacity has been negatively impacted by sin.
Dallas Willard was a brilliant, well-educated man, and a bit of the mind of God was able to shine through to the rest of us in his work. I also sensed a great deal of humility in him, however, and I am sure he would be the first to acknowledge his limitations. I think he would gladly echo the praise of another brilliant man when he reached the limits of his understanding:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
And his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?