Comparing Dallas Willard and Bri





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Comparing Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren

Dr Alex Tang


  Dallas Willard’s model of spiritual formation has been welcomed with open arms by the evangelical communities of faith while much doubt has been thrown at McLaren’s model, some of it personal.

Why is Willard’s spiritual formation model so appealing? First, it is concrete and easily understood. VIM is instructional and sequential. We are used to this type of thinking because we are familiar with modernity. McLaren’s model is mainly descriptive and there is not a real structure behind it because it was presented in a postmodern way.

Second, Willard’s model has a ‘scientific’ basis as he draws from his expertise as a philosopher and theologian and from psychological and personality theories to construct his model. McLaren did not offer any proof except to say that “ a more holistic concept of spiritual formation has begun to emerge – drawing both from Catholic and monastic sources and drawing from contemporary philosophy and educational theory as well.”

Third, Willard, though ecumenical in his outlook does not openly acknowledge his sources from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. McLaren, however, openly confess that he draws from both the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and also from other religious traditions. This has made him suspect in many ‘evangelical's’ eyes.

Finally, Willard’s approach is rational and scholarly. His impeccable academic credential as professor and former director of the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California and his writings make him respectable as a voice to be heard. McLaren, an equally prolific writer, however then to be provocative. This coupled with his academic qualifications and his association with the ‘rebel’ faction of the emerging/emergent church movement resulted in him being a target of criticism rather than one to be listened to.

Any thoughts?


|posted 15 February 2007|


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