Conversatio Divina

Dallas Willard May 1992

Be Imitators of Christ

All theology should be clinical theology.” These were the words Dallas Willard used to open the founding of an institute called “The Institute of Clinical Theology” (ICT). For the inaugural conference, back in 1992, Gary Moon had invited Dallas Willard to kick off the event and the Institute. The idea was that a valid way to interpret the Greek word sozo was not only “salvation” but also “healing.” A word that was as much at home in a hospital as a courtroom. In time the ICT morphed into a spirituality track in counseling at Richmont Graduate University and the Conversations Journal.

This series, for which the attendees are ministers, mental health professionals and a few professors, has some special moments. For one, Dallas has a lot to say about the soul. What will stand out to those who know what he writes 10 years later in Renovation of the Heart is that in 1992 his view was different. Soul in this series functions more to describe the unity of the invisible part of the person as connected to their visible body. This helps him raise some philosophical issues which plague those working in psychology, such as is there such a thing as the spiritual.

Given what he has to say about the soul and the gospel of Jesus, Dallas then moves to offer instruction about how a Christian should approach counseling or spiritual guidance, particularly in one-on-one settings. This is a topic which occupied Dallas for the rest of his life and this series has some of his earliest attempts to share what he had learned.

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