Q & A with Keith Matthews

Dallas Willard Part 22 of 22

Dallas agreed to teach two separate weeks for the Renovaré Institute in Atlanta, a cohort of 40 students, mostly in ministry positions. He rehearses many of the themes from his speaking ministry elsewhere, so there is little new to be heard, but with more time with the group he is able to be more comprehensive than usual.


Gary: . . .There is a little bit of inside trader information—I’m not sure how many of you know, for example that Dallas played power forward in college? In basketball! It’s true, is it not?

Dallas: I don’t know about the power part. [Laughter]

Gary: I was just assuming you were plugged in, [Laughter] but this is a true story! What isn’t known is—and we are trying to collect all kinds of video and audio files and some audio files from those games exist and Dallas wasn’t always as transformed as you see him here. [Laughter] There was quite a bit of trans-talking going on and so these are just some things that were recorded that Dallas actually said to his opponents while playing basketball—“Your will ends here;”  [Laughter], “You are a ceasing spiritual being;” “exegete this;” and indirection, “you call that indirection, let me poster-ize you with someone”—just a few more. “All the rest of the world ain’t gonna help you now, sucka;” “take your reformed theology out of here;” “hey, do you want to know the etymology of a man?”  “You are so stupid, you thought the beatitudes were  ________ and finally the most common thing said to an opponent, “camp out in __________.” [Laughter and Applause] This is just more evidence that transformation does happen.

A few more brief clips for a purpose and pardon me while I do this and fairly quickly. [2:34]

Dallas: The only thing more fearsome than when Gary gets loose is when John Ortberg and he get loose together. [Laughter]

Gary: [Gary shows the German Coast Guard video “sinking video!] [Laughter] Thanks to our mutual friend, James Catford who put me on to that clip and I shared that with you for a couple reasons. We may all feel a little bit like the Coast Guard trainee getting turned over to the controls a little quickly. To me, the most common theme in this is that “it’s time for us to re-think our thinking.”

The last one is a bit more serious. The last one is from when we were together in Denver, we had a film crew for this session and so what you are seeing is that cohort group that was filmed and we are turning it into a DVD on Hearing God with IVP but I am showing it to you because I want you to see your friends, hear a little bit more of Dallas and there is something toward the end that will be good for us to hear. [4:30]

[Starts the DVD-Music plays.]

Dallas: You probably know that when the Bible talks about the name, they are talking about the baptism so that great statement of Jesus “make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not saying, “As you get ‘em wet, in one way or another, say over them, ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’, rather it is saying ‘pull the disciples into communitarian, Trinitarian fellowship.’ “ And they began to get a taste of what real life is like and the union of His people is such that—now, notice “I” in them, thou in me that they may be perfected in unity that the world may know that you sent me and did love them even as you loved me.” And the next verse, “In order that they may be whole, my brothers, you see that glorious community stands forth, in earth and when people see it, there is no argument left.

John: And that is where what Kelly writes about “the center.” Was it the “center of your self;” which was so helpful and the idea, which I had not thought about before that not just with God but with any person, we always learn their voice by experience.

Richard: And that’s—you’re teaching about the quality of the voice of God and the Spirit and the voice of God and the content. [6:51]

Dallas: Yes, and you can isolate some factors in it and that helps because it will help you distinguish that voice from other voices but then you simply come to know that voice by its overall quality just like you know the voice of others that you are familiar with.

Richard: Yes and it’s an amazing thing, you know—

John: Yet, we don’t have the physical part of it with God but the other aspects of it—the content and the emotional tone to it and the effect that it has on us, we have that to recognize Him from and the Bible does have some things to say about sleep.

Dallas: It does indeed.

John: So tell us a little bit about—you know, if we try to locate ourselves in a broader context—what does sleep—our need for it—our fitfulness in it—have to say about our vulnerability about the broader context in which we live?

Dallas: Well, sleep is primarily a soul phenomenon and the ability to sleep primarily depends upon our capacity to “turn loose of the world.” “He that keepeth thee will not slumber nor sleep.” So, I can go to sleep! Right? [8:15]

Richard: I wanted to have times when we can—

Gary: And we can stop there because what I wanted to show you—those weren’t in any order. It’s just kind of a random assortment of what was there but John’s face was very important toward the end. You have obviously had a huge influence on John and Richard that you saw and 42 other people so we do want to at least send you off with a little something and Pam has for you just a little card book with some things from these folks here.

Pam: It says, “To Dallas, our friend and mentor- thanks from the Atlanta Academy.”

Dallas: Thank You! [Clapping!] [9:30]

Gary: For the first part of our time together, Keith is going to come and you can use these stools here if you can see better with that and we are going to begin some Q & A time and we will turn that over to you folks.

Keith: Thank you! How’s that stool going to work for you, Dallas?

Dallas: Fine!

Keith: I think the kids at this camp have been using the stool—I am telling you! Now, you be thinking of questions here and this is the last chance you are going to get for some of you in quite awhile maybe. Be thinking of some things but I am going to do a few little questions here to kind of get us going here.

Now, you have known Dallas HERE as a great theologian and practitioner of the Christian life but Dallas is a world-class philosopher. I met him in 1984 in Los Angeles. I was a young engineer at the time just starting seminary. A few years after I met him, the Olympics came to L.A. I don’t know if you remember those days, Dallas but you were actually being tapped on TV as a “philosopher of sports.” Remember that? I remember seeing him on TV one night and I thought, Dallas, where did you get this kind of broad knowledge here, so you have a very diverse knowledge of culture, sports and all of these things so one of the big questions we want to know is who is the best dancer on Dancing with the Stars? [11:15]

Dallas: I don’t think Dancing with the Start is about dancing.

Keith: Ready for this?

Dallas: Well, Dancing with the Stars is an attempt to sort of show off and some of them are pretty good dancers but you have to ask yourself what is dance about? Art is always about something. It’s designed to express something and if you watch Anna Pavlova doing the Dying Swan, it wipes you out. You don’t see her! You see a dying swan and you see something much deeper about life—a kind of tragic form of human existence. You don’t see anything like that—the thing on Dancing with the Stars, is I only watch it with my wife. She could probably give you a lot of details but what you see is people kind of “cutting up,” you know and they have some abilities of course but it’s not an artistic performance that would allow you to make a judgment about it. [12:48]

Keith: I didn’t know that that would turn into a serious question. [Laughter] I am amazed to see how well rounded Dallas is.

All right, Dallas, a big one here; another heavy one! If you were shipwrecked on a desert island and could only have one or two books with you outside of the Bible, what would they be and why?

Dallas: Shakespeare! I would go with Shakespeare and the second one would be, I think rather hard; probably not just one but a collection of Plato’s writings.

Keith: Can you expound of why those two?

Dallas: Well, because they are so deep that their richness never ceases and in that respect, they do compare with the Bible and it’s the content. Now, I don’t know what I would do with them. I might read them but those are the ones I would like. War and Peace is a good book but I think I would go with Shakespeare; again, not just one play but his works and Plato. [14:20]

Keith: Great; fantastic! You all wanted to know that one, right? [Of course!] Now, Dallas, I have known you a long time and I know that you’ve soaked yourself in these teachings for a long time before you even wrote on The Divine Conspiracy—you were working on that, I believe in the 60’s very early on as you were coming out of doing ministry in philosophy so you’ve been soaking in this for a long time. Tell us when did this vision of life and these shifts really begin in you? Maybe you’ve told little bits of the story, but tell us how did this begin? All of this understanding you’ve got in this realm? When did it begin? And then, I’ll shift to the next question after that. [15:17]

Dallas: Well, it began when I was attempting to pastor a Baptist church as a very young, green, and ignorant person and I mean it really just came like this. I realized that I had—I was very concerned to get people to come and hear me. I thought that was what I supposed to do. Jesus was concerned to get away from people and it occurred to me that He was saying something different than what I was saying and of course, He was different from what I was also, but that’s the KEY that turned me around. I wanted to find out what was He saying? And that’s the path that—now that took years to unfold.

A phenomenal passage for me was looking at the first beatitude in Matthew and comparing the translations and after looking at several of them, I realized they had no idea what this was saying and then, that broadened out. The oldest part of The Divine Conspiracy is Chapter 4 and it deals with the Beatitudes and the realization that they were Gospel, not some burdens to add to your load. Nothing you were supposed—it doesn’t say to do anything if you just read the language, but people take it—“Oh, I‘m supposed to be poor; I’m supposed to mourn” and all of that. And gradually the realization that the blessing was not in the condition but in the Kingdom becomes clear as you read that and realization that this is not a complete list of anything. Then, I realized you need to read those with the “Woe be’s” in Luke. That was a beginning as coming to say, “You know, I’ve got to figure out what Jesus was saying.” [17:44]

Keith: Right! And with that discontinuity with where you were preaching and how you were doing, did you come to read some other theologians? What was fueling the shift? Or did this insight all come on your own?

Dallas: No. It was like an old book by John Bright—its called The Kingdom of God was really a turning point for me. I was at Baylor as a student when I read that. So, there were other things that certainly meant a great deal but kind of an undercurrent was picking up The Invitation of Christ in a used bookstore and starting to read it and a little book called Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians really helped me a lot. Theologically it’s a little off but what it basically does is tell you in a simple way the stories of well, shall we say, greater Christians; it helped me partly because they weren’t all Baptists. [Laughter] That was a big help! It introduced me to a lot of people and then I would get their works and read them. So, it’s kind of ragged but that’s basically how it came. [19:30]

Keith: That book Deeper Experience by John Gilchrist?

Dallas: No, Lawson. James Gilchrist Lawson, and it’s a paperback still and you can get it on line—cheap.

Keith: Much of it is about the Holy Spirit and it’s in a powerful way and these individuals in the work….

Dallas: He’s a Church of God-Cleveland, TN person and so he tries to interpret this all in terms of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and it doesn’t work that way you know but the big thing is he really gets a lot of fascinating details about all of these people. William & Catherine Booth and all kinds of people that he picks up on and really, really helps—Savannah Rohl.

Dot Ann: Keith, what was the title of the book by John Bright?

Keith: The Kingdom of God.

Dallas: Yes, the Bright book—and again, you can pick that up for pennies on the Internet.

Keith: Now, a little question on the old man and the new man—the old self, new self and in regard to you in your personal life. This is one that would be interesting to hear from you.

I’ve known you for a long time—twenty-six/twenty-seven years and I know you are not perfect but you’re pretty darn close though.

Dallas: Well, no, not even close. [21:08]

Keith: But you have been a model to me ever since I’ve known you and I guess I would love to hear just as you moved into this view, this paradigm of life in the Kingdom and understanding transformation, what did the old Dallas leave behind? Can you tell us a little bit? I can’t even imagine you being anything but what you are. What struggles and challenges did you have in your life that you felt like you have uprooted—the transformation it’s had for you in your life? Is that fair? [21:50]

Dallas: I think the main thing is fear. I was a very fearful child. My mother died when I was two and I was handed around to good people. They treated me well but you know you have the sense you don’t belong. You don’t have a place and then out of that comes desire to please people.

Now, of course there is always an undercurrent of anger, lust, kind of the standard stuff—it was all there, you know? I think fear was the main thing and I can remember very vivid moments with passages in the scripture where that was addressed, like the end of Romans 8, for example—the   realization of the meaning of resurrection.

Now, of course, on a little other dimension I didn’t love my wife and children, as I should have. I’m sure that was related to the fear and the desire to please but I think those were some of the things that drop off.

Keith: How about in your profession—I mean, academia has its formation process as well. I mean, for planning, for ego—were those battles at all?

Dallas: You know they really weren’t. I am uncomfortable with recognition and I had it very clear in my mind that that was not something to be striven for but that was because I was convinced that I had all the recognition I needed from God and I just have not struggled with that.

I didn’t try to be a professor. I never asked for promotions or money or anything—that’s not in my path. Now, I am sure there is some egotism there somewhere but the kinds of achievements that actually made it where I didn’t need to ask for promotions and so on. I didn’t take them as ego strokes and I don’t know what to say about that except that has just been there.

Jane and I got ahold of a bunch of little books by B. McCall Barber—B. McCall Barber—little pamphlets. Titles like, “When Did You Die?” and all these little booklets were on getting out of self-dependence, egotism and so forth. Those were very helpful to me, and then the readings in this book of people like George Mueller and so on so I don’t –maybe I have had it but hide it from myself, I don’t know. But those sorts of things at least have never been a conscious problem. Truthfulness—you know fear makes you mislead people so that was a problem and I had to learn about that. [26:08]

Gary: The author again was? The author of those little booklets?

Dallas: B. McCall Barbour

Keith: And that question—the reason I asked that is part of your demeanor is just the way you are wired—your personality and who you are so there is that part of who we become in God, just the nature of how we are made but there is another aspect of personal formation to take on that you have challenged us in but I have found that our vocations and other things are formative in us and that’s why I was asking that and if your formation was challenged in some way in your vocation.

For me in the Pastorate—I think the pastorate forms us in ways that can be very detrimental. We can have great intentions and we can take on good practices personally but then there is another formation that the church brings. For those of you that are pastors in the room identify with that? [Amen!] That can be very, very influential and very, very powerful in how we deal with that. So, that’s why I asked that question. Do you have any more to say about those influences? [27:32]

Dallas: I think I’m not a reliable guide in that direction because I never intended to do anything in the way of writing and all of this sort of stuff except in philosophy. I intended to write there.

Elesa:  Can you talk about why you chose philosophy?

Dallas: Yes, that is simple. I liked it. I really like philosophy. I was a migrant agricultural worker for a couple years after I graduated from high school and I carried a volume of Plato in my duffle bag and Kipling. They don’t go very well together. [Laughter]  I still like Kipling but no, I just liked it.

Keith: And you don’t see any divergence between your philosophical world and your theological world?

Dallas: None! None whatsoever! I mean, basically, when you get to know philosophy, not just in the form you might find it in a classroom today—because that really is not always clear what that is but classical philosophers—the philosophers that are recognized as such through the ages; they are asking the same questions. Those are the questions and Jesus answers them. The message of Jesus and His people swept the intellectuals in the Mediterranean world more in the second century because they generally recognized that Christ gave the answers that they had not been able to get and they said that on occasion. So, again, this is odd but it’s the same thing for me.

Keith: OK; great. I have one more question and then get ready to jump on in here. You know, you are among—it amazes me when I think that you teach undergrad students….

Dallas: I prefer that…

Keith: I like grad students but I’m glad you like under grads—that’s great— but the culture shifted in many ways. It has been and is speeding up in many ways so what cultural issue or activity gives you great concern at this time? What issues in our culture do you think are really pressing issues or grave issues for us right now? [30:09]

Dallas: Well, it may just be my obsession but I think that the most serious issue facing our culture and our world today is the lack of moral knowledge represented as such by the institutions, including the church—THE church more than any of them. What that means is that the culture and the individuals are left to “wander” and that means they fall victim to desire and they often think that’s what freedom is—is doing what you want.

Now if you look at life today, whether it’s the government or individuals, you’ll see that they have no moral knowledge and that’s because it’s not provided to them in the form of knowledge. See? And that’s the failure of institutions. So, theology disappeared from the universities and up to that point, the popular anchor of morality was theology and if you study this, you’ll see the history very clearly.

Ever since basically the 1870’s, people who are supposed to know what’s going on and lead in our educational institutions have abandoned the basis of moral knowledge in theology and have tried to find an alternative basis and have found none. None! Now, that’s just the facts, folks! And you can read them if you want to see that. That’s where we are now and I believe that God is working through this process but as far as human beings are concerned, they don’t know what to do. [32:27]

So, for example, that manifests itself in a massive failure to keep covenant in our culture in all kinds of relationships but the marriage relationship is the primary one. The inability to keep covenant comes out of allowing your life to be governed by desire and you remember one of the things that is mentioned in the Psalms about the righteous person is “they swear to their own hurt and change not.” And that means things like, if you put a bid in on a job and it turns out that it’s going to cost you more than you thought, you do the job. And if you put a bid in on a mate and it’s going to cost you more than you thought, you stay the course. Now that doesn’t mean there is never a reason for a divorce; there is. That’s recognized Biblically but it is NOT, “I don’t like you no more, baby!” You know? But that’s what actually operates and it’s all just tragedy.

There’s a covenant between my students and me. What is it? Now, I have an idea about that but I’m going to keep that covenant and all human relations are meant to be covenantal and they really only work under God.  If you move out from under that, then covenant will disappear.  You used to have words like, well, “My word is m bond.” Well, no more! I want something that will hold up in court. [34:40]

Keith: Say something about your thoughts on technology. I mean you are around under grads who barely hold conversations—you know, the whole idea of the way they relate—what concerns are things you see in the way how we continue to go in the speed of technology and how it isolates us. Do you want to say anything about that?

Dallas: Well, the primary effect of technology is to atomize life. Everything is as simple as a clicker for your TV so you go here; you go there, go there or go there or maybe you’ve got one of these TV’s that’s got four screens on it. Everything in technology atomizes and so, for example, in information theory, you want to get down to bytes and then you wind up with something like texting. Computerization enables you to analyze things into little pieces and arrange them. Just move them around. Where is the continuity? It is not there. It is not there. [36:12]

William Faulkner wrote sentences that ran a page and a half and no one could read them. Students literally cannot hold a sentence of any length together, much less several, much less an argument or a line of reasoning. So, now technology again is not inherently bad. It could be good. It’s like desire; it has to be handled under what is good. Not—it tends to run on it’s own and say, “Wow. It’s new!” And if you are not up to date on it, well, you are not new. You are old. And that continued progressive part of that is economic because the people who have it to sell want to update it and outdate what’s already there and so planned obsolescence is a part of the economy and I think this is very damaging.

Keith:  And technology is driving even the church in how they do church, right? What effect is this gonna be?

Dallas: It is but that’s because it appeals to a public that’s sold on it. For example, the idea of a group of people coming together and being silent for five minutes, that’s not technology, but paying attention to people is not technology. You could use it appropriately to do that but that’s not the way it actually works. So no, I mean, this is very—this is your field and you know about all of this but it is dreadful to think of how this will develop. The church, by in large is into entertainment and technology feeds entertainment. [38:20]

Keith: OK; great. All right, everybody. I know there are questions out there so just raise your hand and throw them at him.

Tim: Dallas, Gary said last fall that—and I know you probably don’t want to hear this—but that you are going to affect history as St. Ignatius and as John Ortberg and men like that and I believe that and I am sure most of us here believe that. How do you see though as you look objectively at history and where we are going, what impact you will have on it and/or what do you desire that impact to be?

Dallas: Will you repeat the question? What was it about St. Ignatius? [Laughter]

Tim: I just think you are going to have a tremendous impact going on the thought line of culture on the world of dissertation is just one component of that—how do you see that—how do you see your…..

Keith: Are you talking about legacy? Like maybe how he sees his legacy of what he’s done? Does that make sense?

Tim: Right.

Dallas: Right and the issue is I don’t think about this at all. I don’t think about it at all and it isn’t with effort that I don’t think about it. I just think there are so many more interesting things and I am interested in you and I think if anything happens, it’s going to be you picking up the reality and teachings of Jesus and putting them in place in your life and it has absolutely nothing to do with me. So, that’s really the way I feel about it. Yes? [40:38]

Kris: With regard to the gifts of the Hoy Spirit, you mentioned in our first time together that there are times where we are vessels that can really experience the power of God and then you obviously allude to the gifts of the spirit and Hearing God (the book). I’m just curious to hear at what age in your life did you—and you alluded to it briefly earlier—begin to open up and to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit and is that something that’s been a continuous theme though out your life with God? I would just be really curious to hear a little bit about that. [41:18]

Dallas: Well, there was a point, I guess it was in the 60s’s when I began to realize that often when I spoke, something was happening that I wasn’t doing and that’s when I began to understand gifts and what they are and that they function in community and that they really are matters of the Holy Spirit acting with you in a function or role. Now, I believe that all of the gifts are functions, which any individual could exercise on occasion where God wanted it done but I think that because of the nature of the gift, you can’t stand many of them as a regular thing.

So, I think actually looking at the scripture that if I have a gift, it is what Paul calls prophecy at the opening of 1 Cor. 14—we looked at that—and that’s the only way I can account for what seems to be the effect—like these books, you know. I didn’t intend to write them. They all come out of talking. I keep talking and you say, “well you know, we would like to publish this” and so then “okay, I’ll think about it” and eventually something comes of it.

I like to say about Divine Conspiracy—that is pretty much the oldest stuff in what I write and teach. I like to say it really helped me, and it really helped Jane and Jane said to me, “If you don’t write this, I’m going to write it” and I didn’t want to live with an authoress! [Laughter] So, I’m totally surprised at this and I decided something needed to be done but actually the nudge that moved me most was I was invited to do a series at Hollywood Pres. and I spoke basically on the stuff in Divine Conspiracy and went home and took a nap. It turned out to be the “shot heard around the world.” It was just amazing because of course they recorded it and all that. [44:28]

So, now that is—I’m conscious of that, right? That’s what I kind of do the “humble mumble” when people are trying to praise me and reward me; it’s real sincere because I don’t think “I” did it! So, that, I guess is an answer. I have various experiences along the way but I wouldn’t put them in that class of gifts. [45:02]

Comment: Eugene Peterson recently wrote his memoir, which I found to be very valuable. It helped me to understand how he came to the understanding of pastoring that he did and spirituality. Would you ever consider writing a memoir?

Dallas: No! I’m expecting Gary to produce one like he got the basketball story! [Laughter] He will make it up! [Laughter] I will tell you frankly that I don’t think I’m that interesting and again, you know, that sounds like the “humble mumble,” but no, I really think that. I just think there is so many better things that people could spend their time on….

Keith: How many disagree with that? [Chatter and Laughter]

Tim: It’s funny. Ignatius said the same! [Laughter]

Mike: You’ve talked about knowledge this morning and you’ve acknowledged that we have a culture that lives by it’s sensibilities and so I wonder in terms of the people we deal with—how do you get people by the time they are adults and they’ve maybe never really learned how to think—is there anything we can do to help people begin to use their mind in a way to think? [46:40]

Dallas: Right! That is a huge one but I think there is an answer that is simple—at least in its form and that is we lead them to know themselves. Self-knowledge is the entry into spiritual knowledge and you can do that very simply; just talking to them about their experiences. You start with things like, “you are hearing me now, right? Now, how do you know you are hearing me now? Did you see it? Smell it? Touch it?”  You can immediately draw people.

Now, you have a whole battle in the field of psychology opposing this but you just have to recognize—and in the field neuro-science now too. They want to tell you that your hearing me is an event in your brain and so then you have to lead people, especially people with a bit of sophistication having gone to college or university or been watching stuff on TV. You need to help them realize that your hearing me is not an event in your brain. There is no doubt an event in your brain but it’s not your hearing me and so you can lead them to understand that their life consists of their experiences and their experiences are not sense perceptive.

So they have a whole field of knowledge right there of what is not sense perceptible and it’s the most interesting part of their life. Trying to get them to imagine a novel being written that only mentions the body, you know? You can’t do it! No one would read it. Their nose wiggled. [Laughter] So, big deal—get excited! Their nose wiggled! A chemical process flashed across their brain.

So you realize you have to have really had your mind tweaked to think that you are your body and our experiences are what we value. That’s what we value in others. We never treat others as if they were a brain. Never! And again you have to try to imagine what that would be like or even their body and you can be a little better at imaging that but it gets degrading pretty fast.

So, Mike we just have to turn to that and we begin and then we’ve got a basis to work from and we can talk about God because God is experience. That is spirituality—un-bodily, personal power. Talk to me about what brought them to you to talk with you? Did the wind blow them in? Molecules brought them? No! Their experiences brought them. That’s slow work sometimes but then now you can use your Bible and your Bible studies to help people with that sort of thing because love, fear, hatred and all of those things are non-perceptible. You can’t perceive them. You were going to say something? [50:30]

Candace: It’s kind of along that line. There are so many people now who have an aversion to hearing about things of God [Oh, yes] and especially about Christianity and for those of us who are really trying to connect people who don’t know anything about the Kingdom with the Kingdom, it just almost seems like there is an almost unbreachable wall….

Dallas: Depends on what you come at it with.

Candace: Right, so that would be a good starting place but also part of it has to do with what you said, the pastor has a unique role in that there is a social position and knowledge and I think that is eroding.

Dallas: It has eroded.

Candace:  And a lot of our pastors have less and less education than they ever have before. Boy, if we see the Holy Spirit on them, we put them out in the field, you know; or socially, I mean you look at any TV show, the pastor is always the blunt of comedy or something.

Dallas: Now, what this comes down to is this. The church has to assume the role of educator of the public. They have to assume that role.

Candace: And if the public refuses to listen?

Dallas: They will listen if you have something to say but if you are trying to do a little dance to entertainment, they won’t listen. They will recognize it for what it is and you know, there are better shows on TV.

Now, you want to hold on to that, dear; I hope you will live there for the rest of your life. [52:06]

Candace: I have been for years, but I still will.

Dallas: Good for you, but it is simply a fact, the church now has to teach logic. They have to teach about the self because the educational system has fallen victim to professionalization which means that the people in those fields gets their approval from the other people in those fields. [52:30]

Elesa: How would we do that? How would you do a logic class in church?

Dallas: Well, I feel like if I can’t bring it out of the scripture, then forget it. So, you might want to look at a little article of mine on “Jesus as Logician.” It’s on the web page. It doesn’t cost you anything and then that will enable you to go back to Jesus and watch how He worked. You know, He wasn’t some country hick standing around with a straw in His mouth saying things that maybe sounded wise. Back in Missouri, we had a calendar from an oil company that has a guy dressed up like he’s an alpine figure of some sort and he says wise things like “way to double your money is to take it out of your pocket, fold it and put it back in.”  That won’t help. That sort of stuff—I mean you have to be serious about this stuff. [53:42]

This is when you go back and you read St. Augustine and you see him doing exactly what we have to do today. Paul—he’s doing exactly what we have to do today. That’s why I stomp on this stuff and it is the responsibility of the pastors. Now, unfortunately many of them are under the thumb of the university or under the thumb of their own professional setting so that’s where we have to distinguish the prophetic gift in ministry. We have to see it in the scriptures. We have to think about Hosea and Amos and the rest of them and get how they came into those cultures with a saw and just went at it.

Keith: Well, the complication of this—I mean; I am with you, we have to find a way to get this into our churches but fast away we don’t have venues to be able to do that. I mean your question is a tough one. Not long ago, we could remember Sundays were somewhat sacred days—things were closed on Sundays. Now, if you are a young family and you have kids in soccer, get ready! That’s when club soccer plays—Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are not a sacred time.

Then we’ve got another model of church where we eliminated Sunday school and have gone to a celebration cell model in many churches where you don’t have a place where you can actually teach. That’s my big questions to pastors, what’s the venue you are going to have to teach because the pulpit is not even close to enough to be able to teach. [55:40]

Dallas: So, you have to accept that. You have to accept that and then you have to find ways to do it. Now, you CAN use the pulpit to call people to discipleship in the Kingdom of God. Now, that’s preaching material and you can do it if you would do it! You don’t go in and say, “Now we are all going to be disciples.” NO, no, you teach the Kingdom of God and you get people to thinking about their Kingdom, and you can do this because you don’t have to say three things until people begin to say, “I really do have a kingdom and I am in trouble.”

That’s where we can come in and even in this situation. We can use the things and then we can begin to talk to the ones who say, “Listen, I want to hear more about this.” And they will be there. You can count on it. They will be there and maybe not a lot of them. Small churches—some will be there and you work with the ones who are ready to go. And of course, in the larger churches, there will be a lot of them there. I hang around these larger churches a good bit and what I find is there are a lot of very hungry people in those churches. You know, it’s kind of like “inch by inch” but that’s the way it goes and it’s the same way you look at the way the early church developed and it was “inch by inch” for around a century and a half and then it exploded because there had been the development of a substantial alternative and things like when the plague hit the city, the Christians didn’t head for the hills. They suddenly realized that they were there to take care of people and not so many of them died and so caring for people, loving—I forget which of the old fathers it was that says, “The Christians in the early centuries “out prayed, out thought, out died and out loved everyone else.” That’s the formula and it’s as relevant today as ever. [58:00]

Comment: I was just going to say, I think you’ve already said it I guess but we need to stop letting the culture determine how little time we are going to spend with people and how minimalized we are going to make our calendars. We have got to begin to expand back what we had before and say we are going to have discipleship classes in the middle of the week and we are going to allow people to come who come. Actually, in the church I attend we do that. We have discipleship classes with a full curriculum and we have 300 or 400 hundred people turn up on a Wednesday night as well as our pastor preaches for an hour. Just the preaching part which means Sunday Schools have to be an hour which means we end up there about 2 ½ to 3 hours on a Sunday morning. When I first went there, frankly, I resented it because I thought what right do they have because I hadn’t experienced it in years but what excited me and made me want to stay after visiting 9 churches in the area was for the first time in years, I saw people really excited about growing and that continues to be the case. It’s not perfect but we just have to invest more and I think sometimes you have to, as you said, invest in a small remnant. [59:13]

Dallas: That’s right and they are there. [Yes, they are.] Yes?

Emmanuel: I was curious to hear your thoughts about the arguments about formative creationism and evolutionary theory.

Dallas: Well, I like to do that. It’s a kind of separate assignment. I do point out a little about this in the book on Knowing Christ Today and here again, the deficiency in logic is a real burden to carry. Like things like evolution and creationism, they are not even answers to the same question and for example, you can’t have evolution unless you’ve already had creation. And evaluation is not itself something that is self-explanatory. People treat it like God—it just comes out of nothing—things evolve. Well, all you have to do is think a few moments about what evolution is and you realize that’s not going to happen. You have got to have a very complicated situation before you can even begin to talk about evolution. So, a lot that goes here is really just clarification that should have been done in high school. But, it isn’t done and so, people—distinguished people with PhD’s just tie themselves in knots on these issues and if you point out to them simple logical points, it will often be so threatening that they can’t even digest those points because they think, “Oh, you are trying to undermine science or something of that sort.” [1:01:07]

So, basically, the standard arguments for creation and God, that have been around for centuries still stand up. You have to adopt them a little bit and again, I run through the simplest form of that in Knowing Christ Today.  I think it is a very simple form that Paul is referring to when he in Romans says, “Look, God is evident from the things He’s made.” So, I guess Emmanuel , all I could say is if you can have a look at that chapter, that I would deal with those and it is really important to separate these issues out and put them in the right relationship with one another.

That should be done from the pulpit also because the people there are suffering in this confused mess of stuff that gets worded around and often they are not able and so just simple teaching on simple issues would help a lot. [1:02:24]

Paul: I have a pretty simple question but it is something that I am interested in your thoughts on—it seems like memorization of scripture has played a big part in your forming and so I have two questions for you.

Should I just pick a version and memorize that—some versions translate some things well and others not so well, so do I just pick a version and go with it or do I kind of try to get the best version that I am memorizing and memorize that?

Dallas: Are you a Greek person or a Hebrew person? [No!]

Paul: The other question is what are some techniques for memorizing that you have found helpful? [1:03:13]

Dallas: Ok; all right! A lot of the versions now are not translations and the distinction of being paraphrasing and translating has increasingly become unclear and something is gained by paraphrasing. When I was quite young you had a few versions—Phillips, letters to young churches and so on and they were remarkably encouraging but I wouldn’t memorize Phillips unless I had a version of particular passage that I knew what it’s really supposed to say and I could kind of estimate—you can use paraphrase but just not a lot. [1:04:11]

Some of them are pretty good but they give in to political considerations. Again, like the NIV, it’s good but you have to know what’s going on and translating SARCS as sinful nature is a disaster, see. So, you kind of have to know where that particular thing is coming from and so, I encourage people to find a good reliable version that isn’t paraphrasing or responding to people as if they were idiots and couldn’t figure out what was being said and had to be put in phraseology of their particular denomination.

Paul:  Can you suggest a few?

Dallas: I would recommend the New Revised Standard. They are basically good people. They have some problems again with the political issues and thinking that somehow if you don’t let the reader know the politics, they won’t get it but it’s a reliable version. I’ve memorized King James for so long that I spout it without thinking but again, there I try to watch the translation and it too has some problems and you have to identify those. I memorize New American Standard; again, you have to watch it because the evangelical prejudice will come through—the original one about gifts “in” our sleep when it just says “gives sleep” but that’s not quite active enough for a piped down evangelical. So, I would find some reliable version and I would compare it to see if there is some problem with that particular passage to other standard translations and work from that. Sometimes you’ll want to prepare your own version after you have compared different things.

Now the other thing—memorization is quite simple. Just three things—all you need to do and you will memorize. You need repetition and that’s enough to stop many people. You need repetition, you need concentration and you need understanding and those three things will allow you to memorize. [1:07:13]

Sometimes, you can remember or memorize a verse just by understanding it and without understanding, what you get is often contemptuously referred to as “rote” memorization. That’s not real helpful but better than nothing, possibly. So, you need to be able to concentrate because if you don’t concentrate, the repetition won’t help you very much. [1:07:41]

Now, of course all of this is variable depending on the person and the circumstances but basically that’s it. If you want to memorize a passage, if you will repeat it and repeat it with concentration and if you will develop understanding which by the way will be greatly assisted by repetition and concentration, you will memorize it. Now, the next thing to say is you will then forget it and so you have to understand that’s a part of the process. That’s a part of the process. So, you go back and memorize it again.

Comment: Can I make a suggestion for anybody that’s interested?

Dallas: By all means….

Comment: There’s a memory theory, I guess called space repetition and there’s a website that is free called “Memverse.com” and you can go on—they’ve got a lot of different translations in already so you don’t have to type in the Bible verse but it’s based on space repetition so every time you repeat the re-calling it, you grade yourself from 1 to 5 and it will determine when you should review that verse again so that eventually it gets to the point where you shouldn’t forget.

Dallas: If you will keep memorizing it, it will become like the back of your hand and it will just be there. I also recommend that you memorize fairly large passages and not just verses.

Comment: It’s actually got features for that and it’s really helpful—for procuring a whole chapter. [1:09:09]

Dallas: Yes sir?

Keith: Last question, brother. You are the last one! [Make it good!]

Question: OK, no pressure, right! We in the churches spend a lot of time I think for a lot of different reasons but teaching children about accepting Christ and going to Heaven when you die, can you speak a little bit about boiling down the Kingdom and the Gospel message for even young children and what a good approach would be for that? [1:09:57]

Dallas: Well, it’s not a complicated thing. Children will pick up the message faster than adults will because they are keenly conscious of their Kingdom and the Kingdoms of others. So, you start with their kingdom and then you tell them stories, Biblical stories and perhaps others to illustrate Kingdom and the conflicts of Kingdoms and then you introduce the fact that Jesus has a Kingdom and that He invites us to take our Kingdom into His Kingdom and then you teach them about how that works in applied ways.

“Look, that’s Johnny’s Kingdom,” you know and now, “is it a good thing that you have a Kingdom? What are the limits of that? Is it a good thing that everyone has a Kingdom? How do Kingdoms work?” And so you just teach them along those lines and they will pick it up. [1:11:03]

Now, Heaven is really important to children but that’s an extension of the Kingdom and you ‘ll want to teach them that what they learn by living in the Kingdom of God now will just continue and you need to talk to them about death and dying and what happens. They really need to hear because they worry about these things. They see their goldfish die and they put a lot of thought into that. So, I really think it’s quite simple.

We just need to keep it down to that level and then as you go along, you can teach them more about God’s Kingdom and how it relates to creation, for example and history and where it’s going and the alternatives—of course of people who do not live in His Kingdom. They keep trying to make their own. That’s what I would do.

You can relate it to sports, very good connection—and just the ordinary activities of life is where you want to put it for them. They will get it.

And I just want to affirm as we quit here that this stuff all works. OUR problem is that we don’t do it. See, I mean, you listen and your realize we are not saying what those guys said and we are not doing what they did and we don’t get the result that they got, but that’s exactly how to understand our situation. Now, then we go back and start saying what they said, doing what they did and we will see the result that they got. [1:13:00]

Keith: Now, Dallas has a plane to catch here and we will have a little transition time. Gary is going to come on up and say just a couple things.

Gary: We will send Dallas off with our appreciation but before we do that, Sharon, do you mind standing up? This is Sharon Rowland from the Menlo Park group and Sharon has a passion for a mentoring and friendship program that keeps the groups interacting with each other. It’s a brainstorm but we are excited that she has that brainstorm and so at 1:30 when we come back together, Sharon will present that to you and Keith will do a Dallas Reloaded and at 2:30, Jan will send you off with the retreat aspect of our time together.

Let’s see if there is anything else logistically. Some of you are meeting with spiritual directors. Please re-check the time sheet. I know, for example for me, I start at 4 today instead of 3 so just make sure you’ve go the time right on that and last thing is, let’s send Dallas off with some appreciation for what he’s done for us! [Applause]

Candace: We’re standing cause the chairs are hard! [Laughter]

Listen to all parts in this Renovaré Institute: Atlanta Cohort series