Northwest Nazarene To Welcome False Teacher Dallas Willard, Promoter of Contemplative Mysticism

Northwest Nazarene University will be welcoming false teacher Dallas Willard in February of 2013, continuing a trend of inviting speakers who promote contemplative spirituality or mysticism.  The desire to replace sound bible study and prayer in the Christian life, with “experience-based” practices rooted in Eastern mysticism, continues to grip undiscerning leaders at our “Christian” universities and seminaries.  There is a shortage of sound Christian leadership at most of our Nazarene and Christian universities.  Students and parents must use great discretion in considering a Christian college.

So who is Dallas Willard?  He is a philosophy professor, author, and speaker.   He is known also for his writings about spiritual formation.  This less offending title that is simply another name for contemplative spirituality is being spread throughout all the Nazarenes universities to one extent or another.

The following quote shows how he elevates silence and solitude over prayer and Bible study:

“Indeed, solitude and silence are powerful means to grace. Bible study, prayer and church attendance, among the most commonly prescribed activities in Christian circles, generally have little effect for soul transformation, as is obvious to any observer. If all the people doing them were transformed to health and righteousness by it, the world would be vastly changed. Their failure to bring about the change is precisely because the body and soul are so exhausted, fragmented and conflicted that the prescribed activities cannot be appropriately engaged, and by and large degenerate into legalistic and ineffectual rituals. Lengthy solitude and silence, including rest, can make them very powerful.” (Dallas Willard,Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation and the Restoration of the Soul,”Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring 1998, Vol. 26, #1, pp. 101-109.

Here is some more you ought to know about Dallas Willard, whose books can be found in our Christian universities and seminaries.

From Lighthouse Trails Research:

Dallas Willard is a proponent of contemplative spirituality. Here are a few facts to show this:

1. Dallas Willard Helps Launch the Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible. The Renovare Study Bible Released at Renovare’s With-God Conference in April of 2005

2. Willard has written the foreword to Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

3. Willard recommends several contemplative authors including Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Jan Johnson, and Evelyn Underhill.

And here is more documented from LHT:

The following is an excerpt of an article written by Dallas Willard, in which he hypothetically responds to a college girl who was raised a Christian but has now rejected the Christian faith and believes all paths lead to God …

“What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say “he can’t save them.” I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”—Dallas Willard, Apologetics in Action

LTRP Note: Some have expressed concern that Lighthouse Trails has not posted the statement Dallas Willard made after the above statement, in which he says that anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus. While we do provide a link so people can read his entire article, we believe Willard has been very misleading in saying that it is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. We must keep in mind the context of Willard’s statement, in which he is talking about the works of man in relation to salvation. And given his adherence to spiritual formation, this completely aligns with the view that man ( born again or not) can become Christ-like (and worthy of salvation according to Foster and Willard) by doing certain disciplines. It is in that context Willard makes that statement; he wasn’t referring to those who had never heard the gospel.

In addition, it is the role of Christians to preach the gospel, calling out for people to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.  His instructions are very clear. And the apostle Paul always pointed to Jesus Christ and man’s absolute need to turn to Him in order to be saved and written in the Book of Life.   If such a statement was right to say, then Jesus or the disciples would have said it. On Dallas Willard’s website, he recommends mystics who have panentheistic and universalistic affinities. His seemingly ambiguous statements and his recommendations resonate, and they should not be ignored.

How ironic that in Willard’s article, he was addressing it to a college girl who had been a Christian and had turned away from and rejected the gospel, saying that all paths lead to God. This was Willard’s answer to her.

Among the books he recommends are books on mysticism, books by Richard Foster, one of the most dangerous promoters of contemplative spirituality, visualization, and other false practices.  He also recommends books by proponents of mysticism such as Agnes Sanford, Teresa of Avila, George Fox, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Ignatius of Loyola and Madame Guyon.

So beware of Dallas Willard, another in a long line of false teachers who have infiltrated our Christian universities.

Here are the email addresses of several leaders from Northwest Nazarene, if you wish to address any concerns, or ask them to explain why Dallas Willard, a false teacher, should be exposed to young Christians.  You may want to also verify whether anyone would have equal opportunity to challenge his beliefs about contemplative spirituality, or will he have a captive audience?

NNU Contacts:

President Alexander:

Fred Fullerton, Vice President for Spiritual and Leadership Development:

Rev. Gene Schandorff, Dean of the Chapel:

Julene Tegerstrand, Director of Student Ministries:

Related Articles about NNU:


False Teaching In A Christian University- A Shocking Example-

NNU: Symbol of What’s Wrong In Our Christian Schools:

The Road to Catholicism- Mindless Retreats-

Don’t Forget Our Students On YThe Front Lines:

Taizé: Interspiritual Worship at NNU-

Author of The Shack Welcomed At NNU:

2 responses to “Northwest Nazarene To Welcome False Teacher Dallas Willard, Promoter of Contemplative Mysticism

  1. Manny,
    Good article pointing out the dissimilarities of the gospel, and why we should avoid them. Both in Paul’s writings and in the proverbs of Solomon the forewarning given is careful advice for someone, all of us, to be careful to safeguard against such that set themselves up as teachers of mainstream Christianity using non-scriptural theology. Galatians [5:1] “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Proverbs [14:7, 19:27] “Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge. Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

    We are to avoid whatever or whoever that would lead others from the truth. False teachers are always ready and willing to implant by infusion of some religious emotion, or false belief gradually until it is firmly planted in someone’s mind. To those having the responsible for the training of young minds, and old alike, should use caution with whom they invite to speak or have any association with. To substitute Godly instructions with false instructions is dangerous and leads to one going astray from the words of knowledge. Solomon made it clear that we should have nothing to do with them. In my opinion to continue to support their ideology by having them as guest speakers continue in appearance to endorse their doctrine and feed their popularity no matter false it is.

    the issue with Dallas Willard is that he has a classic failure of many in the formation movement of not noting the distinction between justification and sanctification, (Calvin’s description of the Trinity is very good here, distinct but not separated, and we believe the same for justification and sanctification).
    This is classic Roman Catholic Trent teaching – and it is still the Roman Catholic teaching after Vat2 – what is important is “faith” – not Faith in Christ alone- and walk by faith – not walk by Faith in Christ alone.
    Now re-read Willards article and note that the first few paragraph we all agree with – i.e. the separation of justification and sanctification is not biblical Christianity.
    But then the rest of the article is a sell for Spiritual Formation, minus the justification (as the Lutherans would say – all law and no gospel), and so Willard sounds so good and uses all the right words, and muddles up justification with sanctification, and has made a career out of it.

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