Last week I downloaded the book "Soul Keeping" by John Ortberg to my Kindle. I have been curious about the soul and thought that Ortberg might have some interesting ideas.

The book begins with quotes from Dallas Willard. In the introduction, Ortberg tells about a visit to Box Canyon, west of Los Angeles. He went there to talk to Willard about his concept of the soul.

Willard says, "You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe. That's the most important thing for you to know about you. You think you have to be someplace else or accomplish something more to find peace. But it's right here. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are. Your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies. It's the most important thing about you. It's your life."

Ortberg continues with more details about his visit with Willard. He writes, "Over the years I sought Dallas's wisdom to help me understand the human soul, and in this book, I will share what I have learned."

I quickly scanned the book and begin to wonder. If Ortberg got his information from Willard, then perhaps I should find out more about Willard. I googled Dallas Willard and received a treasure trove of information. I began my study by going to the website (http://www.dwillard.org/) and discovered that he had written 15 books.

There is a brief biographical sketch on the website. After graduating from college, he was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.

The biography goes on: "He knew there was more to learn and considered himself abysmally ignorant about God and the soul and was a hazard to those who listened to him preach."

He decided to attend graduate school and study philosophy. After getting a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a minor in the History of Science, Willard said that God gave him a prophetic message, "If you stay in the churches, the university will be closed to you, but if you stay in the university, the churches will be open to you."

So, he stayed in the university and became the director of the University of Southern California School of Philosophy.

According to an article in Christianity Today, Willard's wife said, "Philosophy is both his primary vocation and the foundation of his devotional writing."

Perhaps this is why I find his teachings so attractive. He does not preach but teaches. He presents Christian teachings in a way that makes sense.

I was curious about his views on science and religion.

He has some thoughts on this issue in an essay posted on his website; "Blind Science vs. Blind Faith: Some Thoughts on Breaking the Deadlock."

"The impasse of authorities confronting authorities (or intimidating others) begins to dissolve when prepared and thoughtful people devote themselves to the humble examination of facts and evidence rather than to defending their positions. It is difficult to imagine anything more necessary and Godlike than this. We must escape the cultural deadlock that is turning universities—and churches—into places of "right views," rather than thought and knowledge, and producing a Christian personality split into a religious side and a professional, intellectual side which never come into contact." (http://www.dwillard.org/)

As I examined the website, it became clear to me that I needed the information from the last book of Dallas Willard. This book was written with the help of co-author Gary Black Jr. during the last year of Dallas's life while he was suffering the effects of pancreatic cancer.

He had previously published a book called "The Divine Conspiracy." Dallas felt the need to elaborate on this book and provide some study material. He added questions for study at the end of each chapter. His goal was to provide material for study classes which could be put together by local churches.

The focus of his work was leading Christians to become disciples of Christ. Acting out the teachings of Christ in their lives and professions. This book is his final contribution to that effort. I close with this quote from the book the "Divine Conspiracy Continued."

"The great 'divine conspiracy' of God is to overcome the human kingdoms of this world -- at both the individual and the corporate and governmental level -- with love, justice, and knowledge of Truth. 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and forever' (Rev. 11:15). This is an eternal reality. The question we have pursued time and time again is how can we best participate in this reality as soon as possible?"

Phil Wood, a Baha'i, originally from New England, resided for 12 years in Barbados, four years in China, has lived 30 years in Hutchinson. pwood1937@gmail.com