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How Knowledge Disappeared / Can We Know God Exists? (KCT 3 & 4)

What follows are simply the notes I took in studying the Dallas Willard's book, Knowing Christ Today. Because there are so many wise insights, I've split my notes over five posts; this post highlights chapter 3: "How Moral Knowledge Disappeared" and chapter 4: "Can We Know God Exists?" And there's a tiny snippet from chapter 7 at the end. For the most part, I've included page numbers and quotations as reference, but you should know that all of this is from the book. None of it is mine. Now let's dive in!


KCT Chapter 3: How Moral Knowledge Disappeared

The triumph of desire over good at the public level is the most striking and portentous outcome of the changed attitude towards morality in North America. (p70)

  • Freedom and “Feeling Good” (p82) – our current culture of ‘sensuality’ is almost entirely governed by feelings. This results in “ills” – natural outcomes.

Love – care for human good – is the center of ethical living. Love is everything. The correct understanding of love (to will the good) and the intelligent overall orientation of our lives in terms of it, is the source from which all standards of virtue and right behavior and all aspects of goodness of character coherently flow. (p83)

Jesus and the Nature of Agape Love – Jesus emphasizes loving your neighbor, your “near dweller”…our virtue and duty is “to love those with whom we’re in effectual contact,” those we can really do something about! (p86)


  • The Ordinariness of Jesus’ Love – When Jesus speaks of love as the principle of life as it ought to be, he is referring mainly to the posture of benefiting others in the ordinary relations of ordinary life. Heroic occasions will fit in as they come along, but the reverse is not true. (p88)

  • Love and the “Law” – if you do the good for others that you want them to do for you, doing what was taught as good and right by the moral dimension of the mosaic law will be a natural side effect, an automatic outcome. (p89)

The love of which Jesus speaks as the teacher of all nations is no small thing. It cannot be an occasional distinct act of will that we “add on” to a life unformed by it. (p91)
  • Can Love be Trusted? The root of the failure is unwillingness to submit human desire to what is good as indicated by love.

The ONLY mark of being Jesus’ student/apprentice in life was how his students love one another. John 13:55

KCT Chapter 4: Can We Know that God Exists?

Knowledge of God is what Christ is primarily about.

God: a spiritual or nonphysical being with the attributes of personality – consciousness, knowledge, emotion and will. He is a PERSON – his basic nature is love – he creates and involves himself in human affairs.

The existence of the God we are talking about is no more inherently incredible than would be the existence of the physical universe on its own. (p98)

There was a beginning to the physical universe – this is an agreed upon fact. Thus, either it was not produced by anything, or…it was produced by something non-physical. (p101)

  • The former cannot be because every physical thing or process arises from something else. Every physical event has a physical cause.

  • If you allow that the physical universe originated “from nothing” there is no reason why physical things and events would not continue to arise “from nothing.” (p103)

The causal series of the physical universe must have a first member. (p105) Thus we can see there must be a nonphysical reality in addition to the physical universe. (p107)


Knowledge of “Something More” (p110)

What else can we know about this "Creator"?


1: The source must be of great power to have produced the physical universe!

If we are to take seriously the equation e=mc2, the source of the physical world must involve enough e (energy) to translate into the m (mass) of the physical universe. That is a lot of energy. 

2: The nonphysical source of the physical world is not a merely causal system.

We can know that. The source of the physical world must have the capacity to initiate causal sequences while being itself not caused to act.

  1. This capacity in the human life is known as will, and its exercise is known as choice.

  2. The “first mover” of the physical world must have the capacity of will. eg (I can tip over the first domino without being caused or forced to do it.)

3. The creator must think; must have the power of thought and must exercise that power in the choice it makes.

Choice is consciously selective and directional...choice as the outcome of deliberation between alternatives is never blind.


A very great nonphysical being exists and is the source of the physical universe. 

KCT Chapter 7: Knowledge of Christ and Christian Pluralism

Truth by its very nature is exclusive…if any belief is true, that by itself excludes the truth of any belief contrary or contradictory to it. (p171)

The Christian Gospel is that by placing your confidence in Jesus as “The One” you can begin now to live in the kingdom of God with him, and thus enter into an “eternal living” that continues through life here, right on through what we call death, and forever. (p188)

As you might imagine, there is substantially more in Chapter 7 than I included here; I have also not yet included anything from Chapter 5: The Miraculous, and Christ's Presence in Our World. This isn't to diminish the importance of those chapters, there just weren't as many gems that stood out to me personally.


 

This was primarily from Chapters Three and Four. Don't Miss the Other Knowing Christ Today Notes:

You may also enjoy listening to Willard teach these concepts in "Knowledge of Christ in Today's World" - his video teaching, here.

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