Dallas Willard on Politics

Charles Kiser —  September 29, 2008 — 1 Comment

This quote was too good not to post. From Dallas Willard’s Revolution of Character, pages 14-15:

The revolution of Jesus is first and always a revolution of the human heart. His revolution does not proceed through the means of social institutions and laws—the outer forms of our existence—intending that these would then impose a good order of life upon people who come under their power. Rather, his is a revolution of character, which proceeds by changing people from the inside through ongoing personal relationship with God and one another. It is a revolution that changes people’s ideas, beliefs, feelings, and habits of choice, as well as their bodily tendencies and social relations. It penetrates the deepest layers of their soul. External, social arrangements may be useful to this end, but they are not the end, nor are they a fundamental part of the means.

On the other hand, from those divinely renovated depths of the person, social structures will naturally be transformed so that “justice roll[s] down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV). Such streams cannot flow though corrupted souls. At the same time, a changed “within” will not cooperate with public streams of unrighteousness. A transformed soul will block those streams—or die trying.

The impotence of political and social systems to bring about real change is one of the reasons Jesus didn’t send his students out to start governments or even churches as we know them today. These organizations inevitably convey some elements of a human system. Instead, his disciples were to establish beachheads of his Person, word, and power in the midst of a failing and futile humanity. They were to bring the presence of the kingdom and its King into every corner of human life by fully living in the kingdom with him….Churches—thinking now of local assemblies of Christ’s followers—would naturally result from this new kind of life.

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

One response to Dallas Willard on Politics


    hey my brother. that was beautiful.
    over the past 14 or so months i’ve been on a rEVOLution kick (love revolution). the parts of it include:
    accept God’s love (not earned)
    love God (response to the originator of love, how can we love others as we love ourselves if we dont love ourselves? )
    love others (second response to receiving God’s love. the two biggies on this one are: love friends, love enemies).
    so, obama who is more permissive of “bad behavior” as i heard someone say (gay rights, abortion, and well, just being a democrat – isn’t that enough? ha!) is actually allowing more people to “choose” to live out the revolution.
    mccain and palin, who’s main republican policies seem dissallow sinful behavior as a lifestyle, atleast that what the christian political machine wants us to believe, they do not allow the revolution to be a concious choice, but an imposed mandate or “form”.
    now, law and order and necessary for a civilazation – and we should pray for those that govern. for example, a drinking age is a good idea to allow people to mature before they participate in what could be a dangerous behavior, if done carelessly and without accountability, which is ungodly in this form. however, the choice to follow the law does not necessarily mean a person is living out the revolution of God’s reformation in their heart. it’s the revolution in someone elses heart that comes into relationship with them that tells them of the freedom from “debauchery” (how do you like that word!) and lawlessness they can have in God’s love and freedom.
    anyways… good post. just thought i’d kick it around here at lunch at mcallisters in the great L-TOWN!

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