Tweaking Dallas Willard's ontology of the human person

Publication Date

Fall 2015


While my own philosophical views are largely in keeping with my mentor, Dallas Willard, nevertheless, I find his conception o f the human person puzzling, hard to specify precisely, and prima facie contradictory in a few places. Dallas’s central goal in formulating his anthropology was to develop a model that shed light on, allowed for deeper insight into, and fostered interest in spiritual formation, especially the role of the body in spiritual maturation. I share this goal, and agree with most of his model. But in what follows, I will make more precise what his views were, try to clear up what, prima facie, seem to be contradictions in his theory, and, finally, recommend an alternative that captures the central concerns Dallas had for his own position. Thus, I will lay out a few general points o f Dallas’s ontology (points with which I agree), provide a description o f his philosophical/theological anthropology, along with two problems that seem to be present, and offer a slightly adjusted alternative to his position that accomplishes his main goal (regarding spiritual formation) in a way with which / believe he would be satisfied.


Willard, Dallas, 1935-2013; Ontology; Theological anthropology--Christianity

Publication Title

Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care





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