The Will of God: A reflection from a bombed out city

On Sunday David introduced the Forum to Leslie Weatherhead and his reflection on the will of God. The reflection was given at the London City Temple during the bombing of London (1940-41). Here is the extended quote from which David spoke:

We therefore divided our subject into three as follows:

  1. The intentional will of God – God’s ideal plan for man.
  2. The circumstantial will of God – God’s plan within certain circumstances
  3. The ultimate will of God – God’s final realization of his purposes.

Once again, even at the risk of being tiresome, let us look at the supreme illustration of the Cross.

  1. It was not the intentional will of God, surely, that Jesus should be crucified, but that he should be followed.  If the nation had understood and received his message, repented of its sins, and realized his kingdom, the history of the world would have been very different.  Those who say that the Crucifixion was the will of God should remember that it was the will of evil men.
  2. But when Jesus was faced with circumstances brought about by evil and was thrust into the dilemma of running away or of being crucified, then in those circumstances the Cross was his Father’s will.  It was in this sense that Jesus said, “Not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
  3. The ultimate will of God means, in the case of the Cross, that the high goal of man’s redemption, or to use simpler English, man’s recovery to a unity with God – a goal which would have been reached by God’s intentional plan had it not been frustrated – will still be reached through his circumstantial will.  In a sentence, no evil is finally able to defeat God or to cause any “value” to be lost.

Leslie Weatherhead, The Will of God (from a series of addresses given at the London City Temple at the time of the German bombing raids)

The Forum then spoke to these questions:

  1. Have you ever said “it is the will of God” (or had that said to you) in a way that was offensive? How do you picture the will of God?
  2. How do you discern the will of God for yourself? Where is there an authoritative source for you?
  3. Ten years later, do you think the “attack on America” was God’s will? If so, how so? How about America’s attack on al-Qaida?

You may join this conversation (ongoing) by leaving a comment. Thank you for being part of the Sunday Morning Forum.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

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