Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Will of God
© 1944; © renewed, 1972
Following the trilogy of books about mission, during the autumnal time of 2003 (that long ago!) I took part in another online book discussion; the book this time it was The Will of God.
Leslie Dixon Weatherhead, the book's author, preached at City Temple in London. One site describes City Temple as "...an historic Nonconformist Congregation founded circa 1640, whose first minister was the Rev. Thomas Goodwin (chaplain to Oliver Cromwell). Today it's a cosmopolitan international church ministering in the City of London."
Since I've posted notes from at least four of our other book discussions and given the fact I don't have anything really original to put on this site at the moment, here are some my notes, mainly in response to our moderator's questions and comments. On Amazon-dot-com I found the acronym SIP and when I looked it up I discovered it meant Statistically Improbable Phrases in Amazon-speak (but likely not elsewhere). Related to this book, as SIPs Amazon listed circumstantial will, intentional will, ultimate will and evil circumstances.
On to the book!
Chapter 1: God's Intentional Will—part 1
As Dr. Leslie Weatherhead points out, polar opposite outcomes cannot possibly equally be the "will of God."
- God's intentional will - maybe we need to reserve "God's will" for this
- God’s circumstantial will - in those particular circumstances
- God's ultimate will - in spite of evil and even through evil. As our discussion moderator mentioned, the cross achieved God's will not only in spite of but actually through.
Everything is within
God's will...but human will can defeat God's will for a time, otherwise we'd have no real freedom, which we know as a facet of the image of God in which we're created. It's blasphemy to call evil, wickedness, immorality and manifestations of sin and fallenness the will of God...but he's also correct we humans sometimes imagine our imagining bad outcomes as God's will to be comforting.
Here are our moderator's questions, followed by my responses:
1) How does your concept of God's will agree or disagree with Weatherhead’s?
on the whole it does agree – I often differentiate only between God's "perfect will" and God's "permissive will," but I like these further, more defined and refined divisions.
Do you also try to explain a death or other tragedy as "God’s will"?
only in the sense of acknowledging that in sovereignty God allowed the event to happen, but not is the sense of that horrific monster sometimes known as "God’s-willa."
If God and his ultimate will cannot be defeated, are human efforts to combat evil in the world in vain?
Not at all – for this I'll give that stock theological buzz-answer and say God calls us to be and to act in the image of our God who is justice, love, compassion and mercy – and in the image of our God whose name is a verb rather than a noun!
A participant asked, "how individual
is God's will for each of us? Does God will something different for you than for me?" I responded:
Indeed, yes - much of God's desires for us have to do with our particular circumstances and our special gifts.