Tag Archives: free will
Dr. William Sloan Coffin of New York’s Riverside Church said this in the April 20,1984 Lutheran Standard after the death of his son, Alex.”The night after Alex died, I was sitting in the living room of my sister’s house outside of Boston, when a middle-aged lady came in, shook her head when she saw me and said,”I just don’t understand the will of God.” Instantly, I was up and in hot pursuit, swarming all over her. “I’ll say you don’t, lady!!” I said. (I knew the anger would do me good, and the instruction to her was long overdue. )
I continued,”Do you think it was the will of God that Alex never fixed that lousy windshield wiper of his, that he was probably driving too fast in such a storm, that he probably had had a couple of ’frosties’ too many? Do you think it is God’s will that there are no street lights along that stretch of road, and no guard rails separating the road and Boston Harbor?”
Dr. Coffin continues in the article:”Nothing so infuriates me as the incapacity of seemingly intelligent people to get it through their heads that God doesn’t go around this world with His fingers on triggers, His fist around knives, His hands on steering wheels. God is against all unnatural deaths. And Christ spent an inordinate amount of time delivering people from paralysis, insanity, leprosy and muteness. As Alex’s younger brother put it simply, standing at the head of the casket:”You blew it buddy. You blew it.”
Dr. Coffin continues:”The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is,”It is the will of God.” Never do we know enough to say that. My consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s was the first of all our hearts to break.”
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
A Couple of Questions on This Text:
1. Do you find the same struggle in your life (in making good choices) as Paul did?
2. What kind of atmosphere do we seem to produce in our churches that keeps us from saying “What a wretched man I am!”?