Easter – Not an Afterthought, but was it Original Intent?
Leslie Weatherhead, in his small book entitled The Will of God, explained that God actually has three wills:
(a) The Intentional Will of God – This is God’s original intent, what he wanted to happen.
(b) The Circumstantial Will of God – This is what happens when humans, acting under their own free will, rebel against the Intentional Will of God. For example, Weatherhead would argue that God never intended for humanity to rebel against him and sin, but they did.
(c) The Ultimate Will of God – This is the will of God that cannot be defeated. God wills that all creation would be reconciled to him, and this will happen in the end.
The connection between these three wills and Easter is thus – Leslie Weatherhead believed that God never willed Jesus to die upon the cross until the people rebelled against him, but instead that God’s will was that Jesus would be accepted while he was alive and that creation would be reconciled to God during the life of Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection, therefore, were not the Intentional Will of God, but instead the Circumstantial Will of God.
Is this a plausible understanding of what happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday? I have read The Will of God multiple times, and to be honest, I like it. How does this view affect our faith?
The biggest problem that people will have with this view, in my opinion, is that it limits God. Not only is God limited by our free will (which I would argue is a self-imposed limit), some people will argue that it limits God’s omniscience. If God knows what will happen at any point in time, why would he will something else if he knows that people will rebel against it?
Thoughts? Help me work out these ideas!