A Letter NOT from the Trash Can

Not all my letters end up in trash cans. I ran across this one from 1999 which Logia did publish.

I wish to respond to Mr. Glen Zweck’s article “Gambling: Scriptural Principles” in Logia, no. 3 (Epiphany 1999). The author did a fine job of showing the legalistic and biblicistic pitfalls of gambling. I applaud him for properly distinguishing between playing games of chance and playing games of skill. I believe, however, that he totally missed the most serious error gambling promotes: the lie that random chance — also known as Lady Luck— rules, rather than Christ our Lord.

            Nobody gambles who does not believe that random chance rules, because nobody gambles on a fixed game. But is it true that chance determines Powerball numbers or rolls of the dice? Things men perceive as happening by chance such as rainfall, sparrows falling, or the casting of a lot, God says are directed by him. “I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up” (Am  4:27). Even a sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father (Mt 10:29). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every answer is from the Lord” (Pv 16:33). What “chance” did Peter have of finding a coin in the first fish he caught, or in any fish for that matter? What “chance” did a man drawing and releasing his bow “at random” have of hitting King Ahab in a joint of the armor?

            Randomness is a powerful “theology” in our day. The Christian confession is that we are not in her hands. Is not this a point made most strenuously by Luther in Bondage of the Will

            Luther has a warning elsewhere to people who would be lulled to theological sleep by the apparent randomness of things: “But watch out when God seems to be utterly weak and closes His eyes as though He could neither see nor do anything at all! They are in the most imminent danger of being destroyed by Him at the moment when they formulate their best plans and possess their greatest might. While they are at their game, He reaches down and grabs their dice” (AE 13: 255).

            This is not to say that I believe anything can be done in regard to turning the tide of gambling. As Luther, quoting Seneca, observes, “There is no room for remedy where what once were vices have become customs” (AE 7: 34). I just think we ought to be pointing out at whose feet we are rolling the dice.

 

Paul R. Harris

Harvey, Louisiana

 

About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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