William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

William Sloane
Coffin, Jr.

American Liberal Presbyterian Christian Clergyman, Peace Activist, CIA Agent, Chaplain of Yale University, Senior Minister at Riverside Church in NYC, President of SANE/Freez (now Peace Action)

Author Quotes

It is terribly important to realize that the leap of faith is not so much a leap of thought as of action. For while in many matters it is first we must see then we will act; in matters of faith it is first we must do then we will know, first we will be and then we will see. One must, in short, dare to act wholeheartedly without absolute certainty.

Nuclear Weapons merit unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

The joy that is of God is not opposed to earthly pleasures. Rather it infuses them with a foundation of meaning.

And that's what hundreds of you understood so beautifully. You gave me what God gives all of us--minimum protection, maximum support. I swear to you, I wouldn't be standing here were I not upheld.

For if you lessen your anger at the structures of power, you lower your love for the victims of power.

I'm not always optimistic but i am always hopeful.

It's always a good time to change your mind when to do so will widen your heart.

Of God's love we can say two things: it is poured out universally for everyone from the Pope to the loneliest wino on the planet; and secondly, God's love doesn't seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement.

The one true freedom in life is to come to terms with death, and as early as possible, for death is an event that embraces all our lives. And the only way to have a good death is to lead a good life. The more we do God's will, the less unfinished business we leave behind when we die.

As all of us who strive to be good parents know, love is self-restricting when it comes to power.... Likewise God has left his servants freedom of choice.

For some reason, 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 fists around knives, his hands on steering wheels. God is dead set against all unnatural deaths? 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 own 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 heart was the first of all our hearts to break.

I'm not OK, you're not OK-and that's OK.

It's too bad that one has to conceive of sports as being the only arena where risks are, for all of life is risk exercise. That's the only way to live more freely, and more interestingly.

Only reverence can restrain violence - reverence for human life and the environment.

The temptation to moralize is strong; it is emotionally satisfying to have enemies rather than problems, to seek out culprits rather than the flaws in the system.

As for loneliness, it too has deep roots in selfishness, for its anguish stems less from having no one with whom to share one's burdens, more from having only one's burdens to share.

God is love, as Scripture says, and that means the revelation is in the relationship. 'God is love' means God is known devotionally, not dogmatically. 'God is love' does not clear up old mysteries; it discloses new mystery. 'God is love' is not a truth we can master; it is only one to which we can surrender. Faith is being grasped by the power of love.

I'm not okay, you're not okay, and that's okay.

Joy is the most important emotion. Duty calls only when gratitude fails to prompt.

Patriotism at the expense of another nation is as wicked as racism at the expense of another race. Let us resolve to be patriots always, nationalists never.

The U.S. government should have vowed... to see justice done, but by the force of law only, never by the law of force. [After September 11, 2001]

Because our value is a gift, we don't have to prove ourselves, only to express ourselves...

God knows it is emotionally satisfying to be righteous with that righteousness that nourishes itself on the blood of sinners. But God also knows that what is emotionally satisfying can be spiritually devastating.

In home after home I have seen Jesus change beer into furniture, sinners into saints, hate-filled relations into loving ones, cowardice into courage, the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.

Law is not as disinterested as our concepts of law pretend; law serves power; law in large measure is a recapitulation of the status quo; it confirms a rigid order designed to insulate the beneficiaries of the status quo from the disturbances of change. The painful truth--one with a long history--is that police are around in large part to guarantee a peaceful disgestion for the rich.

Author Picture
First Name
William Sloane
Last Name
Coffin, Jr.
Birth Date
Death Date

American Liberal Presbyterian Christian Clergyman, Peace Activist, CIA Agent, Chaplain of Yale University, Senior Minister at Riverside Church in NYC, President of SANE/Freez (now Peace Action)