Monday 12 August 2013

An angry God - why not?


Many modern people who describe themselves as Christian apparently find it hard to imagine an angry God - but why?

Do they suppose that a loving God would never be angry?

Do they suppose there is an intrinsic conflict between anger and love?

Surely that is absurd!


God is our loving Father - we need to ask whether it is sometimes appropriate for a loving Father to be angry, and to express that anger, and to act (lovingly) upon that anger.

The answer is - yes, of course loving Fathers may appropriately be angry and may act upon that anger.

Nothing more need be said: An angry God? Yes, of course.



JP said...

Many modern Christians find it impossible to imagine an angry God because they are convinced that God loves us "unconditionally". You can easily find many inane assertions to this effect on the internet, usually with "supporting" Biblical references that in fact do not support the idea at all. Probably this emerges from the pernicious Leftist doctrine of "nonjudgmentalism" misapplied to Christianity -- God as the Ultimate Altruist Who Never Judges Us.

If God loves us "unconditionally" then He can never be angry with us because that would mean that His love was conditional on our good behavior. As stated on this UK site:

"God is a God of unconditional love who offers us his love and allows us the free will to accept it or misuse it or reject it. There can be no anger associated with unconditional love and there can be no punishment if what is offered freely is rejected. Anger and punishment are totally inconsistent with unconditional love. There cannot be an angry God who is also a God of love. And there cannot be ‘free will’ and then punishment if you choose the wrong way. But do we have the wisdom to see things this way?"

As you say, any parent can tell you that anger and punishment for bad choices are in no way inconsistent with unconditional love, but such is the logic.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - Excellent example.

A God of 'unconditional love' is an abstract God; hence a God that does not feel real to us; hence a God makes no difference to our behaviour...

(and therefore ends up being disbelieved anyway).

This was how Liberal Christianity destroyed most of Christianity - through decade after decade of mocking anthropomorphic concepts of God - and trying to make them intellectually ridiculous.

This is why it is vital that God be primarily anthropomorphic - an ideal good Father - whatever further qualifications and refinements may later be added to that simple first-line definition.

(The greatest, albeit partial, success among modern Christian denominations is the evangelical movement - which focuses upon Jesus almost to the exclusion of God the Father; but at least Jesus - as a Man - can be understood, known, and loved.)

The Continental Op said...

Here is a good article that is closely related:

"Hate the Sin and Hate the Sinner"

The Crow said...

The concept of an angry God makes it far easier to visualize what God really is:
Earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes, electrical storms, colliding planets...

aka 'Reality'.

MC said...

If anger and love are not mutually exclusive, then neither are anger and unconditional love, right?

Arakawa said...

Of course, the modern defective ideas of parenting necessarily lead to a defective idea of God the Father. It took me a long time, and a heady dose of George Macdonald to begin to guess why it would be entirely reasonable for an ideal good Father to ordain Hell and suffering for His disobedient children.

Suffice it to say, they may be children and adults in Heaven, but there are no teenagers....

Bruce Charlton said...

@MC - If I understand you I agree that UCL and love are not incompatible - a Father loves his children, and can't help it no matter what the child does. But, an evil child (who torments or kills other children) must be sequestered for the good of the Father's other children; love and anger and sorrow mixed.

Adam G. said...

Anger and love are intrinsically connected. Anger is what happens when somebody damages or threatens that which is loved.

Sometimes the person who damages or threatens the person we love is the person we love, in which case we love and are angry with that person at the same time.