Friday, April 18, 2008

A wrathful God? I don't think so.

Archbishop Peter Jensen recently wrote an article on the wrath of God. In it he said:

ONE OF THE GRAVEST weaknesses of contemporary Christianity is the little attention paid to the wrath of God. We have become sentimental and have so stressed the love of God as to become unwilling to talk about his wrath.

In part this is because the culture will not let us do so. There is an outcry whenever the clear teaching of the Bible is given in public. Church members have to live in this world. They do not want their minister to talk about unpopular or divisive subjects. The minister is aware of this and he is tempted to soft-peddle on matters which are scriptural. Among them is the subject of God’s wrath.

There is an even deeper reason. Many false teachings (or lack of true teaching) begin with an inadequate idea of human sin. In the twentieth century, there were significant advances made in psychology. We learned more clearly than ever before the effect of the brain on human behaviour, the shaping we experience through our parents, and the sort of things which motivate and explain the way we operate. Much of this has been for the real betterment of people.

On the other hand, too much credit was given to these new ways of looking at human beings as though they fully explained us. What was missing was an adequate account of human evil.

God’s wrath is his holy response to our sin. It is a righteous anger at unrighteous behaviour, indeed at unrighteous beings. It is completely just. Indeed it is an expression of love, since it takes us with utmost seriousness and refuses to accede that we are like insects, not responsible for our actions. The wrath of God is one of the foundations of the whole moral and spiritual order. The Bible portrays us as living at a time when we experience a foretaste of the wrath of God.

He said more after this, but I think you get his drift. You can get the full text here if you like:

I'm personally voting against a wrathful God. Not because I don't think that God can't get wrathful now and then (at least God was clearly understood to be wrathful in the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures from time to time) but because I just don't see that much wrath popping up in Jesus. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus as the ultimate example in our life. And quite frankly I didn't see Jesus paying much attention to the wrath of God in his ministry. So if it is good enough for Jesus, with all due respect to the Archbishop, it is good enough for me!

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