How do you personally react to the "Wrath" of God?

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by Toma, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Friends,

    One theme I notice running straight through the Bible is that God gets awfully angry in ways that work out practically. Numbers 25 and the hanging of the rebellious leaders. Their deaths even act as a sort of propitiation of the wrath of God against Israel. Assassinating them somehow pacified God's wrath at licentiousness, idolatry, and injustice.

    In the New Testament, Paul many times mentions Jesus having saved us from the wrath, the wrath to come, or the wrath of God. Presumably this impacts our ideas of the Atonement, too.

    I personally have struggled with these things, being a shy and emotional person, wondering constantly if God hates me for any and all injustice, simply by nature. Currently, through a strong acceptance of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, I believe only in trying to find peace, wondering if God's wrath is just His love, or His righteousness, etc., experienced as anger by us in our imperfection.

    Any thoughts? :)
     
  2. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I know what you are feeling, Toma. The Old Testament especially portrays God in ways that often make me uncomfortable, or that I find difficult to understand. It was obvious as well to those living in the ancient world; the Gnostic Marcion claimed that the God of the OT was not the God of the NT. All that aside, I try to focus on what Christ and the apostles have said regarding the subject, and I don't attribute hate (as we understand it) to God. Of course Christ (the example par excellence of who God is) get angry at the money changers for what they were dong at the temple, but I don't think he hated any of them on a personal level. I guess what I am saying is that we should look at Christ to understand God. Do we see wrath in the words or actions of Christ?
     
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  3. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Dear Peteprint, I don't for a moment believe that the Wrath of God is hatred. Worries about its application to myself by God are just part of my own pusillanimity and brokenness. Such is life. :)

    Looking at Christ to understand God is a beautiful way of putting it, since we do believe that Christ is the truest, fullest revelation of the living God to human beings. Only by being in communion with us fully as a man can God be revealed and understood on even the merest terms by us. It is profound, certainly. Essential.

    But Jesus did speak of unquenchable fire, slaying the disobedient before Him at the end of time, etc., and I really don't see how Marcionites thought they were dealing with two different entities in the Old & New Testaments. It is no easy question, to be sure. :)
     
  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I see God's Wrath as being as essential a part of God's character as is God's Love. But just as God's Love far surpasses anything we might understand by the term, just so God's Wrath is utterly unlike human understandings of that term.

    God would of necessity be Wrathfully disposed toward injustice, deceit, mindless destruction, hate etc. otherwise the opposite characteristics in God's character, justice, truth, creativity, love etc. would be meaningless.

    WE are incapable of handling wrath, that is why God's command is to leave vengeance to God alone.

    Jesus is described as "the deliverer from wrath to come", 1 Thes.1:10, and Paul writes: "Since therefore we are now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God". Rom.5:9

    All the more reason therefore not to fear the wrath of God, but to strive for the holiness without which none will see The Lord. Heb.12:14. With God's Spirit within us, that should not present us with insurmountable problems.

    I was trained as a secondary school teacher and it was impressed upon us that we should always have full control of ourselves and our class. This in effect meant that sometimes it became necessary to 'act as if' we were very cross indeed, at behaviour which was dangerous and disruptive in the class. This was always supposed to be 'an act' rather than an actual temper tantrum. The trick was to make oneself utterly believable, while still remaining focused and calm inside. Once the danger or bad behaviour was averted or suppressed, an immediate return to a calm countenance was most effective at restoring an appropriate ambiance in the class.

    I think maybe God's 'wrath' is a bit like that. It is very wise indeed to be wary of rousing God's Wrath. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It is also very comforting to be supported by the everlasting arms. Deut.33:27.
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  5. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You make some interesting observations, Tiffy, and I appreciate the school example. I just have a couple of comments I would like to make. In First John, Chapter Four, we read that "God is love." Nowhere do we read that "God is wrath." While wrath may be a quality of God's, it is not an essential part of His being. You wrote: "Just as God's Love far surpasses anything we might understand by the term, just so God's Wrath is utterly unlike human understandings of that term." Theologian Roger Olson, in his article "What's Wrong With Calvinism" notes that: "Calvinists commonly argue that God’s love and goodness are somehow 'different' than ours. How different can they be and still be meaningful concepts?" If God's love and wrath are "utterly unlike our understanding" of the terms, then we have no point of reference to go by, and we may as well not employ the terms when talking of God.
     
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  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    By essential I mean it has to be there, not that is the essence of God's being. It would seem that Love is the essence of God's being and I guess everything else must be secondary to that. My observation that wrath must be essential however is based upon the fact that it is not possible to love something without being protective of it. If God loves mercy and justice then to merely be unaffected by cruelty and injustice meted out to the objects of God's affection, would not be Loving. It would be careless and unloving. Ps.116:15. Though it may appear to us that God does nothing in immediate response to 'the death of his saints', God nevertheless is wrathfully disposed toward those that flout justice and mercy, by killing His saints.

    Jesus prayed "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". This intersession is obviously pleading that God's wrath may be averted, even at the torture and death of His only Son. If God withheld His wrath at The Son's request, then we have the evidence that God is in essence Love and not wrath. What we do not have however is an absolute guarantee that God is passively unconcerned about human wickedness, hate, injustice, cruelty and deceit. The wrath of God remains upon all those who, seeking to thwart God's redemptive purpose, are disobedient to God's Son through whom alone such justification is rendered possible. Acts.13:6-12.

    Our problem on defining both Love and Wrath is our partiality. We are not truly impartial, therefore neither truly Loving as God is, nor restrained in wrathfulness as God is. We are told to strive for such perfection but I doubt if it is actually within our grasp. Matt.5:43-48.
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