ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR THIS STRANGE AND SACRED SCRIPTURE
Great and Terrible Is the Wrath of the Lord
This chapter contrasts God-the-puppy-dog (who’s always happy to see you) and God-the-monster (who’s out to get you). How do the following biblical images for God offer a more balanced view of God’s love and anger?
Can you describe a time in your life when you had justified anger? Does your experience shed any light on the nature of God’s anger?
Sometimes Christians want only to talk about the good things of their faith, like God’s love. Is there a way to talk about God’s anger without driving people out of the church?
Brett (not his real name) works with troubled youth who have been removed from their homes. He tried talking about God’s love with a teenager who suffered terribly growing up. Brett’s words meant absolutely nothing. The boy replied, “If God is love, then why did that stuff happen?” Later, Brett tried a new tactic. He told the teen that God was fiercely angry with the person who harmed him. Suddenly, the boy wanted to listen, to know more. For the first time, something about Christianity made sense. Question: how does God’s anger help us make better sense of the world?
Above: John Martin's 1851-53 The Great Day of His Wrath
Quotes to Contemplate
“It may be accurate to characterize the anger of the Lord as suspended love, as mercy withheld, as mercy in concealment. Anger prompted by love is an interlude. It is as if compassion were waiting to resume. ‘I will pluck them up from their land…and after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land’ (Jer. 12:14-15).” (Abraham Heschel, The Prophets [2 vols.; Peabody, Mass.: Prince, 1999], 2:75)
“We shall be judged. And the shock is that we shall be judged by criteria other than those of our own devising. We shall be judged by the one whose ‘ways are higher than our ways, whose thoughts are deeper than our thoughts’ (Isa. 55:9). We shall be shocked, in the end, by how differently God judges things from the way we judge things. And nothing I do as a preacher ought to soften the shock of the story.” (William Willimon, The Intrusive Word [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 68)
Wax, Trevin. “Rejoicing in the Wrath: Why We Look Forward to Judgment Day.” Christianity Today 56, no. 7 (July 1, 2012): 48-51. ATLA subscribers can click here.