Friday, January 22, 2010

The Wrath of God

So I spent a good portion of today in the in the Library doing research for my Thesis.  I read a number of different books and authors on the subject of the wrath of God.  I found some stuff that I found really helpful.  Also some stuff that I thought was totally bizarre.  Did you know that Martin Luther was obsessed with his personal guilt?  There is one account of him spending six hours confessing all his sins from the previous day.  He was so consumed with personal guilt and fear of God that it affected everything he did.  As I have studied the wrath of God I feel that it is very important that this issue be addressed.  There is still too much of Luther's fear and Marcion's belief that God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New.  All in all it seems that is we are going to speak of God's wrath it cannot be divorced from the person of Jesus.  Right now I am thinking that my Thesis will combine the issue of wrath of God expressed in the person of Jesus, and how to reconcile our call to be nonviolent with the violent images of Jesus the lamb in Revelation... or something like that.  I'll need to figure out exactly how this will work.  I have a few ideas, but it needs to be fleshed out a little better.  So to sum up,  Thesis will combine non-violence, Jesus, wrath, violence....... my head hurts.

Anyway I did do some reading by Heschel from the book Prophets it is incredible!  Here are a few great quotes about God's wrath from him.

“To the prophets, we have noted, God does not reveal himself in an abstract absoluteness, but in a personal and intimate relation to the world.  He does not simply command and expect obedience; He is also moved and affected by what happens in the world, and reacts accordingly.  Events and human actions arouse in Him joy or sorrow, pleasure or wrath.  He is not conceived as judging the world  in detachment” (223/224)

“God’s pathos was not thought of as a sort of fever of the mind, which disregarding the standers of justice, culminates in irrational and irresponsible action.  There is justice in all His ways, the Bible insists again and again.” (225)

“Whatever man does affects not only his own life, but also the life of God insofar as it is directed to man.  The import of man raises him beyond the level of mere creature.  He is a consort, a partner, a factor in the life of God. (226)

“As long as the anger of God is viewed in the light of psychology of passions rather than in the light of the theology of pathos, no adequate understanding will be possible. (282)

“There is an evil which most of us condone and are even guilty of: Indifference to evil... All prophecy is one great exclamation; God is not indifferent to evil! ... This is one meaning of the anger of God: the end of indifference!” (284)

It is impossible to understand the meaning of divine anger without pondering the meaning of divine patience or forbearance. Explicitly and implicitly, the prophets stress that God is patient, long-suffering, or slow to anger (ex 34:6, Num 14:18, Jer 15:15, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nah 1:3, Pss 86:15, 103:8 145:8 Neh 9:17).  Patience is one of the ‘thirteen attributes of God,’ yet never in the sense of apathy, of being indifferent.  Contrary to their thinking was the idea of a God who submits to the caprice of man, smiling at the hideousness of evil.  The patience of God means His restraint of justifiable anger. One must not mistake divine forgiveness for indulgence or complacency.  There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a blessing.... The Lord is long-suffering, compassionate, loving and faithful, but He is also demanding, insistent, terrible, and dangerous.” (p 285)

“The call of anger is a call to cancel anger.  it is not an expression of irrational, sudden, and instinctive excitement, but a free and deliberate reaction of God’s justice to what is wrong and evil.  For all its intensity, it may be averted by prayer (Deut 9:19, Ex 32:7-11).  There is no anger for anger’s sake.” (286)

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