Challenging The Idea of A Punitive, Angry, Vengeful, Hateful God

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Last week after a post about loving our enemies and praying for them, I received a response on Facebook from a friend. To paraphrase, he was concerned that I was overlooking God’s wrath and hatred of evil and sin. I appreciated his comments. He, as a former military man, had a perspective worth considering. However, even I was surprised by my response. It was an “Ah-ha” moment for sure. 

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I realized for the first time in my life that I do not know God’s wrath, hatred, or anger. When I say “know,” I mean I have not experienced them. I may know a little “about” them. But, in reality, even that kind of knowledge amounts to nothing. So, I was caught short when asked to comment on God in this way. Thanks be to God! 

You can talk all you want about God’s hatred and anger but in reality you have probably not experienced it. And, if you haven’t known God in this way, then you really can’t talk about it very well. Instead of tying yourself up in knots trying to figure out how God deals with evil and sin, why not spend your days blessing Him for His mercy and goodness to you and all humanity. Leave the stuff you don’t really know to God and live in the stuff you really know. 

You and I have experientially known what it is to suffer the consequences of bad decisions, sin, and poor behavior. However, I suspect that is not the same as experiencing God’s anger. If you smash your finger with a hammer and experience pain or have an affair and suffer rejection, don’t think that God is punishing you. He doesn’t have to. 

Take the words of God Himself high above any paltry thoughts you may have about God. God describes Himself as merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, and forgiving iniquity (Exodus 34.6-7). You and I have experienced God in this way for sure. 

I’ll be bold to say, that’s the ONLY way you and I have experienced God. Even in times of difficulty, pain, suffering – some of it due to our own sinfulness – God is there in His mercy, goodness, kindness, and forgiveness. Thanks be to God! 

If you believe that because God is righteous, he must in fact reward virtue and punish sin, then you’ll have a problem with these thoughts. Yes, God is righteous. But does that mean his “divine justice” must harmonize with your understanding of it? Certainly God can be merciful in His judgments and gracious in His anger. It’s not your call anyway. 

Does this make God out to be “soft?” A milquetoast God? Hardly.

Trying to find words to describe the Indescribable is futile. I’ll stop.                                                                                                                 

Let God be God. He’s far beyond and different from your ideas about Him. 

I’m pleased as punch that I don’t know God’s wrath and hatred. Don’t ask me about them. I got nothin’!! 

Any thoughts? Share below. 

Dr. K