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1. August 2010

Making sense of God’s anger, judgment, and forgiveness

Filed under: philosophy,Theology — admin @ 16:23

To a lot of people, the idea of an angry God taking total justice into His own hands doesn’t make a lot of sense.  And generally, the intellectual errors fall into one of either two camps.  They either consider God’s anger toward sin to be slightly pompous and irrational, since we visibly perceive wrongdoings to be against people, and not necessarily against God Himself; or they take an entirely subjective perspective, thinking that the “big” sins we abhor are the only ones that matter, and that God is somehow keeping a tally in which the person overwhelmingly falls on the “good” side since they don’t commit too many big sins.  The problems with both philosophies are immense, however, and show a complete misunderstanding of God’s existence.

First, the idea that we sin only against each other showcases a major misunderstanding about the function God plays in the mechanical processes of the universe.  When God spoke energy and matter into existence, His role in physical reality had only begun.  The Apostle Paul states that “by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (emphasis added).  In short, while most imagine the laws of physics to be permanent, independent material properties, the truth is that underneath every law lies the hand of a Creator, holding every piece together and ensuring the proper function of the universe He designed.  Although different from the religious worldview of pantheism, in which all things are God, this worldview explains that all things are within God’s hands.

This takes our understanding of sin to an entirely new level, considering that every single act or thought we commit is being actively supported by the Creator of the universe.  So while we have the impression that only the “big” evils matter, and that the little ones are too tiny to consider, we forget that every single evil thought, every uncharitable act, every hint of jealousy, every little lie, every dirty look, is allowed and supported–painfully, and with great and mounting anger–by the being who brought us into the world.   While the existence of human autonomy allows for our love of Him to exist, and the choice for redemption to be made, every act we think and commit which goes against His perfectly loving character is biting the merciful hand that feeds us with our very temporary liberty.

If we could see within ourselves as He does, and witness our evils for what they really are, we wouldn’t be complaining about a judgmental, angry God.  Even imperfect human beings suddenly think they possess and pass moral judgment when others are caught in the act of evil, so how could we not expect a purer, deeper understanding of evil from God?  Either way we look at it, while we may pretend our sins mean little, we oftentimes forget that our audience has a perfect memory, as though we had just committed our acts this moment, and that the consciousness of our own sins is accompanied by 6.2 billion of our closest sinning friends and all our wars, rapes, murders, thefts, child-molestations, slaveries, injustices and unnecessary judgmentalisms, topped with an excess of pride, as though (from our perspective) we were really special and everyone else were the bad guys.

So you can imagine that when this divine justice does eventually strike–which, if God is in any way just, it will, almost mechanically–the retribution will be backed by substantial anger.  Only a sleazy, impotent God could pardon us for even one day’s cornucopia of tiny evils, as a righteous God’s only sort of mercy for a truly evil-permeated race would be a forestalling of judgment.  As this is so, His hand has been poised to strike us since the day we learned about evil.  The very essence of His being demands that justice must be made, and that justice be painful.

Fortunately for us, although both Jesus and His apostles proclaim that eternal judgment is coming for those who rebel against His perfect goodness, Jesus Christ allowed God’s perfect justice to coincide with His perfect goodness and mercy.  If you can imagine, God’s hammer of justice had been restrained for ages until the coming of Jesus Christ, at which the necessary suffering for your evils fell upon the infinite incarnation Himself.   And now, if we’ll but accept His sacrifice for our sins, He will accept us into His kingdom, free of blemishes, eventually transforming us into what we were originally intended to be: perfectly good, in perfect harmony with our brothers and sisters around us.  And all that with our own consent, instead of forcing this goodness upon us from the beginning as though we were programmable slaves.

And who couldn’t love a God like that?

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