Is God angry? To answer a question with a somewhat cheeky question: “Do you need him to be?”
To God a person’s spiritual life is precious. If seeing God as angry helps your spiritual life then He will encourage that idea. The idea that God is angry may not be the truest picture of God, but it might be a useful picture to some people.
God is loving
The New Church perspective of God rests on the idea that God is loving. In mainline Protestant Christianity God is painted as angry, while Jesus is painted as loving and merciful. Their narrative of redemption is that God the Father was angry with the sins of humanity and was going to destroy the world, but Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice to assuage the anger of God the Father. The New Church perspective is that God and Jesus really have the same attitude. In the Bible Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). Looking at how Jesus taught and lived, most people would agree that Jesus is loving: He taught compassion, He healed the sick, and He destroyed no one. For example, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and claimed that He came that the sheep “may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). If Jesus came to give life and offer forgiveness, then this must also be the attitude of the Father who sent Him. (see John 8:1-12 for an example of Jesus’ forgiveness).
So why does traditional Christianity have the perspective that God is angry?
Because sometimes it seems like God is angry. Even Jesus appeared to be angry when He drove the merchants and money changers from the temple at Jerusalem with a whip of cords (John 2:13-17). Jesus may have seemed angry, but this doesn’t mean that He truly was. A good example of seeming angry but feeling something else is a caring parent who yells at a child who is about to run into a busy road. The parent is not necessarily angry but will almost certainly seem angry to the child. Similarly, God is not angry, but if it will help your spiritual life to see Him as angry, He might be willing to yell at you.
By Rev. Derrick Lumsden, Pastor at New Church Westville, South Africa, www.newchurchwestville.co.za.