Belief in Angry God is Perhaps the Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All

What is more central to our religious experience than our relationship with God?

But some believers understand their relationships with God much differently than others do. Most of us believe God loves us and cares about us. We even talk about God’s unconditional love. And I think we do this because this is the way Jesus presents God to us; and it is also the way Jesus, himself, acts toward people in the Gospels.

Jesus loves us and God loves us. I know that almost all believers would say the same thing and even believe it in some way, but in reality many believe in an Angry, Violent God who is very demanding and vindictive toward us.

We don’t want to get on the bad side of this God!

angrygod4

What Kind of God is this Angry God?

We are talking about:

* A God who will punish people in eternal hell fire who do not measure up to his expectations

* A God who is consumed with wrath toward our sins, though he poured out that wrath on Jesus

* A God who has specified a host of specific rules for us to follow in order to please him; and

* A God who will afflict us with tribulation horrors if we mess up and miss the rapture

From this perspective, God is in control of the Universe, in control of our lives, and in control of our eternal destinies. There is no place for us to hide and nothing we can do to escape God’s power and wrath, and we are helpless and hopeless before God unless we are able to meet his expectations.

Attempting to relate to this God often involves a great deal of fear and apprehension. If I believed these things, I would have to cry out with the writer of Hebrews 10:

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But I don’t believe these things about God—because of Jesus. In fact, I think the idea of Angry God is the #1 foundational harmful belief because so many other harmful beliefs are rooted in the fear of Angry God.

Why Would We Even Think that God is so Angry, Violent, and Vindictive?

I believe it begins simply by reading the Old Testament. Beginning with Genesis, we don’t read very far before we learn that God decides to kill practically everybody on earth in a huge flood because of his great disappointment with them. Is this not a frightening God?

It would be frightening if this story were historically true, but it isn’t. Instead it is a story written by the Israelites reflecting their limited understanding of who God is; and I think they got it wrong. To the Israelites, God was not only powerful but promised to punish them severely if they disobeyed him.

Deuteronomy 28 describes their punishment:

The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

This is an Angry, Violent, Vindictive God.

Why Would We NOT Think that God is Angry, Violent, and Vindictive?

We can also ask why we should NOT accept this depiction of Angry God in the Old Testament as true and accurate. After all, God is whatever God is and not obligated to be what we want God to be. And, again, I think we find that answer in Jesus—God’s representative to us.

What we find when Jesus talks about God is that he describes him as ‘Father’. Now there can be angry, violent, vindictive fathers, but this is not what Jesus has in mind about God. In Matthew, Jesus introduces the ‘Father’ relationship in the Sermon on the Mount. His first clue into what the Father is like comes in chapter 5 when he tells us:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?...Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Here Jesus describes the Father’s attitude toward all people and calls upon us to be like our Father. This is no angry, violent, vindictive God. This is not a God who destroys people in floods. This is not a God who brings wasting disease, scorching heat and drought, and blight and mildew to plague people until they perish.

So someone in the Bible is mistaken about the character of God. Was it Old Testament writers who thought God was angry, violent, and vindictive? Or was it Jesus who tells us of a Father who loves both the righteous and unrighteous? (And remember that Jesus also patterned his entire life on loving others as God did.)

I don’t think Jesus is mistaken.

So let us embrace, without fear, the God who truly loves us—Loving, Caring, Healing God. And if we are able to do that, what happens with our other religious fears? We will talk about that next time.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

Articles in this series:
How Some Misguided Christian Beliefs are Very Harmful
Belief in Angry God is Perhaps the Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All
If We Are Free to Approach God Without Fear, What Becomes of Our Other Religious Fears—Like Hell?
Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative

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This entry was posted in alienation, fear, hell, Jesus, legalism, love, love your enemies, Old Testament, The Father and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Belief in Angry God is Perhaps the Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All

  1. tonycutty says:

    Great piece. In fact, the angry, violent god whom many believe in, is so different from the God that I know, that I differentiate in my writings by using a lower-case ‘g’ for the radgy god. Who doesn’t exist anyway… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks, Tony! Interestingly, I almost always use a lower-case ‘g’ with ‘angry god’. However, it did not seem consistent in this article where ‘Angry God’ was also in titles and subtitles. I guess I could have gone either way, but I agree with your practice.

      Like

  2. Keith A. Jenkins says:

    Once, my brother-in-law and I were discussing the nature of prayer, especially as a vehicle for God’s interaction with us. I found out that we both downplay the role of petitionary prayer, as usually conceived, because it runs the risk of reducing God to a cosmic short-order cook. I stated that I often experience what I call, for lack of a more precise term, “promptings” that I identify as God trying to get my attention. They aren’t audible, but they do seem to be language based. Something that is to intentional thought what peripheral vision is to gazing. An echo in the moment just before it fades to imperceptibility. Just enough realness not to be imaginary; just enough otherness to imply external agency.

    From there we moved on to consider why some people report receiving regular, detailed, totally unambiguous communiqués from God, directing virtually every aspect of their lives. Are they über-spiritual? Are they deluded? While I certainly can’t just flatly deny the validity of their experience, I cannot be satisfied with this view of divine/human interaction. Whereas uncritical emphasis on petitionary prayer reduces God to something less than fully divine, the notion of God specifically directing every detail of our lives reduces us to something less than fully human. I, for one, believe that God created us to be more than life-like animated game pieces, moved around the board by a hand other than our own, toward an endgame that has already been determined.

    At this point in the conversation I was searching for an image or analogy to convey my admittedly somewhat unorthodox views. Here’s where I landed:

    My father died at the age of 87. I was 54 at the time, so for many years our relationship had been that of a parent and an adult child. I have been on my own and directing my own life for considerably longer now than I was a dependent living under his roof and his rules, but that didn’t keep him from having his own opinions about whatever I might be doing. He usually realized, though, that his own role had changed from authority to advisor, and I think he had made his peace with that and maybe even experienced pride and joy when watching who his son had become. To be honest, I was often the one who initiated those conversations in which his advice was solicited. But knowing that he was available as a wise sounding board without my being bound by his feedback was a liberating experience that made me feel like a real grownup.

    We start out as totally helpless infants, utterly dependent on others for everything we need in life. Loved and nurtured by parents and extended family, we grow into children, discovering the “self” inside of us and exulting in what we can do for and by ourselves. Adolescence follows, moving from awkwardness to displacement to rebellion against the very ones who brought us to that point in life. But it concludes with the discovery and reintegration that signal the onset of adulthood. As parents, we love our children unconditionally at every stage of their lives. But when they finally reach adulthood, who of us would want to see them return to infancy, or childhood, or adolescence? Isn’t the greatest joy to be found in seeing the mature, independent men and women they become?
    Maybe that’s how God feels about us. Maybe God wants us to still be connected through prayer, wants us still to be attentive to promptings and guidance, but at the same time be our own people—not mindless Stepford creatures. Maybe if we’re lucky, and we live long enough, we get to grow up and be God’s Adult Children.

    Matthew 7:7-11 records the following words spoken by Jesus: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

    Jesus uses parenting as a model for the love God has for us. Not just any parenting, but rather the best parenting you can imagine. Here’s how it works. All of you who are parents, think of a situation in which one of your children asks you for something—maybe a piece of bread. How will you respond? If at all possible, you will give your child a piece of bread. Is there any way you would try to trick your child by passing off a stone as a piece of bread? Of course not! No one worthy of the title “parent” would do that. Why? Because the stone is not what’s good for your children, and even otherwise flawed, imperfect parents love their children and want what’s best for them. So, Jesus says, if you as regular human beings love your children enough to give them what’s good for them, just imagine how good a Parent God must be.

    Now, it’s important to realize that Jesus is not saying God is our “Sugar Daddy.” As the best parent imaginable, God doesn’t want us to have everything we want, because that wouldn’t be good for us. Instead, God wants what’s best for us—in all times and places. But in the real world, bad things happen to us. God doesn’t send these bad things. They just happen, sometimes as a result of our choices, but sometimes through no fault of our own. God also doesn’t intervene to keep them from happening. This means that the life we end up with isn’t always what’s best for us. Indeed, sometimes life damages us quite badly, leaving us bitter and scarred—angry at life, angry at God. We ask questions like, “Where is God in this process? If there is a ‘plan,’ why does it include crappy stuff happening to us? Whose fault is it? Is there ever any recompense for the bad things we endure?” Through the ages, with a few thematic variations, Christians have offered a scheme of (1) obedient suffering on earth and (2) eternal joy in heaven as the answer to these questions. But this answer depends on distorted views of either God or humanity, or both, for the sake of the scheme.
    This is where the idea of “God’s adult children” helps us expand on and refine Jesus’ image of God as the best parent possible.

    Envisioning God as our parent doesn’t mean we must also envision ourselves only as little children. Jesus speaks of becoming like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but not in conjunction with this statement about God as the ultimate parent. Trying to combine all of Jesus’ parabolic sayings into a single, consistent, universal system of thought ignores the purpose and context of the original utterances. So, if we remove this metaphorical upper age limit we have imposed, we can easily think of ourselves as growing up into God’s adult children. And perhaps, as in the case of human parents, that’s what God really wants for us.

    Human parents love their children from the moment of their birth—or even before—and they almost always experience a certain sadness when those children leave their early years behind. But this sadness is more than made up for by the joy of seeing our children grow—in stature, in knowledge, in ability—and become an independent, thinking person. No good parent would want children who remain weak, helpless, and dependent on them for their entire lives. So why do we so often imagine that God wants us to stay that way? Maybe, if we envision God as an immensely powerful and distant, supernatural Being, we could reasonably picture ourselves as weak, dependent creatures whose only purpose is to follow blindly a pre-determined path through life, hoping to end up in Heaven to grovel eternally at the foot of God’s throne. But Jesus told us that’s not what God is like. God is like a really, really good, loving parent . . . only better. And what parents would want that kind of life here and now and that eternal prospect for their children?

    So maybe what Jesus meant is, “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a meaningful life full of purpose in which to grow into the most fully developed person possible, would give a life of robotically following a pre-determined plan in which your child has no choice? If even you then, who are flawed, selfish, short-sighted sinners, want your children to have the very best lives possible, lives filled with good and bad decisions, with learning and growing from the consequences of these decisions, and become fully functional adults ready to help manifest God’s Kingdom in this world and to enjoy God’s presence eternally, don’t you think God, your Divine Parent, wants that even more?”

    So, empowered by grace and listening for the promptings of the Spirit, let’s lead lives as fully functioning, free-thinking, mistake-making adult disciples, knowing that such lives will bring joy to the heart of our Heavenly Parent. And if this is what God wants for us, what God knows is best for us on earth, then surely it is also what God wants for us in Paradise, meaning our lives of growth and learning and maturation, lives filled with the richest experiences and relationships possible, will never end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • newtonfinn says:

      I’m moved by your post, its sensitivity and clarity and insight. It reminds me of what Schweitzer said about being grasped by reverence for life (his philosophical term for the essential teaching of Jesus), that once you are filled with this reverence, grasped by it, it lets your hand go, and you must then make your way in the world on your own. Loving parent/adult child is indeed a beautiful, meaningful metaphor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keith A. Jenkins says:

        Thank you. I truly believe this perspective was revealed to me–not in a momentary, supernatural way, but through a lifetime of experiences and small insights.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wow, Keith, you are just a font of insight and wisdom here! Some of my favorite snippets are:

      “I found out that we both downplay the role of petitionary prayer, as usually conceived, because it runs the risk of reducing God to a cosmic short-order cook…Jesus says, if you as regular human beings love your children enough to give them what’s good for them, just imagine how good a Parent God must be…Now, it’s important to realize that Jesus is not saying God is our “Sugar Daddy.”…let’s lead lives as fully functioning, free-thinking, mistake-making adult disciples, knowing that such lives will bring joy to the heart of our Heavenly Parent.”

      Thanks for sharing! Keep it up!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sojourner says:

      Thanks Keith for sharing that philosophy on God, parenting, love and life. There is so much in it. On first reading I agree with very much of what you have said. It is enlightning. I will have to read it several more times to fully comprehend it. I think it is a scary thought for a lot of people to think that maybe God is not in control of all things in the way that we often make him out to be. He allows us as people to make so many mistakes. I believe he has done this with the Bible as well, allowing men to put in their own ideas about him. He can work around it and that is what he does. The danger comes when one believes all that is in the Bible is gods solid truth about himself. I was one of those and how devastating it was. Thanks again Keith and also Tim for keeping this blog going.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. newtonfinn says:

    It’s been said that the opposite of a bad idea is often another bad idea. I’m certainly with Tim in the overall thrust of his post, but is there no room, in the Abba of Jesus, for divine anger? Did not Jesus (and the prophets before him) express such anger toward the proud and powerful who oppressed the poor and vulnerable? Should there not be a necessary tension/paradox here in our thoughts of God? Does not Jefferson’s statement ring true (as much today as when he said it), that “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” If so, if there’s anything to questions like these, then how does one go about conceiving of and relating to a God who is, simultaneously, loving and righteous?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Newtonfinn, I wanted to give my opinion to the question you asked.

      Yes, I believe that God does get angry, but not in the way we think.

      When we get angry, we want revenge. We want to get someone back, to upset the person who upset us. Or we want them punished.

      But I don’t believe God works this way. I believe God’s anger is a loving anger. For example, think of a parent who has to watch their brilliant, beautiful child struggle through a drug addiction. Every time the child seems to be doing better, they relapse again. The parent, in loving anger, grows desperate, not for a punishment, but simply for it to end. All they want is their child back.

      I don’t believe that God’s righteous anger is centered around punishment, but rather a strong desire for us to do better and be better. When Jesus rebuked people in the Bible, he showed the same desire. He clearly had no intent to punish or harm them; he simply wanted them to right their wrongs and live a better life.

      Another argument I hear a lot for God’s anger is “God is just.” Once again, we immediately take this to mean punishment, but I don’t think so.

      Keep in mind that the true meaning of justice is restitution, not punishment. In other words, it means righting wrongs and bringing healing to those who have been harmed.

      We see this perfectly in the Bible with Zaccheus. After he was moved by Jesus, he decided to return all the money he had taken from people and then some. He righted his wrongs and healed the hurt that he had caused.

      That is God’s justice in action. If God’s justice had been how we imagine it, then Jesus would have simply had Zaccheus imprisoned and then gone on. But that wasn’t the intention.

      Remember, God is “slow to anger and quick to understanding.” We see this exemplified with Jesus. He comes to heal, not to harm, and his justice means to right those things that have been wronged and heal those that have been hurt.

      Liked by 2 people

      • robstanback says:

        Your analogy of the parent of an addicted child spoke straight to my heart. How can a parent want to punish a child who is already suffering from their own actions? All that parent wants is for that child to find their way “home” to the life they were meant to live.

        The God you describe is the only interpretation I can accept, and I strive (though often fail) to emulate that quality in my interactions with others. And in those interactions, I must remember that my expressions of anger are easily misinterpreted by others. In fact, I often fail to identify from where my own anger is coming. In that same manner, it is only human to misinterpret God’s anger.

        Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Strange Girl: “When we get angry, we want revenge. We want to get someone back, to upset the person who upset us. Or we want them punished…When Jesus rebuked people in the Bible, he showed the same desire. He clearly had no intent to punish or harm them; he simply wanted them to right their wrongs and live a better life.”

        Yes! Yes! This is what I had in mind!

        Like

      • newtonfinn says:

        Certainly a loving father (or mother), who is forced to watch a child suffer through the horrors of drug addiction, should not, would not, feel anything like vengeful anger toward that child. But what about that loving parent’s feeling toward the drug dealer who hooked the child and perhaps abused him or her in other ways? What should, or would, that parent feel if the child, for example, was induced to trade sex for drugs or to further damage him or herself in other unspeakable ways? I believe that Jesus had something to say about a situation like this, and I’ll let the reader sense the emotion between the lines, whether it is merely sorrow or something with a much sharper edge: “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, you paint a very good scenario. A human parent might very well feel anger toward someone who does this to their child. But I think the comparison of God as a parent and us as parents is different in this way: God is the loving father to both the addicted child AND the drug dealer; God is the loving Father to all of us.

          If we, as parents, love our drug-addicted child, and they go on to become a drug dealer themselves, is there some point at which we, the parents, change our feeling about our child to vengeful anger? Or do we continue to love them?

          Liked by 1 person

          • theotherlestrangegirl says:

            I agree that we approach anger very differently, and feel it very differently, than what God does. That’s sort of what I was trying to get at.

            I do think divine anger exists. I just don’t think it’s at all like we are thinking. I wish I could explain it better but, anything I could say would come from my fallible human mind and I don’t think that would do it justice.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Keith A. Jenkins says:

            Remember, ALL theology is metaphor, no matter who’s doing it. Every biblical effort at describing God is metaphor. Even Jesus had to use metaphors to talk about God. It isn’t so much that the human mind and imagination aren’t up to the task as it is language itself that is inadequate. But language CAN point toward what is beyond it, indicating not only its presence, but also suggesting some of its characteristics by likening it to something familiar.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Keith: “ALL theology is metaphor, no matter who’s doing it. Every biblical effort at describing God is metaphor. Even Jesus had to use metaphors to talk about God.”

            Excellent point, Keith, and I totally agree!

            Like

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          Yes, Newton, I agree with Tim. Remember that God is the loving Father to all.

          For us, yes, we would probably feel some rage at the drug dealer. But the drug dealer is not our child.

          We tend to de-humanize these people in our minds. Murderers, drug dealers, etc. It jolts us, in a strange way, when we realize these people have families too. They are also somebody’s child.

          If you’d like to, for an interesting read you can pick up a book called We Need To Talk About Kevin. It’s not a Christian book, but it’s the story of a family, particularly the mother, of a teenage murderer. It’s also been made into a film now if you prefer movies.

          In it, I think you will see just how strong parental feelings are, no matter what horrors the child has committed.

          This, I think, is very similar to the way God parents all of us. When His children rape and kill and hurt others, it breaks His heart. He hurts for those who have been hurt, and also for His lost children. But His love prevails over all of that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Strange Girl: “When His children rape and kill and hurt others, it breaks His heart. He hurts for those who have been hurt, and also for His lost children. But His love prevails over all of that.”

            Well said! Very well said!

            Like

          • newtonfinn says:

            Strangegirl, as a father and grandfather, I certainly understand your words. But I can’t help but feel that some progressive Christians (in which group I place myself) are missing something essential about the personhood of God when they assert that He cannot be angry–indeed, be furious–not over sins of human weakness, of course, but rather over sins of power and exploitation of others. The prophetic tradition, in which Jesus stood, is filled with descriptions of divine rage toward the rich and powerful who gleefully ground down the masses. Jesus himself used extremely strong language–the equivalent of swear words, as I was taught in seminary–when dressing down the predatory priests, scribes, and lawyers of his day. The millstone saying is just one of many in which Jesus, echoing the great prophets before him, made it unmistakably clear that there would be eternal consequences for those who eagerly stepped on and took advantage of the poor and vulnerable. I’m not a believer in an eternal hell, but that non-Biblical concept hardly encompasses all of the options for setting things right in the great assize.

            Pascal’s famous words sewn into his coat: “The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob–not the god of philosophers and scholars” goes to the heart of this issue, at least for me. If God is a person–or better yet, “super-personal” to use Teilhard’s term–then He MUST be able to feel the justifiable emotions we lesser persons feel. If we are incensed by the kind of conduct I’ve described, then is He not? Spinoza’s god was changeless, impersonal, above it all, beyond anything as ephemeral as human feeling. I think Spinoza got it wrong and Pascal got it right. Kierkegaard, more than any other of the great theologians, picked up on the necessity of paradox in attempting to understand God, that He could not be adequately captured in our typical binary frames of reference, that He was, in many ways, the tension and union of opposites–perhaps the most fundamental being “eternal and personal,” with “loving and righteous” coming in a close second.

            I’ll end here because this post is getting too long and a new thread is about to be born, but because I’m convinced that a FUNDAMENTAL theological mistake is being made when we totally dismiss the possibility of God’s anger (believing that this conflicts with or lessens His love), I will have much more to say about this subject in future posts…and I’m sure that you and others will too. Thanks, Strangegirl (and all who waded in with comments) for engaging in this vitally important dialogue.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Newton, I think I understand your point: “I’m convinced that a FUNDAMENTAL theological mistake is being made when we totally dismiss the possibility of God’s anger (believing that this conflicts with or lessens His love).” And: “If God is a person–or better yet, “super-personal” to use Teilhard’s term–then He MUST be able to feel the justifiable emotions we lesser persons feel.”

            I don’t think God is unmoved by injustice, sins of power, or exploitation, but I think our difference regarding God’s anger might be in how we regard anger. Based on my long experience, I think of anger as being anger and alienation against a person; but perhaps you feel strongly about anger against certain actions.

            I can share that, but I don’t see God feeling anger against persons–we are all his children for which he has empathy, compassion, and care. He seeks reconciliation, instead of alienation, for all of us.

            Think of Paul. Paul participated in the mob killing of a believer–the very first one. Yet how did God react? He selected Paul to be one of his most important emissaries. I don’t think God was unmoved by Stephen’s killing, but I think he loved Stephen, and Paul, and all the other people who were involved in the killing.

            Does it make sense that we are approaching anger in different ways (anger toward actions vs anger toward people), or am I off-track?

            Liked by 1 person

      • Sojourner says:

        I have to tell you otherlestrangegirl, that is a beautiful description of how I believe God to be. Thank ou.

        Liked by 1 person

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          Thank you, Sojourner. I believe it to be the truth.

          If God were really as angry as many make Him seem, I figure He would have just obliterated us all by now.

          Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I know that many believers, including progressive ones, see God as capable of anger. Perhaps my personal experience with anger, and the way I view anger causes me to think differently. I am also moved by injustice and oppression, but I guess I don’t express it in terms of ‘anger’. Of course, people are different and that’s okay. Your remarks make good sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I work for a Christian ministry, and member told us the other day that she is searching for a new church because her current church doesn’t preach enough about the wrath of God. There are Christians out there that cherish his wrath, obviously this being a reflection of their own hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog Mind, I must agree. When I was in fundamentalism/evangelicalism I heard constant sermons about the wrath of God.

      Like

  5. robstanback says:

    How can God be both vengeful and offer grace? Here may be the most concise description of God’s grace:
    1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    The concept of grace even exists in the Old Testament:
    Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

    Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

    But is there ever grace without confession of sins?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Tom Johnson says:

    As you know, Tim, this is not the whole story about God in the OT. And Jesus warns people about “hell” and eternal suffering in the afterlife. Of course, we all have to choose the God we trust. I trust your God, but your Jesus-only criterion doesn’t take all the data into account. Thanks for these good blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tom, thanks for the kind words about the blog; I hope you continue to like them. In response to your comment, though, I think we must disagree that “Jesus warns people about “hell” and eternal suffering in the afterlife.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sojourner says:

      I have to agree with Tom on this one. I don’t want to get into a scriptural debate or sword fight about it but I do see in the words of Jesus in the gospels some warnings about punishment for bad behavior . The only thing is, I do not believe that the Bible is accurate in its quotations of Jesus.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Oh my goodness, what a fantastic thread. Thank you all so much. May I plug a book here? It is by Richard Rohr, titled Falling Upward, a spirituality for the two halves of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. newtonfinn says:

    This was today’s poem from Journey with Jesus, and it seemed appropriate to post it here as well, given our fruitful discussion of how God’s love is somewhat akin to parental love. The poem also touches upon the broader theme and purpose of JWOB: the making of transitions in one’s theological understanding. Hope some readers will like it.

    Catchlight by Kristin Geiser

    If a spiritual life is to be real –
    authentic, courageous, tidal –
    then it will, by definition, depart in some nuanced way
    in some moments
    from the one your church
    or your family
    has offered.
    And if you are raising children,
    you are inviting them into something
    that you are on the cusp
    or the midst of
    rethinking
    reconsidering
    remembering
    reimagining.
    As you experience your own departing and creating
    and the offering of something to your children,
    you may notice
    a sense of worry
    and relief
    as they improvise their own spiritual life.
    And yet these conversations often remain underground.
    whispered in backyard book clubs,
    or grocery store parking lots.
    We learn to keep the words hidden
    because they don’t sound like the narratives of Good Christian Mothers.
    Perhaps we need a new conversation
    to bring new possibility,
    capture the catchlight
    of mothering
    as holy improvisation
    and transform our notion of
    good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sojourner says:

      This poem reminds me of the reason the book “the shack“ was written. It wasn’t supposed to be a book at all but simply a letter from the author, William Paul Young, to his children. I recommend the book to everyone and the movie as well and also the many talks, discussions and sermons by William Paul Young that can be found on YouTube.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Pingback: How Some Misguided Christian Beliefs are Very Harmful | Jesus Without Baggage

  10. Admins1977 says:

    We need to be taught the angry and the loving side bcuz we wouldn’t believe in his power,his judgement and we wouldn’t fear him,therefore fearing sin.
    That’s exactly what it has done in my life
    Keith A. Jenkins, I totally understand what you mean Everytime I’ve ever brushed it off. Something bad happened it was a warning.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: If We Are Free to Approach God Without Fear, What Becomes of Our Other Religious Fears—Like Hell? | Jesus Without Baggage

  12. Pingback: Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative | Jesus Without Baggage

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