The idea that God has or did have a righteous wrath directed at mankind is integral to Christian Theology and its view of redemption. In its simplest form the story the church draws from the Bible is that sin made God angry and Jesus came to appease God and turn that anger into divine love.
It is undeniable that the Bible narrative talks a lot about God’s wrath. God is depicted throughout as if He has all the emotions of a human: anger, jealousy, regret, frustration, and affection. He seems to vacillate from one emotion to another much like we experience our mood swings.
So I don’t argue about what the Bible says. Instead I ponder questions about how the entire story from start to finish interconnects. Is there any discernible logical pattern that takes us from Genesis 1 to the end of Revelations? Here again I don’t even expect necessarily that whatever God represents- spirit, being, universal consciousness, or divine energy- has to be amenable to human logic or within the grasp of the human mind. In other words I accept that there is an element of mystery which will likely never be resolved.
But, if we are to try to draw any level of understanding from a written text and human language, then human logic and comprehension has to come into play. If that comprehension perceives a plan and a required follow up, then the text almost demands scrutiny as to the whys and wherefores, the reasons and reasoning behind it all. From that conclusion, I cannot escape my own urge to question. I may likely question in vain, but I don’t hesitate to continue because I should fear God’s wrath. That just seems too preposterous to accept.
So, returning to the issue of wrath, I have to ask why God was angry? How was he offended? In human terms we get angry when we are offended. Anger is directed to the offender or the offensive situation in some cases. An offense derives from a threat either to our physical or emotional well being. We can be assaulted or insulted and feel offended. No one I know suggests that man can threaten God in the sense of personal injury. So it seems that the offense had to be mental or emotional. Did God feel insulted? Were His feelings hurt? Does God respond to insults in knee jerk fashion like we do or does He deliberate about them before acting in wrath?
Many people read I Peter 1:20 and other related texts and conclude that the Bible plan of salvation, the plan to deal with God’s wrath, existed before Creation. If that is the case, then God knew of man’s pending need and prepared for it before the events which precipitated that need. How does God logically get offended and angry over what He knew was going to happen? In human terms, the terms used in the Bible to describe God, that makes no sense.
One could even go so far as to conclude that if God knew what would happen, in effect, he made it inevitable by not intervening. Couldn’t a bit firmer, more complete warning about the Tree of Knowledge have sufficed to keep Adam from making a serious mistake? And who turned the snake loose?
This questioning does not indict God, in my mind, unless we insist on to the idea that God ended up offended by Adam, who only did what God already expected. That would seem to imply that God was so committed to being offended that He set up the whole deal for that reason. Not a very admirable deity if that be true.
As I admitted before, wrath is written large on the pages of the Bible. That doesn’t mean it fits very well with what else we see and should conclude from elsewhere in the same book.
It’s the eternal problem of Bible interpretation. Nobody has a consistent comprehension throughout, especially if every word has to be taken at face value with no possibility of a metaphorical meaning.