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The Dangerous Idea that God is Angry at Bad People

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
October 12, 2020

A false idea easily drawn from the literal sense of the Old Testament or from traditional Christian doctrine is that God is angry at people who do bad things and severely punishes them. In the teachings for the New Church, this idea is condemned in very strong language. There is no topic that fills more books by orthodox theologians today, that is more intensely taught and aired in lecture halls, or that is more frequently preached and pronounced from the pulpit than the following:

God the Father was angry at the human race, so He not only moved us all away from Himself but locked us into a universal damnation and cut off communication with us. Nevertheless, because He is gracious, he either convinced or goaded his Son to come down to take a limited damnation on himself and ritually purge the Father’s anger. This was the only way the Father could look on the human race with any favor. (True Christian Religion 132:1)

The passage continues:

Surely, though, everyone with decent reasoning enlightened by the Word can see that God is compassion and mercy itself. He is absolute love and absolute goodness – these qualities are His essence. It is a contradiction to say that compassion itself or absolute goodness could look at the human race with anger and lock us all into damnation, and still keep its divine essence. Attitudes and actions of that kind belong to a wicked person, not a virtuous one. They belong to a spirit from hell, not an angel of heaven. It is horrendous to attribute them to God. (True Christian Religion 132:2)

Sadly, we live in a time and culture that too often embraces the idea that we can hate people who we see as saying or doing destructive things or even just people who hold different ideas from what we believe to be right and useful. The intensity of angry feelings can increase when a person senses a divine approval for our own point of view and condemnation of the other person’s or people’s perspectives, intentions, words and actions. Righteous anger can feel so right, but it isn’t.
Certainly, we are called to use our best judgment on what will be good and useful in many areas of life. We can do our best, when useful, to try to clearly articulate what we think and believe. Our own best understanding will disagree with others, sometimes strongly and dramatically. When we recognize that this is occurring, may each of us work to fight the anger and condemnation that hell would love to bring to the disagreement. May we each be able to stand in our own convictions and be willing to allow others to stand in theirs.

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