Monday, November 18, 2013

The Wrath of God as an Expression of the Love of God

So far from God's wrath being in opposition to God's love, the wrath of God is actually an expression of his love. Michael Reeves explains:
His love is not mild-mannered and limp; it is livid, potent and committed. And therein lies our hope: through his wrath the living God shows that he is truly loving, and through his wrath he will destroy all devilry that we might enjoy him in a purified world, the home of righteousness. 
 To illustrate, Reeves points us to the personal wrestlings of Croation theologian Miroslav Volf, who pens these powerful words:
I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn't God love? Shouldn't divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That's exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God's wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. 
Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century where 800,00 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandparently fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators' basic goodness? Wasn't God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God's wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn't wrathful at the sight of the world's evil. God isn't wrathful in spite of being loving. God is wrathful because God is love.
—Michael Reeves, Delighting in the TrinityAn Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 119-120.

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