Wrath of God – As Perception

At times I have argued that the wrath of God is a perception rather than a reality. God is not truly wrathful in his nature, but we perceive His actions as if they were human wrath. We are like a small child undergoing orthopedic surgery in a hospital who perceives the treatment of surgery, injections and casts as anger directed against them rather than care. This is an emotionally satisfying argument that protects my desire to have an always loving God, but I think it comes at too high of a price and ultimately the argument breaks down.

The deeper theological problem is trying to reconcile the unchanging nature of God with God being personal – responding to us. It is nice to say that the love of God is like the unchanging sun, and it is only as it comes through the stained glass of a church window that the sun’s light appears in different colors. Or whether our hearts are like wax or clay that determines whether the warmth of the sun softens or hardens them. This nicely removes moral judgment from God’s nature and actions, but at the expense of turning God into an impersonal force that regards us without distinction or care. There is an element of truth in the analogy, but it looses as much (or more) than it gains.

As difficult as the personality of God may be, we ultimately want it, because it means we are individually significant. Why does God love Able and not Cain at birth? Why does Jesus love John, seemingly more than the others disciples? I don’t know. The danger is when we conclude ‘that is not fair’, as if we were more moral and loving than God. If I have a God that loves each of us uniquely, then I also have to allow for a God that can express His wrath uniquely – even if it is a mystery that I don’t understand.

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