Believing in a judgmental God can be dangerous. Assuming that God demands an ethic of retribution not only gives a penal flavor to our theology but also encourages zealous violent retribution by cultivating its justification.
As the current crisis continues to capture global attention, many are turning to the Bible for answers. Some even look to the plagues described in the book of Revelation, reading them as God’s punishing judgments unleashed upon the earth. Is the current coronavirus one of these plagues?
The wrath of God is a nuanced and difficult concept to understand, but as the Apostle Paul states, “All things become visible when they are exposed by the light” (Ephesians 5:13, NASB).
God’s anger is His love directed against whatever exploits and abuses people and the earth. That’s good news as far as it goes, but what about the wrath unleashed as retribution against people in the Old Testament?
Many argue that the angry God of the Bible is an irrational and cruel tyrant who is not worthy of our admiration. You may feel some apathy toward this wrathful God, thinking He’s receiving His just deserts from people. Perhaps you have lingering fears about how we will be judged for failing tests of faith, for questioning the existence of suffering and divine damnation against the reality of God’s love, for harboring a sharp dislike for the wrathful potentate in the sky?
Years ago, I attended a class at a missionary training school in the heart of Oregon. The Bible teacher wrote the Greek word “hilasterion” on the white board and asked the class what it meant. His next question was whether redemption carries a propitiatory dimension.