I’m amazed at how many people really want or need an angry God. Of course, no believer wants such a God to be mad at them, they just want to know that God will be mad at others. It’s how most people understand JUSTICE. When viewed this way, the anger of God is somehow kindled at those who are most different from us, those who share differing opinions on politics or religion or social issues. This is precisely what many atheists or agnostics find unbelievable when viewing things from the outside. Each religious tradition believes it is on the right side of God, thus making other perspectives on the wrong side by default.
A clear sign that we haven’t matured spiritually beyond our childish dualistic paradigm is that we divide the world into binary compartments. It takes wisdom and maturity to find the third way of “Both/And” instead of “Either/Or.“ Even David lost sight of this reality and often defaulted into binary thinking in his times of stress and weakness. “I hate the double-minded, but I love your law” Psalm 119:113
The bible is full of verses where God’s people, or shall I say children, reflect their myopic, tribal, win/lose paradigms and ascribe them to God. This paints God as temperamental, angry, moody, or harsh. If your pastor, priest, rabbi, Imam, or guru has not grown up spiritually, if they lack the ears to hear as Jesus often says, they will not see sacred text as the reflection of immature spirituality-in-progress, but instead as the dualistic benchmark by which they will divide others into innies and outies, valid or invalid, thus making God into their own image.
It’s sad to say, but our religious world is like a romper room of toddlers arguing over their toy (view of God). God likes my denomination best, God is on my side, God only loves my religion, God hates all those who don’t get it like I do.
When we live in duality and miss the fundamental principal of oneness or unity as seen:
- In the Shama; “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4,
- Or by Jesus; “I and the Father are One.” John 10:30,
- or through Paul; “For in one Spirit we are all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
Once we depart from oneness with God and others, we default to a two-story system where God is “up there” and we are “down here” and I am completely other than you. If we lack the maturity to see ourselves in others, we let our arguments go farther than they should and then we need an angry God as our back up, to prove we are in the right. Angry God is also needed to help leaders gain compliance with their flocks. Once we see this, liberation from it is right around the corner, but it requires an exile.
Politics can easily expose this thinking for us. Would God be a republican or a democrat? Both sides (who are trapped in their distinctions) think God is on their side. If God in his/her vast wisdom would never completely align with one side, why do you suppose those who claim to follow God are so willing to do so? Angry God always enters the debate.
Next week I’m going to share with you a story that Jesus told which decimates our petty distinctions. Like all parables, it’s purpose was to tell us what it’s like in the Kingdom of Heaven. He’s not describing some far off place that one day we will find after we die. He is describing life, here and now, in the context of daily living. He uses a scenario that gets at the heart of why our religions need God to be mad, namely: injustice.
When we view this story from spiritually immature eyes, it is the most unfair, unjust situation that cannot be reconciled. It turns out that the justice of God is not about an angry God getting retribution, but about a generous God restoring all things.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again. If you are trapped in your distinctions, and missing the heart of oneness with God and others, then you will hate the kingdom of God and its form of justice.