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“The Wrath of Jesus”… And Why We Don’t Talk About It!

“The Wrath of Jesus”… And Why We Don’t Talk About It!

Here is a conversation within Evangelical church circles I guarantee you have never heard:

Man 1: “God loves you unconditionally and totally.  You are his child and nothing can separate you from His Love”

Man 2: “Yes that’s true but we mustn’t forget that although God is Love He is also Just.  We can’t forget the Wrath of Jesus”

Man 1: “The Wrath of Jesus?”

Man 2: “Yes, the Bible speaks about the Wrath of Jesus.  Jesus is both a God of Love AND a God of Wrath

The reason you haven’t heard this conversation is that although the “Wrath of God” is often invoked in Evangelical church circles (usually in a clumsy attempt to keep God’s love from running loose and out of control) that “wrath” is kept a healthy distance away from “Jesus” and never do the twain EVER meet.

Which begs the question; if Jesus is the exact representation of God (Heb 1) why don’t we talk about his “wrath” more?  According to the Bible the “Wrath of God” IS the “Wrath of Jesus.”

And yet it just doesn’t sound right does it?

“The Wrath of Jesus”

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

It’s difficult to find this “wrath” in the one who hung out with people who drank too much, who partied too much, who defended a woman caught cheating on her husband, and was recognized as a “friend” of folk who routinely broke God’s commandments.

So, honestly, are we talking about two different Gods here?

Closet Marcionites?

Marcion of Sinope was an early church father who was ultimately excommunicated for proposing the idea that the God of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) was a different God than the one revealed through Christ.  The view has long been widely held to be heretical, and folk who make too large a distinction between between the Old and the New Testament “god” often have the accusation of being “a Marcionite” lobbed at them.

But if one can talk about the “wrath of God” freely and yet stop and pause at the idea of the “wrath of Jesus” do we, perhaps not in word but in deed worship and follow two different “gods”?

Is much of Evangelical Christianity simply modern day, yet closeted, Marcionites?

oh YEAH!

And to be fair you can understand why.  Historically, when Christians have needed a God who knows the “goodies” from the “baddies”, who affirms our nation, who affirms our culture,  who affirms our prejudices and preferences, who brings sweet blessings to “us” and holy judgment on “them”…well a God on a cross declaring unconditional love and forgiveness on his executioners can be just plain frustrating as hell.

I mean sure, we’ll take that sweet, loving, forgiving and gentle Jesus when we’ve screwed up ourselves but in a world increasingly full of Muslims, gays, socialists, and progressive Christians the (non) wrath of Jesus simply won’t do.

So, many Christians quietly ignore those scriptures that declare Jesus as the EXACT representation of God.  Despite knowing that any portrayal of God before Christ is, at best, a dim shadow they instead choose to do a theological somersault over Jesus in a race to their God of the Old Testament who will open up the ground to swallow their enemies – or give allowance for them to do it on His behalf. 🙂

The God of Wrath!

A God who sends plagues, disease, fire, and brimstone on all who disobey him.

Sometimes I wonder if such Christians wouldn’t be more honest if they just admitted they prefer a god like Zeus and dispense with the pretense altogether…

…but then they wouldn’t have Jesus when they needed a God to deal with their own shortcomings.

And so the phrase the “wrath of Jesus” remains conveniently ignored.

Peace,

Steve

2 comments

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  • Mark Cain

    Reply

    Maybe it’s more like the ‘Wrath of God’ looks exactly like Jesus. The Jews presented a picture of God that looks much like the christian church portrays Him today…mean, vindictive, spiteful, vengeful, pretty much like the pagan gods they were told Not to worship. Instead God says, ‘this is what i am REALLY like–Jesus’. So whatever we read about God in the old testament, needs to be filtered through the lens of Jesus. In other words, ‘If it doesn’t look like Jesus, don’t call it the Father’. 1 Corinthians 13 is a portrait of God (who IS Love). Just substitute God for the work Love in that chapter and you’ll see what I mean. ‘God IS Love’ is a fist principle of God, all other attributes have to be filtered through that first principle.
    …also, look up the word ‘Wrath’ in Strong’s or Young’s. Nothing about that word, or its root, makes me think of the way we think of wrath (why the translators chose the word wrath is puzzling…’you keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.’).

    Grace be with you…

    ~Mark

    • Steve

      Reply

      I love it! The “Wrath of God” looks like Jesus. Who “gnashed their teeth” and torn their robes in frustration and anger at Jesus? The church leadership… 🙂

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