Subject: The Love of God requires Him to judge Evil
Psalm 145:17-20 “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and save them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”
In Christianity, the Bible teaches that God is both a God of love and wrath. Many people struggle with this. In fact, I received angry Facebook responses to an article written on the necessity to fear God. Many of us cannot reconcile a loving God also being a God who is full of wrath at the evil in our world.
My atheist friends and I are going through this discussion now. How can a God of love be also a God who is so filled with wrath? If He is loving and desires to save all mankind, shouldn’t He forgive and accept everyone? But don’t we wonder, when we watch on TV the horrible things that are happening to people around the world, that there has got to be someone or something who is going to set this all right again?
I want to introduce to my readers the Yale Theologian Miroslav Volf, who does a superb job in helping us understand how God can be so loving toward us while maintaining His wrath against sin. In his book, ‘Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace‘, he explains how he came to the conclusion that God’s wrath against evil is an expression of His love:
“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 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 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 over 800,000 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 love. God is wrathful because God is love “
But I’m sure I’ll get responses from those who say we as humans are capable of living peacefully without any help from God, that we can create our own society of non-violence if we believe in the basic goodness of mankind.
Again, I turn to Volf, who argues in his book ‘Exclusion and Embrace’ that to practice non-violence requires a belief in God’s ultimate vengeance: “My thesis is that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance … My thesis will be unpopular with many in the West. But imagine speaking to people (as I have) whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned, and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. Your point to them–we should not retaliate? Why not? I say–the only means of prohibiting violence by us is to insist that violence is only legitimate when it comes from God. Violence thrives today, secretly nourished by the belief that God refuses to take the sword… it takes the quiet of a suburb for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence is a result of a God who refuses to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, the idea will invariably die, like other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind… if God were NOT angry at injustice and deception and did NOT make a final end of violence, that God would not be worthy of our worship.”