Some people, says St. John Cassian, try to excuse their anger by saying that righteous anger is perfectly fine. Doesn’t the Bible talk a lot about God’s “wrath”? But God is not subject to human passions. You can’t justify your own sin by an appeal to the metaphorical language of Scripture.
We have heard some people trying to excuse this most pernicious disease of the soul (anger), trying to extenuate it by a rather shocking way of interpreting Scripture. They say that it is not harmful if we are angry with the brethren who do wrong, since, say they, God himself is said to rage and to be angry with those who either will not know him, or, knowing him, spurn him; not understanding that they are ascribing to the divine Infinity and Fountain of all purity a stain of human passion.
When we read of the anger or fury of the Lord, we should not take it anthropomorphically—that is, unworthily understanding it as human passion—but in a sense worthy of God, who is free from all passion. We should understand that he is the judge and avenger of all the unjust things that are done in this world; and because of these terms and their meaning we should dread him as the terrible rewarder of our deeds, and fear to do anything against his will.
It would be tedious and outside the scope of the present work to explain all the things spoken metaphorically of God in Holy Scripture with human analogies. Let it be enough for our present purpose, which is aimed against the sin of wrath, to have said this that no one may through ignorance draw down upon himself a cause of this evil and of eternal death, out of those Scriptures in which he should be looking for saintliness and immortality as the remedies to bring life and salvation.
–St. John Cassian, Institutes, 8.2, 4
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I read Scripture, do I read to learn, or am I looking for confirmation of my own prejudices?
Father, help me see that we are all one creation, and let me work ceaselessly for the unity of your people in fellowship and peace.
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