Since I make a point of hearing people out, even when I don’t agree with them, I recently read God: The Most Unpleasant Character In All Fiction, by Dan Barker. As an ex-minister he is a great communicator and is well versed.
The premise of the book is running with the baton passed to him from Richard Dawkins, providing Old Testament verses in support of Dawkins’ uncharitable depiction of God in The God Delusion, (as well as adding further accusations). The book is the result of focusing entirely on God’s negative aspects, like His jealousy or anger, to the exclusion of any positive aspects.
While there is much in this book for Christians to contend with I just want to briefly address God’s anger. I agree that God is angry, there is no argument there. Only the thought arises: might God be justified in His anger? Would we really want a god who is soft on sin? a god who does not enforce any repercussions for wickedness? a god who is indifferent, cold or aloof?
I think we could all imagine how terrible life would be with no rules or authorities to enforce them. The Bible teaches that God is responsible for all such authorities, which we take for granted (Romans 13:1). These authorities help stem the tide of immorality. People hold each other to account for their actions, why not God?
To me, the fact that God is angry with how we treat Him and one another is unremarkable. However, that God, in the form of His own Son, would bear the brunt of His own anger, so that we needn’t, is remarkable.
Paul, in Romans 11:22, would have us simultaneously straddle two aspects of God, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God.” (NIV) These ideas must be held in tension with one another. When you stress just one, you do so at the expense of the other. Yes, God is angry but in His kindness, via the cross, He has provided a way to escape His wrath. All we need to do is trust in Jesus.
Also, as an aside, the artwork within the book is stunning.