Righteous Anger

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mattrose
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by mattrose » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:27 am

This is where I thought I would disagree with the speaker as well, but as he pointed out, it assumes that anger is the only motivational emotion. As it happens, since I work with children, I have had to call the authorities several times because of child abuse. My emotional state really wasn't rage; it was extreme sadness and compassion. You say that the appropriate reaction to injustice is anger. Why is that assumed?
I wasn't assuming that anger is the only motivational emotion. I was simply providing an example where anger might be a motivational emotion. Very rarely do we experience one emotion at a time. Also, you changed the word 'anger' to 'rage' which is sorta stacking the deck against my point :) It is not my position that THE appropriate reaction to injustice is anger, but that AN appropriate response to injustice may be anger. I also think that there is a difference between men and women in regards to emotions (in general). Men more commonly deal with anger at injustice while women more commonly deal with sadness/compassion (though, once again, I reiterate that we don't deal with only 1 emotion at a time). The point is that it's not the emotion that is good or bad, it's how we respond to it. If we respond to it in a godly way, then it is fair to call the emotion and the action it provokes 'righteous'

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Homer
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Homer » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:02 pm

SteveF wrote:
After Paul quoted from Psalm 4 (Be angry and do not sin) he immediately instructed us to put away our anger. Was he telling us to "Be angry" or was he simply acknowledging the reality of anger and what we should do about it.
"Be angry" and "do not sin" are both imperatives in the Greek and thus commands about doing something. But Paul also says "do not let the sun go down on your anger." Righteous anger is at least permitted; Paul could have easily said "do not be angry" and let it go at that if that was what he believed.

First, "angry" is the Greek word orgizo(3710) which means to provoke, to arouse to anger. The word "anger" is parogismos (3950) which means rage. It is a compound word, para (3844) and orgizo, para meaning beside, or as we would say "beside yourself with anger". Paragismos is forbidden; orgizo is not. In matthew 5:22 Jesus might appear to be forbidding getting angry (orgizo) but He was referring to an ongoing state of anger.

Matt makes an excellent point regarding the humanity of Jesus. He was a man and did not sin. We can not say "but He was God" as though the rules in His case do not apply. If he is sinless because anger was OK for Him and not for us, then I fail to see how He was an example for us.

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mattrose
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by mattrose » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:36 pm

I've listened to the sermon now (finally!)

It's a good sermon. I appreciate what he is saying and agree with most of all it. Furthermore, if I lived in the area, I would be glad to attend that church (or one of those churches, sounded like a satellite set up). He struck me as very genuine, thoughtful, biblical, and funny. Here are some thoughts I had during the sermon and now, afterword:

1. Even he leaves room for appropriate anger (though not as much as I think is necessary). He stated, early on, that anger is an emotion of judgment and that WHEN IT IS UNFILTERED, it's an emotion that is inappropriate. He then went on to preach about that KIND of anger that is unfiltered. I completely agree with his rejection of the kind of anger he's talking about. I just think it'd be a bit more thorough to admit that he's only talking about that kind of anger. Later statements make this point even more confusing b/c he speaks in all inclusive terms 'anger is always a bad thing' and whatnot.

2. He's critiquing a very specific kind of anger (and rightly so, since it is the most common expression). This is why every time he illustrates what he's critiquing, he raises his voice and speaks like an angry preacher! He's attacking the kind of anger that involves verbal outbursts. In other words, he's attacking a bad choice made on the basis of anger, but that is not the same thing as anger itself (as he himself admits).

3. As Homer and I have said, it's not enough just to say that Jesus is God and so His anger is justified. Jesus is fully human and so his anger was fully human. What's more, people are Spirit filled and therefore sometimes (hopefully often) share in the very character of God.

4. He waffles a bit on the connection of anger to judgment. He makes statements that anger is always wrong and judgment is always wrong, but then he nuances the 'judgment' part by saying that there are times when it is appropriate to judge (in certain ways). He knows this is an important point so he goes back to it at least twice. I submit that he just didn't nuance 'anger' as well as he did 'judgment.'

5. His response to the first text question is too dismissive. As I responded to Michelle, nobody is saying anger is the ONLY emotion that can motivate us to action in certain situations (nor was the texter saying that). We are just saying that anger is sometimes appropriately present and can be a motivator toward a good action. We are complex beings, we can experience anger, sadness, compassion at the same time over the same event. And we can respond appropriately to those emotions. It's sorta silly to pick out 1 of those emotions and say it is wrong. It's just an emotion. Anger may be more often mis-used, but that doesn't make it wrong as an emotion.

6. His response to the 2nd question was too dismissive. Yes, there is a difference b/w the two covenants, but I hardly think it is appropriate to just sweep away any example of 'righteous anger' in the OT!

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Michelle
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Michelle » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:18 pm

Matthew, I think what you've written makes a lot of sense. I appreciate your balanced and nuanced approach to this matter.

I'm responding to something you wrote earlier, before you listened to the sermon and posted your more recent reply.
mattrose wrote:I wasn't assuming that anger is the only motivational emotion. I was simply providing an example where anger might be a motivational emotion.
I think I was thinking of this when I asked my question about anger being the appropriate response:
SteveF wrote:Matt, I've actually heard people say that if you don't experience righteous anger then you are spiritually deficient somehow.
mattrose wrote:I could understand a context in which that quote is correct. A lot of Christians are quite apathetic/indifferent to injustice around them and throughout the world. It is appropriate to be angry about injustice. The key, of course, is what we do with the emotion of anger.
Here you said that anger is an appropriate way to respond to injustice and seemed to me to imply that it is the correct response.
Very rarely do we experience one emotion at a time.
That's true, I suppose.
Also, you changed the word 'anger' to 'rage' which is sorta stacking the deck against my point :)
Yeah I did. Sorry.
It is not my position that THE appropriate reaction to injustice is anger, but that AN appropriate response to injustice may be anger. I also think that there is a difference between men and women in regards to emotions (in general). Men more commonly deal with anger at injustice while women more commonly deal with sadness/compassion (though, once again, I reiterate that we don't deal with only 1 emotion at a time). The point is that it's not the emotion that is good or bad, it's how we respond to it. If we respond to it in a godly way, then it is fair to call the emotion and the action it provokes 'righteous'
Understood. Thanks for your explanation.
Last edited by Michelle on Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TK
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by TK » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:12 pm

Isnt having emotions part of what makes us created in "God's image?"

animals dont have emotions(i dont think), at least not in the way we think about emotions.

Of course that doesnt mean we should let our emotions run wild, but i think God created us to be angry over certain things, just like He is.

TK

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Jess » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:12 am

I guess I'm not sure I agree with you, TK, that animals don't have emotions. My dog certainly displayed at times contentment, at other times fear or hostility, playfulness, excitement or even boredom (if I didn't take him out for a walk frequently enough).

In Him,

Jess

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SteveF
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:15 am

Isnt having emotions part of what makes us created in "God's image?"

animals dont have emotions(i dont think), at least not in the way we think about emotions.

Of course that doesnt mean we should let our emotions run wild, but i think God created us to be angry over certain things, just like He is.
TK, as usual, you raise a good point.

I knew someone who was a proponent of righteous anger. He would often say that if it makes God angry then it should make us angry....and he had a tendency to practice what he preached! I guess the question I have is should we even be expressing this kind of righteous anger or should we, when encountering the natural tendency to anger, seek to put it away asap? Do we see clearly enough to make this kind of judgment or should we simply leave it to God? Paul, in I Cor 5, said we should mourn/grieve over sin in others but doesn't mention anger.
Last edited by SteveF on Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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SteveF
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:59 am

Homer wrote:SteveF wrote:
After Paul quoted from Psalm 4 (Be angry and do not sin) he immediately instructed us to put away our anger. Was he telling us to "Be angry" or was he simply acknowledging the reality of anger and what we should do about it.
"Be angry" and "do not sin" are both imperatives in the Greek and thus commands about doing something. But Paul also says "do not let the sun go down on your anger." Righteous anger is at least permitted; Paul could have easily said "do not be angry" and let it go at that if that was what he believed.

First, "angry" is the Greek word orgizo(3710) which means to provoke, to arouse to anger. The word "anger" is parogismos (3950) which means rage. It is a compound word, para (3844) and orgizo, para meaning beside, or as we would say "beside yourself with anger". Paragismos is forbidden; orgizo is not. In matthew 5:22 Jesus might appear to be forbidding getting angry (orgizo) but He was referring to an ongoing state of anger.

.
Hi Homer, thanks for the input!

Do you think it's possible that Paul was merely quoting Psalm 4:4? If so, it's message is not entirely clear to me. What is clear is just a few verses later Paul did tell us to put away anger.

Eph 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Eph 4:27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
Eph 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.


Here's what I mean by the ambiguity of Psalm 4:4. Different versions render it differently:

Psa 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. ESV

Psa 4:4 `Tremble ye, and do not sin;' Say ye thus in your heart on your bed, And be ye silent. Selah. YLT

Psa 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. KJV

Psa 4:4 Let there be fear in your hearts, and do no sin; have bitter feelings on your bed, but make no sound. Selah. BBE


In other word's I'm not sure if a compelling case for righteous anger can be made with Eph 4:26 especially since Paul told us to put it away a few verses later.

In regards to Matt 5:22. I'm not sure I could read into Jesus' words that a short period of anger towards someone could be righteous anger. At best, I think I you might say that a short period of anger is natural but should be dealt with.
Matt makes an excellent point regarding the humanity of Jesus. He was a man and did not sin. We can not say "but He was God" as though the rules in His case do not apply. If he is sinless because anger was OK for Him and not for us, then I fail to see how He was an example for us.
I think this is Matt's strongest point as well.

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SteveF
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:17 am

Michelle wrote:
I appreciate your balanced and nuanced approach to this matter.
Matt, I agree with Michelle and appreciate your responses!
I would completely agree that all anger needs to be put away. But some of it needs to be put away in a positive sense and some in a negative sense. In other words, using the previously mentioned scenario, if I find out a great injustice has been done against a child, my natural (and wholesome) emotion will be anger. But I can 'put away' this anger by contacting the appropriate authorities!
Matt, I think what you’re saying here makes sense but I'm not sure if one could make a biblical case for it.
I said,
Matt, I've actually heard people say that if you don't experience righteous anger then you are spiritually deficient somehow.

you replied
I could understand a context in which that quote is correct. A lot of Christians are quite apathetic/indifferent to injustice around them and throughout the world. It is appropriate to be angry about injustice. The key, of course, is what we do with the emotion of anger.

I asked
Also, if righteous anger is well, righteous, why shouldn't it be encouraged?

you replied
If it is appropriate, it should be. But the encourager would have to be wise enough to lead those he's encouraging into a proper response to the appropriate emotion.
Other than following Jesus’ example (which I’ll get to) what biblical authority is there for us to encourage anger in such a fashion?
As I recall, Paul said some pretty nasty things to some of his adversaries as well (and I'm not just talking about the pre-Christian Paul either). "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" You don't think that sounds like Paul is angry at the agitators?
Yes Matt, I would agree that a good case could be made that Paul was angry. Although, as I’m sure you’d agree, we don’t know the true emotional state of Paul at the time.
I've listened to the sermon now (finally!)
Thanks for taking the time Matt! I’m sure you’re a busy person.
1. Even he leaves room for appropriate anger (though not as much as I think is necessary). He stated, early on, that anger is an emotion of judgment and that WHEN IT IS UNFILTERED, it's an emotion that is inappropriate. He then went on to preach about that KIND of anger that is unfiltered. I completely agree with his rejection of the kind of anger he's talking about. I just think it'd be a bit more thorough to admit that he's only talking about that kind of anger. Later statements make this point even more confusing b/c he speaks in all inclusive terms 'anger is always a bad thing' and whatnot.
. He waffles a bit on the connection of anger to judgment. He makes statements that anger is always wrong and judgment is always wrong, but then he nuances the 'judgment' part by saying that there are times when it is appropriate to judge (in certain ways). He knows this is an important point so he goes back to it at least twice. I submit that he just didn't nuance 'anger' as well as he did 'judgment.'
I would tend to agree, but I will say that the distinction and nuance wasn’t missed by anyone in our discussion group. He could have been clearer though.
5. His response to the first text question is too dismissive. As I responded to Michelle, nobody is saying anger is the ONLY emotion that can motivate us to action in certain situations (nor was the texter saying that). We are just saying that anger is sometimes appropriately present and can be a motivator toward a good action. We are complex beings, we can experience anger, sadness, compassion at the same time over the same event. And we can respond appropriately to those emotions. It's sorta silly to pick out 1 of those emotions and say it is wrong. It's just an emotion. Anger may be more often mis-used, but that doesn't make it wrong as an emotion.
I see the question more as, is anger needed as a motivation or is it something to be put away.
3. As Homer and I have said, it's not enough just to say that Jesus is God and so His anger is justified. Jesus is fully human and so his anger was fully human. What's more, people are Spirit filled and therefore sometimes (hopefully often) share in the very character of God.
Matt, I think this is your strongest case for a Christian to express righteous anger. Here’s my question though. If Jesus is our example in regards to anger, do you think we should be showing demonstrative anger in the same way Jesus did? I’m not aware of an example in the bible where a Christian is doing something akin to turning over tables. Is there a non-biblical scenario you could point to and say it was an example of righteous anger in a Christian?
6. His response to the 2nd question was too dismissive. Yes, there is a difference b/w the two covenants, but I hardly think it is appropriate to just sweep away any example of 'righteous anger' in the OT!
Yes, I think he was too dismissive as well. One thing you may want to know is he has addressed the distinction of OT and NT quite often. Since non-Christians can ask questions as well, he almost always gets asked things like “Well what about God in OT who encouraged killing etc etc…”. In other words he has covered his thoughts on the distinctions many times before.

That being said, I do think there is a distinction between the two covenants. I think we have, in a sense, “turned our swords into plowshares” and physical armour has now become spiritual armour. I do think there is a distinction in how we treat others now (under the new covenant).

Thanks again for listening and sharing Matt! I value your input.

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SteveF
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:19 am

Michelle, thanks for listening to the message and sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it!!

Steve

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