Righteous Anger

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TK
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by TK » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:50 pm

Jess wrote: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
i knew somebody would bring this up. i know that animals SEEM to have emotions (i can tell when my cats are mad at me!) but I am not sure if they are truly emotions as they are in the human sense, primarily because a human can choose not to be ruled by their emotions, if they really try. i am not sure animals can do this.

TK

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Homer
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Homer » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:00 am

Hi SteveF,

Regarding Ephesians 4:26 and Psalm 4:4, according to Karl Braune's exegetical and critical comments in Lange's Commentary, Paul quotes the verse exactly as it is in the LXX. In the commentary on verse 4:4 in the Psalm, an explanation by Riehm is given of the meaning:
You may continue to be angry (until by divine help your anger is shown to be unreasonable), but at least do not sin by abusing the man who is favored by Jehovah, but instead of giving vent to your anger in abusive words, speak in your heart upon your bed and be silent.
On Paul's words in Ephesians 4:26, Braune comments: "Both imperatives are jussive (expressing a command): anger is not only allowable, but commanded in certain cases, yet the Apostle forbids the joining of sin with it..."

I found the following comments in the doctrinal and ethical section of the commentary interesting:
Anger, which in God is the energy of holy love against sin and corruption perverting moral order, is justified in the scriptures. Affirmed of God more than three hundred times, it can not be wrong of itself in man who is created in the image of God: it is rather a witness and basis of active love in the surroundings of an unholy world. The right to be angry is admitted and granted, but to be angry rightly however. Loveless anger is as incorrect as angerless love. Without hatred towards what is wicked, there can be no lawful anger towards those who are wicked. It is difficult to separate the two....
(his italics)
He further comments:
The Apostle here gives prominence to the pernicious element of that anger which becomes a lingering grudge , and to the danger of thus falling prey to the devil; it corrupts man inwardly and makes him the slave to Satan; "the irrecocilable remains unreconciled, incurring the wrath and judgement of God".
I was going to mention Paul's anger; Matt already has cited an instance. There are at least three: Galatians 1:7-9, Galatians 5:12 (cited by Matt), and 2 Timothy 4:14.

IMO emotions are are almost impossible to eliminate. They arise spontaneously. We are attracted to a person of the opposite sex, but must not lust. We get angry but must not sin and we must take steps to reconcile. We grieve, but we are not to grieve as the world does, etc. We are simply to not let our emotions rule us and lead us to ruin.

Blessings, Homer

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:19 pm

Sorry for taking so long to respond Homer, I was busy (Canadian Thanksgiving holiday etc..). I appreciate your response and insight.
Hi SteveF,

Regarding Ephesians 4:26 and Psalm 4:4, according to Karl Braune's exegetical and critical comments in Lange's Commentary, Paul quotes the verse exactly as it is in the LXX. In the commentary on verse 4:4 in the Psalm, an explanation by Riehm is given of the meaning:

You may continue to be angry (until by divine help your anger is shown to be unreasonable), but at least do not sin by abusing the man who is favored by Jehovah, but instead of giving vent to your anger in abusive words, speak in your heart upon your bed and be silent.



On Paul's words in Ephesians 4:26, Braune comments: "Both imperatives are jussive (expressing a command): anger is not only allowable, but commanded in certain cases, yet the Apostle forbids the joining of sin with it..."

I found the following comments in the doctrinal and ethical section of the commentary interesting:

Anger, which in God is the energy of holy love against sin and corruption perverting moral order, is justified in the scriptures. Affirmed of God more than three hundred times, it can not be wrong of itself in man who is created in the image of God: it is rather a witness and basis of active love in the surroundings of an unholy world. The right to be angry is admitted and granted, but to be angry rightly however. Loveless anger is as incorrect as angerless love. Without hatred towards what is wicked, there can be no lawful anger towards those who are wicked. It is difficult to separate the two....
(his italics)



He further comments:

The Apostle here gives prominence to the pernicious element of that anger which becomes a lingering grudge , and to the danger of thus falling prey to the devil; it corrupts man inwardly and makes him the slave to Satan; "the irrecocilable remains unreconciled, incurring the wrath and judgement of God".
I hesitate to counter a respected theologian...but

In the flow of David’s thoughts in Psalm 4, the anger he’s referring to is the unjust anger of his enemies towards him. He seems to be encouraging them to deal with their anger. The anger of David’s enemies could not be considered righteous anger nor should it be commanded or encouraged. Therefore, could the thrust of Paul’s message simply be telling us (since it’s a direct quote from this passage) to deal with our anger/sin when it arises as well… nothing more, nothing less.

If you understand Ps 4:4 in this context it would also fit the Hebrew (Masoretic) rendering as well.

There doesn’t seem to be any other verse that tells us anger in a Christian could possibly be righteous. James 1:20 tells us the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God…which is why he told us to be slow to anger in the previous verse. Every other verse (that comes to my mind) in the bible tells us anger in a Christian is to be put away.

It seems to me that the doctrine of “righteous anger” has gotten a lot of mileage from one ambiguous verse.
I was going to mention Paul's anger; Matt already has cited an instance. There are at least three: Galatians 1:7-9, Galatians 5:12 (cited by Matt), and 2 Timothy 4:14
As I mentioned to Matt, is there a reason to conclude that Paul’s emotional state was anger when he wrote these verses? Is it not possible that Paul was simply filled with a love for righteousness, grief etc… when he wrote these words?
IMO emotions are are almost impossible to eliminate. They arise spontaneously. We are attracted to a person of the opposite sex, but must not lust. We get angry but must not sin and we must take steps to reconcile. We grieve, but we are not to grieve as the world does, etc. We are simply to not let our emotions rule us and lead us to ruin.
I would go a step further Homer. I would not only say emotions are almost impossible to eliminate, I would say they are indeed impossible to eliminate. I see them as inevitable. Thankfully, by God’s grace, things that used to arouse emotions are less inclined to. Having said that, is anger ever something we should, as the pastor would say, “partner with” or feed, or is it something that should be dealt with and put away asap?

Homer did you have a chance to listen to the message? I was wondering if you were in agreement with what he said about preachers who speak with anger and claim to have righteous anger. Matt seemed to agree with him on that point. I’ve encountered several individuals (not just professional preachers) who claim to have righteous anger when they speak.

God Bless,
Steve
Last edited by SteveF on Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SteveF
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:21 pm

The pastor received numerous questions via email and in person about his understanding of anger (not surprising). He diverted from his regular message to address them at about the 10th minute of his message this past Sunday.

The questions he addressed were as follows:

But - Jesus got angry

But - Anger is a natural response

But - If I can’t help it, how can it be sin?

But – Anger motivates us to do good things

Here’s the link. As I said, it starts about the 10th minute and lasts about 10 minutes.

http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3 ... sermon.mp3

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Homer » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:06 am

On Oct 8 Michelle posted, responding to Matt:

Matt:
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!
Michelle:
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?
As Michelle wrote, we may have multiple emotions simultaneously. I would argue that anger combined with compassion will, in many cases, motivate us to act to promote justice where compassion alone might not. And this would be especially true if we witness the wrong rather than hearing about it second hand. I believe anger is a more powerful emotion than sadness or compassion, thus we must be careful. There isn't much need to caution regarding the emotion of compassion!

SteveF wrote:
In the flow of David’s thoughts in Psalm 4,
But the NT writers sometimes used OT quotes in a different sense than the OT writers.
There doesn’t seem to be any other verse that tells us anger in a Christian could possibly be righteous.
Why do we need another verse? We have Jesus as our example and Paul's statement in Ephesians 4:26 is, as mentioned, in the form of a command, first to do something, and then not to do something. The "not" can not be moved back to refer to "be angry". Every expositor I have looked at regarding the sense of the Greek says it is either a command or at minimum permissive of anger. Just do not sin in your anger.

I will try to find time to listen to the sermon.

Blessings, Homer

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Michelle » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:41 am

I think I'm not on the same page in this discussion (confusion generally being my default setting) so I'm looking for clarification and thinking out loud.
Homer wrote: As Michelle wrote, we may have multiple emotions simultaneously.
I didn't say that, although I suppose it's true, but I'm not really sure. I kind of think one emotion usually rises to the surface. I'm not well versed in psychology, though.
I would argue that anger combined with compassion will, in many cases, motivate us to act to promote justice where compassion alone might not.
I don't understand what you mean. Are you saying that compassion is a weak motivation for action? If a person claims to have compassion but fails to act within his ability to do so, is that real compassion?

I suppose there are many people for whom anger is their greatest motivation. Angry people put me off and I don't like to be around them much. I, personally, do not enjoy the experience of being angry. The accompanying rush of adrenaline, with redness of face, a racing heart, the loss of fine motor control, and the staccato speech at higher pitch and volume is not comfortable for me. Perhaps my definition of anger is too narrow, as my definition of compassion seems to be.
And this would be especially true if we witness the wrong rather than hearing about it second hand.
Huh? If we are eye witness to an injustice, we are more needful of anger in order to act because...? And yet, hearing about an injustice second hand somehow lessens the need for an angry response?

...

I just took a break to get some coffee and had the thought that perhaps you weren't talking about the need for an angry response, but were talking about the reality of an angry response. We see an injustice, we get angry and act; we see an injustice, we feel any other emotion and become apathetic. Again, maybe my definitions of certain emotions needs work...
I believe anger is a more powerful emotion than sadness or compassion, thus we must be careful. There isn't much need to caution regarding the emotion of compassion!
What does it mean to 'be careful' of your anger. Could you provide an example from your own life of when you carefully wielded your anger righteously?

Frankly, the way you implied that compassion could turn into apathy, there is plenty need to caution believers about compassion. James 2:16 leaps to my mind.

Why do we need another verse? We have Jesus as our example and Paul's statement in Ephesians 4:26 is, as mentioned, in the form of a command, first to do something, and then not to do something. The "not" can not be moved back to refer to "be angry". Every expositor I have looked at regarding the sense of the Greek says it is either a command or at minimum permissive of anger. Just do not sin in your anger.
Homer, I may have really misunderstood your meaning in this whole post, so forgive me, and correct me, if I'm wrong. Do you believe that it is a command that we be angry? Have I, once again, missed the mark since I try to eliminate anger at all times?

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by SteveF » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:16 am

Homer wrote:
But the NT writers sometimes used OT quotes in a different sense than the OT writers
That’s true but sometimes there is a direct parallel as well. Also consider there aren’t any examples of righteous anger being encouraged in a Christian.
Why do we need another verse? We have Jesus as our example and Paul's statement in Ephesians 4:26 is, as mentioned, in the form of a command, first to do something, and then not to do something. The "not" can not be moved back to refer to "be angry". Every expositor I have looked at regarding the sense of the Greek says it is either a command or at minimum permissive of anger. Just do not sin in your anger.
I’m waiting for Matt to respond in regards to Jesus being our example. In regards to Eph 4, I think anger being permissive makes more sense. Not in the sense of it being righteous though, but in the sense that when the emotion arises it’s not sin if you deal with it. It seems presumptuous to call it righteous anger. The anger David’s enemies had (Ps 4) could not be called righteous. Rather, it seems David was acknowledging the reality of their anger (in a sense, permitting it) and encouraging them to do something righteous about it.

It seems to me that much of our traditional understanding of this verse assumes there is such a thing as righteous anger in a Christian. Not only that, but it’s said that righteous anger should be a motivational factor for a Christian. Are there not a lot of assumptions being read into one verse of scripture when the rest of scripture says nothing like it?

God Bless
Steve

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Homer
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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Homer » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:05 pm

Hi SteveF,

You wrote:
In regards to Eph 4, I think anger being permissive makes more sense. Not in the sense of it being righteous though, but in the sense that when the emotion arises it’s not sin if you deal with it.
I tend to agree with you.

And you went on to write:
It seems to me that much of our traditional understanding of this verse assumes there is such a thing as righteous anger in a Christian. Not only that, but it’s said that righteous anger should be a motivational factor for a Christian.
But what do you do with this verse?

1 Samuel 11:6 (New King James Version)
6. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.


And was Moses not righteously angry when the people made the golden calf and when they kept some of the manna? See Exodus 32:19 & 16:20.

God bless, Homer

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Homer » Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:56 pm

Hi Michelle,

You wrote:
Homer wrote:
As Michelle wrote, we may have multiple emotions simultaneously.

I didn't say that, although I suppose it's true, but I'm not really sure.
You wrote that you felt compassion and sadness regarding child abuse. I took that as two simultaneous emotions.
I don't understand what you mean. Are you saying that compassion is a weak motivation for action? If a person claims to have compassion but fails to act within his ability to do so, is that real compassion?
IMO we are more likely to act when angered; whether our response is good or bad is the question. When we feel compassion, it is easier to rationalize, procrastinate, and do nothing. True compassion combines a feeling with a desire to alleviate the suffering. Perhaps mercy is the best word. As I understand mercy, action is a requirement, not just a desire to act.
Huh? If we are eye witness to an injustice, we are more needful of anger in order to act because...? And yet, hearing about an injustice second hand somehow lessens the need for an angry response?
No, I just think when we see something in person, rather than hearing about it, it makes a bigger impression on us. Our sons' allergist had just retired when his son, in his twenties, while riding his bicycle, was hit by a car and killed. I read of it in the paper. It did not shake me up nearly as much as when I saw a teenager on a bicycle get hit by a car, go completely over the top of the car, bounce off the trunk and onto the road, and yet he survived, even tried to get up, although his ankle was broken. You mentioned earlier that you felt sadness and compassion when you found out about children being abused. Do you think if you witnessed it, you might have also felt anger?
What does it mean to 'be careful' of your anger. Could you provide an example from your own life of when you carefully wielded your anger righteously?
Well, I must say at this point that my nature is rather easy going, I am slow to anger, perhaps to a fault. My wife has asked me why certain things do not make me angry. Anger just seems to be so much trouble. It is easier just to "let it go", whatever it is. But I would
not be honest if I claimed to never get angry.

I think a good example of righteous anger comes from my childhood. When I was in about the second grade, we went out for recess. And there was a group of boys (first graders) circling around, mocking and taunting a little boy who had wet his pants. The poor kid was just setting there on the ground with his head down, taking the abuse. Being a big second grader, I ran off the kids, yelling at them to leave the boy alone. I felt compassion for the victim, and anger at those tormenting him. And to this day I remember the victim, next day at school, greeting me like I was his hero!
Do you believe that it is a command that we be angry? Have I, once again, missed the mark since I try to eliminate anger at all times?
I am not sure that it is a command to be angry over certain things as much as it is a recognition that we will get angry and must not harbor it, cherish it, feed it, and/or let it cause us to sin. On the other hand, perhaps we should be angered at that which angers God. I think that this is what Jesus, Moses, and Paul did. They took God's side. But then I think it is good to eliminate anger from our lives, to the extent we are able, as long as we do not become complacent over that which makes God angry.

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Re: Righteous Anger

Post by Michelle » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:19 pm

Well, Homer, like I said earlier, I probably need to refine my definitions a bit and use the same words, the same way, everyone else is. What you called "mercy" is what I meant by "compassion." You seem to see compassion as a vague feeling of sadness, one that is easily brushed aside. I see it as a strong motivator, and in fact would say that whatever feelings someone has that permits them to say, "Wow, that's sad. Oh, well, what's for lunch?" is not compassion at all, but just, well, some kind of weak agreement that life is sad sometimes.

By the way, I have witnessed child abuse and my emotional state wasn't what I would call anger, but I DID act. Then, again, my definition of anger seems more negative than yours. I explained in my earlier post how anger makes me feel and how much I don't like it. I don't understand why you were angry when you witnessed that accident involving the bicyclist. Was the driver of the car driving recklessly?

Here's what I think: we should probably be grieved about what angers God, do what we can to alleviate suffering in the world, and if anger wells up inside us, be extra vigilant not to sin.

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