Monday, June 4, 2012

Gaffin on God's wrath

God's wrath is not like our wrath. It is not capricious and subject to fitful outbursts of passionate emotion. But, neither is it metaphorical, impersonal, or just another way of speaking about his love. Wrath is the perfect response of revulsion and rejection of a holy God to sin. Professor Richard Gaffin, in his essay called Atonement in the Pauline Corpus as it appears in The Glory of the Atonement, writes:

The deepest, most decisive consideration, however, is present in the awesome and unfathomable mystery of God's electing purpose. In his active resolve to exercise ("choosing to show") "his wrath," those who are "the objects of his wrath-prepared for destruction" (Rom 9:22) are such before "they were born or had done anything good or bad" (Rom 9:11). For Paul, God's judicial wrath as it terminates on the finally unrepentant, according to his sovereign predestination, is for them absolute and unmitigated. Divine wrath and justice are not merely penultimate (and no more than metaphorical) expressions of his ultimately all-embracing love.

It is unnecessary, and it weakens the biblical concept of the wrath of God, to deprive it of its emotional and affective character. Wrath in God must not be conceived of in terms of the fitful passion with which anger is frequently associated in us. But to construe God's wrath as consisting simply in his purpose to punish sin or to secure the connection between sin and misery is to equate wrath with its effects and virtually eliminate wrath as a movement within the mind of God. Wrath is the holy revulsion of God's being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness. (152-3)

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