To live in a world permeated with evil is enough to make you angry. Those we love can arouse deep anger within us as they purposely or unknowingly hurt us. People unleash enormous wickedness and suffering on the world at large, and suddenly we find ourselves sucked into evil's vortex. How should the Christian respond? Is it legitimate to become angry, either over our own pain or the suffering inflicted on others?

At first glance, the New Testament exacerbates the conundrum. Both Jesus (Matt. 5:22) and Paul (Eph. 4:27) teach that anger is inappropriate or at best should be short-lived (Eph. 4:26-27), but both clearly became angry at times (Matt. 22; Gal. 1). Our experience and the Bible both suggest that there is legitimate anger and sinful anger. How are we to distinguish them?

In this book, Andrew D. Lester, professor of pastoral theology and pastoral counseling at Texas Christian University's Brite Divinity School, helps the Christian community reliably navigate the stormy waters of anger, offering a wise and practical "theology of anger."

Too many Christians, Lester believes, have been taught that anger is always sinful. "One friend said that he didn't hear this explicit message from the pulpit, 'but it is what I heard implicitly, a part of the air I breathed [at church] but never named with words directly'—a common report from the Christians with whom I minister." Therefore many Christians, Lester notes, assume that anger is sinful and should be absent from the spiritually mature.

Lester admits that "anger that is expressed destructively toward others, ourselves, or God adversely affects our spiritual journey. Anger's power can destroy our health, our relationships, our community, and our sense of God's presence and grace." ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.