The Angry Christian: A Theology for Care and Counseling
By Andrew D. Lester (Westminster John Knox Press 2003, 2007)
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:31-32
The Angry Christian: A Theology for Care and Counseling is one in a genre of books that has appeared in recent years determined to sanitize anger by redefining and stripping it of all its nasty bits. While it is written from a pastoral theology perspective and is designed to take anger off the list of Seven Deadly Sins, many of its assumptions and conclusions pose problems for me as a Christian clinical psychologist.
Andrew D. Lester, the author, explores many aspects of anger and concludes by suggesting that "good Christians should be angry" so that they can "resist evil, confront injustices, or protest radical suffering."
This is troubling, especially in a world that has over-reached itself in anger. And before anyone rushes to explain that this anger is for social, not personal, injury, let me hasten to say that it was not anger but forgiveness offered through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that saved South Africa, my birth country, from a bloody holocaust.
At best, The Angry Christian helps to relieve the guilt of those who are angry at the world around them; at worst, it reinforces the belief that one can remain angry as long as one believes that the anger has a "just" cause.
At the outset let me say that I fully endorse a number of Lester's assertions. The underlying premise that the emotion of anger is not sin, in itself, comports with Ephesians 4:26"In ...1
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