Morris on Wrath

People today tend to see the truth that “God is love” as the one significant thing. They quite overlook the unyielding moral demand that runs through Scripture.
It is, of course, true that God is love. But it is not true that this rules out any realistic view of God’s wrath. We must bear in mind that the opposite of love is not wrath, but hate. Wrath is perhaps not an ideal term, for with us it so easily comes to denote an emotion characterized by loss of self-control and a violent concern for selfish interests. But these are not necessary constituents of wrath, and both are absent from the “righteous indignation” which gives us the best human analogy. In any case “wrath” is the word the Bible uses, and we need the strongest of reasons for abandoning it. It is a term that expresses the settled and active opposition of God’s holy nature to everything that is evil. What we should not do is to abandon the idea that the wrath is personal. This leads to the position that God does not care about sin, or at least does not care enough to act. It is impossible to reconcile such a morally neutral position with the scriptural teaching about God. The Bible in general and Paul in particular see God as personally active in opposing sin.

Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, page 76

After reading this, I am reminded to revisit the practice of defining terms. What is love? What is wrath? What is hate? The question is not what do I think these words mean, but what does God say that they mean? James 1:20 says, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The Bible differentiates between the wrath of God versus the wrath of man. Man’s version of anything is corrupt and imperfect, and leads to sin. Wrath is righteous and godly, if it is the wrath of God.


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