God, I’m Angry!
Anger, Forgiveness, and the Psalms of Vengeance
Is it a sin for Christians to be angry? After all, didn’t Jesus teach his disciples to forgive unconditionally?
Rev. Dr. Maggie Low answers both of these questions with a resounding “No!” Debunking unhealthy assumptions about anger and forgiveness, God, I’m Angry! lays the groundwork for a biblical understanding of righteous anger, conditional forgiveness, and unconditional love. Low thoroughly engages both Old Testament and New Testament texts to demonstrate that biblical forgiveness is always reliant upon repentance. Examining the psalms of vengeance in their original context, she also establishes that there is such a thing as a healthy, and holy, expression of anger – a way to “do anger” with God that makes space for healing and restored relationship.
Alongside profound theological insight, this book provides a step-by-step guide for application in pastoral counselling contexts and includes real life examples from Low’s extensive ministry experience. It is a source of practical wisdom for spiritual and emotional growth towards freedom, wholeness, and fullness of life.
The lament and imprecatory psalms are often a source of embarrassment for the church. In this highly readable book, Maggie Low has shown that when rightly understood, they can be an important resource for a perennial pastoral problem, namely, anger and unforgiveness. Low helpfully distinguishes between righteous and unrighteous anger, between unconditional love and conditional forgiveness. The result of a nuanced treatment of these emotionally-charged topics is a book that will benefit anyone who struggles with these issues. What makes it especially helpful is that it is grounded in the real-life encounters of the author as a pastor.
Rev. Simon Chan, PhD
Editor, Asia Journal of Theology
Former Lecturer in Theology, Trinity Theological College, Singapore
In God, I’m Angry! Rev. Dr. Maggie Low tackles, with both competence and compassion, thorny issues such as anger, unforgiveness, and vengeance. She speaks as a theologian, exegeting numerous texts and engaging with selected theologies. She speaks also as a pastor, drawing from her considerable experience in counselling believers. The case she makes goes against the grain of what is often put forward as the biblical position on forgiveness. Whether we agree with her or not, this book will not only push us to examine our personal stand, it will also aid us in addressing this topic with greater clarity. I am pleased to commend it to you.
Rt. Rev. Titus Chung, PhD
Bishop of The Anglican Church in Singapore
This is a courageous but timely book, delving into a topic that is seldom treated and hence fraught with misunderstanding. Dr. Low is to be thanked for arguing strongly and clearly for a Christianity that is robust enough to take into its ambit angry responses towards injustice and evil. While not all will agree with her exegetical conclusions, they cannot deny that much food for thought has been given. The many examples from her rich pastoral experience transport the reader from mere academic discussion to the rough and tumble of life, making this book particularly practical.
Tan Kim Huat, PhD
Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament, Trinity Theological College, Singapore
God, I’m Angry! manifests skilled Old Testament teacher Maggie Low’s sensitivity and passion for attending to the pastoral needs of those she serves as she delves deeply into the psalms of vengeance. Her interest lies in more than just elucidating these very difficult psalms. Having encountered many who have experienced deep and unsettling feelings of anger, occasioned by all kinds of situations, she does not flinch from attending to these. She is prepared to disagree with accepted views that offer believers little or no help as they struggle with these raw emotions.
Maggie’s writing is easily accessible, and her desire to see her readers move in a direction that will enable them to participate in behaviour that is pleasing to their Father in heaven is clear to see in this book.
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Counselling, Singapore Bible College
How should we handle the anger we feel when we are sinned against and hurt by others? Some (consciously) suppress the anger and suffer from physical ill-health. Others (unconsciously) repress the anger and suffer emotionally. Yet others give vent to their anger by freely expressing it, which is often unhelpful. The key is to learn to process the anger in God’s presence. The final chapter of Dr. Maggie Low’s thoughtful book is particularly helpful in this regard. It provides help for sufferers as well as pastoral counsellors.
Bishop Emeritus Robert Solomon, PhD
The Methodist Church in Singapore
Table of Contents
- Introduction and Acknowledgements
- Is It OK to Be Angry?
- Is Forgiveness Conditional or Unconditional?
- What Is Forgiveness in the New Testament?
- What Is Forgiveness in the Old Testament?
- What Is Vengeance and Enemy Love in the Old Testament?
- What is Enemy Love and Vengeance in the New Testament?
- Can We Pray the Psalms of Vengeance?
- Psalm 83: Creation Theology
- Psalm 109: Covenant Theologies
- Psalm 137: Zion Theology
- Ministering with the Psalms of Vengeance
- Scripture Index