Angry like Jesus (2015)

Sarah Sumner’s book, Angry like Jesus (Fortress Press, 2015) is helpful for thinking more about both anger and Jesus. She explores how Jesus expresses anger through rebuking. The examples she gives point clearly to the authority that Jesus had, a godly authority that we as Christians also share. Because of this Christians must be open to correction by others and have a duty to rebuke (gently) those who claim to follow Christ but choose to sin. As Christians often adopt a tolerance of another person’s inappropriate conduct, mistaking niceness for love, her point should be taken to heart. Her discussion on anger related to death and demons/evil is also something worth contemplating.

However, because of how she talks about anger only in terms of how it is expressed, especially in terms of authority, this then leads to some hermeneutical jumping jacks. She doesn’t identify the times when the Bible talks about Jesus being angry, but instead only when he rebukes, which is more of an interpretation of the text than an analysis of what is actually written. With regard to anger focused on God, her theological bias that this is not appropriate leads her to conclude that Jesus wasn’t angry on the cross and that the anger expressed by Jeremiah in the Confessions was sinful. I’m more of the opinion that anger simply is – it is primary a signal. Anger is not in itself sinful but instead is an indication of something else (oftentimes this is sin or evil, although not necessarily one’s own).

A book that does a better job of contemplating the role of anger in one’s own personal life is Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger.

Link to more book reviews from Campus Edge.