The Pendulum

In it’s original manuscript form my book, The Fury of God, did not have a concluding chapter. Truthfully, I didn’t even want to write the conclusion. The suggestion came at the very end of my first round of editing and I really didn’t want to write anymore. However, after much thought and prayer I decided that the book, without it, might leave the wrong impression on my readers.

In the book, I share the story of a large pendulum from my childhood. This large pendulum was in the waiting room of the eye doctor’s office that we visited regularly. While we waited, my brother and I would often spend our time watching this pendulum swing. This particular pendulum hung over a large circular tray full of white sand. As the pendulum swung, it left little lines in the sand. Sometimes my brother and I would push the pendulum to change its direction and make different lines. Other times we would smooth out the sand and watch as new lines were formed.

Like all aspects of God’s character, our study of God’s fury must never take place in a vacuum. God is an infinite and multifaceted being. We cannot define him by any one of his characteristics. As believers, and theologians, we have an obligation to examine each of God’s characteristic in light of all his characteristics. It is at this point, at the close of the book and the close of this study, that I make a call for balance.

As we begin to better understand God’s fury, we begin to mess with the proverbial pendulum. I would argue that the theological pendulum in our day has swung too far in the direction of God’s love. My prayer, which we’ll see at the end, is that this book will move the pendulum back toward the center. However, I recognize that there are some dangers in emphasizing the fury of God. In fact, there are three I want to caution us all against.

Three Dangers in Studying God’s Fury

First, I want to warn of the danger of pushing the pendulum too hard, and too far. As with any newly discovered truth, believers have a tendency to over emphasize and over correct. Becoming aware of the fury of God in Scripture should not cause us to forget or minimize the love of God. Rather, these two magnificent characteristics of God ought to be held side by side to the glory of each another, and ultimately to the Glory of God.

Second, I want to warn of the danger of pushing the pendulum in the wrong direction. One thing I failed to mention is that the pendulum we played with as kids did not merely swing back and forth in two directions. Rather, it was hanging freely by a string and it could be pushed in any direction. One of my concerns in writing The Fury of God is that it would be used to justify a whole host of angry outbursts and practices which are altogether unbiblical. In fact, I say this explicitly,

Know this: the purpose of this book is not to justify sinful anger in the hearts of men. It is not to embolden people to a callous response to family, government, or church. On the contrary, the purpose is to strike the perfect balance between calling sinful behavior sin, and offering the loving grace of the Gospel as the only solution. (p 235)

Third, and finally, I want to warn of the danger of just sitting back and watching the pendulum. After studying God’s fury, I fear many will simply add this to their mental theological compendium and do nothing about it. My genuine desire is that as believers come face to face with the fury of God, they will, in turn, call others to a right understanding of God as he is described in Scripture.

I know that my one book alone will not turn the theological tide. However, my hope has always been that it will aid in changing the conversation and cause more and more individual believers to balance their theology. As they do, I hope that they, in turn, will make whatever efforts they can to help others do the same.

My Heartfelt Prayer

As I close this study, I think it’s appropriate to end with the same prayer I ended the book with. Rather than ending this study with discussion questions, I would simply ask that you would consider doing a few things. First, pray the following prayer with me. I don’t me to literally “pray this prayer” but rather pray with me that Christians would be awakened to truth of who God really is. Second, if you haven’t read The Fury of God, take some time and read it and draw your own conclusions about the fury of God. Third, and finally, I’d like to encourage you to boldly change the conversation in your spheres of influence. Push the pendulum ever so slightly in your home, church, and place of business. Begin helping people to understand how God’s fury magnifies his love.

This is my prayer:

My prayer is that Christians would be awakened to the fury of God in such a way that Christ becomes infinitely more glorious to them than he ever was before. I pray that the Gospel would shine brighter as believers become acutely aware of all that they have as a result of sacrifice of Christ. I pray that our new found appreciation for every breath would well up into tears of joy for all that God has done, and is doing, for us every moment of every day. I pray that we would realize that we cannot truly understand God’s love, until we fully understand his fury.