Algorithm Christianity aims to make Christianity palatable by diluting the gospel for mass appeal. This is a main observation of megachurch Christianity in America and around the world. You’ll often hear these churches preach that Christ saves us from the difficulties of life, our messiness. Yet The Gospel Coalition despite having the gospel in its name seems to fall into this same trap. Part of the gospel is that Christ’s sacrifice satisfies God’s wrath. God is the judge, jury, and executioner, and for Christians, Jesus is our intercessor.
Jeremy Treat wrote a recent article for The Gospel Coalition titled, Wrath Is Not an Attribute of God, making the character of God more palatable to the masses.
It’s Not His Nature
We must understand that wrath is not an attribute of God. God is love. God is holy. God is just. God is not wrath. His wrath is the rightful expression of his holy love in the face of sin and evil.
Before the foundation of the earth, the triune God had perfect love, joy, holiness, and peace. There was no wrath because there was no sin. God’s wrath arises from his holy love in opposition to wickedness. Wrath only exists where sin exists. Therefore we should uphold the priority of God’s love—and the necessity of God’s wrath to safeguard his love in a fallen world.
Treat argues against the idea that wrath is part of God’s nature prior to the fall of man. This contradicts God’s attribute of being unchangeable.
Moreover how about we apply this logic to other attributes of God that spring forth from God’s love. God’s patience, mercy, and grace are all attributes that flow from God’s love in dealing with a fallen world. These too are attributes of God.
The definition of an attribute is as follows: a quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.
Given how much the Bible speaks of the wrath of God, it would be disingenuous to argue that wrath is not an attribute of God by definition.
There are two categories of attributes when describing the nature of God: communicable and incommunicable. Incommunicable would be omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and the previously referenced unchanging nature and character of God. Communicable attributes are attributes in God that we share as humans and we should therefore aspire to use these in biblical ways. Wrath is a communicable attribute of God. And spoiler alert: so is jealousy (not to be confused with envy.)
We shouldn’t downplay the character of God to make is more palatable with the masses using a poor semantic argument as Jeremy Treat employs. By both definition and a clear teaching of Scripture, wrath is an attribute of God. This does not present a conflict within God’s character as Jeremy Treat is rightly arguing against. But Treat is defending the character and congruency of God by denying one of his communicable attributes.