In another article (201) we looked into some proverbs that have to do with our attitude when we are told that we have believed a lie. Today I would like to pursue that issue a bit further. What are the roots of religious rage? Why do people get mad when their religious convictions are rejected, refuted, ignored, or mocked?
Two possible reasons.
First, some people get angry because they are filled with the Spirit of the Angry God. There is such a thing as genuine, righteous, indignation. God has it; and He sometimes fills His servants with it (remember Jesus' purge of the Temple with a whip and visible wrath?). The Bible says the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God (James 1:20), but not every man who is angry is possessed by the wrath of man. There is such a thing as the wrath of God and sometimes the servants of God will visibly demonstrate His wrath.
This aspect of religious rage is fraught with danger. There have been many who, thinking they were motivated by righteous wrath, have done great evil in the name of the Lord. Most of these folks have forgotten Jesus' demand that we do evil to no man (Romans 12:17) and that we leave vengeance up to God (Romans 12:19-20). This doesn't mean we are not to be angry, but it does mean that there are specific limitations upon how we are to vent that anger (remember Moses as he struck the rock in anger and was punished by God--though God knew he had plenty of cause to be angry). Many of those who have done evil in the name of righteous wrath have also forgotten that Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world, and that, for that reason, His servants were not to wage physical, violent war against the entrenched evil found in this world. Our warfare is not with flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) and our weapons are not guns and knives, swords and bullets (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).
But there is another reason for religious rage and it also is fraught with danger. This second reason is personal frustration. People get angry over religious issues because two of the deepest needs of man are status and security. When someone tells us we have believed a religious lie, we often get angry because we interpret their accusation as a challenge to our sense of personal worth. We think they are telling us we are foolish for believing what we believe. Or, if we are not angry because we think we have been insulted, we often get angry because the challenge makes us insecure. What if, after all, I have lived my life believing a lie? That idea is scary. And because fear is very unpleasant, my reaction to the challenge is often simply rage out of fear.
This is a very dangerous reaction to challenge. Why?
Because it keeps me from the kind of curiosity that can be used to correct my false beliefs. God seeks people who are curious enough to investigate the roots of their religion and their rage.
Will He find that you are one who meets that standard?