In Good and Angry, David Powlison delves into the topic of anger and how this emotion can be used for God’s glory. Powlison spends several chapters early in the book discussing what anger is and how anger quickly descends into sinful behaviour in our daily interactions. The author asserts that the root of anger lies in our self-seeking ambitions and fleshly desires. The author uses the example of trying to rush to a doctor’s appointment amid a traffic jam as a classic example of how our anger stems from elevating our own needs over the needs of others. Powlison suggests an eight-step process for thinking through one’s situation when feelings of irritableness begin to surface. When we develop a habit of carefully considering our motives and thoughts in these tense moments, we grow in awareness of our own sinfulness and begin the process of subjecting our anger to God. Another critical point that Powlison states is that the best example of good anger can be found in God’s anger as displayed in the Bible. We often try to shy away from Scriptural texts that speak of God’s anger as we are uncomfortable in trying to reconcile His love and anger at the same time. However, Powlison points out that only God can perfectly exhibit anger in a holy, loving manner. Christians need not become emotionless robots when faced with matters of injustice and immorality. Rather, we need to use our Bible and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to harness angry thoughts to be subjected to God’s sovereignty much like how many of the psalmists illustrate in Psalms. The last few chapters address specific questions about anger such as how to deal with deep-seated anger and anger at oneself.
I emphatically recommend this book to everyone who wants to gain a biblical perspective on anger. Based on his extensive counselling experience, Powlison’s treatment of the topic is well-balanced and intriguing. We may think that the stoic Christian has no anger issues at all but Powlison alerts us that displaying no signs of unease when encountering blatant injustice is equally troubling. The author reminds us that anger is not neutral but veer towards good or evil depending on whether we subject our circumstances to God and allow Him to lead us to greater holiness or choose to do whatever is right in our own eyes. Moreover, we need to develop a healthy biblically-informed conscience that steers us towards taking appropriate actions that both glorifies God and loves those around us. Instead of trying to control our angry feelings with our own methods, let us submit our anger to God and allow Him to transform us so that our anger is no longer self-seeking but reflects His holy character.