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H. Henry Meeter Center: Specializing in John Calvin, Calvinism, the Reformation, and Early Modern Studies


"Anger Management on Earth as it is in Heaven: What Christians Have Learned About Cursing Over the Years"

John Thompson of
Fuller Theological Seminary

Audio recording of the lecture

Given on April 17, 2008

We live in an angry age. Yet in many churches and congregations, one of the best-kept secrets of the Bible is the presence, right there in the middle of the Psalms, of line after line of seething anger and vehement invective. To say the least, is'nt there a bit of tension between the eager prayer in Psalm 139, that the righteous might live to see God’s vengeance and even “bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked,” and the fairly straightforward command of Jesus that we should love our enemies and pray for those who do us wrong? How do we deal with angry texts in an age so filled with anger - at home, on the roads, in our cities, and among nations?

On April 17th, Professor John L. Thompson of Fuller Theological Seminary considered topics such as these in a lecture that drew on his recent book, Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis that You Can’t Learn from Exegesis Alone. It is his conviction that the very hardest passages of the Bible are never better read than when we read them in dialogue with the full range of interpreters from the Christian past. Listen to Prof. Thompson as he reflected on what we can learn from our forebears, ranging from church fathers such as Origen through John Calvin, and how we can find practical help from history when we read texts that seem to approve outbursts that are among the worst - and most understandable - of human impulses.