Hopko on the Wrath of God

SpeakingTheTruthI have a very high regard for the work and thought of Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary. He has influenced much of my thought for a number of years both directly and indirectly. I am particularly pleased that Ancient Faith Radio offers two podcasts series by Fr. Tom. It is a great gift of the Church.

I have been listening recently to two podcasts on the subject of the Wrath of God (a topic on which I have written and done podcasts myself). Both are very worth hearing. In particular, I find that he is much more comfortable in his treatment of God’s wrath in both Scripture and human experience than I have been. I commend his podcasts to my readers and welcome any conversation they might engender.

Hopko – The Wrath of God

Hopko – The Wrath of God – Part 2

Glory to God for all things!

Comments

  1. Brent says

    Father,

    I came into the Church on Pentecost of this year (I was chrismated at St. John of the Ladder in Greenville, SC…I was there for your recent visit, by the way). This subject of the wrath of God has been one of the most interesting, fascinating, amazing, and at times confusing, things that I have encountered in the Church. I have been reading and listening to many things on it, and just when I think I have some type of understanding, I’ll hear something else that throws me for another loop. But, of course, if God was so easily understood, he wouldn’t be God :) I was actually listening to this very podcast, when I decided to take a break and flip over to your blog and I saw you had posted this! Great timing! From some of my previous readings and listenings to various things on this subject, I think I was going towards (and least in concept) what Fr. Hopko references in his podcast: this Platonic God, unmovable, pure essence, etc. But, Fr. Hopko gives another angle; seemingly he isn’t comfortable with just calling God’s wrath or anger of pleasure simply anthropomorphisms, but rather objective realities of God’s energies upon mankind. From what I understand, no one in the Church would confess that God’s wrath is juridical or necessary for his ‘justice’ to be appeased, etc, but I continue to struggle with understanding some pieces of scripture that speak of wrath and a judgment that requires punishment (seemingly). If nothing else, when I do get confused about these matters, I look to the cross and therein do I see the self sacrifical love of God…I don’t see a God that has to rip apart his own Son to have mercy on the rest of mankind. And I can find peace and rest in that! So, for those confusing parts about wrath and anger, real or imagined or explanatory, I will just try to keep learning at the feet of those that have pondered it longer.

    So, what are your thoughts on Fr Hopko here?

    Though probably too much to ask for, if it could be stated simply, what is the wrath of God? and maybe even give us some of the more difficult passages of scripture that reference wrath and explain….

    Thank you so much! :)

  2. says

    Brent. I’m not sure of the answer. Hopko’s podcast was interesting to me, though I could have sworn I’d heard a fairly different take from him 10 years back. That’s possible, of course. I’m not sure on the “objective” angle either. I have instead understood, and within the fathers, that the distinction between love and wrath is governed within our acceptance or rejection of His love. In particular, St. Isaac of Syria seems to treat this differently. Give my love to the brethren!