Powlinson, David. Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness. Greensboro, NC: New Growth, 2016. 26 pp. $19.99.
Every one of us knows what it’s like to have our anger go bad. We get irritated and begin complaining, we pass judgment on people who don’t meet our standards, we seethe inside at some wrong we’ve experienced or blow up in a rage. We also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of anger gone wrong, to be judged, yelled at, or ignored in a passive-aggressive fit. We live in a sin-cursed world where we get angry at others, angry at ourselves, and angry at God.
For as common as anger is, however, we understand very little about it. We have a hard time understanding the difference between sinful anger and righteous anger, or even agreeing if there is such a thing as righteous anger. We struggle to understand what it means to say that God is angry, or whether we’re ever justified in getting angry at him. Despite the proliferation of self-help and therapeutic techniques, we don’t know how to solve our anger issues or become less angry.
David Powlinson’s goal in Good and Angry is to help us deal with our anger issues, to help us increasingly express the right kind of anger in the right way. Few books so helpfully mix biblical truth and practical application. It’s the kind of book you need to read with a pen in your hand and a prayer on your lips. Each chapter ends with questions that drive truth deep into your own heart, helping to facilitate conviction, repentance, and grace.
The book is divided into four sections, and the first section begins by helping us to understand our own particular experiences of anger. We all experience and express anger in unique ways. Sometimes our anger is justified, but oftentimes it is not. We all need to recognize our anger and how we express anger if we hope to experience redemption from it.
The second section explores the nature of anger, and might be the most biblical and most helpful reading I’ve ever done on the subject. Powlinson explains how anger at its core is a good thing, that it is possible to be good and angry. Anger is an active stance that opposes something that is both important and wrong, something important enough to care about. In this way anger is related to justice, to love for the needy, to overcoming sin. When the Bible describes God as angry, it means for us to understand that God actively and lovingly opposes all that is wrong and sinful. The problem for us as fallen human beings is that we often substitute our desires for God’s desires, our will for God’s will, and our anger goes bad. This is why it is so hard to understand anger, because it is so often a mix of good and bad. Jesus Christ, particularly through his death on the cross, shows us the way to overcome anger, and that we best express anger in this fallen world through mercy.
The third and fourth sections build upon this understanding by leading us through an understanding of how to change, to go from sinfully expressed anger to mercy. The fourth section explores how we can grow and change in especially hard cases, such as situations like abuse or when we’re angry specifically at God. Powlinson doesn’t offer any quick fixes, but does use Scripture to help us understand how we can move beyond our sinful anger and be good and angry when anger is called for. Jesus can redeem us from our anger, he can change us, and this book can help us experience his grace.