Book Review – Good & Angry
Growing up in the church I always heard about this mysterious thing called ‘righteous’ anger. The concept was simple enough for me to grasp intellectually, but grasping this concept experientially was something that was far beyond the reaches of my understanding. My father struggled with anger for most of his life and his was not a righteous anger. This paved the way for my own understanding of anger. It was, by and large, something to be avoided at all costs. Ephesians 4:26 (Be angry, and sin not) was a verse that I completely neglected choosing instead choosing to read it as “Avoid anger because it is a sin”. This paved the way for a deeply ingrained moralism when after many years of failure I learned to control my anger.I took great pride in maintaining an even temper when enticed. That is until I really began to understand the sermon on the mount. The anger, as it turns out, was still within me despite my new found discipline. Slowly over the years God has worked this out of me. Sure it rears it’s ugly head every now and then, but by God’s grace (by that I mean 100% God and 0% me) that is happening less and less as He is simultaneously working His fruit within me.
Despite God’s work in me if you were to ask me what it means to have a righteous anger I would simply shrug my shoulders and say it’s probably best to avoid anger altogether. Enter David Powlison and his new book, Good & Angry.In this book, Powlison takes a close look at anger and responsibly probes the pages of scripture unwrapping this mysterious force. As Powlison puts it,
My chief goal in this book is to teach you how to more fruitfully and honestly deal with your anger. . . like all human capacities and responses, it sometimes works well, but too often goes bad. . .but having and expressing the right kind of anger in the right way is a good goal.
When I read these words from the introduction I knew I had a rare jewel in my hands. Here was a man affirming what I had long ago given intellectual assent to, and yet spoke of it as if he had the key to unlocking the mysterious nature of this problem which many people struggle to understand! Powlison defines anger (at its core) as “an active stance you take to oppose something that you assess as both important and wrong”. This is why, for instance, we can be angry at the oppression of the the needy and poor and be justified in our anger. When an abuser victimizes a woman or child, we rightfully express anger at the injustice. But what do we do with that anger? THAT is the question I have always struggled with.
Good & Angry helps to make sense of our anger. It encourages an anger that is righteous and condemns the many manifestations of sinful anger. The book is divided into four sections which help you to explore your experience with anger, define what exactly it is, and show you how to move from a sinful destructive anger to a righteous and constructive anger. In the last section, Powlison takes a look at specific examples anger which are difficult to navigate and guides you through a process of working through the things principles woven through the book. Throughout the book, Powlison engages with the reader encouraging us to honestly deal with our own experienced with anger. Each chapter ends with questions that help you to make the issue relevant to your experience.
Good & Angry is a book that would be good for everyone who struggles with anger or who counsels anyone who is struggling with anger. This is also a wonderful book for parents with children who are struggling with anger. I can see Good & Angry being used as a workbook for small groups or with older children in the home. No matter how it’s used, Good & Angry is a book that will help you to better understand the many nuances of this complex human capacity.
Where to buy Good & Angry
About the author
David Powlison, M.Div., Ph.D. is Executive Director of Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) as well as a CCEF faculty member and Senior Editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary.
David has been counseling for over thirty years and has written numerous articles on biblical counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love; Seeing with New Eyes; Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare; and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. His minibook titles include Facing Death with Hope; Healing after Abortion; Recovering from Child Abuse; and Renewing Marital Intimacy.
David has taught across the United States and in Korea, India, Brazil, Europe, and Sri Lanka. He blogs periodically at CCEF and The Gospel Coalition.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Growth Press in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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