Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness
by David Powlison
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Good and Angry, a groundbreaking book from David Powlison, shows readers how anger is more than a problem to solve. Anger is our complex human response to what we perceive as wrong in a complex world, thus we must learn how to fruitfully and honestly deal with it.
Powlison undertakes an in-depth exploration of the roots of anger, moral judgment, and righteous response by looking in a surprising place: God’s own anger.
Good and Angry examines God’s desire for justice and his anger, which doesn’t devolve into manipulation. Rather, God’s anger is good and redemptive, and it causes him to step into our world to make wrongs right, sending his own Son to die so we can be reconciled.
In this book full of practical and biblical help, Powlison sets readers on a path toward a faithful and fruitful expression of anger, in which we return good for evil and redeem wrongs. Powlison investigates how God is our model for change and our power for change.
Good and Angry helps people who struggle with irritation, complaining, or bitterness explore how to respond constructively when life goes wrong. You, your family, and your friends will all be glad that you read this book.
David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, serves as CCEF's executive director, as a faculty member, and as senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. 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; The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context; Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining and Bitterness; Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken; and God's Grace in Your Suffering.
"Anger can teach us something good not only about ourselves, but about God—and my friend David Powlison shows us how. I highly recommend Good and Angry, especially for Christian leaders, counselors, parents, and young people!"
Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
"This is the best book on anger there is, except for Scripture itself. Powlison explores anger with wonderful depth and precise nuance. The book is a great systematic theology, for it explores all the relevance of creation, providence, and saving grace."
John Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary
"Good and Angry is a remarkably penetrating treatment of a vital but neglected subject. Powlison's insights are profound, not only on anger, but patience, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I personally benefited from this excellent book. I highly recommend it."
Randy Alcorn, Author of If God Is Good, Heaven, and Happiness
"Reading this book is like a conversation with a friend, rather than a lecture from a know-it-all. It is, above all, helpful and biblical. It is the best book I know of on this difficult topic."
Ray Ortlund, Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, TN
"It is rather rare to have a twenty-year history behind a commendation of a new book, but Good and Angry by Powlison now takes its rightful place as my number one recommendation on anger—not to mention it now stands as the fullest and wisest Christian response to the sub-theme of self-hatred and self-anger I have ever read."
Tony Reinke, Desiring God; host of the Ask Pastor John podcast; author of Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ
"If there is any counselor on the planet who is qualified to come alongside you and point you to the truth about yourself and the Lord who loves you, it is David Powlison. For decades now he’s been the primary voice of grace-saturated counsel and he speaks from a position of deep wisdom and careful exegesis. If you or someone you know has a problem with anger, this book is for you. In other words, everyone should buy it."
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Author of Counsel from the Cross
"Endorsing something that has occupied fifteen years of the 'salt n' light' life of Dr. David Powlison is a privilege. As an Anglican priest of an inner-city parish in Charleston, SC; having struggled with and viewed anger ‘up-close-and-personal’ in our community, the 'God tools' and experiences within the pages of Good and Angry are personally germane to me. And will enable me to teach others how to biblically 'reframe anger.'"
The Rev. Dr. Dallas H. Wilson, Jr., Vicar, St. John's Chapel, Charleston, South Carolina
"David Powlison does not treat anger as a disease to be cured or a vice to be crushed. After all, the Bible depicts both Jesus and his heavenly Father as sometimes angry. Expect no comforting nostrums from these pages. Here, instead, you will find biblically faithful probing and gospel hope that will make it possible to be good and angry."
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical School, Deerfield, IL; cofounder of The Gospel Coalition
"This book is vintage Powlison—balanced, insightful, and richly nuanced. Powlison maps our anger (both good and bad) not on a sprinkling of Bible verses but on the gospel and the breadth and depth of biblical narrative. This is one of those books you not only read, but buy copies to pass to friends. That's what I'm doing!"
Paul Miller, Director of see Jesus, author of A Loving Life
"It is a rare thing to find a fusion of biblically accurate and personally applicable insight in much that is written about anger. Dr. David Powlison is a stunning exception. He wields his written insight with all the wisdom and care with which a shepherd carries a staff to direct and defend the sheep dearly loved by the greatest Shepherd. His grasp of the Word of God and the heart of humanity is startlingly clear, compelling, convicting, and comforting."
Joseph Vincent Novenson, Senior Teaching Pastor, Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, Lookout Mountain, TN
"Good and Angry is the best book I have reviewed related to the heart of anger. David Powlison gets the nuances of the heart, and his careful and thorough understanding of anger from a biblical perspective is a significant contribution to the biblical counseling movement. He shows us that with Christ as our example and the gospel as our guide we can forgive, be motivated to mercy, and even learn to love our enemies. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever been angry, loves someone who struggles with anger, and especially to those who don't think they have a problem with anger. I pray this book is as helpful to you as it has been to me."
Garrett Higbee, Executive Director, Biblical Soul Care Ministries
"David Powlison helps us to think clearly about our anger, no matter which form it tends to take. This book really is a one-size-fits-all, and the format is like interactive counseling. Whether or not you are already aware of your anger problem, you need this book. Good and Angry is an exceptional resource for everyone—from parents and teachers to pastors and missionaries."
Gloria Furman, Cross-cultural worker; author of The Pastor's Wife and Missional Motherhood
"The great thing about David Powlison's counseling and writing is that he is willing to get his hands dirty as he brings the gospel into the root problems of our lives. His discussions not only deal with the realities of our struggles but the realities of his own grappling for help—at a depth most of us are not capable or daring enough to consider. Yet, as troubling as are the problems he tackles, so refreshing and realistic are the gospel truths he unearths for us. He digs into his own heart to help us know how to bring gospel restoration to ours."
Bryan Chapell, Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, IL
"This is the most complete, biblical, insightful, and practical book on anger that I have ever read. The concepts are clearly explained with plenty of illustrations from the biblical record as well as from our daily lives. It is obvious that the author is quite experienced in this field, knowing the personal and interpersonal conflicts that trigger the angry reactions in us. It is hard to think of a person that would not be helped by this book."
Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church of Santo Domingo; President, Wisdom and Integrity Ministries
"You should read this book. Good and Angry masterfully captures the way every last one of us needs our anger redeemed and brims with practical wisdom to help that happen. This book moves far beyond anger management, consistently reorienting us to God's redemptive purposes for anger against real wrongs, while unveiling the lies that fuel destructive rage and cold-hearted grumbling. I have not read a more soul-searching and refreshing book in a long time."
J. Alasdair Groves, Director of Counseling, CCEF New England
"Good and Angry takes a comprehensive look at good anger and destructive anger. I especially appreciate how David names the more covert forms of anger such as indifference, withdrawal, and contempt as being just as sinful and destructive as the more aggressive anger of rage and bullying. I will encourage my clients who are in destructive relationships to study this book to gain greater self-awareness of what's driving them when anger overwhelms them."
Leslie Vernick, LCSW, Relationship coach; speaker; author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship
"Far too often in Christian circles our approach to emotions tends toward simplistic and negative. 'Anger is bad. Stop it.' That's why I'm so grateful for David Powlison's robust, redemptive wisdom found in Good and Angry. David teaches us how Christ's gospel of grace emancipates our hearts so that even the messy emotion of anger can fruitfully and beautifully reflect the holy love of Christ."
Bob Kellemen, Biblical Counseling Chair at Crossroads Bible College; author of Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives
"I struggle with sinful anger every day. This book is an excellent source of help in understanding my problem, discerning my motives, examining the lies I tend to believe, and diagnosing the deep roots of sin that compel me to explode in rage or retreat in cold, hateful disdain. In his chapter on anger toward God, Powlison invites us to a courageous honesty that puts us on the pathway to repentance, the sweet and rugged landscape of every believer's life."
Barb Duguid, Author of Extravagant Grace
"I've had righteous anger before, I think, but not very often. Most of my anger is more than a little bit unrighteous. In this wise and immensely practical book, David Powlison brings a lifetime of skill at understanding the human heart to help us deal with one of the world's biggest problems: anger, and everything that leads up to it."
Philip Ryken, President, Wheaton College
"David Powlison helps us to see that anger is not a problem to be solved but a natural human response to injustice, things we believe to be 'not right.' The problem we face is how to respond to what is 'not right' without sinning. Powlison helps us by encouraging us to admit our sinful anger problems, exposing the roots of sinful anger, and teaching us how to 'express the right kind of anger in the right way.' I needed this book! And if you're anything like me, you need it as well."
Juan R. Sanchez, Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
"Throughout the years, Powlison's works have been such helpful resources to turn to in pastoral ministry. Good and Angry proves to be no different as it provides keen insight into a very prevalent human emotion. From layperson to seasoned pastor, this book helps all those looking to investigate the root of anger. While doing so, Powlison artfully and tenderly brings his readers into the embrace of God's mercy."
Stephen T. Um, Senior Minister of Citylife Presbyterian Church, Boston, MA
"With characteristic humility and wisdom, David Powlison has produced a rich resource on understanding anger. He moves us beyond our reflex to repress and repent and shows us how our anger can increasingly reflect the loving purposes of God in Christ. The 'constructive displeasure of mercy' is a phrase that I will be meditating on for a long time."
Winston Smith, Faculty, CCEF
"All of us struggle with the hot unpleasantness of emotions and desires on the spectrum of anger. This problem frustrates us, saddens us, and often enslaves us. We need a wise and gracious guide to point us to the mercy of God’s Word. David Powlison is a man of peace and his words in this book breathe wisdom and point to Christ’s own grace for change. Since anger is all of our problem, we all need this book."
Heath Lambert, Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida
"David Powlison is never simplistic. This biblically rich, psychologically insightful analysis puts anger under the microscope and shows us just how complicated it can be. It also shows us how to relate anger to the really big themes of Scripture—grace, redemption, and the restoration of all things. Read this book and see why anger matters far more than you ever thought it did. Read this book and learn how to be both angry and good."
Steve Midgley, Executive Director, Biblical Counseling UK
"David Powlison's Good and Angry will serve as a seminal work in the arena of biblical care. Providing the reader with a sound conceptual understanding of anger while suggesting rich biblical insights for change, this book contains truths that equip the believer to more effectively address the struggle of anger in its varying forms. Powlison's style and wisdom are always profound and refreshing. This book is no exception."
Jeremy Lelek, President, Association of Biblical Counselors
"This is the opposite of a self-help book; it is a God-help book. Here we find readable, pithy, and searching reflections on what God says about anger—and its redemption by grace—in the Bible. Highlights include Powlison's treatment of the exemplary nature of God's anger, the multitudinous ways in which our anger falls short of God's, and the confusion of Christian defenses of anger against God. Again and again, this gentle sage of sanctification leads us back to the one who overcame our anger, and his, at the cross."
Eric L. Johnson, Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary