Anger Toward God: A New Frontier in Forgiveness Research

Authored by: Julie Juola Exline , Alyce Martin

Handbook of Forgiveness

Print publication date:  June  2005
Online publication date:  December  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415949491
eBook ISBN: 9780203955673
Adobe ISBN: 9781135410889


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The experience of anger is not limited to the interpersonal domain. When suffering occurs that seems uncontrollable and unfair, individuals sometimes blame God and become intensely angry toward God. However, people often believe that it is morally inappropriate to feel angry toward God, which implies that they may be reluctant to admit such feelings or even to discuss the possibility (Novotni & Petersen, 2001). But taboo or not, anger toward God appears to be common. In the 1988 General Social Survey, a broad-based survey of American households, 63% of respondents reported that they sometimes felt anger toward God. Frequent or unresolved anger toward God has been linked with emotional distress (e.g., Exline, Yali, & Lobel, 1999; Pargament, Zinnbauer, et al., 1998), suggesting that the topic has clinical relevance. Because research on anger toward God is in its infancy, our goal here is to describe the handful of studies that exist while highlighting many questions that still need to be addressed.

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