My cousin wrote a post a while back on God’s anger showing numerous examples in the Old Testament of God getting angry. I have queried more on this as well. I’ve concluded ultimately, along with Msgr. Charles Pope, that there is some sense of a wrath of God that refers to his desires to set things right but is really more in us than it is in him. My cousin tries to argue two contrary points at the exact same time. That God’s anger is not rooted in wounded pride yet gets angry when nations fail to acknowledge him and at the same time at the unfaithfulness of his people. Yet both of these would be prime examples of anger caused by wounded pride.
Of course, the notion of a moody, angry God, who is angry when people don’t believe in him is actually grounded in a giving up of ancient Christian theology. Ancient Christian theology focused on God’s enrgies (or love) way more than they focused on God’s anger and wrath. Of course they acknowledged his holiness since these things were apart of his holiness but Protestants, I’ve noticed, latch on to an idea of holiness so often that it makes God having to live up to justice. Of course, St. Thomas Aquinas notes that “if [God] forgives sin, which has the character of wrongdoing in that it is committed against him, he injures no one” (Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, 228).
But any way, I wanted to get to my point. Does God sleep? Psalm 44:23 says “yes” but Psalm 121:3-4 says “no”. There seems at first to be no escape for a fundamentalist reading these two verses. Either the Bible has contradictions or the Bible is flawed. There’s no way for them to solve this. But here, the fundamentalist is actually now trapped at their own game. The entire fundamentalist regime depends upon a series of “verse” wars. So much so that after a while of going back and forth with them, you think they really do have the right interpretation of the Bible no matter how new their theology is (it dates back to the 1910’s by the way). Naturally, you have to wonder as to where everyone went before the fundamentalists showed up though.
This is perhaps the devastating blow to their theology though. The fundamentalist tries desperately to search for the one meaning in the Bible and they try they’re best to contend that their following Judaism more closely than other variations of Christianity (even though Jews follow a line of tradition plus the scriptures as well). So they something like, “you’ve taken Psalm 44:23 out of context!” and then hold to Psalm 121:3-4. If that’s their best argument, than when they show a verse like John 14:6 and say “seems clear to me!” all they’ve really done is broken the rules of their own game.
Fundamentalism is a game and nothing more and fundamentalists like to champion it to such a position that they will try and say triumphantly that they’ve won. Some even proceed to attack our Mariology and then Christendom as a whole. If they are playing a game, they are playing a losing game. Does God sleep? For a Catholic or an Orthodox Christian, the answer is “no” and we appeal to tradition to show this.
Many of the things relating to God, therefore, that are dimly understood cannot be put into fitting terms, but on things above us we cannot do else than express ourselves according to our limited capacity; as, for instance, when we speak of God we use the terms sleep, and wrath, and regardlessness, hands, too, and feet, and such like expressions. … His forgetfulness and sleep and slumbering are His delay in taking vengeance on His enemies and the postponement of the accustomed help to His own.” (St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I)
But a fundamentalist is forced to dance around their own eisegesis of the text, change the rules of their own game, give up on a theology that doesn’t work, and then claim they’ve won going back to their own favorite verses. This is all fundamentalists do. Fundamentalists ultimately end up making excuses for why they reject a traditional based Christian system. (Liberals just make excuses for why they believe in God and yet can be anti-supernaturalist.) In the end, fundamentalists worship a god made out of silver and gold. A god of their own liking. Rejecting that which suits them, believing that which suits them.
So fundamentalists, without breaking the rules of your own game keeping in mind that you must take the entire Bible literally, not picking and choosing, does God sleep or does God not sleep?