Friday, February 25, 2011

Fear or Wisdom?

There can be no argument that punishment (and please remember, punishment is not the same as discipline) is within God’s power, right, and authority. However, is it within God’s nature? 1 John 4:16 says that “God is love”. It does not say that God is loving. It says that God is love itself, and love and hope are intricacy connected. 1 John 4:18, reads:
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
And again, Psalm 103:13:
"The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him."
Some Christians see "fearing God" as a judge or master and tremble in fear of punishment. However with the verses I've quoted this doesn't fit at all, especially 1 John 4:18.

There are two types of fear, servile fear and filial fear. I believe the only justified fear (for a Christian) is filial fear. Servile fear is the fear of a slave and has NOTHING to do with the type of fear that is the origin of wisdom. Filial fear (of the father-son kind) "drives out all fear" (1 John 4:18), it drives out servile fear - it drives out the fear of a slave - the fear of punishment, the fear of "holy terror".

I would say that filial fear really isn't fear at all. It is interesting because if these types of Christians are scared to death of what God thinks of you or what he may do to you to punish, then, as 1 John 4:18 says, "...because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love", makes me wonder about these people. Sounds like this servile fear of God and what He, as a Slave Master, can or will do to you makes one more slaves than children.

This servile fear will spiritually murder you on the inside.

When we feel the need to be seen to be good, like a frightened child, we will pretend in order to please. Pretense kills more people than cancer”. The Beautiful Life, Bloomsbury, London, 2007, pg. 60

...and that, I think, is the defining difference between the two. Pretense. Wearing Masks.

Attempting to be something to appease some one, be that someone a social group, congregation, priest or pastor, or even a deified spiritual superman in the sky.

But it is filial fear that I believe is the path to freedom and wisdom. Once we cease fearing punishment and constant reprisals we become free to accept accountability and responsibility. We are no longer dependent upon this deified spiritual superman; in fact, we become free of this idolized anthropomorphic God.

So, what then becomes of wisdom?

Learning how to think rather than what to think. Education over Indoctrination; but not simply the collection and acquisition of Knowledge and Data – that's rote – not much different than indoctrination – but its benevolent, practical, and relational application; Wisdom.
Questioning is not sinful.
Thinking is not being 'Worldly'.
Doubt is not the absence of Faith, but a necessary and healthy composite of it.
(The arrogance needed to deny doubt is simply amazing!)

'From caring comes courage'. We might add that from it also comes wisdom. It's rather significant, we think, that those who have no compassion have no wisdom. Knowledge, yes; cleverness, maybe; wisdom, no. A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn't really care. Wisdom does. The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

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