So, I delve into the wisdom of Facebook Theology (I think I’ll trademark that. I like it.)
On my timeline, one of my friends (an extended family member) posted this little bit of wisdom:
Common religious saying: ‘God fearing.’
New Testament of the Bible: ‘God is Unconditional Love.’
My pithy response was simply “Both are correct.” I really try to hold my tongue on Facebook for the most part, because you may have noticed that I can be opinionated and this doesn’t always serve me well, particularly when I think the point I’m debating is sheer lunacy. Compassion and charity can take a sudden vacation at times.
But not to stop there, let’s view some of the other comments. More Facebook Theological insight from the likes of people not quite at the level of, say, St. Thomas Aquinas.
“We were not created to fear God. We were not meant to “fear” anything. God is love. We are love. Therefore we all are one.”
Me: Beyond the evidently failed logic class this person took in high school that somehow led them to the two-step conclusion that “We are not created to fear God” leads to the conclusion that “we are all one,” there are other issues with this. If we were not meant to fear anything, God would have not created us with the emotion of fear. Just like everything else about us, we can cripple ourselves with fear, or we can use fear as it was intended – to protect us, safeguard us, and take appropriate precautions. To “fear” God is correct and natural in the sense that we recognize He has ultimate power and authority over us. His benevolence, mercy, and love allows us to have a real loving relationship with Him, to befriend Him even. But this does not negate His authority, and it does not negate the fact that with this authority comes with law and penalty.
Further, God wants us to come to Him however we can. We learn that an “imperfect contrition” is going to confession for fear of Hell rather than the sadness in knowing that you have disappointed God, with a desire to repair the damage you’ve done to your relationship with God. But imperfect or not, the Sacrament is valid. God gets us. And He’d rather us make it to heaven out of a fear of Hell than to not get there at all because of an improper sense of what the love of God is all about. Yes, of course, God prefers that we love Him so much that we do not act out of fear. This is a much more mature faith. But to check fear at the door is to risk the sin of presumption. There is still a proper place in your relationship with God for a properly disposed of sense of “fear.” Fear may mean awe, respect, a bewilderment that God is impossible to completely understand, or at some level simply fear.
“I think it might be more realistic to assume that when one uses the term ‘God fearing’ it is implying a fear of God at a mass consciousness level in a rather negative way.”
Me: No, that is not what it means.
“Actually the word ‘fear’ in the Bible is a mistranslation for the word ‘dance.’ So really it’s not supposed to be ‘fear god’ it’s ‘dance with your god.’ ”
Me: To quote the original post: “LOL” Where do people get this crap? Even if there is some alternate translation where the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word for fear is similar to dance, trying to insert the word “dance” wherever “fear” shows up is insanely ridiculous.
I can see the next biblical translation now: “And the angel appeared unto Mary, and she danced. And the angel replied “dance not!” I guess it changes the visual during my meditation of the Mystery of the Annunciation during Rosary time.
I don’t know why people even concerns themselves with these things. I guess we just want to make God exactly what we want Him to be. God loves me, therefore I can do no wrong. No, people. God loves all of us, but history shows that He also means business. God is not emotional. Everything is for a reason that has in its final purpose the salvation off as many people as possible. We look at chastisements/punishments as anger or wrath because we’re dumb people who can only think in those terms. It’s an apt enough description for the purpose it serves, but it also means that if we stray from God, and He doesn’t want to see us stray, He may take drastic measures that we don’t like at all. And, yes, we should fear that.
Beyond that is the obvious analogy of parenting at the human level. I love my kids and they say they love me. If they don’t say that, they get no ice cream, but I think it may even be true. Precisely because I love my kids, I want to see them grow up exhibiting certain behaviors. I want this for their own salvation, I want it for their own ability to make a living, to be a good citizen, to have a life that is gifted with good decisions.We really do get along well. We laugh and we play. But they absolutely fear the consequences to misbehavior. By extension, then, you could say they fear me. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that. Ultimately, I would hope that they act the way they do out of love and respect for me. But before they intellectually mature, they may just not do something because the fear the consequence of doing it.
Compared to God, we’re all toddlers. Fear works. Deal with it.