Why should we have "fear of God"?

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04 Aug 2015 15:42 #199216 by Goken
Why should we have "fear of God"? was created by Goken
Yesterday while driving I saw a man standing on a street corner with a sign, I didn't get to read the whole sign, but the first part of it said "Fear God..."

I've heard stuff like this before. The "God fearing man," "fear of God ran deep," etc. I wonder why though.

Why are they saying that you should fear God? Isn't the idea that God is just and kind and compassionate? Why have a religion based entirely around fear? (although one could argue that all religions are based on fear of the unknown, but that's not what I mean). I understand having a strong and powerful God that your enemies should fear (Odin, Thor, Zeus, etc) but why should the followers of that religion fear God? And if the goal is conversion isn't a much better tactic to say to "trust in God"? Kind of a "catch more flies with honey" scenario.

I think of it like a good martial arts teacher. If you are afraid of your martial arts teacher they're doing it wrong. Sure, you should have an understanding that they could easily beat the ever living crap out of you should they choose to and you should respect that, but not be afraid of it. My father (who was my teacher) is one of the scariest people I have ever met and could still kill me with one hand tied to one foot, but I have never in my life been afraid of him (physically at least). You should realize that God gets the final say on eternal punishment and whatnot and have respect for that, but not be afraid of it.

Fear, they say, is a powerful motivator, but also an unreliable one. Fear leads people to do crazy things, like a caged animal. Maybe basing a religion on "fear of God" is why they see their numbers dwindling. People are tired of being afraid and seek something more comforting. After all, isn't that what a good religion is supposed to do, comfort you? I guess I don't get telling people to be afraid of the same deity that you're telling them to love and who loves them.

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04 Aug 2015 15:51 #199217 by cm_chasse
Replied by cm_chasse on topic Why should we have "fear of God"?
I feel like the term "God-fearing" is used to describe those part of a religion that misinterprets God. Most Abrahamic Religious Traditions see God as a man in the sky, Caucasian and old, but God could not be.

God is the name of the concept of the first and only transcendent being, or even the universe to some. God is the force behind everything we know but cannot take on such an appearance because it is a human representation/misinterpretation.

It eludes me as well, but that's what I think.

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04 Aug 2015 16:18 #199221 by ZenJo
Replied by ZenJo on topic Why should we have "fear of God"?
Good post! As Yoda said in Ep. II, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." Therefore, if we fear God, would not our fear lead us to hate God? If a child fears their mother or father is going to harm them, the child will eventually grow up to resent the parents, especially when there is abuse in the home. So I agree with you completely. If people allow themselves to build a relationship with God based on fear, it will only lead to anger, resentment, and violence. Some religions teach followers to imitate God. If people imitate a vengeful and violent concept of God, they will therefore commit violent acts in the name of their religion.

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04 Aug 2015 16:49 - 04 Aug 2015 16:50 #199222 by steamboat28

Goken wrote: Why are they saying that you should fear God? Isn't the idea that God is just and kind and compassionate? Why have a religion based entirely around fear?


The etymology of the word means to frighten or terrify, but also means to revere, or regard with awe. It's one of those situations where English speakers use an archaic phrase where a portion's meaning has changed over time. It's not actual, literal fear, it's respect.
Last edit: 04 Aug 2015 16:50 by steamboat28.
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04 Aug 2015 17:12 #199224 by Lestaut
Steam,
I really like your post, it's very informative. I've seen enough ministers preach with the intent to frighten, and they could stand to learn a thing or two from you.
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04 Aug 2015 17:45 #199226 by Kit

steamboat28 wrote:

Goken wrote: Why are they saying that you should fear God? Isn't the idea that God is just and kind and compassionate? Why have a religion based entirely around fear?


The etymology of the word means to frighten or terrify, but also means to revere, or regard with awe. It's one of those situations where English speakers use an archaic phrase where a portion's meaning has changed over time. It's not actual, literal fear, it's respect.


This is what I was taught in growing up in church.

It was also explained that it's like the way a child should 'fear' a parent in a loving and proper relationship. The child is afraid of doing anything to disappoint the parents they love so much.
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04 Aug 2015 18:06 #199233 by RyuJin
it doesn't help that the old testament god was an angry, jealous and vengeful one, while the new testament god was the opposite....

i remember sitting in sunday school and doing the old testament lessons thinking "why is god so mean? if he wants us to love him why isn't he nicer"

old testament: "an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth"
new testament: "turn the other cheek"

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


Out of darkness, he brings light. Out of hatred, love. Out of dishonor, honor-james allen-
He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure-james allen-
The sword is the key to heaven and hell-Mahomet-
The best won victory is that obtained without shedding blood-Count Katsu-
All men's souls are immortal, only the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine -Socrates-
I'm the best at what I do, what I do ain't pretty-wolverine

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04 Aug 2015 18:39 #199239 by Goken
Replied by Goken on topic Why should we have "fear of God"?

steamboat28 wrote:

Goken wrote: Why are they saying that you should fear God? Isn't the idea that God is just and kind and compassionate? Why have a religion based entirely around fear?


The etymology of the word means to frighten or terrify, but also means to revere, or regard with awe. It's one of those situations where English speakers use an archaic phrase where a portion's meaning has changed over time. It's not actual, literal fear, it's respect.


I did not know that. That clears it up quite nicely. :cheer:

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04 Aug 2015 18:46 - 04 Aug 2015 18:49 #199243 by V-Tog
Even in very serene, traditional sorts of Christian Churches, it's perfectly normal to hear Clergy reminding people that "Our God is an angry God", or something similar. They will talk of his vengeful, jealous, wrathful nature, and his status as "a God of retribution".

The thing to remember about this is that a lot of Christianity is deeply rooted in fear. One of the main ideas about believing in God and living a Godly life is that by doing so, one will enter into heaven at the point of death. Hell is depicted as a pretty nasty place - somewhere that we should be very fearful about ending up. The fear of hell and the fear of a God who is vengeful enough to send us there is designed to keep our behavior in check. And I do think that this has been a successful tactic, to an extent.

Another common but slightly conflicting perception of God is of the benevolent God who always forgives. This understanding is generally much preferred to that of the angry God, but whilst forgiveness is certainly a virtue, it is not something that is universally approved of at all times. An example would be a relationship where one partner is constantly cheating and the other partner repeatedly forgives them (or at the very least, excuses their behavior). In those kinds of situations the cheating behavior tends to continue over many years or even a lifetime, because it becomes clear that with no 'punishment' the dishonest partner can always have their cake and eat it, as it were.

There are stories in the Bible that I never liked and found extremely hard to reconcile with my understanding of God, when I was Christian. There are quite a number of massacres that God supposedly carried out in the name of divine retribution Examples would be the flood in Genesis (Noah's Ark story), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (also in Genesis), the ten plagues in the book of Exodus (particularly the Angel of Death), and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea (again, Exodus). Whether it is really necessary to promote the idea of God as a mass-murderer, I don't know. But there is something to be said for encouraging the idea that there are consequences to one's actions. That forgiveness is not an automatic right or an invitation to behave poorly, but something that must be properly earned.

Beyond religion, fear is used (to varying degrees) in almost all walks of life. Sadly, many workplaces are built on a culture of fear. Often I think it is horribly over-used, and it can cause great psychological damage. However, it can be very effective because it kickstarts our primal survival instinct, and in certain circumstances, when weighed up against other less aggressive tactics, it can appear a very attractive (and not necessarily bad) option. Even here at TOTJO, we combat repeated poor conduct with warnings, usually of temporary or permanent bans from the forum. It's a last resort but often it works when everything else has failed...

In a more religious sense I'm not sure that we TOTJO Jedi really use fear as a motivator, but, whilst I personally wouldn't wish us to, the usefulness of fear is certainly open for debate...

For me, to fully embrace a religion one must feel very safe within it. Not necessarily in that there shouldn't be hurdles to overcome, but that one should feel that it is relatively safe environment in which to tackle the hurdles. Fear, in it's very nature, makes people feel the total opposite of safe. The fight or flight response that it creates essentially shuts down our capacity to think calmly or rationally and whilst this is manageable for a few moments at a time on an occasional basis, we can't possibly function in a truly religious or spiritual sense (or any other sense, come to that) if in this state on a regular or permanent basis.

I think I'm definitely rambling now so I'm going to stop at this point... :pinch:
Last edit: 04 Aug 2015 18:49 by V-Tog.
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04 Aug 2015 19:02 #199245 by Corwinani
Replied by Corwinani on topic Why should we have "fear of God"?
The God in old testament - God in Abrahamic religions?
He had a name and that was Jehovah , counterpart of God Baal.
As one of the Deities of the ancient Near East
similar as Levantine: Adonis Anat Asherah Ashima Astarte Atargatis Attar Berith Chemosh Dagon El Elyon Eshmun Hadad Kothar-wa-Khasis Melqart Moloch Mot Nikkal Qetesh Resheph Shahar Shalim Shapash Yahweh Yam Yarikh
Mesopotamian:
Abzu/Apsu Adad Amurru An/Anu Anshar Ashur Enki/Ea Enlil Ereshkigal Inanna/Ishtar Kingu Kishar Lahmu/Lahamu Marduk Mummu Nabu Nammu Nanna/Sin Nergal Ningishzida Ninhursag Ninlil Tiamat Utu/Shamash
Egyptian:
Amun Apis Atum Buchis Geb Horus Isis Montu Nephthys Nut Osiris Ptah Ra Set Shu Tefnut Thoth
Elamite:
Inshushinak Jabru Khumban Kiririsha Lahurati Nahundi Napir Ninsusinak Pinikir

All of this deities you should fear. Jehovah of old testament is no exception, just one of them. If you believe and worship any of these you will receive their attribute - good and then the opposite. You cannot have one without another, because these are in balance.

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