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"Fear of God is the first step to wisdom" - Discuss!

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
Saw this on a church billboard in my neighborhood. Quoted from a scripture, though I didn't catch which one. But, it's been hanging out in my head for a few days, bugging me.

I just hate the idea of fear as a foundation for religion. Just like I hate the idea of fear as a foundation for parenting. Why do some folks like the idea of a vengeful, angry god more than a loving one?

So, what do you think? Do you subscribe to this philosophy in your spirituality, and if so, what does it mean to you? How do you feel about it? How does it fit in with the rest of your beliefs (and maybe your parenting philosophies, since I brought that up)?
post #2 of 62
HUH?? NOT!!

Fear leads to wisdom?? who was the rocket scientist came up with that one?? Sorry but that statement has absolutely no authority with this girl.
post #3 of 62
I agree. I've always learned that fear is the opposite of faith.
post #4 of 62
Hi Tara. This is actually a Bible verse...my translation reads "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10 is only one place where it appears. This written by a man (King David) who was not afraid to express anger, disappointment, or doubt,among other negative emotions, to God's face. The idea of "the fear of the Lord" is generally interpreted as a reverence for God and respect for His position of authority. I really like this verse and think it is true.
post #5 of 62
Another pagan for peace and love, here. Fear has no plac ein my spirituality.
post #6 of 62
tara, it's interesting you should post this, as i've had some thoughts rolling through my head for a number of weeks now, but unsure how to put them up here w/out sounding inflamitory and igniting a flame-fest. see, i keep thinking about god in the bible and have come to see him as the ultimate abusive/disfunctional father figure. i mean, if any parent irl were to demand the kind of obedience and fear that god did, he would be reported to cps. so your quote really ties into that.
post #7 of 62
How about a God who chastises those he claims to love? Punishing because I love you?

That's what I heard when I was spanked...gotta love quoting from the Bible when one is spanking.

This is an oft quoted verse (the one about fear) and is completely congruent with God, Jesus, OT, NT.

Thanks for this thread, Tara.
post #8 of 62
I have always heard that the word should have been translated as respect, not fear. That's the problem the bible, it's been translated and maybe not accurately.
post #9 of 62
I agree with NM. It is downright painful to hear the single most beloved concept and Person in my life being put down without even being given the benefit of the doubt.

Also, I was always taught that the word fear had nothing to do with being frightened when used in this sense. I was taught that it meant to respect and to pay attention to.

I'm going to go look it up in my Bible dictionary. I'll get back to you.
post #10 of 62



You have no justified space to call out another sister on this board for lacking a 'true understanding of God'.

steph stated her understanding and in truth, she has ample grounds for her opinion about the jealous, punitive, duplicitous, violent, injust God of the Bible.

If you feel you have the true understanding of God, then wonderful. But you only reinforce the damaging history of the Xian faith by calling out someone for what you judge as false understanding.
post #11 of 62
hmmmmm, do we not set limits for our children? Would it be loving to set no limits and let them run free....to be hit by a car?

Anyone here with a grasp of the original language that psalm was written in?? There'd be the answer for the intended meaning, it probably was poorly translated, like so much else.

As for Steph's understanding, that's how He's presented in so many places, by so many people...so who lacks understanding?

We learn what we are taught.



Some of us branch out from there.
post #12 of 62
Well, what I found is that when the word is used regarding our attitude toward God in the OT it means "reverence." In the NT it means "caution mixed with respect."

Also, this is interesting -- another word for fear is used in this NT verse, and the word "fear" means "fright," and is never used in a positive sense. One verse says: "For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
post #13 of 62
I once read that the translation was poor on that one, and that a better word would have been "AWE" as in so overwhelmed that it is so close to the feeling of fear - but not angst . . .
But in building a earthly power out of a spiritual experience fear is much easier to talk about.
post #14 of 62
Mamaduck, we submitted at the same time - good response!
post #15 of 62
-- "awe" says it well!

I should add, if I were going to advertise God on a billboard, I'd use language that most people are familiar with! My guess is that whoever put that billboard up didn't have a very healthy sense of God or wisdom.
post #16 of 62
I was raised to fear God. Now I'm so fearful I can't force myself to dig very deeply into my religious believes because many of my own personal believes contradict what I was taught as a child. I know its crazy, God isn't going to stop loving me for delving into the subject, but when I really think about religion, I keep coming up with ideas that ring true for me, but are VERY different than what I was taught.

I was going to write about one of these different thoughts, but its getting to long, so I'll start a thread on that to not take this topic over.

I agree fear paralizes you and makes you not be able to learn. The idea that the word should be respect really makes sence to me.
post #17 of 62
I really had trouble with the whole fear the Lord stuff when i first became a Christian. I aksed my friends dad, who is a scholar in the ancient Greek and Hebrew, explained that that word would have been better translated as awe, respect, bowing down to, knowing who is in charge (I know some of you balk at any sort of athourity but the idea of having a leader over me who knows what is going on is comforting). The english language is so ill equiped to translate.
post #18 of 62
For whatever this is worth, I'd like to share my interpretation of the Proverb. I'm not a theologian though, so take it with a grain of salt!

Have you ever met someone who knows just enough about a subject to be completely obnoxious about it? Just enough to give away the fact that they don't really know much. Sophomoric, I think is the word.

Then you meet someone is is truly a leading "expert" in his field, who has studied it for years and knows all the ins and outs that are to be known, and yet is very humble about it because he knows enough to know how much he doesn't know, how much is unknowable.

Well I think that verse is pointing out that before we can be wise, we need to reach a point where we stand in awe, reverence and fear of what is Unknowable.

That is what I think, anyway.
post #19 of 62
Yammer, I picked up that Alice Miller book you recommended on another thread...For Your Own Good...I'm 36 pages into it and I already see how it relates to this thread.

God as described in the Bible does seem to love his "children" the way Gary Ezzo does.
post #20 of 62
Can O Beans, For Your Own Good is a wonderful read and there is so much to be taken from it. I have read it at least twice in the last 2 years. However I must point out that Miller comes from a place of obvious hostility towards the Bible and the Christian faith and she twists scripture and such to her own ends, to prove her own points. Please do not base your opinion on the idea of God as a parent on her writings. Remember that every author has her agenda.

Mamduck your post was so thoughtful and really resonated with me. Thanks for being able to put it into words so well.

I like to think that my kids will reverence me the way we are supposed to reverence God...that they will _fear_ not punishment, but the natural negative consequences to our relationship should they decide to disobey, antagonize, insult, or downright ignore me.
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