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

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Old 09-18-2002, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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)?
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Old 09-18-2002, 04:49 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 04:52 PM
 
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I agree. I've always learned that fear is the opposite of faith.
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Old 09-18-2002, 04:53 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 04:54 PM
 
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Another pagan for peace and love, here. Fear has no plac ein my spirituality.
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Old 09-18-2002, 05:02 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 05:07 PM
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 05:28 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:37 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:40 PM
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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.

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Old 09-18-2002, 06:40 PM
 
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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.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:50 PM
 
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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."
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:53 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:54 PM
 
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Mamaduck, we submitted at the same time - good response!
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:01 PM
 
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-- "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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:03 PM
 
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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.

Lisa, mama to Orion (7) , Fiona Star (born sleeping @ 38wks 12/6/08) , our bitty (m/c 7/27/09) , and Charlotte Athena (11/5/10)
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:13 PM
 
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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.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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Old 09-18-2002, 07:19 PM
 
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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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:23 PM
 
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Yammer, I picked up that Alice ****** 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.
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:34 PM
 
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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 ****** 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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Old 09-18-2002, 07:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Super Pickle
Please do not base your opinion on the idea of God as a parent on her writings. Remember that every author has her agenda.
Not basing my opinions on her writings...just making a passing comment to Yammer that her book relates to this. I would hope that in the course of my 500 posts to MDC, it would be pretty clear that I am not one to read and regurgitate the opinions of anyone. Not to mention again that I am only a few pages into the book, a point at which I would hope no thinking person would expect to have grasped an author's hypothesis, parsed the evidence presented, compared it to other writings on the same subject, and formed an opinion about it.

No, I base my opinions on the bible and the teachings of the church I was raised in. And yes, I agree every author has her...or his...agenda, including the varied authors of the books of the bible. And the authors of the books that are not in the bible. And the editors of the bible. And the translators of the bible. I think you get my drift. If not, I'll send a rescue boat to pick you up!
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:53 PM
 
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Sooooo off topic, but T
Yammer, quote: "Alice ****** writes of the psychological phenomenon by which very young children -- who uncritically adore their parents -- cannot bring themselves to perceive that their parents have done anything bad. They rationalize and excuse their parents, and suppress all negative feelings (which never go away, of course; they surface later on, in various guises)."

Since being introduced to Miilers theories I have really gained a better (I assume) understanding of what is behind the whole "Son's gotta be circ'ed to look like his dad" mentality. My dh absolutely cannot accept that his being circ'ed was a bad choice on the part of his parents, and he wants to circ our own kids, it seems to me, for the sole purpose of convincig himself that it's okay that HE was circ'ed! Crazy, isn't it?
Works that way for spanking too, though thankfully not in my family.
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:03 PM
 
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Now, I thought Alice ****** was right on and I found her book to be very healing. BUT, I took her critisisms of Christianity to be critisims of human perceptions and distortions. Not of the true God.

The most pure and precious things are those that become the most perverted and and distorted by society.
That doesn't negate the smidgen of truth at their core.

(editing out my error....)
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:05 PM
 
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Oh mamaduck I thought I was referring to Psalm 111--I didn't actually check to see if it was one of Davids' but just assumed it was. RIght, though, the same concept almost word-for-word is written throughout the Proverbs as well.
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:10 PM
 
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Oops! Yes -- someone quoted Psalms. My mistake.
Though it is in Proverbs too.
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:12 PM
 
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Back to "the fear of the Lord" and child-rearing....

I really do believe that a lot of the cruel child-rearing techniques that are done "in the name of God" _do_ come from a place of fear and doubt. Not the righteous kind of reverence and awe that the Bible talks about, but the shaking-in-your-boots fear. I think a lot of parents are so scared that their children will stray from God and end up in big trouble or go to Hell that they resort to insensitivity, authoritarianism, and even cruelty in some cases.
It takes a lot of true faith to commit your children into the hands of the Lord. If you can do that with your whole heart, you can be gentle, patient, and loving with them. But if you can't, you may be tempted to demand perfect discipline and obedience from them, in order to control them and "get them into" heaven. However, obedience to God has to be a *response*, not a starting point, imho. So that is what I hope for my children. ANd believe it or not, I am already starting to see that in my almost-two year old. SO I hope that our relationship can be an object lesson to him and that he will never have to deal with the issues that children from strict, "religious" families deal with.
Sorry for rambling.....
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:19 PM
 
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I have to go out to a meeting, but Super Pickle that is what I was trying to say! There is the true aspects of God, and then there are those that are ascribed to Him by people in power, and whatever corrupted motivations that they might have.
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:50 PM
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Why can't Jesus be taken at his (alleged) word then, NM? Whenever he was asked how to have eternal life and get into heaven, he told the person(s) that one must follow the commandments (which he didn't know that well but that's cool).

When I took Christian Tradition courses in Christian college, it was understood that a canon of knowledge was the Christianity we know (and some love) today. To 'ask Jesus into (one's) heart' is part of the rhetoric of Christian tradition, not Biblical instruction. So are the majority of sermons from which people are 'taught' Christianity. Sorry, don't mean to offend, but Jesus did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword. And his language is often full of violence and death (throwing 'branches' into the fire, spitting out those who are 'lukewarm', etc., etc.) The image of Jesus as the embodiment of unconditional love just isn't there in Jesus' teachings. In fact, he lays out the conditions quite emphatically for how one goes to heaven and it ain't by 'accepting' him as a 'personal Savior' (more Christian tradition jargon.


Not trying to stir the pot...just want Jesus to get fair treatment here. That's the least we can provide for such a cultural icon.
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Old 09-18-2002, 09:47 PM
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Yes, I know Jesus said that he is 'the way', etc. but that is not in response to the question of how to attain heavenly residence. Yes, one can assume God is in heaven. I guess if one knows what 'but by me' means (i.e. what does going through Jesus entail - it isn't 'accepting Him into your heart' as he does not tell us to do that), you can get to God by him, and thereby land oneself among the mansions and streets of gold in the 'prepared place'.

Just one example of what Jesus advised upon being asked how to attain eternal life:

Matt. 19:16-18 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

'Love thy neighbor as thyself' is not part of the Commandments given to Moses. I know, Jesus talked about 'new' commandments, but when he references both old and new and leaves out some old and one new, it's not clear whether he knows the Commandments in their entirety as given to Moses (twice).

I don't need any examples of 'unconditional love' from Jesus. I do believe I'm in the Spat Out commnity as I probably crossed from hot to lukewarm at a point in my spiritual progress and I'm okay with that. I didn't make the cut in the conditions Jesus laid out, but again, that's cool.

Thanks for the dialogue, NM! I'm outta steam for now...but appreciate the rally.
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Old 09-19-2002, 12:10 AM
 
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"For God so loved the earth that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17

While this may be not a popular quote with many it has a large role in Christianity.

Not all those who wander are lost 
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