Friday, August 05, 2005

Does Christianity preach fear? Guest Article

Article written by Genia Butcher
To read more of Genia's articles, please visit her Suite101 topic Learning is Fun

Does Christianity preach fear? Yes, with statements such as:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reservedunto judgment.


Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?'s obvious that the Bible teaches fear. And since Christians believe the Bible is the "Word of God" and Christians are the disciples of Christ (God), it's obvious that Christianity preaches fear.

But is that a bad thing? Is it wrong for a creator to introduce fear to his creation? Is it wrong for a father to instill fear in his offsprings? Well, that depends on the level of fear and the reasoning behind it. If a father instills an inordinant amount of fear in his children in order to manipulate them or keep them from growing/maturing spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually, then that would NOT be a good thing. However, if a father utilized an amount of fear as a tool for physical and spiritual protection (survival), then that fear is part of a preventative first-aid kit.

Does God manipulate? Does Christianity use fear to manipulate? I think quite a few preachers of Christianity use fear in an attempt to manipulate. This was evident in the recent US Presidential Election. I think President Bush is quite skilled at using fear to promote his agenda, including his religious one. I also think there are "Christians" who focus on spreading to others the fear of Hell, without balancing it by providing to them an example of a life being lived for Christ (a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing). Following a religious organization and living for that "church" is not necessarily the same thing as following Christ and living for Him. But does God manipulate? Yes and no. God will step in and change, inject or rearrange something if a situation needs to be a certain way and isn't. As individuals though, He has given us rules and guidelines that He wants us to live by. However, we each have the right to accept or reject them. We can literally send ourselves to Hell...we have that much freedom and free will...and that doesn't sound like that much manipulation to me.

What type of fear is being instilled or preached by Christianity? The first mention of fear in the Bible is when God told Adam (representing mankind) that the animals, fish, birds and all that moveth on the earth would be under a fear and a dread of man. And when God further stated, Into your hand are they delivered, He made man the caretaker of the earth. So, in one scripture, God officially acknowledged fear and explained that it was instilled in the "animal world" so that man could take the position of caretaker.

The next scripture to mention fear tells of God comforting Abraham to Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward, which gives insight into the relationship God has with His people.

Most of the scriptures dealing with fear make it clear that we are to fear God and we are not to fear man, nations or circumstances...if we're walking "in the Lord", in His words and in the relationship. Throughout the Bible, God has warned of inpending dangers and has directed His servants/disciples in the ways to avoid, confront, or overcome them. Throughout the Bible, He has also guided His servants/disciples to tell others about Him and what is expected from them if they wanted to serve and follow God. But the main message of fear that's woven into many scriptures in the Bible is the fear of the "second death" (dying from this life and not obtaining life in Heaven, but rather dying again into an eternity in the Lake of Fire).

But why is fear used? So that His fear may be before your faces that ye sin not. Fear of the Lord is learned/taught, that they mayest learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth and that they may teach their children. Mankind is told to fear God and keep His commandments, to serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, and to stand in awe of Him because fear of the Lord prolongeth days, gives strong confidence, and deters sin, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Christianity preaches fear - to fear the power of God. But why should that bother, confuse or anger non-Christians (or Christians)? Christianity requires faith and belief that the Bible is the word of God. And, when it comes to the Bible, you either believe it's the literal word of God or you don't. If you believe it is, it's an all-or-nothing venture. You can't select verses you want to believe and disregard the rest as being erred or irrelevant or outdated (if it's still scriptural in the New Testament). Why? Because then, you're either saying God's word is not true or you're saying He entrusted His word to those incapable of preserving it truthfully, and that scenario does not reflect the omniscience of our Creator.

The fact that there are some who are opposed to the Bible because they don't believe God exists, presents an interesting contrast to the message of Christianity, especially, when that non-belief is based on a belief in the Theory of Evolution. But, while evolution is fascinating to think about (years and years of conditional changes which bring about "creature"/life changes), it's difficult to compare the two, difficult to see how environmental changes could have given us the compassion and intellect mankind exhibits. For example: with evolutionary changes, I can understand how our eyes might go through adjustments in order to correspond with certain light condition changes over the course of millions of years. However, I can't reason how the evolutionary process (unpredictable as it is) would reach a stage that would be able to give us 20/20 bendable, designer-framed eye glasses with UV protective, scratch-resistant lenses that we can have within an hour. Evolution cannot possibly be responsible for the intellect and genius found throughout the centuries; there's simply too much heart and soul involved with genius and intellect of that magnitude.

I realize there is a third group of people - those who aren't sure about the Bible, Christianity, Hell, the existance of a soul and /or Jesus being both the Son of God and God. There is a percentage that possibly would like to believe, but have questions and concerns that prevent or delay it. There's an interesting variation of, "You're either with us or against us..." (the message that has gained some controversy recently concerning those who are perhaps seeking to be a part of a group but are uncertain): Jesus said to John, For he that is not against us is for us. In saying this, I don't think Christ excuses those who are undecided or that He means as long as you aren't outright denying Him and totally fighting against Him, then all is well and you'll be okay on Judgment Day. No. I think He used it in reference to the fact that Christians do not have to be clones of one another.

And this touches on another stumbling block that prevents or delays some from giving their hearts to Jesus. I know in my own experience, before I accepted Christ, I thought I was going to have to be exactly like those I had seen representing the "church", and quite honestly, I didn't want to be that materialistic or arrogant. But, work out your own salvation in fear and trembling helped ease my concern. It gives recognition that all Christians are not and do not have to be identical, hence, one of the stumbling blocks that might be in your path can easily be removed by that realization. That's not to say it's a "blank check" to "do your own thing"...IT ISN'T. It's just that I think that beyond the act of salvation and having a foundation based on the Bible, there's a "gray area" in which we're allowed to be non-clones. The Ten Commandments proves there is a gray area. Afterall, going to war disobeys "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and note all the battles that were ordered and/or sanctified by God. I think the gray area is where accountability gets most complicated, but the gray area is where God does His most miraculous work. Otherwise, Jesus would not have to search the reins and hearts in order to give unto every one of you according to your works. I think during some of that search, He'll be checking out intentions and motivations...part of the gray areas.

Speaking of stumbling blocks, one of the main problems for doubts about Christianity seems to deal with an attempt to merge two types of God into one and not being able to believe that one of them being merged really exists. Afterall, "how can a God of love send people to Hell?" "How can a God who loves, allow so much suffering?" Indeed, these are two seriously important questions and stumbling blocks. The answer has to be in the fact that some have conjured up their own idea of who God is and what He is like - trying to see Him only as a talented inventor who loves His inventions, and, while this is true, they don't want to recognize that He is also a "consuming fire", capable and willing to rain down judgments in order to keep His plan on course and in tact. Afterall, the Bible, has already been written. There was a beginning (Creation), a near-middle (the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), AND there is an ending (Day of Judgment) already in place. We are not His only concern and priority.

But why so much suffering along the way? Why do "good" people go through so much pain and agony? Why do so many children who have not done evil in their all-too-short lives (although born in sin as we all were), suffer and die? Well, it's certainly not that God doesn't care. If He cares about the wicked (Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked...), then He certainly cares about children and those who have been "good people".
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. ... But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. ... Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. ... For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. ... The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come torepentance.
He made sure your fingerprint was uniquely yours and numbered the hairs on your head and knew you before you were formed in the belly. He is so far beyond proficiently detail-oriented it's incredible. So, shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor and another untodishonor? We belong to God, whether we accept Him or not. We have been bought with a price by Jesus, whether we accept Him or not. But we see through our own visibility. God sees a much wider, deeper and more complicated picture.

There are other things blocking the path to salvation. Some find it a hindrance that:
  • I have to give up all the good stuff. Christians have no fun. LOL...okay...let's see: give up drinking which distorts your thinking; smoking which may damage your internal organs; other harmful addictions which weaken your will; and you'll have to clean up the gutter-mouth and maybe think before you speak. But, Christians don't have any fun? Of course they's just a bit less harmful fun.
  • I won't have any money left. Religious groups are always asking for money! "Religious" groups and churches do ask for money, partly because they have to be in competition with Satan's groups, who always seem to be loaded and vying for your attention as well. God expects 10 percent of your income...not unreasonable.
  • I don't want to become a "goodie-goodie". Christianity is intolerant of other religions, Gays and anyone who doesn't believe the way they do. Besides,it's always been prejudiced against women. Goodie-goodie, holier-than-thou, puffed up on a cloud,, these are not what God has called for Christians to be. A transformation takes place, but this means that a Christian will end up with greater love and appreciation for God, those around them, life and themself. God is the judge. Christians are to spread his word, they are not to judge. Prejudiced against women? From the beginning, woman has been second in the human chain of command - not loved any less, but placed as the physical heart of the home, probably for more reasons than we readily recognize.
  • Christianity preaches fear, not love. Half fear / half love...I'd say that's a good balance.
  • Hey, I'm not perfect, there's no way I'm ever gonna be perfect. None of us are. We are perfect in Christ. He's our "better half".
  • I'd lose all my friends and what would my family say? If your friends don't want you to be a happier, more fulfilled person, are they really your friends? What can your family say when you have the capacity and desire to show them more love, understanding and appreciation than ever before?
An Island

Suppose the owner of an island told everyone living in a nearby city, "I have an island. It's paradise. There will be really difficult times ahead, such as the city has never seen before. But all will be safe and well on my island, and I want to share my paradise with you all. However, to be admitted entrance to it, you have to take the ticket I'm giving to each of you, keep it in perfect condition and turn it in at an appointed time.

The owner knew that devastation was ahead for those who remained in the city. He also knew that, as time passed, not everyone would be able to keep their tickets in perfect condition, so he had decided that as long as they had them still in their possession, they were welcome on his island.

Time passed and some of the mainland folk forgot where they put their ticket, some forgot about the bad times predicted to be nearing, and others sold theirs to a mysterious vendor that happened by every-so-often, offering a tempting amount to anyone who wanted to sell theirs to him. But, even though there were storms and thieves and a host of other dangers to contend with, a few of the people continued to keep their tickets in a safe place and were ready to turn them in whenever the island owner asked. These were the people that the owner delighted in and finally welcomed to his paradise...for these were the people who truly wanted to be there.

Does Christianity preach fear? Yes, and with what's at stake, it should!

Copyright Regenia G. Butcher
published by


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