Skip to comments.Dumbing-Down by the Orthodox: Where are the “God-fearing”?
Posted on 05/24/2005 6:10:33 PM PDT by sionnsar
One important word much used in Christian discourse until the mid-20th century, but now virtually absent from it, is the expression fear of God or fear of the Lord. When did you last hear a sermon on this topic, and how often, if at all, does the expression, or ones synonymous with it, occur in modern liturgy and in modern ex tempore and charismatic services?
The way that the Bible has been understood over the centuries until apparently recent times is that it is impossible both to worship God and to love God, unless there is first the fear of God in the soul. For, as the Psalter and the Proverbs declare: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom .and of knowledge. Without experiencing the fear of the LORD, the one true and living God, it is impossible to know him, to worship him to love him and to keep his commandments.
The prophecy concerning the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11 declares: The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. The Messiahs delight shall be in the fear of the LORD!
In the Letter to the Hebrews we read of Jesus the Messiah: In the days of his flesh Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him [the Father] who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear (Heb.5:7). Jesus was heard for his godly fear.
The Blessed Virgin Mary in her Magnificat declared of the LORD that his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation (Luke 1:50). Gods mercy rests on those who fear him.
In the Letters of St Paul the fear of the Lord is presented as a necessary component of the Christian walk with God. Since we have these promises [from God], beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God (II.Cor.7:1). Holiness is made perfect in the fear of God.
Addressing baptized Christians as exiled from their true home in heaven, St Peter urges them to conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (1:17). Fear of the Lord is a necessary part of the life and attitude of pilgrims.
In the worship of heaven, the angels and archangels with redeemed humanity fear the LORD, the Holy Trinity. The angel with the eternal gospel cried with a loud voice, Fear God and give him the glory . (14:7); and singing the Song of the Lamb the heavenly choir say, O king of the ages! Who shall not fear and glorify thy name? (15:5), Further, the redeemed are identified as those who fear God, when they are urged by a voice from the throne, Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great (19:5). In heaven the fear of God is necessary and perfected.
So it would appear that all baptized Christians are called to be, and must be, if they are to worship, love and serve God the Father aright, God-fearing persons. This is truly a filial fear, the fear of both Gods adopted daughters and sons.
The fear of God obviously includes a dread of his wrath and judgment against sin. This basic fear can never be eliminated this side of the Great Judgment at the end of the age! Nor would the godly want it to be removed! But more often in the O.T. and the N.T. it refers to the sense of awe, reverence, amazement and abasement in the mind and heart as the forgiven sinner stands before the purity of holiness and righteousness of the Majesty of God the LORD. Only with this attitude governing his relation to the Father through the Son, will he be able in biblical terms truly to worship, truly to love and truly to obey the Lord, for the fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom (perceiving what God requires) and of knowledge (of who is God and what he has revealed). If we know God we must know him in the matchless glory of his transcendent majesty, and the only appropriate posture for us before him is prostration before him in awe, reverence and humble adoration, for his Name is glorious and fearful (Deut. 28:58).
Certainly perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) but this kind of fear is not the fear of the Lord but fear of torment, and such fear is removed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost.
One obvious reason why the genuine fear of God is missing in modern piety and devotion is that God has been, as it were, domesticated. He is seen more as the everywhere-present Father-God and Loving God whose presence his children may always feel. He has been brought down from the Throne of His Majesty to dwell most of his time on earth. So the fear of the Lord has been replaced by feeling good and being affirmed and knowing ones self-worth and dignity through self-realization. The Rite II liturgies, and their successors in the ECUSA, are such that their effect, in the context of the general lack of a sense of the transcendent glory of the LORD, is to eliminate the fear of the Lord as a necessary affection of the soul. Thus the the fear of God is rarely to be seen in contemporary piety, be it that of the progressives or the orthodox. Instead, celebration has become the key aspect.
In general, it would seem, modern Christians have so engaged in dumbing-down of doctrine and piety, devotion and liturgy, that they have lost that necessary ingredient of pure religion which is the fear of the LORD. True saints on earth love and fear God and they do not cease when they are promoted to the heavenly Jersualem, for there also Jesus in his sacred, perfect humanity, leads the heavenly host in the fear, worship and love of the Father, by the Holy Ghost!br>
" So the fear of the Lord has been replaced by feeling good and being affirmed and knowing ones self-worth and dignity through self-realization.
ANd when you go to church it's morphed into an entertainment charade with a works driven, ah "purpose" driven form of "salvation".
Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge."
FEAR, not love! And it's just the "beginning," but the beginning is absolutely necessary.
I fear God, and thus fear all else less.
Well, that settles it...I guess we can forget "Abba" Father.
Another interesting, if, at least to me, a bit curious piece from Fr. Peter. I say curious because I wonder what exactly he is saying. "Fear of God" in the sense of an unending life of hearing sermons such as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is not at all what the Fathers wrote of nor is it in any sense the consensus patrum. I suspect Fr. Peter knows this and yet he makes the remark : "The fear of God obviously includes a dread of his wrath and judgment against sin. This basic fear can never be eliminated this side of the Great Judgment at the end of the age! Nor would the godly want it to be removed!" The fear of God of which Fr. Peter writes, or so the Fathers say, is a tool by which, among others, we become godly people, and it is a tool, or state, which the Christian should hope will end, at least on an individual basis. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love nos. 81-82) wrote:
"Fear of God is of two kinds. The first is generated in us by the threat of punishment. It is through such fear that we develop in due order self-control, patience, hope in God and dispassion; and it is from dispassion that love comes. The second kind of fear is linked with love and constantly produces reverence in the soul, so that it does not grow indifferent to God because of the intimate communion of its love. "The first kind of fear is expelled by perfect love when the soul has acquired this and is no longer afraid of punishment (cf. I John 4:18). The second kind, as we have already said, is always found united with perfect love. The first kind of fear is referred to in the following two verse: 'Out of fear of the Lord men shun evil' (Prov. 16:6), and 'Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10). The second kind is mentioned in the following verses: 'Fear of the Lord is pure, and endures forever' (Ps. 19:9. LXX), and 'Those who fear the Lord will not want for anything' (Ps. 34:10. LXX).
As I said, I suspect Fr. Peter knows this, but his emphasis on this "imperfect fear" belies a basic insinct in Western Christianity which, I think, distorts the purpose of the Church.
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