Monday, September 29, 2008

Fear of God

The barometric measurement I am commonly bumping into with Calvinist Protestants lately is this seeming infatuation with examining every other "believers" Fear of God level. It comes quite strikingly at times. An emphasis on working out ones Salvation with "Fear and Trembling" (Phil 2:12) is made and one is approached with a skeptical glare, as if we should be walking around in an anxious sweat, and if no fear is visible, we are Judged NOT to be Saved by said Protestant. This, sort of, Internal Affairs Bureau (Rat Squad) mentality is virtually identical in many Calvinist Protestants I know. I can understand not wanting to commiserate with the enemy (or a mistakenly mis-identified enemy) but the whole spiritual body scan act is completely not what Jesus would do.

Having a developed belief system in our (human) being, of a God, that motivates our life through Servile fear is not Biblical. To fathom that a follower would emulate the love of Christ so that a lack of punishment is the reward is a spiritual contradiction. This Servile fear is essentially a motive trigger. Believing in Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit in order to NOT suffer fire and brimstone, may produce an initial turn away from sin, but sustaining such a fear as the foundational basis of our belief is archaic and pagan at best. It is however one first step available to work out or form a faith of Salvation, that is tied to Sacred Scripture.

Once I experienced Filial fear of God, that fear of hurting and offending a God who loves me, I began to comprehend the context and reality of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and get my first real glimpse of the incomprehensible magnitude of Gods grace for his children. Without the First Gift....Filial Fear, none of the other Seven gifts are possible for us. Those gifts of Piety, Fortitude, Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom are all based on and tied to our committed love (filial fear) for Him and are a result of those "works" which he places in us through grace. When I am able to discern that I have to make a decision or act that may have a consequence of Sin, and I consciously turn away from it because I know I would hurt my God that loves me, I am revealing a work of God in me.

I have run into a few Protestants who fully recognise Filial fear, and live it out...the a-C is one of them. He/they have a well formed Conscience and practice their truth which is, in my experience, compatible Universal truth. They are far more Catholic than they would ever admit ...and I quietly smile when I notice this and think "maybe someday they will come home".


~Joseph the Worker said...

That's very interesting. While you have noticed the scrutinization of other peoples' fear among Calvanists, in my Protestant Church of Christ background we always used to scrutinize people's works and motivations. I think we need to take a lesson from the tax collector who smites himself on the breast and asks God to have mercy on him, a sinner.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

True, Joseph. I have yet to meet a tax collector today who does that! Ha.

What I was hoping to reveal in this is that the Filial fear in itself is not a visible it? It is a preventative love motive and developing it to a level of instinctual discernment would have it become natural character...not a visible emotion, really.