As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fear and Love

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Love of the Lord is the end.
- The Poor Brother

Naturally, the first emotion of man towards the being he calls God, but of whom he knows so little, is fear. Where it is possible that fear should exist it is well that it should exist, cause continual uneasiness, and be cast out by nothing less than love.... Until love, which is the truth towards God, is able to cast out fear, it is well that fear should hold; it is a bond, however poor, between that which is and that which creates--a bond that must be broken, but a bond that can be broken only by the tightening of an infinitely closer bond.

Verily God must be terrible to those that are far from Him: for they fear He will do--yea, is doing--with them what they do not, cannot desire, and can ill endure... While they are such as they are, there is much in Him that cannot but affright them: they ought, they do well, to fear Him... To remove that fear from their hearts, save by letting them know His love with its purifying fire, a love which for ages, it may be, they cannot know, would be to give them up utterly to the power of evil.

Persuade men that fear is a vile thing, that it is an insult to God, that He will have none of it--while they are yet in love with their own will, and slaves to every movement of passionate impulse--and what will the consequence be? That they will insult God as a discarded idol, a superstition, a falsehood, as a thing under whose evil influence they have too long groaned, a thing to be cast out and spit upon. After that, how much will they learn of Him?

... George MacDonald (1824-1905), "The Fear of God," Unspoken Sermons, Second Series [1885]