Thursday, October 27, 2011

Faith? Or Fear?: Introduction

I'm hoping this will be a series that compels some really serious thought and examination of all of our beliefs, mine included. I want to take just a couple of paragraphs here to tell you exactly what this is going to be about.

I've made no secret of the enormous changes in some of my own perspectives over the last 3 to 4 years, even since the beginning of the blog just a year and a half ago. Enormous changes. One thing that has really spurred much (most is probably a better word) of the change, and the further introspection change always brings with it, is the realization of just how many of my personal beliefs, whether in matters of faith, politics, social issues, across the board, really, have been based on little more than fear of the alternative, or fear of the opposition. Not necessarily the "cowering in the corner" type of fear, but the more stealth variety - the types of fear that enter your being in small quantities (and in some cases, build up over time) as you navigate through the social/religious/political environment you've settled into or were born into, and then are signaled into action by particular buzzwords and emotional pulls.

The "beliefs" that result from such fears are brainwashing in their own right, and they're dead weight. These "beliefs" are the kind of things I'm trying very hard to rid my life of.

I look at the evangelical community, and I see fear. I look at the religious right, and I see even more fear. Fundamentalism? Christian homeschooling? P/QF? Dear God, nothing BUT fear for those guys. I loathe reactionary living, even as I, in various ways, still live in reaction - a "trait" I hope to shed, and probably a lifelong endeavor to do so.

Where people desire control, you'll find a lifestyle based on fear. Controllers are the most fearful people on the earth. Their lives are predicated not on what unlimited growth can be achieved, but on what growth can be regulated and engineered, falling only within certain parameters, hoping to create a carbon copy of themselves. That's fear. It certainly isn't faith. They fear that which is more than themselves, which they can't control, which they don't understand, that which shines a light on their weakness or ignorance - and a system of "belief" rises from the fount of their fears. Any closed community, which P/QF and Christian homeschooling cult families are, is a community whose borders are fear.

If a person "accepts Christ" merely because they fear "going to hell", is that really a proactive faith or a reactionary fear? 

If a person votes against the positions (real or perceived) of a candidate of a certain party, rather than voting FOR the positions of the candidate of their own party, are they voting proactively or reactively? The religious right and Tea Party will turn out in droves next year to vote against Obama. Please pay attention to what I said there. Their political "convictions" are based on nothing more than fear of that "mean old librul" Obama. The same thing happens on both sides of the political debate. Scores of people from liberal interests voted only to cast a vote against Bush in 2000 and especially 2004. If I'm only driven to vote against a particular person, I probably should do society at large a favor and stay away from the polls, because all my vote says about my "belief" is that I either fear or hate a particular candidate.

It's all emotional reaction, which makes many of these "people of conviction" nothing more than sports fans who've substituted religion or politics into the equation in place of their favorite team or sport. Think about it. Few Cowboys fans can think, talk, or act rationally concerning the Redskins or Eagles. Same thing for Red Sox fans and Yankees fans. Their greatest fear, as fans, is the success of their enemies - and this makes them even more rabidly and ignorantly loyal to their own team of choice. I can certainly relate. I've been a diehard UNC basketball fan since I was 6 years old, and I consider Duke (proper UNC fan spelling: dook) to be the Evil Empire. I hate everything about them. I want to see them lose every choice recruit, every game, and rot in their own evil brew. It's all emotional, but I try to keep it in perspective.

It's a shame that the exact same thing transfers over to important areas of the critical mass of our lives, particularly religion and politics.

If you only believe in something because you fear the alternative or opposition, you don't really believe in anything at all. As this series continues, I hope to demonstrate examples of this fear, how irrational it can be and usually is, and how it's a/the driving force behind most of the religious and political issues in the world today, common sense and logical thought process be damned.

It's a terrible thing to put our faith in fear.


  1. This weeks gospel in our lectionary is this:
    Matthew 23:1-12
    "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.

    They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.

    They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.

    But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."

    Every time I have read this this week I think about the people who buy into the ATI/VF mindset and not what God wants of us. They certainly don't practice what Jesus preaches do they?

  2. This is an excellent post. I have a thought that might be somewhat radical, but here goes: we do not believe -in- the Gospel. We believe the Gospel. We believe -in- Christ.

    The Apostles didn't go around preaching hell-fire and damnation. They preached Christ. They announced the arrival of the Kingdom of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, and in the coming of the Holy Spirit sent by Him. This is a positive, love-producing (for those who believe it) message. Sure, the Kingdom is manifest in the forgiveness of the sins, and those who are in the Kingdom are not in Hell.

    But He is coming, not for those who fear hell, but rather for "all who love His appearing".

    Can someone go from fear to love? Yes. Godly fear brings repentance, which is the first step toward the kingdom. With repentance, there is room for faith to grow. Then, you "add to your faith", until it grows into perfect love. (II Pet. 1:5-11) And so "in faith and love", you "draw near," and "perfect love casts out fear."

  3. So does that mean that those of us who aren't sports fans are more likely to be able to be rational? *ponder*. Joking aside I've thought this about politics for a long time, the majority of people care only that their party wins. They neither notice nor care that their party does the same thing the claim to hate th other party for.

  4. Interested bystanderNovember 11, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Go, Blue Devils! Sorry, grew up in Durham, old rivalries die hard.

  5. @Interested Bystander...I'm now pointing a crucifix in your direction.