Wednesday 12 December 2018

Fear is now prohibited

However things may have been in the past; fear is prohibited now. It is the demonic plan to use fear to gain their objectives - the public realm has been turned into a discourse of fear; therefore Christians cannot use it.

This is difficult, I personally fail and lapse often - but it is a deep truth: fear is prohibited, absolutely.

Therefore, Christians cannot use fear to persuade, or to warn. I think we all feel this to be a fact of life?

We cannot use arguments of the If-Then type that depend on inculcating fear to avoid something - even if such arguments are effective in changing behaviour in the desired direction, the overall consequences of the argument having done so by the use of fear will more than negate any such benefit.

We must be able to present our Christian message without threats: we Just Must. It is the use of fear to manipulate that characterises our modern totalitarian world; but the use of fear is built-into the deep assumptions of The System; thus it is deniable and denied.

Anyone coming from outside the system, like Christians, who need to challenge the deep assumptions; can only hope to succeed in improving things overall if the outcome is a reduction in fear. The old method of inculcating 'holy dread', fear of hellfire' - then showing the way to escape... well, that will not do At All.

Not least because, in the current climate of endemic fear, to be effective the Christian would need to threaten something that induced even more fear than the high background level of fear. This would entail first convincing people of a world of premised upon more terrifying assumptions, greater dread and worse horrors than the modern media public realm... Well, you can see where this is going.

This is perhaps why the Fourth Gospel should be our Bible - since (with only a few and dubious exceptions among its many verses) here we get Jesus bringing and offering a positive addition to human life.

The Jesus of the Fourth Gospel does not argue by threats nor by inducing fear; not by threatening 'or else!'; but by offering something better than people already have, something wonderful - and simple: Heavenly eternal life.

And what should we do to get it? Simple. We get it by 'believing-on' Jesus, knowing he is the Son of God; by loving and following him through death into Life Everlasting, as a lost sheep follows a Good Shepherd.

We must not be drawn into the If Not side of things, the 'what will happen if I Don't follow Jesus', 'what will happen if I can't or won't believe he is the Son of God?' The simple answer is that Jesus has made an offer - and if you want it, you can have it. If you don't want it; well, you are not compelled to take it.

But what happens then - people will ask. What happens to me if I choose to reject Christ's offer/ The exact answer is not made explicit in the Fourth Gospel, and the outcome probably will vary from person by person; so each must work-out the answer for himself.

If not? The proper answer is a shrug?... You Tell Me?...

The mission is simply to tell what Jesus positively offers, what he adds to our earthly mortal lives, the cosmic, eternal, loving perspective... And what to do about it. Assuming that is what you want.


Michael Dyer said...

Related, I heard an interesting talk by an exorcist named Chad Ripperger who said that in temptation, if the devil can't get you to give in to the temptation itself, their secondary goal is to at least create some fear. It's an interesting thought.

Chiu ChunLing said...

While the harsh truths of eternity are not the Gospel, the Gospel can only be understood by those who have faced them.

The desire to avoid those harsh truths is driven by exactly one emotion.

And that emotion is not love.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - The truths of eternity are not harsh, but exactly the opposite. God's creation is a wonderful and joyous enterprise, and it coheres precisely by Love. That's not the whole story, but it is the main plot.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

But what if I do use fear to persuade? Then what will happen to me?

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - What will happen is what usually happens.

What happens is that Christianity is (to that extent) redirected and reinforced as a fear-based religion - more like propitiatory paganism, or pure monotheism that uses 'whatever works' to compel the obedience to God (or, God's rules) that is the prime necessity.

Seijio Arakawa said...


What happens is what has been happening thus far, with the Christianity that has been all-too-eager to rely on fear becoming hollowed-out. You can compare the difference when you compare the success of St. Francis Xavier telling the Japanese that their ancestors are burning in Hell and that they will do the same if they do not convert, vs. the success of someone preaching along the same lines today. Traditional/Orthodox denominations have been emphasizing fear, and they have been in retreat in the West. In particular, denominations that thrived in the face of consistent opposition from brutal and archaic environments (e.g. Soviet Union) make almost no headway in the modern West, where instead of a swift and glorious martyrdom the zealous can only hope to receive the death by a thousand paper cuts of subtle neglect and derision.

"Life is a game
That you cannot win
Being doomed to die
Before you ever begin
And when everything you do
Turns to a bitter defeat
You're sorely tempted
To find a way to cheat!
And many whose minds
On such subjects dwell
Have called down Fire and Hell
To keep a sinful world
In marching order....
Having been there I must disagree
Prizing only matters dire
Basilisk teeth and dragon's fire
Searching all the endless sea
When the thing to fear was me!"

Unfortunately, these denominations come with a built-in explanation for why this is failing and why they should do more of the same -- this is the end times, the hearts of many have grown cold, and they will be indifferent to the fear that gripped the hearts of many... They also intuitively predicted and prophesied that the Christians who kept faith in the current age would be reckoned ""greater"" than what came before, which I think overestimates the spiritual qualities / degree of theosis of today's Christians (which don't seem too impressive) and underestimates the basic difference in motivations required to persevere nowadays.

At bottom, the fear view is self-consistent, but it is inconsistent with the experience of numerous people who were converted primarily by positive experiences and hopes, not fear of Hell in particular. Of course, then we can argue those people (such as CS Lewis) were lukewarm / not real Christians, but evaluating that argument forces us to answer who is / is not a 'real' Christian in general....

And that brings us to a highly personal, bottom line 'litmus test' issue.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Seijio - Good comment.

For me, the most convincing consideration is that (for Christians) God is our loving Father. An ideal loving Father will use fear to keep children alive when they are too young to understand; but this should be phased out as the child grows, and altogether, by adulthood - if genuine agent adulthood is aimed at. Of course not many get close to this ideal, I don't; but in failing I do wrong.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Great responses, Bruce and Seijio, which makes me feel a little guilty about admitting that my comment was supposed to be a joke.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - You have been away from the US too long, and forgotten that Americans don't do irony. Since you are/ were American, it never crossed my mind that you didn't mean what you wrote. From now, I will assume that everything you say is intended as an ironic comment - intended to imply something different...

Chiu ChunLing said...

To ignore the deadly possibilities inherent in reality is not courage.

It is merely foolhardy.

And to embrace such ignorance is a reaction driven by fear, not love.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - You fail to distinguish between reaching a frightening conclusion for onself; and having somebody tell you that you should be much more afraid than you already are, as a way of trying to convert you to a viewpoint that claims to provides a potential solution to what is newly feared, and eventually thereby to alleviate fear.

It is just a plain fact of Christian belief that reality is created by a God who loves each of us as his son or daughter. Since this is the basic situation, 'all is well' ultimately - except insofar as we personally choose to reject God's creation and love.

This news is so Good that if we could really live-by-it, it would eliminate existential fear (although, of course, fear is a necessary temporary emotion for biological reasons).

Gabe Ruth said...

I don't know, this seems like arriving at the same point as as any modern churchman.

You've mentioned before that you are an example of a fool who had persisted in his folly and become wise. I can't speak to the accuracy of that, but I must allow that your persistence gives insight to others about the ultimate conclusions of certain lines of thought that might otherwise not be obvious, and that is not nothing.