Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Faith and Fear 2

Karen Spears Zacharias, like other writers, can’t write without it becoming memoir-ish and personal and personally divulging. So, in Where’s Your Jesus Now?, she doesn’t just talk about fear; she reveals her own fears.
I wonder if pastors deal much with fear in the congregation? How do parents deal with fear in their children?
Fears of flying — the chp is hilarious too, fears about public toilets, fears about all kinds of things.
She’s learned about God — that God loves us, that we can come to God, that God listens. That God is not out to get us, that some folks — like the father she tells about who thought his daughter’s near-death when she walked in front of a train was God’s way of getting his daughter’s attention — are sadly mistaken about what God is like.
She finishes off a chp with these words, words born of the learning that comes after one has learned to cease wringing one’s hands:
“I only know that when I pray, God hears me. My doubts. My fears. My cries for help. My gratitude. My songs of praise. And even the most inaudible, inarticulate of prayers, he hears. And never once has he said to me, there’s no room for your doubts. Nor has he ever suggested that I ought to go about claiming stake to anything — health or money or big screen TVs. The gifts he gives are given out of his good pleasure, not because of who we are, what we believe, what we claim. If there is anything I know for sure about God, it’s that he doesn’t barter in Green Stamps” (79).
Theology emerging from experience is a theology that takes on reality.
I think it is Karen’s experience with Christians, with those who suffer, with her own past, with her family … all rolled up into one … that leads her to give an ear-full to Anne Coulter. She calls her the grand poobah.

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posted September 18, 2008 at 6:28 am

Sounds like a good book … maybe the non-fiction version of The Shack?

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posted September 18, 2008 at 7:22 am

I’m really liking what appears to be the tone and content of this book. And I love the title everytime I see it.

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posted September 18, 2008 at 7:33 am

I loved Karen’s book. I love her writing, too. I have to admit there are subjects in this book that made me uncomfortable, but necessary to read in order to gather the full picture. We don’t have to be afraid of God. God is a loving God – that is one of the beautiful messages presented in this book.

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Ben Wheaton

posted September 18, 2008 at 8:44 am

How does Karen deal with the many mentions of “the fear of the Lord” in Scripture? How does she interpret that?
I’m not sure that a narrow escape from an oncoming train isn’t a warning call from God. What about Lewis’s statement that pain is God’s loudspeaker to a deaf world? (Or some variant of that)

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posted September 18, 2008 at 8:22 pm

There is fear and there is fear. Fear of the Lord might mean awe. It might mean fear of disappointing God or fear of feeling guilty in His presence. When we love someone we might fear what they think because we don’t want to disappoint them; we want to appear good in their eyes. We often fear, without reason, that if people find out about something we have done they won’t love us anymore. Our fear is out of proportion to the actual consequences of our actions or the actions of other. We, of course, might also fear the the actions of someone who is “out to get us”, of someone who is unforgiving or unreasonable. We fear those who are a threat to us. I don’t think God is that person.
There is a difference also between allowing suffering as a necessary consequence of wrong actions, even the suffering of innocents (I know, of course, you believe that nobody is innocent) so that we learn and change our ways, and actively causing suffering. God, I believe, does the former. He allows suffering so that we learn. He does not cause it.
In my experience nothing causes more sin and suffering than fear. We all act selfishly and sin, as part of our nature, the survival instinct we share with all living creatures. We cause harm without even meaning to, or because we must to survive. But lust and greed do not hold a candle to fear in terms of damage done. Fear of God does not cause people to behave righteously or compassionately. Look around. Do Christians who believe in a punishing and wrathful God act in more Christlike ways than those who believe in an all-compassionate and loving God? Not that I have observed. It causes people merely to punish and judge others. Love of God and gratitude is what motivates loving and compassionate behavior.

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Scott W

posted September 18, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Ben #4-
The “fear of the Lord,” the awe and respect that is due to YHWH as our response to Him as creatures has also to with the avoidance of trying to play God and the arrogance of thinking one understands YHWH’s ways as YHWH does–the kind of stupidity masquerading under the guise of piety and an “orthodox” but shallow and simplistic understading of sin and punishment in the divine economy. YHWH was highly “pissed” at Job’s friends,who didn’t speak what was right concerning YHWH, while Job,who challenged this understanding with his recital of his righteousness(not sinless perfection),did.
Many are those whom YHWH has strengthened through allowing the false hubris of simplistic theological certainty to be destroyed by a good dose of humility through failure or something that literally “rocked their world” to break them out of their theological arrogance.

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