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January 31, 2005

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Hi, you mentioned in your most recent post talking about fearing God, the fact you would not want to spend eternity with Him because He loves only those who fear Him.

I guess I felt I wanted to share two points with you regarding this, because I believe it is important for you to at least have as much info as possible.

First, about the term 'fear' as it is used in OT and NT writings. The term 'fear' is synonymous with what we call 'respect'. It is the kind of respect you have for example, of your father and mother - they love you, but that doesn't mean there are not consequences they will administer to you for rebellion, disobedience, etc. YOu love them, but you respect them as well.

Second, your statement regarding God and that He only loves those who respect Him. John 3:16 says God loves the whole world, not just those who respect Him. In fact Scripture states that God loves all men and Jesus (God in the flesh) died for all men, not just the ones who would believe in Him. It's not really an issue whether God loves you or me, it's more of an issue if we will recognize He loves us and whether we will love Him back.

Thanks for reading, Lee

I've long thought that "fear of God" was more like "respect of God" or "wonder of God" than like fear of the death, or fear of terrorists. And I really don't like the "father" analogy for God's love for us, because so many fathers f-ck up their kids lives.

Lee, thanks in return for writing. I understand the perspective that "fear" really means "fear of offending," or as you put it, "respect." I'm afraid that I'll forget to get my wife a Valentine's Day card. But this is because I don't want her to feel bad, or that I don't love and respect her. This certainly is a positive way of interpreting the Biblical "fear God."

Still, my wife isn't going to throw me into hell (figuratively, in her case) if I forget the card. She loves me, and I love her. Forgiveness trumps failure to fear. Yet the Bible teaches that God will indeed cast people into hell if they don't believe in Him and his son, Jesus Christ. This is what makes me think that, in this respect, the Biblical God is inferior to my wife.

Further, your interpretation doesn't seem to match the Christian evangelical/fundamentalist view. As evidence I submit these web pages: http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/feargod.htm
http://www.acts17-11.com/fear.html

A key message of these sites is that the "fear equals reverence" notion is watered-down, feel-good Christianity. I read an awful lot of True Fear in these web pages, not the loving respect you speak of--which I much prefer and can easily relate to. Unfortunately, I think your perspective is losing ground to the hard-core fearmongers in Christianity.

I don't pretend to be a biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I have read fairly widely in the near-death experience literature. One of the best NDE books I have read so far is Kenneth Ring's Lessons from the Light. In the later chapters Ring discusses some accounts of people who believe that they met God. These accounts show light beings or the God force that are far, far more loving and interesting than the personality the televangelists talk about. Also, what I like about NDE books is that they are not about people's beliefs; they are about people's first-hand (albeit highly subjective) experiences. Big difference.

Hey, I came by this bage by accident. Really great satire! Sometimes the Christian god sounds as mature as a junior high school prankster. To wish to be feared and believed and offer no proof or purpose for you existence! Then, to torment anyone who remains skeptical of you! This is to be a foundation for wisdom?

There is no love in fear! I would sooner perish than live in fear.

My take is that Buddhism is the most fear-full b.s. "religion" out there. It is basically atheistic, materialistic and fear based and I don't find it reasurring, holistic or "spiritual" at all. The reason so many westerners are so into it, in my opinion, is because it is exotic. I have seen it f up countless lives as it did mine for a time. Here is the Buddhist viewpoint in a nutshell from my point of view:

1. Life is shit.

2. The reason life is shit is because our essential natures are empty and meaningless and we can't accept that "fact". The Buddah rejects the Vedantic concept of Atman or soul but then contradicts himself by advocating the concept of karma and reincarnation (if we don't have a "soul", then what is getting reincarnated?) We use desire to delude ourselves with the concept of the "self", a "soul" and even "God" to make us feel better and all desire for success, prosperity, loving relationships and the rest of it are ultimately a one way ticket to hell. Be afraid, be very afraid.

3. The way to end suffering is to get rid of all these desires (fat chance).

4. The way to do that is the 8 fold path which logically must result in a life devoid of loved ones, success, prosperity, a belief in God or a soul. In other words, we should all be lonely, failures, poor, and atheists and we should all sit around with our eyes closed and contemplate nothingness and this will somehow lead to enlightenment. What the hell kind of enlightenment is that? Open your eyes and get a life!

Perhaps the Buddah really was enlightened, and all the confusion is from mistakes made in translations. I believe the Buddah never actually wrote anything he said down and all we have of what he said is second hand information.

In my journey, the only spiritual experiences that ever did me any good were highly emotional cathartic experiences of redemption, love, faith and surrender to a higher power that literally transformed me in a profound way for the better. I will take the prayer of Saint Francis over the 4 noble truths any day. But that's just me.

Let Love Rule, Cosmic Counsciousness Forever!

(delete the numbers to contact me!)

I'd like to comment on Arroneous Monk's post. Monk seems to have been presented with a very simplistic version of Buddhism. I'm just getting into it myself, but the first noble truth shouldn't read as "life is shit".

Perhaps some Buddhists feel that way, and perhaps even the historical Buddha thought that way (I doubt it though), but I think what the Buddha was trying to say is that life is not perfect.

Even that is not a satisfactory translation of "dukkha". Apparently the word has it's roots in the words "du" and "kha", which mean "contemptible" and "emptiness" respectively. (from a book I read, can't remember the author atm)

The first noble truth does not state that life is ONLY pain.

To put it into context, the Buddha was supposed to have been tremendously wealthy and privileged before he set out on his quest for enlightenment. Even a prince's life can be said to be "dukkha", with all the pleasures and joys he has.

Or in Bjork's (WOOT!) words, "there's more to life than this".

It's also my impression that Buddhist teachings are for people who actively look for them. I haven't had a Theravadin monk ask me "do you know that life is suffering, and that Buddhism is the only way out of it?", but I HAVE had a Christian tell me "I think you're going to hell for not believing".

I'm in Singapore, a place with many Buddhists walking about too. Which religion is most "fear-full"? My vote certainly does not go to Buddhism.

There is a vast ocean. The end is not visible. There is a ship, deep inside the ocean, moving slowly and steadily towards the end of the ocean. There is a crow sitting on the ship. The crow gets impatient. He wants to reach the end of the ocean right now. He feels he can do himself. He takes-off the ship. And flies, and flies, and flies, .................., at random. But to no avail. He gets miserable, terribly miserable, horribly miserable,...............; gets tired, exhausted, terribly, horribly,......... But the end is not visible. He realises, he was better-off sitting on the ship. He searches for the ship. To his utter happiness, he is able to see the ship. He flies fast and comfortably land on the ship. Promising to himself, that he would never leave the ship again. This is our plight. We have no option except to enjoy the comfort of the ship. Sooner we realise better it is.

I am wondering whether some people have been deliberately planted to criticise, because the criticism is the best way to keep aside the people who are not serious as on today.

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