Learning about Christianity, fear

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Learning about Christianity, fear

Postby Anonymous » Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:54 pm

Ive got a very weird topic but i realy need to get it of my chest.

My parrents raised me as an atheist, so i didnt learn much about Christianity. Lately have been getting more and more interested in religion because of my study (cognitive neuro-psychology and philosophy of mind). In spite of my unreligious background i always had doubts about the existence of a god. Lately im turning more and more towards the idea of the existence of a god. So I started reading the bible and other Christian literature a month ago. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the inmense depth and power of all the stories and the amount of questions that come with it. Im also shocked by the cruelty of god in the old testament (ark of Noah, killing of 1st borne Egyptians etc).

Somehow im turning more and more towards Christianity but unlike most poeple i dont feel happy while learning about Christianity. Somehow im feared, and i feel like getting closer to Christianity is a painfull experience.
Although i feel that Christianity is THE way to God, im afraid to walk that path.

Has anyone had similar experiences and can anyone please explane to me where that fear comes from??

greetings from the cold and wet Netherlands

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RGeeB
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Postby RGeeB » Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:00 am

Groeten erasmus

It is sometimes difficult to walk the path of Christianity, but, you know what - you don't walk alone. God is always there with you. You will then know what to fear and when to be bold. It is the path where fear makes you wise. You will read this in [bible]Proverbs 9:10[/bible].

Fear is in your mind. What is scary for me may not be scary for you. God will let you know what is the right fear and what is wrong.

Vaarwel, from a cold, wet and not sunny Engeland
Maranatha!

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Postby Kurieuo » Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:26 am

Welcome erasmus.

I'm just pasting the content of your other similar thread here. Please try not to open multiple threads.

erasmus wrote:I started reading the bible a few weeks ago and im at Numeri now. When i read about God killing every 1st child of the Egyptians, the Arc of Noah, and God killing a man who wasted his semen, i found it hard to believe that that was the same god that gave us Jesus Christ. The cruelty of the Lord in the 1st Testament is troubling me because a god like the Lord in 1st Testament should be feared and i personaly feel like its not possible to fear and love something at the same time.

Can you please give some usefull comments on this??

peace


RGeeB wrote:A proper relationship with God depends on holding and balancing both viewpoints, together.
i personaly feel like its not possible to fear and love something at the same time.


I was chopping some meat for steak recently. The knife was big and powerful but at the same time I loved it because it let me do my job easily.

It is possible to love and fear at the same time. The word I would use is - RESPECT.

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Re: Learning about Christianity, fear

Postby Kurieuo » Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:22 am

erasmus wrote:Im also shocked by the cruelty of god in the old testament (ark of Noah, killing of 1st borne Egyptians etc).

There was a thread started by Felgar—Defense for OT Violence—that you might be interested to read over.

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Re: Learning about Christianity, fear

Postby Felgar » Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:07 am

erasmus wrote:I am absolutely overwhelmed by the inmense depth and power of all the stories and the amount of questions that come with it. Im also shocked by the cruelty of god in the old testament (ark of Noah, killing of 1st borne Egyptians etc).

Somehow im turning more and more towards Christianity but unlike most poeple i dont feel happy while learning about Christianity. Somehow im feared, and i feel like getting closer to Christianity is a painfull experience.
Although i feel that Christianity is THE way to God, im afraid to walk that path.

Welcome erasmus!!! And I'm very glad that you've taken the time to seek some guidance. The Bible has a great deal to say about this matter - I think I can start you off. Please check out the passages as I share my thoughts....

The attitude that's developed in the start of your walk is actually a great thing - because fear of the Lord is fundamental to the recognition that we are all sinners. Why? Because if we didn't feel under God's judgement, why would we need to be free of that sin? Now the Biblical term for fear is actually more in line with great respect and reverence than with 'being scared' of something (as pointed out by RGeeB). Indeed we should fear the wrath of the Lord because we all have fallen short of the glory of God. BUT, with Faith in Jesus we need never be scared of the wrath of God, because Jesus has paid the price of our sins. Paul saw it the exact same way...

Romans 3:22-24
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Now beyond that, having been saved, we share the great joy in God's unfathomable demonstration of His love to US as shown by the sacrifice of His Son. [bible]Romans 5:1-11[/bible] Again, Paul was dealing with the same emotions - that passage seems like it was written just for you! (as so much of us have also experienced with our exploration of the Bible - God's Word)

Ok, so that deals with fear and spirituality. There is another fear; the lies from Satan that would seek to hide you from the Truth. Satan constantly tells us 'we have sinned too much to be redeemed', 'God's actions do not reveal a God of Love', etc. Or for someone else, the flipside is 'you are good enough on your own, you don't need God', or 'surely a God of Love will not condemn a good person like you.' Everything Satan does serves to blind people from Truth. BUT again, we have hope and Faith. The timeless passage [bible]Psalm 23[/bible]... "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me"

And along the same lines, and rejecting Satan's lies and fear:

1 John 4:2-4
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Satan and fear simply have no power over the power of the Lord which is manifest in us. It is truly for this reason that Christians so often try to convince others merely on the basis of living a more fulfilling life. The peace and joy that is ours through Faith in Jesus is magnificent and real.

Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:06 pm

Thanks for replying,

You guys gave me a lot of stuff to think about. Although i dont agree with the comparison of god with a kitchen knife :lol: , i think i know what you meen.

Felgar can you give me some bible passages wich include the intentions of satan misguiding us.

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Postby Felgar » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:04 pm

Sure thing erasmus,

John 10:9-10 [Jesus speaking]
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

According to Jesus, Satan's sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. As evidenced through wars, poverty, and disease he does a pretty good job of it too. Also the gap between our society and 3rd world nations is unbelieveable - those people have NOTHING yet Satan revels in their misery.

John 8:42-47
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Not only is Satan he embodiment of untruth, we are assured that as children of God we will be able to hear the truth. Not that Satan doesn't still tempt, but that we can be assured of a means to resist him and his lies.

Matthew 13:18-19 [Jesus speaking]
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Act 13:9-10
Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?

James 3:13-16
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

And of course it was Satan who twisted God's words to convince Adam and Eve to sin against God in the garden of eden.

Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Wed Dec 15, 2004 7:50 pm

Thanks for your reply felgar, i can see you realy gave it some thought and i realy appreciate it. I appreciate all replies.

I had this realy weird experience yesterday. Ive read the Psalms, the part where the bible mentions Jesus saying "OH lord why have you abandonned me"(sounds more poetic in Dutch though), i realy cried my eyeballs out, i realy felt a sincire love for Jesus. I havent cried that much and intense in years. And all of a sudden i felt a lot better.

Im beginning to understand that fear is not my way to get closer to god, its love, and it was love all along.


"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' (Matthew 5:43)
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46)

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Postby Kurieuo » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:08 pm

Sounds like God is drawing you in, so welcome to the family ;). I just feel the need to add that when verses talk of "fearing" God (e.g., [bible]Psalms 66:16[/bible]), the fear spoken of also means to show great reverence for God, or be in awe of. It is not simply a fear like you may get from say someone trying to kill you :P, but more of a respectable fear (as Felgar revealed) of knowing such greatness and knowing everything including your life is in His hands. I'm not sure whether this may be conveyed better in Dutch.

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Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:27 pm

In this western society in wich most of us live, the individuality is holy in stead of god, Christ or any form of spirituality. I now understand that most of my fear came from having to give up some of that individuality in order to come closer to god.

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Re: Learning about Christianity, fear

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:39 pm

erasmus wrote:MLately have been getting more and more interested in religion because of my study (cognitive neuro-psychology and philosophy of mind).

I just love philosophy of our identity and self, and I think you're in a really interesting area. I wrote a philosophical paper on dualism that you might be interested to read... be interested to know your thoughts anyway.

Kurieuo.
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Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:17 pm

I hope you have some interesting and fresh ideas about the regressus ad infinitum problem in dualism.

Did you know Descartes lived in the same neighbourhood as my grandparents???:)

Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:22 pm

By the way i dont think that any form of reductionism or materialism rules out the existence of god. My proffesor (unfortunately retired last month) was a deep religious Christian but was still a reductionist.

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Postby Kurieuo » Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:58 am

Was your professor a philosopher or more of a scientist? If the former I am a little suprised as most current philosophy books I've read on the body and mind, seem to bypass a pure reductionist approach which seems too simplistic, to a non-reductionist approach or something else. They also often readily admit to distinctions between mental and physical states, but then I haven't read dozens of books, so... I'm just basing it off books I have read.

I'm not a Cartesian dualist (interesting to hear about your grandparents and Descartes—brings the topic a bit closer to home huh? :)), however, I think the "problem" of interaction has perhaps been made more into an issue than it actually is. I basically see the argument against interaction being largely grounded in an argument ad ignorantium, that is, because one doesn't know how the two different substances (i.e., immaterial and material) interact, that they couldn't.

Anyway, not being a Cartesian, I do not consider the soul to be synonymous for the mind, but rather the mind to be a faculty of the soul requiring bodily conditions to be present in order to function. Because the soul has a more intimate relationship with the body, the interaction between the two would thus be more direct and immediate, and therefore no need for an intermediate mechanism would be required, and so no regressus ad infinitum problem (as may exist within the Cartesian approach). I also touch upon this in my writing linked to previously, although I didn't get to develop my own substance dualist belief in it as much as I would have liked to.

Kurieuo.

PS. A reductionist approach may not rule out the existence of God, but I'd say it rules out the possibility of a resurrection. If we are only physical and we die, then that's it. Sure God could resurrect someone who looked like us, with our memory and so forth, but then would such a person really be us? Additionally, God could logically resurrect two people with the exact same physical properties—would both be us? Thus, if a physicalist approach is true, then survival after death leads to absurdities and ought to be rejected.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Anonymous

Postby Anonymous » Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:01 am

oh boy, we do need a long talk and a good glass of wine. :)

Ill get back on this, im very bussy this week so it might take a few days


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