Believers Should Never Have a Fear of God

Many believers today are driven by fear—especially in very theologically conservative groups. Leaders in those groups teach that God is often angry, harsh, and vindictive. And this is easy to believe when we read certain Old Testament stories; for these reasons many believers do have a strong fear of God. And from this misunderstanding of God flow other great fears: the fear of hell, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of being wrong, and the fear of being rejected by God and the church.

When I was part of those groups I had considerable fear, too. But I have since learned there is no reason a believer should ever fear at all and that overcoming fear begins by better understanding God’s character.

caution-angry-god

Caution: Angry God

There is No Need to Fear God at All

Parts of the Old Testament can really strike the fear of God into you! We read that God destroyed the entire world population in a flood (except Noah’s family) because he was upset with them. We read about strict laws from God that required death for those who did not observe them. Then there are the stories of God ordering the Israelites to exterminate entire nations including women, infants, and livestock.

God did not spare his own people, either. He swallowed Korah’s followers into the depths of the earth, struck Uzzah dead for steadying the ark of the covenant, and heavily punished Israelite kings who displeased him. All this should put the fear of God in us for sure! Except…

Except that God did not do any of these things. Yes, those who wrote the books of the Old Testament said he did, but often they were just trying to explain calamities that occurred or even creating stories about God. They assumed that their God did all these things based on his displeasure. However, their ideas arose from the limitations of their eras and cultures and from their limited understandings of God.

Jesus gives us a much better understanding of God. He taught that God is not angry and vindictive but is instead like a loving Father/Mother. One of Jesus’ followers captures his teaching very well. In 1 John 4 he writes:

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

His point is that God really loves us and there is no fear in love; this is our true relationship with the Father. Believers should never have a fear of God who loves us.

But Didn’t Jesus Warn Us Specifically to ‘Fear God’?

This common assertion is based on something Jesus said that is found in both Luke 12 and Matthew 10. Luke 12 reports Jesus as saying:

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell [Gehenna]. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Jesus is talking to his friends (disciples) and warns them about the Pharisees. A moment later he tells them not to fear those who can kill them—probably still having the Pharisees in mind; and, as we know, many of Jesus’ earliest followers were indeed killed by authorities. Jesus says don’t be afraid of them; don’t be intimidated by them; don’t regard them to the extent that you stop sharing the good news.

He goes on to say who they should really ‘fear’ instead of those who threaten them—and that is God. But I don’t think he meant for them to be ‘afraid’ of God but to regard God’s work above the concerns of human threats and intimidation. While the authorities are indeed capable of killing Jesus’ followers, God is able to totally destroy people in Gehenna (hell). Jesus’ does not envision an eternal burning hell but an image of total physical destruction found in the Old Testament that he often uses in hyperbole.

Actually, the charge to ‘fear God’ doesn’t seem to apply so much to the disciples as to the Pharisees themselves. In fact, Jesus immediately tells the disciples of the Father’s tremendous care for them and uses the words ‘Don’t be afraid‘:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

So I don’t think this passage should be stripped of its context to teach believers that they should ‘fear God’. This is my message to believers today: There is no need at all for us to fear the Father who loves us.

But What about those Other Four Great Fears?

You might recall that, in addition to fear of God, there are four other great and common fears believers should never have: the fear of hell, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of being wrong, and the fear of being rejected by God and the church. You might well ask, ‘What about those fears?’ Well in this post I have focused on the fear of God because it is the foundation for the other four fears. But they do deserve their own investigations. We will do that next time.

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85 Responses to Believers Should Never Have a Fear of God

  1. Lilly says:

    My denomination’s Bible lesson yesterday was the story of Samson. Reading many of your comments here has helped me look at such with new eyes. New eyes that make me see the impossibility of one man using the jawbone from a dead donkey to kill a thousand men. The impossibility of a woman tying all kinds of ropes and cords around such a strong man while he’s asleep, multiple times, without waking him up. Fear and intimidation are all I can think of that make a roomful of otherwise intelligent adults nod in agreement that yes, this story is true. I sometimes find myself in a quandary as to what to do with this new insight? My initial instinct is to feel depressed, wondering if anything I’ve previously believed is true. And wondering if, when such stories are told, I should just listen…or ask, “How could this have been possible?”

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Lilly, isn’t that the truth! We hear (or read) these stories, like Samson, and we are told they really happened–just like it says. And I believed them for decades because that is what I was told. But once we realize the Old Testament is not what we thought it was it can be quite disturbing…distressing…and, yes, depressing. Our entire faith is often based on all those stories being true as written.

      Part of the problem is that we are taught to assume the stories are absolutely true and historical, when in fact they are just that–stories. Of course this doesn’t mean that none of the stories are true; when we get to the gospels we are hearing stories about a person who really lived, taught, died, and lived again.

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    • sheila0405 says:

      It’s possible to keep your faith even when you find out the stories like Samson aren’t true. The stories can still convey valuable moral lessons. I suggest “The Bible Tells Me So” by Pete Enns. He’s an OT scholar whose books are easy to understand, & laced with humor. Any believer would benefit from his writings. Pete has a blog, too, which is worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Donald John says:

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of all wisdom.

    This fear that leads to all wisdom is a deep reverence for YAH-Jehovah Elohim the creator of heaven and earth. My Father has not given me the spirit of fear; but of power, love & sound mind.

    These pagans and devil worshippers need to fear the Lord God and give him glory while there is still time. If we are saved, Holy Ghost filled, and washed in the blood of Jesus Christ….then there is no fear in our hearts but rather an earnest expectation of the chicana glory that shall be revealed in us.

    AlleluYAH to the LAMB of God.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Terry says:

    This gives me life. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Anthony Paul says:

    People who are honest with themselves about who they really are will have to admit that it is not God whom they fear… the source of our trepidation lies elsewhere…

    Clint Eastwood said it just about right, IMO, in High Plains Drifter: “It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes ’em afraid.”

    God, who we have never seen or touched, may be loving and good; but we will never escape the knowledge that we are at heart broken and corrupt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonycutty says:

      I’m not corrupt. Dunno about you, but I have a new heart, and I’m a new creation, forgiven, free, whole and holy. And I walk in that knowledge – so in that sense I have indeed escaped that knowledge. I know what I *was*, but what I am now since Jesus set me free? That’s a whole different story!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Anthony Paul says:

        I don’t mean to appear combative, disrespectful or judgmental toward your personal self image, but I’ve known many church-going christians like yourself who claim to be “a new creation” with “a new heart” who go to church every Sunday in order to show off their new christian garb while spouting off the same old tired born again cliches. When seen outside the church walls, however, they look just like the rest of the tired and worn old creation… generally feeling pretty good about themselves while looking down their sanctimonious noses at others still trying to find their way in a difficult world.

        Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          Haha yeah Anthony thanks; comments accepted in the same gentle spirit you made them in 🙂 I too have seen that; indeed I used to be part of it, and it took me fifteen years outside the walls of church to be detoxed from it. (Did I claim to be church-going btw? hehe) I just go to my local CofE church now for the friendships I have there, for their own sake, not due to agreement; and for the opportunities to be Jesus to others, to show His grace in a world of legalism and bondage to pleasing men.

          Definitely not showing off anything; I don’t have much to show off tbh. I go in my jeans… 😉

          Liked by 2 people

          • Anthony Paul says:

            Thanks, Tony… you do get it!! Always glad to make another friend who has also been through the fire; it is very hard some times to make a connection because of my own personal issues of anger and disappointment with the church and those who play at being God’s special children. You say, “…it took me fifteen years outside the walls of church to be detoxed from it.” I have been “de-toxing” for the past 18 years and I don’t see any end in sight to the pain and anger I still feel toward the church. Thanks again for your comments and kind words.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Tony & Antony. It saddens me that you found church to be a less than happy experience, but, from observation, many leaders unintentionally drive away the people who are most responsive to God. They do so by imposing their ideas on the congregation and insisting that their way is right, to the exclusion of all others (or the exclusion of all people who do not agree with them). Those who aim to be like Jesus cannot remain indefinitely in such a place.

            Liked by 1 person

        • sheila0405 says:

          No one perfectly lives up to the church’s ideals. I’ve known hypocrites and I’ve known wonderful believers who are good people.in and out of church.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Anthony Paul says:

            Sheila, to be perfectly honest with you I’m not really sure about what your point is here. I fully realize that, “no one lives up to the church’s ideals” even if we could define what those ideals are. All I am saying is that for me (and I am speaking now from personal experience) the church has been a place where the actions of many (especially those in leadership positions) have not been a reflection of the words spoken from the pulpit on a Sunday morning or at a Bible study on a Sunday evening…. this is not just someone being humanly imperfect… it is outright hypocrisy. When someone at the local tavern or watering hole does or says something hurtful we don’t label him a hypocrite because we know that the world often can be a harsh place. More importantly, the man or woman sitting next to me at the bar is not pontificating on the virtues of living a Christ-like existence nor is that person telling me how to live my life. You see, that is the difference in my mind… although we know the church is not perfect, we have every expectation that the church and its members will act in a manner consistent with their beliefs in the brotherhood and love of others… otherwise it’s no better than the local gin mill, only a lot less fun.

            Liked by 1 person

          • sheila0405 says:

            You didn’t provide this level of detail in your previous comment. My point was, and still is, there are a great many Christians who aren’t at all like those you described here. We all have things that anger us. My anger is aimed at living a lie for 60 years. No offense intended.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Sheila, I agree that no one totally lives up to the ‘ideals’.

            Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, this is a very interesting quote for this context: “It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes ’em afraid.” And I can see how this would make them feel guilty and afraid before God. But I have learned that God is ready to heal our brokenness, our alienation, and our fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. tonycutty says:

    Tim, I think one of the problems is the misuse of the word ‘fear’. Modern Bible translations have changed many of the KJV words to ones that we use nowadays, in the same sense as we use them nowadays. But the word ‘fear’ seems to have slipped through the net! It means, as you know, ‘reverence and awe’, but the translators seem to have wanted to keep the old KJV word ‘fear’. I wonder why? I wonder if it is because they ‘fear’ the consequences if they don’t make people terrified of God?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I think you are right. And, as you say, this modern understanding of ancient words impacts more than just the term ‘fear’. The sad truth is that so many believers are quite sure God is angry, harsh, and vindictive. How can we love God if we carry that baggage?

      But I think you are on to something with your question, “I wonder if it is because they ‘fear’ the consequences if they don’t make people terrified of God?” I sometimes wonder the same thing.

      Like

      • Steve says:

        “Clement” wrote a decent amount about “fearing God” in his letter to the church in Corinth. Do you have any thoughts on that?

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Steve, it has been quite awhile since I have read Clement, and I would have to refresh my memory. I will do so and respond to your question with any thoughts that I have, but it will take some time because of my current project load.

          Thanks for your question, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

          Like

    • Chas says:

      Tony. This point about the mis-translation of the word given as fear in KJV also occurred to me, on reading Tim’s post, but you have made it, more forcefully, by drawing attention to the fact that this was probably done deliberately.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. tonycutty says:

    Great post btw, Tim. Can’t wait for the rest of the series! I have already linked my blog readers to your first post; hopefully there’s freedom for them too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks for the link, Tony. Though I did not bring attention to it, this is actually the second post on fear. The first was last week’s article about fearing doubt.

      Like

  7. Chas says:

    Tim, there is one point that maybe needs to be clarified. In your post, you have said: ‘those who wrote the books of the Old Testament said he did (do these things), but they were just trying to explain calamities that occurred. They assumed that their God made all these things happen based on his displeasure. However, their ideas arose from the limitations of their eras and cultures and from their limited understandings of God.’ This reads as if these phenomena actually happened, whereas they were just made-up stories, as you have made more clear in a response to Lilly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Chas says:

    This is to encourage anyone who might be undergoing testing in obedience to God at present. If you know what God wants you to do, you might be fearful, because you think that if you do it, you might suffer embarrassment, punishment, or scorn from people whom you love or respect. This is what you have to overcome. I too experienced this, but learned to recognize that fear comes from within yourself. It is a product of your childhood experience. Feel the fear, but know that you must overcome it.

    Like

  9. sheila0405 says:

    I think you’re stretching a bit in your assessment of fearing the one who can destroy both body & soul. This, coupled with parables ending with being cast into outer darkness & gnashing of teeth, makes me think Jesus believed God would punish his enemies. That’s just me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sheila, you are right that Jesus often warns of things going badly for some people–primarily certain Pharisees. But I take the warnings to mean that they will be very disappointed by not being the elite in the kingdom as they assume. Of course, Jesus uses a lot hyperbole to make his point but I think the warnings are genuine. However, I don’t see this as being punishment of God’s ‘enemies’.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      The other possibility is that these words attributed to Jesus are, in fact, the words of the writer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steve says:

        Do you mean they weren’t the ‘exact words’ Jesus spoke or do you mean the writer inserted his own thoughts and attributed them to Jesus?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          Meaning they made them up.

          Like

          • Steve says:

            So ground zero for you is that the sayings of Jesus are simply lies where the writers used the figure of Jesus as a vehicle for their own ideas?

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Steve Ground zero for me is that the writer(s) of the Synoptic Gospels were writing about someone about whom they had heard from other people. There is reason to believe that the man about whom they wrote was a very special person: gentle, kind and loving in an age of brutality, otherwise he would not have made the impression on these other people that he did. However, he probably lived much earlier than the writers assumed. If we look at the dates assumed (4BC for Matthew and 6AD for Luke) these were chosen to suit the views that these writers wanted to put across: Matthew to match his fiction about Herod, and Luke who chose this date for his birth so that his death could occur in a short period when offenders might have been judged by a Roman prefect, with the Jewish authorities demanding that Jesus, as a Jew, should be judged under a recently elapsed Jewish law. It is generally agreed that some of the Synoptic Gospels relied on an earlier source. The inclusion in all three Synoptic Gospels where Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple shows that that must have been in the source document, which had to have been written after 70AD and its daughter documents later still. You will note that these are arguments that demonstrate, for me, that these stories are fictional, so I have little confidence in the words attributed to Jesus by these same writers. However, I do believe that Jesus, if that was indeed his name, was the Son of God, and I also believe that God can show us what He wants us to receive when we read the bible.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I agree with you that the apocalyptic section of the synoptic gospels referred to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, but I do not think that the three gospels must be dated after 70 AD because of this. Jesus was an observant person and, seeing how the Jewish people were acting, it was no significant stretch to see that the Romans would destroy Jerusalem.

            Jesus said in Mark, the earliest gospel, “Do you see all these great buildings?…Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” I don’t think this was a ‘prophecy’ but a prediction based on his observations of the Jews.

            You are right that the gospels were written down by those who were not the original observers, but it seems that I have a significantly higher regard for the integrity of the oral tradition than you. I don’t think stories were passed from one person to another to another to another; rather there were original followers of Jesus who preached what they saw and heard and what impacted them. and that what they preached had considerable consistency.

            I am not sure on what basis you speculate that Jesus was born and preached much earlier than the gospels indicate. I am fairly widely read and don’t know a single scholar who suggests that. It seems to me that Paul, whose dates are known, would be sufficient in himself to establish the general dates of Jesus and also Jesus’ name, which he mentions frequently. Do you have sources for your alternate theory?

            You state that you “have little confidence in the words attributed to Jesus by these same writers” and further that you “believe that God can show us what He wants us to receive when we read the bible.” I assume this means without regard to the factuality of the gospels specifically. If God engaged in revealing to individuals what to believe from the Bible, so that the Bible itself is no longer necessary (as you have said before), then wouldn’t there be more consistency in what God ‘reveals’ to various individuals?

            I think that individuals might have insights into biblical passages, but to rely on personal ‘revelation’ from God is very subjective; and each person assuming their ‘personal revelation’ to be God’s authoritative truth is at odds with others who hold the same for their own ‘authoritative truth.’ This seems to me to be a hubris of astounding proportions.

            Recognizing that the gospels are not word-for-word what Jesus said is different from discarding them altogether as inferior to our own personal, subjective revelation from
            God.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, the source of our differences lies in whether we think that we have anything close to the actual words of Jesus in the Gospels; hence if the apocalyptic words attributed to him are really the words of men, then they had already witnessed the event and the Gospels are significantly later than previously thought.

            In regard to God showing us what He wants us to receive from reading the Bible, this is would include the whole Bible, including the OT, not a restriction to the Gospels or to the NT. What each person receives from reading the Bible will hence be unique to them and they will choose to do with that what they wish. Some people will try to impose what they have received on someone else, because they are driven to do so. That will result in the inconsistencies that you mention, but God would have been aware of their state of mind, so He would have intended these observed inconsistencies to occur, to achieve His long term purposes, which are to minimize overall suffering in the world.

            In regard to not needing to use the Bible, I am referring to those who are able to receive what God wants them to receive directly from Him. Since such people appear to be rare, it is necessary to encourage those who cannot to receive from God by reading the Bible.

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I have been deeply engaged in reading and dealing with the Bible for almost 60 years. Along the way I have gone from fundamentalism to where I am now; I take it very seriously.

            Arising from all that deep involvement I have had several great insights that I did not learn from anyone else; however, it concerned me that my insights seemed totally unique; but eventually I always discovered others–scholars–who had the same insights and was relieved that it was not my own fancy.

            Perhaps God led me to those insights; who can say? But I will never claim that I benefit from a direct revelation from God. I was Pentecostal for 25 years and I saw this claim abused frequently by those who were certain they had direct, independent information from God.

            You state, “In regard to not needing to use the Bible, I am referring to those who are able to receive what God wants them to receive directly from Him. Since such people appear to be rare, it is necessary to encourage those who cannot to receive from God by reading the Bible.” I find this condescending sense of superiority to be harmful to both to those who believe they have such special favor of God and to those who accept them as authorities.

            I agree with you that such people are rare, in fact I strongly suggest that such people do not exist–they are mistaken; their direct revelation from God is a fantasy and a severely dangerous one.

            I am sure you are aware that I am quite open-minded to what others believe, but I cannot but oppose harmful baggage like hell, legalism, inerrancy…and I would include this concept of clear personal revelation of truth from God without regard to the words and example of Jesus to be among them.

            I am sorry.

            Like

    • Donald John says:

      Sheila,

      Brilliant reply. Couldn’t agree more.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. fiddlrts says:

    On a far less serious note, if Divine Smiting is truly an indication of God’s displeasure, then, statistically speaking, God really hates golfers.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. sheila0405 says:

    Anthony Paul, I know the anger. It raises it’s ugly head all the time. Mine isn’t directed at any one church, but at how my childhood indoctrination hurt me. I don’t want to be an angry person. It’s a continuing struggle. My main issue is not hypocrisy. It’s people praying for victims of natural disasters, while denying the idea that their prayers should have prevented the disaster. But I’m no longer a theist, so my opinion doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Thank you, Sheila… your thoughts and comments are important to me. RE your earlier comment, I didn’t take offense at what you said but you are right I am angry about the church. I’m 72 now and so I don’t know that this will ever change any time soon. I must comment on your observation that there are many good christians not like those whom I have met in the past: you are right about that and I believe that there are many good ones right here who participate and interact on this blog. Again, I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sheila, I rarely (almost never) disagree with you, but I must disagree here. Your opinion DOES matter–theist or not!

      Like

    • Steve says:

      Of course your opinion matters! Honest question: As a non-theist, what draws you to a blog about Jesus?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donald John says:

      Sheila,

      “Church doctrine” is going to send millions to hell. Jesus Christ died on the cross to give us relationship, not religion.

      Like

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Donald, what do you mean that “Church doctrine” is going to send millions to hell? Can you be more specific? I don’t think anyone is going to be punished in eternal hell, if that is what you are suggesting; it is contrary to God’s character and the Bible doesn’t even teach such a thing.

        Like

        • Donald John says:

          You are wrong sir. Read Mark 9 in your King James Bible. Jesus Christ solemnly warns of eternal hell fire 3 times.

          “Where their worm dieth not; and the flame is not quenched.”

          Care bear Joel Osteen garbage duping Christians in millions is what I’m talking about.

          Paul told us to call people with different doctrine accursed.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Donald, thanks for the clarification. I know that many people understand this passage that way; I did so myself for a long time. But it is a misunderstanding–a serious one. In case you are interested, I am sharing an article I wrote on the worm that did not die and the fire that was not quenched; it is not what many people think.
            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/jesus-and-the-fires-of-hell/

            Like

          • Donald John says:

            Sir do not play with the Word of Elohim lest the plagues of revelation come upon your head!

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Donald, I appreciate your concern but I am not frightened. I have already lived through the perspective you seem to promote and survived it. Of course you have a right to your opinion, but I cannot agree and I cannot be threatened.

            Your reference to Revelation is interesting. I am sure we also think quite differently about the book of Revelation and what it is all about. I can share an article with you on approaching the book of Revelation properly if you are interested.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Donald John says:

            It is WordPress my friend. We can agree to disagree. Hell is as real as John 3:16. Us Jews have known about Sheol for centuries. I am loving you not threatening you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            You are right Donald, we can continue to disagree here; but for what purpose? You represent a biblical and theological perspective that is in tremendous contrast with ours. This discussion is not productive, so why not call it quits?

            Like

          • Donald John says:

            Who is “ours”? I am in line with the prophets, psalmists, Jesus Christ & apostles of the LORD JEHOVAH.

            On the contrary, you have a private interpretation of the scriptures which should not be taught. Hell is real. It is a dark fiery pit in the belly of the earth. No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            May I enter the discussion. First, the idea of a hell of eternal punishment is inconsistent with a kind, gentle and loving God, which is the God who has given me relationship with Him. Because the Old Testament was written by men, the god (elhoim/yahweh/el) shown in it is based on the behavior of men, because the ones who wrote it believed that gods would be like men, capable of anger, violence, impatience and hatred. Revelation is an attempt to bring together many of the so-called prophetic ideas from the OT to form a framework for the return of Jesus in power, as he had conspicuously failed to fulfill the characteristics of the messiah (a figure out of the imagination of the writers who hoped that an all-conquering king for Judah would arise). Even if the messiah myth was real, Jesus could not fulfill it, because the messiah had to be an all-male-line descendant of David, whereas we know that Jesus was the Son of God, not the son of a man.

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Donald, ‘Ours’ is my general perspective and that of the majority of regular commenters here, and it is NOT a private interpretation of scripture (as opposed to your ‘clear’ interpretation). But let me make this clear: dialog is great, but I am not interested in continuing the back and forth of your conservative challenges; that is not dialog.

            This is a place to discuss doctrinal baggage issues. I don’t go on your rapture and end-times theology blog to argue with you or your readers. So, while I hate to do so, if you continue with this line of comments I will delete them and ban you if necessary. I’m sorry.

            Like

          • Donald John says:

            Oh boo hoo. Joel Osteen offers
            Jesus without baggage as well. No repentance. No hell. No crucifixion.

            Since I don’t fit the niche of people who agree with you I’ll be gone now.

            Have fun cherry picking the scriptures. The atheists love your blog. A tree is recognized by his fruit.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, your response to Donald is very well stated–VERY well said. Good job.

            Like

      • sheila0405 says:

        I said the same words for years and years, when I was “soul winning”. You likely cannot tell me anything I haven’t already said, done or believed at some point during my decades of Christianity.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Lilly says:

    For me, the original post here and all the comments are provocative, so appreciate ALL OF THEM. One thing that occurs to me is large brain scan studies of people show some of us are genetically hardwired to think more with our right brain, so that emotions like fear are given more weight than logic. Others of us are wired to use our left brain (logic) more, and give more weight to reasoning. It’s why some folks want to know more, while others easily accept religious status quo. I don’t like that many of the questions I really want to ask are not welcome in many religious settings. But I do like that they are welcome here. I have to believe God approves of us using the intellect he has given us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Lilly, first of all I am glad you are comfortable asking questions here; I think the community does a good job of interacting, responding to questions, and being civil even when they disagree.

      I think you might be onto something about right-brain vs. left-brain. Perhaps that explains why some people never seem to question their beliefs; and they do seem to be quite fear-based. I started off faithfully following the status quo, but then I began to think and question; I didn’t find much sympathy in my church for my questions either. Now, I am not at all interested in an environment where I cannot ask honest questions.

      Like

      • Lilly says:

        Why do some people get so angry when their religion is questioned? When it ceases to be about anything spiritual and becomes about personal ego. Manipulators seeking power, money, validation, etc. like to convince people to dissolve into their creed. When that’s questioned, they and their followers take it personally.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Lilly, this is a good question, and there is no doubt that this is the way many people respond about their beliefs. I don’t think there is any GOOD reason for a person to be so defensive about questioning their beliefs, but there are a couple poor reasons I can think of.

          Tribalism. Some people respond personally whenever they feel that their tribe is being threatened in some say. ‘Us vs. them’ mentality can be very strong.

          Tradition. Perhaps this is related to tribalism, but some people are very attached to their heritage or tradition of beliefs to the point of defending them against attack (like someone questioning them). It can be summarized as ‘This is what I have always believed and its true!’

          Neither of these reasons seem valid for me, but it is not my job to try to correct people who respond this way. I have found it best to just let them go their way and not try to argue with them.

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        • Chas says:

          Lilly, Your question is a good one. Many people who manipulate others respond in anger when someone questions their position. They are trying to intimidate the questioner into submission. I had a less obvious example last year, when speaking to a friend whom my wife and I meet only once a year. The previous year I talked to her about contradictions in the bible which proved that they could not be the Word of God, and when we met last year, she said that my ideas had made her angry, but she had taken comfort from what the pastor of her church had said that the differences between the Gospels resulted from their being eyewitness statements and differ from one person to another. Although I was aware that this proved that they were the words of men, I was guided not to say this, but to give some examples of contradictions. What I have still not worked out is why she was angry. I assume that the idea of the bible not being the Word of God made her feel either uncomfortable or fearful, possibly about her whole belief. By not destroying the claim that her pastor had made allowed her to retain the comfort that she had received, while being able to see that her pastor’s response had not made me angry. She could also see that I am still passionate about serving God, even though I am passionate in the belief that the bible is not inerrant. Our interaction awaits the next step; I have no idea what that will be.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Steve says:

            Part of it could simply be the natural tendency in humans to push back in some way or another when they feel challenged by another human. This, of course, is manifested in different ways with different people (anger, silence, indifference, passivity, etc). It is a pretty common feeling among humans to feel that another person is asserting their superiority and or dominance over another when they are telling them that their personal belief on some issue is invalid.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Lilly, I suspect that I am maybe an extreme left brain person, but that doesn’t mean that I am without emotion. Logic has been very useful to me in overcoming fear.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lilly says:

        Yep, Steve, I think our hardwiring is affected not just by genetics, but by early upbringing and what kind of social and spiritual atmosphere we’re exposed to. We can work to change it. If I had to quantify it, I’d say I used to operate on an 80/20 right brain (emotional) system. Now, I’d say I’m up to 50/50. Logic and emotion wage some pretty good battles in my head! People selling you stuff, tangible or intangible, usually prefer selling to your emotions, because they get a quicker response than logic. I’ve watched some of the back & forth in this whole discussion, and logic can obviously be a threat to our emotional comfort zones. We have a choice to stay in the zone or come out and think. Often not an easy choice, definitely not for me. Sometimes, I wish I were like my dogs, who don’t sweat the details but just know that I love them and they can count on me to supply all their needs I’m capable of. But there’s no lack of folks always wanting to force more details on us. My denomination ran off a lot of great professors at their universities because it was like every couple of years, they wanted the profs to sign another statement pledging allegiance to some new denominational leadership philosophy. No wonder Jesus’ harshest words were not for “sinners”, but for the spiritually elite who thought they knew everything and eventually had him killed. Not much has changed!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          Lilly, you are spot-on. Our responses are influenced by both our genetics, which is hard wired, and by our childhood experiences, which is malleable. It is impossible to change our genetics, but we can learn to overcome damage that has been caused by negative childhood experiences.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Lilly says:

    Oh, & I also meant that reply for Chas. Got mixed up on to whom I was replying.

    Like

    • Chas says:

      Lilly, it is a quirk of the system that you have to look back to the last comment that has a ‘reply’ under it, if you want to respond after the 4th level of comment.

      Like

  14. Pingback: 5 Great Fears Believers Should Never Have | Jesus Without Baggage

  15. sheila0405 says:

    Chas: I must tell you that, like Tim, I am giving you many kudos for how you handled Donald. Somehow I didn’t get notifications for this thread as I usually do. Your final thought on something you said about the Messiah really intrigued me. I’m 61, was a Bible-believing Christian for 60 years, and when you pointed out the fact that Jesus was not from a male only descending line, but was the Son of God, my brain popped. Whoa! I never heard that before. All of my life, every preacher or priest stressed Jesus’ Davidic heritage.

    I always learn something here. Thanks for letting this ol’ atheist stick around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Sheila, I too am playing catch-up, having no notification of your comment. The response to Donald was based on ‘the best method of defense is attack’ and it was targeted at his beliefs to put him on the defensive. However, he probably left before he had a chance to read it. This contradiction between the Son of God and son of David is probably a reason for many Jewish believers turning back when they hear it from proselytizing Jews. I have looked at this in some detail in the Gospels and it appears that the writer of a/the source of the Synoptic Gospels thought that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t seem to think that the Messiah was a son of David, shown by the story of Jesus asking the Pharisees why David called him Lord, if he was his son. The Gospel stories require Jesus to return from Heaven to fulfill the characteristics of the Messiah, since he conspicuously failed to fulfill them in what we are told in the Gospels.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Anthony Paul says:

    “Even if the messiah myth was real, Jesus could not fulfill it, because the messiah had to be an all-male-line descendant of David, whereas we know that Jesus was the Son of God, not the son of a man.”

    This issue of Jesus’s human genealogy has come up on several occasions here and I believe that we may be overlooking several important points about which The Scriptures are quite specific: fiirst of all, it should be noted that the Jews kept very specific and accurate records of one’s lineage especially prior to the fall of the Temple in 70 AD. Lineage was very important in several aspects of life to them, especially in the passing down of inheritances and patriarchy. The Book of Matthew traces Jesus’s lineage from Joseph’s side, who was considered to be His father in every legal sense of the word just as one who legally adopts a child in our own day. This line is traced through Jesse. The Book of Luke on the other hand traces Jesus’s lineage from Mary’s side through Nathan to King David.

    Remembering that lineage was important to this culture and knowing that The Scriptures foretold the coming of The Messiah would be of the line of King David, religious leaders of the day were looking for someone who was a direct descendent of David to be that Messiah. In fact, The Pharisees of Jesus’s day, men who we know to be inimical to the idea that Jesus could be The Messiah, although they brought many charges against Him, they never questioned His lineage back to King David. It seems to me that this would be among the first charges they would bring against The Christ if they could as it would be the easiest thing to prove based on the written records of the day.

    And so, although one is never wrong to say that Jesus is The Son of God and not man in the sense that He was not fathered by Joseph, yet in fact Joseph was His legal guardian and father in an earthly sense. Among so many reasons why I am not so quick to dismiss parts of The Bible with which I may not agree is the fact that the writers of that Book seem very specific about some of the things they write… for example: we are told that Joseph was considered to be Jesus’s father BUT in the genealogy of Christ we are told that Jacob was the father of Joseph, who was “the husband of Mary…” it does not say that Joseph was “the father of Jesus”.

    In conclusion, IMHO, I do not believe that one can dismiss The Messiahship of Jesus on the grounds that He was not of the line of David.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Anthony, nevertheless, the fact remains, Jesus could not be genetically descended from God and David through his male line, even if David had really existed (although there is no second source to confirm that).

      Like

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