Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Beginning of Wisdom

Remember we spoke last time of how Scripture is paradoxical, of how the Bible is mainly pictorial, symbolical, and mythical and less often or seldom logical, philosophical, and scientific. Poetic utterances come forward more often than journalistic prose.

So how does this help us to understand biblical contradictions? Consider Psalms 110:10-112:1 saying "The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom..How blessed the man who fears Yahweh..." versus I John 4:7-21 saying "Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God..God is love..There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."

First, notice that humans are "blessed" who fear God. In Scripture, to be blessed is a wondrous happiness. Obviously, the writer isn't dealing with the kind of fear that we often think of when we use the word today. When a person says he has a fear of terrorism, he is not "blessed."

Second consider a rather simplistic analogy: I both fear and love the Grand Canyon. I've never cringed toward the Canyon; that is not what I mean by fearing the Canyon. Rather, when I was on one of my many trips into the Grand Canyon backpacking, I had to crawl across several rocks slides and move along a trail only as wide as a large book and slanted toward a cliff which plummeted straight down over 1,000 feet!

The wind was blowing, yanking on my 60-pound backpack. Let me tell you, I was aware of the awesome danger--that this was real not some virtual game or safe tourist area. I feared the Canyon!

Yet contradictorily, I loved the Canyon. Few times in my life have I ever felt so in love with any place, any scene. To descend down dangerous trails, being able to look back geologically millions of years and outward visually for miles and miles, the vista so vast that I almost ended in ecstatic awe!

Extrapolate this basic example to fearing and loving Absolute Goodness, Total Truth, Ultimate Reality. Fearing and loving God are complimentary responses/actions. Ecstatic awe and deep intimate relationship with the Eternal are together as one. At least that is Jesus' view.

When I John writes that there is no "fear in love" he isn't speaking of absolute awe. Rather the writer is saying that an individual who responds to God's love will no longer have a cringing kind of fear of God. He or she will live in the Beloved.

Consider this modern version of these scriptural passages: "The Love of God is the beginning of wisdom."

In the Light of God,

Daniel Wilcox

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