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    Two Kinds of Fear

    September 20, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    In my CiRCE post on Friday, I mentioned that fear is the enemy of liberty. We can blame this on Mr. Kern, for he fed me the idea; I simply mulled it over. Imagine my surprise when, in our Circle Time reading of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I found a reference to slavish fears.

    Of course, I also found a reference to appropriate fear, hence this post.

    The former is the sort of fear which leads to slavery because they demand that someone other than God take control:

    Thus, I say, being hot for heaven by virtue only of the sense and fear of the torments of hell, as that sense of hell and fear of damnation chills and cools, so their desires for heaven and salvation cool also. So then it comes to pass, that when their guilt and fear is gone, their desires for heaven and happiness die, and they return to their course again.–2 Another reason is they have slavish fears that do over master them; I speak now of the fears that they have of men: ‘For the fear of men bringeth a snare.’ So then, though they seem to be hot for heaven, so long as the flames of hell are about their ears; yet when that terror is a little over, they betake themselves to second thoughts; namely, that it is good to be wise, and not to run (for they know not what) the hazard of losing all, or at least of bringing themselves into unavoidable and unnecessary troubles: and so they fall in with the world again. (emphasis mine)

    This is, I think, the same sort of fear Mr. Kern was referencing. In the passage there is, first, a temporary fear of hell–but it produces no righteousness because it is rooted in the desire for safety and self-preservation, rather than any desire of consequence. The other fear is the fear of men–the desire to be admired by others, to live well in the eyes of men.

    This is contrasted with a holy fear, which is a reverence of God. Christian explains quite clearly that there are things we ought to fear–sin and guilt being among them. But this is the sort of fear that causes us to tread carefully and depend upon the Lord for strength and direction.

    A proper fear of God, then, keeps us on the path.

    This is why Andrew can, on the one place, imitate Dante and assign teachers a place in hell (which causes us to approach our task with appropriate gravity) while, at the same time, not encourage the sort of fear that brings about slavery.

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