Fear Falls Short

Holidays like Halloween can present an interesting dilemma about how others may or may not observe the festivities associated with it. Brad and Wayne talk about the problems inherent in any group of people trying to reach agreement on matters of conscience. Their conversation then leads to a wider discussion about all the ways religion provokes fear to keep people in line. We are taught to fear being left out of the rapture, being rejected, going to hell, being judged by God or having to be accountable to so-called leadership. And all of that fear leads us away from the work God wants to do in our heart. Jesus didn't come to exacerbate our fears, but to free us from them so we can live loved in the world.

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  1. Guys! This was another “home run” discussion today! Really enjoyed it! By the way, I will be trick or treating Sunday night, and my wife and I are dressing as Wayne and Brad. My wife’s having a booger of a time trying to grow a Brad-like gotee, however. Maybe she should be you, Wayne. 🙂
    Loving this journey, guys! So blessed to have met yall along the way! Happy Harvest, uhh….all hallowed’s eve, uh…..I mean, Holyween, ah crap dudes………..HAPPY FRIGGIN HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!
    Keep slingin’! Peace!

  2. I am glad that Brad admitted his distaste for Halloween. I had a chance to see a police forensic report on the satanic ritual abuse that occurs on Halloween. The activity needs to be shut down for that reason. I understand your point regarding fear being used by religion, but as a gymnastics coach I remind my athletes that there is a difference between the fear that God gives and panic fear. Fear is the emotion of due caution. There is reason for caution. Panic, however, is demonic in history. The word comes from Pan who was a satyr in Greek mythology that the ancient Greeks believed induced uncontrollable fear upon people, hence a panic attack.

    There is an alternative to Halloween, and even the pagan Fall Festival that congregations use as their Halloween substitute. That is Reformation Day. On October 31st, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg Chapel door to protest the sales of indulgences. Because of that the Protestant Reformation spread throughout Europe and was brought by the Puritans and Pilgrms to the New World.

    So for my family, I dress up as Martin Luther and give a comic book I created on Reformation Day along with candy to the trick or treaters who come to my house. I explain to the kids and parents that we do not celebrate Halloween but Reformation Day. We are giving them the candy as a free gift just as Christ has given us eternal life as a free gift for believing in Him. We don’t piss off the neighborhood kids yet share the gospel in the process.

  3. “The activity needs to be shut down for that reason”

    I’m afraid I don’t follow your logic on this one Alex. How will celebrating the reformation stop Satanists from performing their rituals on the 31st? Sounds like police work.

    I’d like to read your comic book. Do you have it posted online somewhere?

    I’m sympathize with Brad. I don’t like the celebration of murder and gore either. However it all comes down to context for me. For instance, my family will be watching a Korean monster movie “The Host” with some friends and their new baby.

    Jesus will be attending.

  4. The subtle trap is that, through any “successful” behaviour modification program, we make it look like we might actually know God. But if we don’t really know Him (by way of a relationship, as Brad pointed out) we miss something quite important; like ….the very meaning of life!

  5. It has always intrigued me that somehow the church was able to convert one pagan holiday successfully to become the celebration of Jesus birth but failed to convert another pagan holiday to be a celebration of all saints – not sure why that happened – I guess the specter of one Jolly saint was easier to swallow than the whole bunch.

    Totally loved the part about fear being the BEGINNING wisdom. That old apostle John said it best – “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].” (1 John 4:18 AMP)

    Oops, now I have fear about having fear 😉

  6. Just one point that might helps me realize where I am in the world of religious trappings, and what an influence they have in my life, and probably yours too. Isn’t the word “Lord” a common part of our religious language and English translations? But do we realize that it, too, has a very pagan origin? The reference guide to the Christian Bible translation puts it like this for Lord (Gr: Kurios): “this word is the antonym (opposite) of ‘slave’; the antonym of ‘slave’ is ‘master’, not ‘lord’; ‘Lord’ was the name of the pagan surpreme god of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) mythology, and meant ‘bread-provider’; ‘Lord’ worship was merged by the Catholic Church into their religion so that they could more easily convert English pagans.”

    Lots of commonly used words are this way, including hell, eternal, baptize, saints, church, holy, etc, with misused and very unclear meanings ascribed to them in the bible. Use Holy as an example. Greek is Hagios It means simply “pure”, such as a “pure” oil, unmixed, and free from pollutants, dedicated to and worthy of God. Doesn’t “pure” make for clearer understanding than “holy”? It does now for me.

    So guys, keep on tippin’ ’em kows! I think we all probably have a fairly endless supply!

  7. Kiel,
    Yes, ending Halloween will not end Satanic Ritual Abuse, but it may reduce the number of kids attracted to Satanism. The responsibility to exalt holiness and to discourage wickedness belongs to us all. How we do so, of course, depends on the leading of the Spirit in each life, but the police are only one venue with addressing evil.

    Brad and Wayne joke about what happened to God from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Did God get saved? is their joke. But their point is that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as in the New Testament, but the purpose of God with Israel was a specific purpose. That purpose (I am saying, not them) is to show the extremity of sin. The fact that God is reconciled to sin through Jesus Christ, does not mean that the injury of evil has gone away, and as a society, we have a responsibility to contain the spread of evil.

    As for my tract, you can see it here: http://www.freethechurch.org/Truth/Church/luther.html.

  8. This idea of Halloween originally being a satanic holiday was introduced in the 1970’s by a self-proclaimed satanist-priest-turned-Christian-comedian whose claims have since been publicly discredited. All these years later, this ridiculous nonsense still persists.

    Yes, I’m sure modern satanists have a hey-day on Halloween, but they did not originate the celebration of it. Yes, I know that ancient pagan rituals were created around the harvest season, but there is a difference between paganism and satanism. In fact, these pagan rituals were designed to ward off evil spirits, not to invoke their presence. The pagan harvest rituals surrounding Halloween are no more to be feared than the pagan spring rituals surrounding Easter.

    Or are we going to give that holiday up, too?

    This year we will be giving out Halloween candy to costumed kids, just as we left a basket of brightly-colored ancient pagan fertility symbols at my daughter’s door every Easter when she was a child.

    It’s all in fun, after all… 🙂

  9. Ken,
    Mike Warnke is not the author of Satanic worship in Halloween. Halloween came to the USA in the 19th century by the Irish Catholics who fled Ireland’s starvation during the Great Potato Famine to find a new life in New York City. The Halloween practice was a Druidic practice of the Irish that was incorporated into the Catholic system as they historically allowed “converts” to retain their pagan practice by dressing it up with “Christianese”. The Feast of Samhain was called the Holy Evening before All Saints Day.

    I have no problem with having fun. Of course, Easter is just as pagan today, and I do not encourage those activities. The essence of holiness is separation. Confusing good and evil is an abomination to the Lord. Even though we live in an age of Grace, that does not mean we should take lightly evil dressed up as “fun”. This continues the confusion in children when their parents do not make the distinction for them. So if ghosts and goblins on Halloween is fun and OK, and bunnies with chocolate eggs are the same, then what is wrong with girls dressing as men and men changing their gender through medical surgery? My point is not a straw man argument. The steps of confusion continue into a boggy morass.

    While the Druids did not call it satanism, it is still the same thing. The Aztecs did not call their human sacrifice satanism, but it was still the same thing.

  10. Alex, by all means, if God has shown you that something is “evil” then listen to that most wise of all counsel and don’t touch it with a stick! I’m not sure though, that the extrapolation of personal revelation (yours or mine) into the imposition of some form of universal decree, is actually the freedom for which we have been set free.

  11. Alex,

    We are in agreement on the actual origin of Halloween.

    Apparently your definition of satanism is broader than mine. I would define satanism as the explicit worship of Satan, not just evil things done under the banner of a religion. There are some Christian churches guilty of that, and that is why many of us are God Journey listeners today…

    I have friends who forgo trick or treat, Easter egg hunts and even Christmas trees because of the non-Christian origins of these symbols. I respect their decision to follow their conscience, and I respect yours as well.

  12. Ken,
    I understand. Jesus said, “If you are not with me is against me, and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30. Jesus has a broad view of satanism, too. And, I left organized religion for the same reason. I respect your position, as well. I don’t get bent out of shape anymore, but I remain cognizant of the truth nonetheless. So many doctrines are not worth fighting for because they are only speculation. But the reality of Satan and the world system that he orchestrates through our flesh can not be denied.

  13. so glad I live in Australia & have never done anything on r for Halloween. Have had a few kids knock on our door & they got whatever was on hand but none this year.

    I did like the podcast, once you moved over the Halloween bump. I used to be that over spit=ritual one in the group, I just recalled it as I listened & was glad that I have moved on. No pangs on condemnation or such, how lovely to be loved into freedom…such a breath of fresh air!

    Thank you Brad & Wayne for the podcast.

  14. I like the whole summation that Wayne gave on Fear: if we look at all of these issues.. Halloween, PG rated movies, co-ed swimming, etc… and ask ourselves what is driving us, we can get a better handle on things. If Fear is driving my responses and my relationships with others, then that is likely not a place where Papa is leading. By the same token, sometimes it is hard to distinguish fears from deeply held convictions. I now have to regard my ‘deeply held convictions’ with a degree of suspicion, especially when they lead me to want to impose mandates on others or make universal rules. Our tendency to want to impose our beliefs on others is not Papa’s way. He seems to be more about helping us to discover the truth and then teaching us how to walk in that with him.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh, freedom in the Father’s house.

  15. From Alex:
    “Yes, ending Halloween will not end Satanic Ritual Abuse, but it may reduce the number of kids attracted to Satanism”

    I’m not trying to single you out and be argumentative here. Could you elaborate on how you see us “ending” the activities of Halloween? And how would such a thing be maintained? And what are the specific benefits?

  16. I think that one of the biggest tricks that satan has played (bigger than the ‘give me some candy’ trick) is the development/evolution of the whole church system from about the second century AD. It has robbed millions (possibly billions) from a deeper relationship with Father. To me that was a bigger trick or (poisonous) treat than any single day pagan holiday event.

  17. I am confused about hell. I looked up all the verses in the new testament and 1) there aren’t a whole bunch of them 2) it seems like the only people Jesus threatened with hell were arrogant people who took advantage of other people by either their religious positions or their wealth.

    I can’t figure out how it ever came out that people thought you go to hell for either sinning or simply not “believing in Christ”. Unless Jesus was overstating for effect, as he was documented as doing, it seems like hell, for either the Christian or the non-Christian is of no concern unless either is using wealth or position to take advantage of other people.

    As a topic, I think it nearly always does way more harm than good and no one who makes any confident assertion about hell really knows what the hell they are talking about anyway. Maybe that’s the reason Paul never even talked about it.

  18. Brad’s mention on behavior modification caught my attention. There is a well known & popular big box assembly in our town that came to mind for a few reasons. They produce a lot of programs and conferences focused on improving (changing) how you .. raise your kids, be a spouse, run your business, be a neighbor, know their belief systems, etc, and yes, you are tested and get a certificate of achievement.

    There also is a caste-like multi-ringed ministry structure with graduated rule sets that guide your spiritual service. Your progression is according to your service and program achievements and how well you keep the rules. You can also buy your way into the inner circle (not making this up) by committing to a large cash gift over and above your regular tithes and offerings. They do monitor that performance too.

    The courses, ministry life and who pays attention to you is motivated from a reward-punishment (blessings withheld) proposition. All of this “life” is quite intense, high volume and fast paced doesn’t seem to allow for any other expression of Body life or partaking in growing intimate relationships.

    However, the most conspicuous reason (for me) is the unexpected endorsement it got from a friend I have a good professional relationship with. He is a kind, thoughtful and helpful Atheist who enjoys real conversation. He has a practice that specializes in designing and operating corporate behavioral management programs. He is also, what he deems, the last of a dying breed; a pure Skinnerian who actually studied under B.F. Skinner.

    We were discussing a book a one of his client’s left him; Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”. He thought it was a load of crud but was truly gracious in learning other perspectives. He thought for the most part evangelical Christian expression was much in line with the book too. However, he noted there was one exception.

    He and his wife and practice partner attended the big box mentioned earlier. Their first visit piqued their curiosity enough to spawn a few more exploratory visits. His exceptional conclusion?

    “They have a really well engineered and run system there. I was quite impressed.”

  19. Kiel,
    I don’t mean Halloween should be ended by legislation. I mean that the practice should be abandoned. Changes in history have always occurred because of massive change of heart by a populace. How that change comes about is always different. For example, the feeding of Christians to the lions ended when someone jumped out of the stadium and tried to stop the event. The lions mauled him instead. The scene so shocked the audience that a revulsion of the game came over everyone and the games ended for lack of attendance.

    Likewise, in Arizona, the citizens refused to pay the red light camera tickets en masse and the cost of trying to collect was so high that Arizona removed all their cameras so there are now no cameras at any intersection.

    Popular activities reflect the heart of the people. It is when the heart of a population changes that the activity ceases.

    I agree with Jim regarding the satanic trick of confusing organized religion with Christianity. Ken J’s comment regarding the popular box assembly being a slick well designed behavior modification program reflects the heart of much of the church. They see Christianity as an external, not internal transformation. Fear is an easy external motivator.

    The Victorian Era and even our pre-Vietnam era in America was a safer environment to live in because the hearts had not been swayed towards immorality. Doors were left unlocked and kids freely roamed neighborhoods because the heart morality was still intact, although for the 1950’s the pressure to crack that morality was already underway. The answer to restoring morality is to incarnate Christ so the Holy Spirit can use those living epistles as examples for discipleship.

  20. @ Alan Gray. This is definitely a hot current issue with Christian’s on one side and their sinner’s prayer “If you were to die tonight…where the hell would you go?” (or something like that) versus agnostics who say that they have a hard time with a God who would eternally torture someone for a relatively short period (~70 years) of sin.

    You are right, the bible does not offer a lot of details on this “burning” issue. In fact there is not even a reference to the average daytime temperatures in hell. I have been into two recent books on the subject: (i) Her Gates Will Never Be Shut, Hope, Hell and the New Jerusalem by Bradley Jersak (2009); ISBN 13: 978-1-60608-822-1. (It has an endorsement from Eugene Peterson.) and (ii) Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught about God’s Wrath and Judgment by Sharon Baker (2010); ISBN-13: 9780664236540. I have read through Brad’s book and it is a complex read in some places, but very detailed. I have not yet finished Dr. Baker’s book but have listened to her outline her book on a few radio interviews so I have a good idea of her approach.

    Both books come from the “God is love” perspective and cover the original Hebrew and Greek meanings of the biblical texts along with the historical Christian origins leading to our current perceptions on this subject.

    Although both authors offer no dogmatic conclusions (due to the lack of detailed biblical descriptions) they offer food for thought that greatly differs from the common Christian view. In any case, you might be interested in reading one of these books just for the hell of it.

  21. Evil is most evil when it does not look evil.

    2 Cor 11:14-15
    14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
    15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (KJV)

    The hobgoblins of Halloween are nowhere as evil as the politicians who say in Orwellian Newspeak that “peace is war” and craft legislation that is labeled as liberty bills but are actually acts of enslavement.

    I watched a documentary on Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter who is a con man who posed as various people then conned a woman into marrying him convincing her that he was Clark Rockefeller, relative to the Rockefeller dynasty. He mooched off her and took advantage of her for 12 years. I found this action of a man to be vile and extremely evil. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites. Nothing is more vile to God than those who pretend to be something that they are not. Nothing is more dangerous than when evil is so deluded they actually think they are good.

  22. Thanks for the referenced Jim. It seems like hell is the main reason there are agnostics as well as atheists or even theists for that matter. Like so many other bible concepts hell is so often picked up in a sentence in Matthew or Mark from evesdropping onlookers who read the bible 2000 years out of context and deposited anywhere there is a missing explanation for the hope we find in Christ.

    I am with the agnostic who says he has a hard time with God torture. I am probably more with the atheist however, who has moved past even considering it. There is so much truth about God that is only seen through the eyes of an atheist because of his or her unwillingness to allow human thinking to define God.

  23. Wow it would seem this day is still an issue, I’m with you on the hole fear thing Wayne and Brad, had a lady tell me one time if we don’t have a bad picture of hell how can we lead people to Christ. Uh I don’t know uhhhhhhhhhh GRACE!

  24. Speaking of hell……I don’t believe hell is a place, but an event that will take place at the end of days. I can’t go into all the reasonings as to why I think this (for there are many), other than I don’t believe a loving God would allow people HE loves to live in that condition for all eternity! I think that at the end of days the earth will be destroyed by hell fire, but THAT hell fire will eventually go out. The effects of hell fire will be eternal; however, hell fire will not burn for all eternity. At some point there will be nothing left to burn! I feel that this view is supported by Scripture. Jude states that Sodom and Gomorrah are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, yet those cities are not still burning to this day; however, the effects of the fire they did suffer have been eternal. God promised us a new heaven and new earth. The fire will cleanse the earth to make ready for the new. Just some thoughts. Love you guys! God Bless.

  25. paul said, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. i think it is a sign of immaturity if we are still wondering if we should or shouldnt take part in a satanic festival. happy haloween

  26. As I listened to this podcast, I was struck by the realization of how much of the Christian life in American churches is lived in fear. I have also realized how I cut myself off from the world because of this underlying fear. I am so thankful for this podcast and for the freedom of living loved.
    By the way, are there any God Journey listeners in the Tucson area?

  27. Hey, Lynelle. Would you like to meet for coffee or lunch somewhere in Tucson?

  28. I was listening to something today that noted that all throughout the OT God’s children were called to remember the mighty works of God – to remember the things He did – the focus was on remembering – the Israelites were not given rules in order to repent but verbal pictures painted of the good things God has done for them. Therefore fear was not used to turn them back to God but a remembering of God was the key to their hearts. The law was only spoken of after the Mighty Works of God was recalled. They were commanded to teach the children the things God had done before they were reminded also of His commands. Maybe we are to tell of the mighty work of Jesus instead of scaring people with hell. I have no clue what hell really is yet I know the wages of sin is death and the mighty work of Jesus conquered death and yet we still die but Jesus did speak of the second death and His Mighty Work can save people from this second death – whatever it is.

  29. Hi Alex from five years ago. (Ok, I’m slow…….)

    I would suggest that God’s purpose with the tribe of Israel was not necessarily to show the extremity of sin. It was to reconcile the world to Himself. Israel was established in the middle of the then used trading routes. From Africa, from the India and the Orient, and from Europe all the trade caravans would pass through or near to Israel. In Jerusalem was contained the only temple without and idol in the known world. Our Father wanted to show His love to all His creation and the way to Him, for everybody. What conversations could be had about the one true God and the temple with no idol! Then they could share stories of their miraculous deliverance’s from the hand of their enemies. Many stories to share. Hence there was made a way for the outsider to become a Jew.

    Just my thoughts. Sorry I was five years late. Story of my life………

    Love wins.


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