Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 16

41.  The first good which actively affects us, namely fear, is reckoned by Scripture as the most remote from God, for it is called ‘the beginning of wisdom’ (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). Setting out from this towards our ultimate goal, wisdom, we come to understanding, and this enables us to draw close to God Himself, for we have only wisdom lying between us and our union with Him. Yet it is impossible for a man to attain wisdom unless first, through fear and through the remaining intermediary gifts, he frees himself completely from the mist of ignorance and the dust of sin. That is why, in the order established by Scripture, wisdom is placed close to God and fear close to us. In this way we can learn the rule and law of good order.

I was reminded, when I read the above, of a recent two-part sermon series by Shane Hipps at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI. The first one, Touching the Stove, explores precisely that positive aspect of fear in a way I had never before considered it. (The second part, Outside the Boat, is pretty good too.) Fear and any resulting abstention from evil is not wisdom, but it is the first baby step toward wisdom. That’s an important distinction. It strikes me that there are too many today who preach fear and treat fear as though it were the destination rather than that which is sometimes our first immature step toward union with Christ.

This entry was posted in St. Maximos the Confessor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

3 Comments

  1. E.K.
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Scot,
    Thanks for continuing to share your beliefs and insights! Are you familiar with the work of Derek Flood? I think you might find things of interest in his articles. Here’s the link:
    http://therebelgod.com/cross_intro.shtml
    God Bless

  2. Posted October 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. I mostly write because I can’t imagine not writing. And it’s a significant part of how I think.

    I skimmed the article above. It looks pretty well constructed. I had the sense while reading it that it came from the perspective of someone who had once accepted the image of a God who had to be paid on the Cross and had broken free from that mindset. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I had the feeling while reading that it was directed at a particular sort of audience that didn’t include me. (I never bought into the whole picture of the inherited and unforgivable guilt of man and the God who was paid on the Cross, though I mostly just set that aside as I dove into Christianity.)

    In some of the descriptions, like the characterization of the pivotal event as the Resurrection (as opposed to the Cross), I felt like the reaction against might be leaning a bit too far. I found myself wanting to say, “Yes, but…” It’s true that the Cross is not a central, pivotal event for the reasons given in the Satisfaction or Penal Substitutionary theories of atonement, but it is still certainly pivotal and the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection really can’t be divided.

    The Word became flesh, tabernacled among us, experienced everything we experience as fully human, suffered and died while remaining faithful and rose on the third day. That’s the “pivotal” event at the center of history, time, and reality. It’s the whole thing, not any one part of it. And I didn’t get the sense that that fully came through in the article. (But I did just skim it, so I might have missed some of the nuance.)

    Anyway, thanks again. Grace and peace.

  3. E.K.
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Glad you enjoyed it. As you suspected by skimming, he does put forth the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection as being unified. And you’re right – his aim is for a different audience…like me. 🙂 That is probably why he seems to be leaning a bit far for you. But believe me that “cross to exclusion of everything else” is very deeply entrenched in many circles. I know people who need to be pushed back that far just to get their balance! 😉 I’m going to read back over it with an eye out for your concerns about the Resurrection.

    BTW, “The Jesus Creed” looks like a great book – I’ve added it to my wish list.
    Grace and peace to you as well.

%d bloggers like this: