I like many that come to Deism have a catholic background. There is a wonderful sense of mystery inside Catholicism if you can get past the guilt, false fears and superstitions and I think this is why so many former Catholics become Deists.
I say this to point out I do not resent all of my Catholic upbringing despite what I am about to say. I want to tell you a story, unlike many myths this one is true and the details as accurate as the 29 years of time separating me from them will allow.
One day in our religious portion of the school day we were learning about the Seven Gifts of the Holly Spirit which are,
- Fear of the Lord
Now at 11 years of age I wasn’t exactly hip on the whole piety thing, after learning what it was but I understood why we would be told it was a virtue. On the other hand understanding, wow yea, I want that, so much I wanted to understand! The others too except for one, “fear of the lord” seemed like pretty great stuff. So given understanding was first I asked the teacher to help me understand why I should fear a God that loves me. Not just loves me but loved me so much he sent his son to die for me. I mean I don’t know about you but that sounds like a guy I should trust and never fear.
So I asked simply why I should fear a God that loves me that much. She did her best to talk around the issue but I wouldn’t let up and I would not accept “because it says so in the book” so the teacher got mad because she had no answer and sent me to the principal. The principal to be fair was kind and understanding. Once she realized I wasn’t sent out for bad behavior that the teacher just basically said I can’t get you an answer so go see someone perhaps that can help you. For once I was being disruptive without harsh discipline, may be this would pay off!
She also had no real answer for this question and didn’t even try, she sent me back to class and promised to have the Monsignor (senior priest at a church) talk to me later. When that happened, the Monsignor kindly lectured me on the wisdom of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit etc but he had no real answer either. He tried an end around and said “John if god showed up right now, in front of us wouldn’t you be afraid”. I asked him if I would know it is in fact God and not some ghost, if I would really know it was the Lord himself, he said yes. I thought he was going to fall over when I said very confidently “well then no, I trust God”.
In the end I was reminded the first item on the list was understanding and that it would come in time with prayer and study and reflection. That is was good of me to ask such questions but for now I would have to have faith in God and trust his teachings. I let it go, I knew I had made my case. The answer was oh I understand it but I can’t explain it just accept it.
There is a proverb “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 9:10. This is the root of this “gift” of fear.
In my 40 odd years I have gone from Catholic to Baptist to Methodist to Deist and only Deism can answer this question I asked 29 years ago and no one could answer inside any church. The answer is, you shouldn’t and it isn’t a gift!
So I have written my own version of this proverb, “The release of any irrational fear including of your own creator is the true beginning of wisdom”. Frankly if anyone wants to provide me with a gift, I will skip any that include fear.