Should we fear God?


An old question but perhaps worth revisiting.

We often speak of a loving God, a God of mercy and that implies God could smite but instead shows us forgiveness.

Any thoughts?


We should fear God, but not as you fear being chased by a serial killer. Rather, you should have a holy respect for God, or a deep reverence that manifests itself as fear that empowers rather than belittles.


The 11th Prayer of the 15 Prayers of St. Bridget touches on this.

O Jesus! Deep abyss of mercy, I beg of Thee, іn memory of Thy Wounds whіch penetrated to the very marrow of Thy Bones and to the depth of Thy beіng, to draw me, a mіserable sіnner, overwhelmed by my offenses, away from sіn and to hіde me from Thy Face justly іrrіtated agaіnst me, hіde me іn Thy wounds, untіl Thy anger and just іndіgnatіon shall have passed away. Amen.

Also, various approved Marian apparitions like Fatima where Mary says that God is losing patience with us and getting mad. Definitely something to fear if you are sinning, but if we pray and do reparations then that seems to make God stop being angry with us.


I wonder how God would show His anger with us?
I think Our Lady told the children at Fatima that the chalice was filled to over brimming.

Would it be through wars, famine or natural disasters?


I reckon it would be all of those things and plagues and more. All it takes is one big meteor hitting the earth in a populated area, or one nuclear blast in a populated area.

According to Sister Lucia, World War II was a chastisement for man’s sins.


That’s very interesting because if the ww2 had happened as a result of mans sinning, ie by constructing the framework by which such a war could occur and then by following through with that war we could argue that it wasn’t Gods retribution but a product of mans concupiscence.

But…Our Lady foretold of this WW2 if men didn’t change their behaviour so that means that it was indeed retribution.


Here’s a passage from St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue on the kind of fear we should have versus the kind of fear that does not give eternal life:

Then the goodness of God, wishing to satisfy the desire of that soul, said, "Do you see those? They have arisen with servile fear from the vomit of mortal sin, but, if they do not arise with love of virtue, servile fear alone is not sufficient to give eternal life. But love with holy fear is sufficient, because the law is founded in love and holy fear. The old law was the law of fear, that was given by Me to Moses, by which law they who committed sin suffered the penalty of it. The new law is the law of love, given by the Word of My only-begotten Son, and is founded in love alone. The new law does not break the old law, but rather fulfills it, as said My Truth, ‘I come not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.’ And He united the law of fear with that of love. Through love was taken away the imperfection of the fear of the penalty, and the perfection of holy fear remained, that is, the fear of offending, not on account of one’s own damnation, but of offending Me, who am Supreme Good. So that the imperfect law was made perfect with the law of love. Wherefore, after the car of the fire of My only-begotten Son came and brought the fire of My charity into your humanity with abundance of mercy, the penalty of the sins committed by humanity was taken away, that is, he who offended was no longer punished suddenly, as was of old given and ordained in the law of Moses.

“There is, therefore, no need for servile fear; and this does not mean that sin is not punished, but that the punishment is reserved, unless, that is to say, the person punish himself in this life with perfect contrition. For, in the other life, the soul is separated from the body, wherefore while man lives is his time for mercy, but when he is dead comes the time of justice. He ought, then, to arise from servile fear, and arrive at love and holy fear of Me, otherwise there is no remedy against his falling back again into the river, and reaching the waters of tribulation, and seeking the thorns of consolation, for all consolations are thorns that pierce the soul who loves them disordinately.”


Her dialogue is great, and I really like the final admonition.

We humans have such power given to us by God, to be used for good or for ill and yet Our Lord has told us that love is what is required of us. Simply love God and our neighbour. So to be able to love is the highest attribute in God’s eyes and we might then fear the withholding of His love most of all.


I am reminded of CCC 2090.

When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment.

On one hand, confident expectation. On the other hand, fear.

The fear is first of all the recognition that we cannot love and obey God on our own. We don’t have what it takes. Our love is imperfect, and our will is weak.

The confident expectation is that God will give us the grace we need to love him and obey his commandments.

Even when we are confident of obtaining that grace, we may still be afraid, not that it will be insufficient or unreliable, not that God will someday withhold it (or withhold his love), but that God will give it abundantly and always, and yet we might not accept it, use it, and benefit by it. How we would regret it if we were given everything we need and still failed by our own laziness and neglect. That is what I fear.


Psalm 128:1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.


This article talks a bit about fear, regarding the recent Mass readings. It may help with your question, though it probably won’t fully answer it.


In my opinion - people are NOT fearing God.

They fear money - and the loss of it.
They fear divorce. All sorts of fears.
Pills are being prescribed by the billions - by doctors.
Fear is big business - esp. TV News.

But fear of God…people don’t consider that - lol


I totally agree.


Thank you, that article is relevant of course because it refers to our homily last weekend apart from other aspects. The second coming is certainly something to both fear and look forward to, I suppose it depends on how confident you are that you might be amongst the chosen


How you communicate all this on a practical level is going to depend on the personality of the one you are speaking to. Many people have images of a cold and distant God who strikes servile fear. This type of person needs to hear that God loves us more than we love ourselves.

Others lapse into presumption or indifference, and need to discover the imperatives that God puts before us to serve others, and so co-operate in our own holiness at the peril of our own loss.

In my experience, when a person discovers God’s great love, it transforms a life and drives out servile fear.


Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.


Luke’s Gospel - Jesus says -

5 But I will forewarn you
whom ye shall fear:
Fear him,
which after he hath killed
hath power to cast into hell;
yea, I say unto you, Fear him.


In his justice, God judges us because we are guilty. Then in his mercy and love he comes down in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful.


MOST DEFINITELY in a great way because He is our Creator. He is Our Father. He is the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end). He always was, always is and always will be. We should fear Him in the sense that He will judge us on our entire life the moment we die. We should fear that He gives us everything and our very life and we MUST remember that and be thankful, grateful and love Him with our whole hearts, minds and souls. Yes He gives Divine Mercy which is immeasurable but He also asks us to be sorry for our sin and repent and be humble and ask forgiveness. He’s not a dictator but a loving Father. A loving Father has to be tough in His love at times.


I think he already showed us in the bible. It wasn’t pretty. So think of things you would never do to anyone and there you have it.


So it seems that yes, we should fear God but as a just and kind Father who withholds punishment until there is perhaps no other option.

@Seagull reminds us that Our Lord warned of the devil who can take us after death to the bowels of hell. That is a fearful prospect for sure.

I’m wondering, does the fear of God impinge on our free will to choose God or not, or is that mitigated by the fact that actually only believers in God are likely to fear Him? That is, those of us who believe have already chosen God and to some extent have or would gladly give up our free will.

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