In keeping with the theme of my previous post, I have decided to do some research on the very real mental phenomenon known as a fear of gods; in this case, the Christian God. Although this analysis can apply to any deity of your choosing, especially if the system of beliefs surrounding him/her/them is a system of rewards and punishment.
I decided to go online and do some research regarding what I had experienced as a Christian who was beginning to doubt his beliefs. As I mentioned in an earlier post this fear is very real and its symptoms are at least to its sufferers very palpable. I was surprised to find out that there was not much online about this subject but some very brief descriptions of what it was by psychologists who obviously have never had this experience. So I am taking it upon myself to explain if from the point of view of someone who has lived it, namely; myself.
My fear of God was two pronged: first there was the fear of God as in reverence, I was in awe of his great power and merciful goodness, and second I was in fear of him as I would fear any authority figure but much much greater. My fear was based entirely on my literal and fundamentalist interpretation of the biblical texts. I had an intense desire to "please" God in every way I could in my life by reflecting that not just in my daily speech, but also in my actions. I wasn't shy about my beliefs of course, I wanted to be like the apostle Paul and shout it out from the roof tops. I evangelized everywhere at anytime to anyone who would listen.
Because of my expertise in the ministry of deliverance (exorcisms) I took the forces of darkness very seriously and at the time believed that they were very real and that I had plenty of evidence for their existence. Of course, all of this so called evidence was nothing more than subjective evidence, based on my personal experiences and those of the people I believed to have helped through my ministry.
After some digging online for awhile, I was surprise to find that this particular phobia has a name: Theophobia and was not quite uncommon as I thought. You can read more about this in an article right here if you are interested in expanding your knowledge base on this subject. I am pretty sure if you dig hard enough you can pretty much find as much information as you would like. As the name suggests it is basically a fear of gods, but we can extend this into the category of irrational fears due to extreme fundamentalism and indoctrination.
As a child loved and feared his earthly parents I too loved and feared the Lord, and in the same manner I dreaded the thought of getting on my God's bad side. I was under the impression that as long as I stayed on his good side that he would do nothing but be pleased and bless me in life. So I tried my damnedest to the extreme to please my Lord with all my heart and mind and soul. If a bad thought or temptation popped into my head at anytime, I immediately mentally rebuked it and asked the Lord for forgiveness and to help me to overcome future temptations and thoughts. I believed these thoughts and temptations came from one of two sources; Satan or the desires of the flesh (carnal lusts).
I couldn't think nor reason outside of my faith because I believed that to do so would open up the flood gates for the Devil to corrupt my heart and mind against my God. But in my former mindset the Devil was the least of my worries, I feared nothing more than incurring the wrath of God.
When I first separated from the church I had nightmares for weeks, and at times I would get little small panic attacks in the form of an elevated heart rate and sometimes even sweats. Just thinking about hell and eternal torment, and the idea that I did not know the day nor the hour when I could die scared me beyond reason. What if I was wrong? Upon my death would I have time to at least repent, even if this was done in the form of my last words spoken on this earth?
If you still don't understand these fears, then try and imagine a child who is told that if he doesn't behave that a boogie man is going to come out of his closet at night and drag him away. Parents who use these tactics as means of controlling or disciplining their children have no idea of the psychological damage they are causing their child. Once that seed is planted it can lead to a whole bunch of irrational beliefs and fears that could affect that person for the rest of their lives.
Finally, all of the reasons stated above and maybe more, are the reasons that extremists cannot see reason nor come to the rational conclusion that what they believe is no different from other prevalent myths and beliefs in our society or throughout the rest of the world. You can't see reason when you are in the shackles of faith and fear. The only one who can break those shackles is yourself, and I believe it takes something very drastic to cause someone to take the plunge and face his fears and challenge his faith. I will be discussing more on some of these motives in a later post.