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Episode Summary

What is it to fear rightly? Can we conquer fear?‍

Can we conquer fear? Theologian Miroslav Volf reflects on what it means to fear rightly, the biblical injunctions to "fear not!," and Jesus' own fear and prayer that God "remove this cup from me!"

  • 1:37  Introductory summary of the Podcast
  • 3:35 A diagnosis of the role of fear in our culture today and how we should respond to it—pulling from an earlier podcast.
  • 5:50 Miroslav reflects on how Christians should respond to fear.
  • 6:15 Jesus’ injunction “fear not!” and how we are to properly contextualize that phrase: “It is not a call to disregard or minimize potential danger… to  fear not means to see danger clearly and yet not to be overwhelmed by it’s prospect.”
  • 7:05 Paul on courage in the midst of fear: “We are afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair.” 2 Corinthians 4:8.
  • 7:26 Aristotle’s definition of fear: “Fear is a pain or disturbance due to a mental picture of some destructive or painful evil in the future.” Rhetoric
  • 8:05 Miroslav reflects on his experience of being constantly interrogated as a young man when he moved back to the former Yugoslavia. He explores this in greater depth in his book, The End of Memory.
  • 8:45 “If I am gripped by fear, when I hear someone telling me not to fear, I am likely to feel even more inadequate and fearful than I already am; I will feel diminished and that will do exact opposite from giving me strength to overcome fear! That’s why in the Bible the injunctions not to fear are tied to (1) assurance that we are cared for—ultimately that God cares for us—and (2) promises that, though we may suffer, we will, ultimately, emerge as conquerors."
  • 9:30 “That’s why in the New Testament all the injunctions to not fear except one come from the mouth of Jesus or angels, which is to say from those who are in fact capable of rescuing us from danger or imparting to us strength to face it.”
  • 10:00 One of Jesus’ most famous teachings on fear: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32.
  • 12:25 Major section of Luke 12 show that the call to not fear was always joined by a call to trust in God—moving through the themes of persecution, the insecurity of wealth, the pointlessness of worry, and worthy objects of our striving.
  • 15:07 Years after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, Peter offers these thoughts on fear: “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your heart sanctify Christ as Lord.” 1 Peter 3:13-15.
  • 16:45 Jesus’ first cure to human fear is the fear of God. The second cure is trust in the God who cares for the disciples, including their physical well-being.
  • 17:00 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” Luke 12:6-7
  • 19:28 “The whole point of this fear not teaching is this: God, the master of the universe and the Lord of history, has promised to give the disciples of Jesus that most important treasure, which is the Kingdom of God itself.”
  • 21:00 Jesus’ fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."  Mark 14:36.  
  • 21:50 Luke on the disciples, who slept because of grief. Luke 22:39-46.
  • 23:34 “But his victory over fear in Gethsemane was a little resurrection before the crucifixion—it made him able to walk into suffering and death with the dignity of the one who was ‘afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.’”
  • 24:29 Jurgen Moltmann:  “We are released from our fear through Christ’s fear; we are released from our suffering through Christ’s suffering. Paradoxically, these wounds of ours are healed by another's wounds as Isaiah 53 promises of the servant of God.” paraphrase, Experiences of God, 42-43.
  • 26:20 Ryan McAnnally-Linz  joins in discussing the similarities and dissimilarities of the situation of the persecution of the early church and the modern experience of covid-19.  
  • 29:30 An image of the altarpiece for the monastery of the Order of St. Anthony at Isenheim that was painted by Matthias Grünewald can be found here and below
  • 32:00 Drew Collins raises a few questions regarding the role of  prayer in conquering fear.  
  • 32:45 Miroslav: “I think for me it’s important  not to interpret this victory over fear as an elimination of fear. Like now Jesus was standing there as a completely fearless, heroic figure. I think this willingness to face danger notwithstanding the fear is what needs to be done.”
  • 35:17 Closing
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