In previous posts, I’ve mentioned a little about some of the toxic beliefs my stepdad’s deceased adoptive mother espoused. Seeing how the beliefs that she had impacted how she dealt with people has helped make me understand some of his antagonism towards that brand of religion.
His adoptive mother went from Methodist to Baptist, and her second husband had been raised United Pentecostal, but didn’t follow their beliefs or lifestyle. They both attended a Baptist congregation that was hardline in some respects, and this was the group that influenced my stepdad’s beliefs the most as a kid.
After her second husband eventually died, she started attending a Pentecostal congregation that was Trinitarian and standards-free, but still had the emphasis on a pre-millennial “rapture“. She had a major sense of fear that this event was going to happen at any moment and that my stepdad would be “left behind” because he wasn’t living a Christian life according to her standards.
Having only attended a service at her congregation once and heard a homily preached by her pastor at a funeral once, I don’t know if the church was actually teaching that much fear or if the fear was my stepdad’s mom’s take on things. I recall my stepdad’s mom having major fear issues that even her pastor remarked about when she was meeting with my stepdad and mom to plan her funeral.
One thing that is obvious, though, is that fear-based teachings don’t create effective disciples. If anything, they help create dysfunctional followers who are more absorbed in their particular group’s teachings than the Gospel.
We know that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), so fear-based teachings don’t have their origins in God, but rather human brokenness. Another thing to consider: not all Christians believe that the catching up of the Church happens prior to the Second Coming. This event, regardless of when you place its timing, shouldn’t be used as a prop to try to scare people into repentance with.
Remember, the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 are designed to comfort, not scare. Using these words to push an agenda of fear is something that we should all rightfully reject.