Return to About Mormons home

Fear of God

by John R. Christiansen

In ancient scripture the phrase "fear of God" typically signified faith, reverence, and trust. Fear of God, so defined and felt, tends to diminish other forms of fear that arise in the absence of genuine faith. Thus, modern revelation admonishes against fearing to do good (D&C 6:33), fearing enemies (D&C 122:9; 136:17), fearing Satan (Moses 1:20), and fearing death (D&C 101:36). An undergirding principle permeates Latter-day Saint practice: "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). In the spiritual realm, unpreparedness can lead to what the scriptures call "a certain fearful looking for of judgment" (Heb. 10:27).

Latter-day Saints are sometimes described, because of an assumed overemphasis on works, as living in "fear and trembling." The phrase is Paul's (Phil. 2:12). Actually, Mormons aspire to follow Paul's teaching and practice to be "anxiously engaged in a good cause," but that anxiety is related to freedom and responsibility (see D&C 58:27). They strive to find and fulfill their callings and fear to fall short of the divine purpose in their lives. They are constantly charged to magnify their callings and not to be weary in well-doing. Modern revelation promises that on condition of "persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned" (D&C 121:41), "[their] confidence [shall] wax strong in the presence of God" (D&C 121:45). This parallels the promise of John: "Perfect love casteth out fear" (1 Jn. 4:18).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Godhead home page; Teachings About God the Father home page)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Foreknowledge of God

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

All About Mormons