in the confines of fear…


Driving home from school today listening to Ben Howard’s ‘Every Kingdom’ when the lyrics of ‘the fear’ caught my attention. Have a listen:






Just in case you missed it, the line quoted in the title is this:
I’ve been worrying that we all live our lives in the confines of fear


You will know that I’ve been thinking a lot recently about our beliefs and how they shape our worldview. Put simply – what we believe shapes how we live. It’s obvious and yet deeply profound.

If we make fear and separation the mainstays of our beliefs, we will live in fear and self imposed separation.

We point out what makes us different and we try to keep it that way. We tell people that they must be like us, or they’re not allowed in. We reject, and we deeply harm ourselves by doing so.

If we make hope and inclusion what we’re about, we will live hope and inclusion.

We reach out to those least like us and invite us to join with us as we join with them. We show something different that’s worth joining in. We accept and although that may at times be tough, it’s a price worth paying.

‘The fear’ features another powerful line later on:
I will become what I deserve

We fear, we become afraid.

We hope, we become hope.

Fear confines.

Hope blows apart.

Does that make sense?


8 thoughts on “in the confines of fear…

  1. Toleration is accepting difference between people and allowing it to continue. While toleration may not celebrate difference it certainly does not expect or force people to conform. You are using the language of Miroslav Volf – have you read exclusion and embrace? All the communitarian thinkers such as MacIntyre, Grenz and Taylor talk of community identity but recognise it does not have to put walls in the way of strangers. This links to your other thinking on evangelicalism and whether identity involves centred set thinking or boundary thinking.

    1. I have read those who have read Volf, it that makes sense! Perhaps one to read this year. Just started on Brueggeman – The Prophetic Imagination. Stunning!

  2. Nice one Martin, I think the fear thing is ultimately all tied up with fear of rejection. We are seeing it played out masively in the church (esp evangelical) narrative at the moment. If I admit to not agreeing with the ‘tribe’ then I fear I will be rejected. Some speak out because they have found a new tribe or they no longer need the sense of identity that that tribe gives them , others remain silent out of fear and others go to great lengths to defend the tribal position out of fear that the tribe will weakened and they need their tribe to be strong and safe. Fear of rejection goes right into what it means to be human, we need others, we find our identity in community and this is because we are made in the image of God who is a community of love; this is the home we yearn for……

    1. Thanks Anna. Great thoughts. How blurred the edge of our communities is surely the vital thing here – and something to constantly be aware of.

      1. Totally agree with Anna on the Social Trinity being the model of community for us and that for many the identity of their tribe is established through describing norms that everyone has to agree to. Paul Hiebert called this a bounded set approach and noted that one is either in or out, (perhaps a conservative evangelical position). Centred set approaches to identity lessen the fear of rejection since there is no invisible line in the sand to belonging. Moving closer or further away from the centre of the tribe allows for varying levels of identity and lessens the fear of rejection. Perfection is not required before membership indeed perfection is not expected this side of the new creation/resurrection where we enter fully into the Trinitarian community of love through the Spirit. Perfect love drives out fear. This links so strongly with your thinking on evangelicalism. The key question for that is, is there only one evangelical tribe or are there different tribes all drawing on the same historical movement but not holding to the same normative position?

  3. I’d agree Richard – there are many tribes. My concern is creeping conservatism, or at least the silence of those who are less conservative in their outlook. It’s a bit like how general synod gets overwhelmed with certain types of voices which form a majority despite being in a minority in a real accounting of church membership in the UK.

    C’mon, you know you want to post for me over at !

    1. Ok I’ll go and blog for you. Personally I am not convinced there is an active growing conservativism within evangelicalism. I perhaps would argue the opposite that non conservatives are leaving the label behind which creates a passive conservativism which is also I suggest is a less powerful, influential and even significant evangelicalism. Will write about this on your other thread.

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