Daily Riches: Fear of God, Fascination with God (Richard Rohr and Rudolph Otto)

“In his book The Idea of the Holy, Rudolph Otto says that when someone has an experience of the Holy, they find themselves caught up in two opposite things at the same time: the mysterium tremendum and the mysterium fascinosum, or the scary mystery and the alluring mystery. We both draw back and are pulled forward into a very new space. In the mysterium tremendum, God is ultimately far, ultimately beyond – too much, too much, too much (Isaiah 6:3). It inspired fear and drawing back. Many people never get beyond this first half of the journey. If that is the only half of holiness you experience, you experience God as dread, as the one who has all the power, and in whose presence you are utterly powerless. Religion at this initial stage tends to become overwhelmed by a sense of sinfulness and separateness. The defining of sin and sin management becomes the very nature of religion…. Simultaneously with the experience of the Holy as beyond and too much is another sense of fascination, allurement, and seduction, a being pulled into something very good and inviting and wonderful or the mysterium fascinosum. It’s a paradoxical experience. Otto says if you don’t have both, you don’t have the true or full experience of the Holy.” Richard Rohr

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes,
rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
Romans 8:31-34

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you embrace both the “scary mystery” and the “alluring mystery?” Can you resist the temptation to simply things by eliminating either the push or the pull?
  • Have you experienced God both as “too much” and as inviting-wonderful? Are you open to “the full experience?”
  • Have you settled for fear and dread (fixated on your unworthiness)? Can you allow yourself to be “fascinated” and “invited” into something wonderful with God (in spite of your unworthiness) – because of what Christ has done for you?

Abba, help me not to simplify what is complicated in my relationship with you.

For More: The Idea of the Holy by Rudolph Otto


“Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less.  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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