Today I happened to walk into a chatroom that was on the relation of Christianity and the Church. There were a number of points raised by those leading the discussion, including issues connected to the fact that churches often act with the primary goal of promoting themselves or lining the coffers. There was also talk about the use of manipulation based on telling people that they are guilty in God's eyes.
There was a measure of reasonableness in some of the criticisms, but then it really started to go south. One of the people started railing against God with various epithets, and declaring - in essence - that the people weren't interested in a God who hates the wicked. A theme kept getting repeated about God (they said) wouldn't want people to fear him, quoting something about "perfect love casts out fear" (from John's catholic epistle).
It occurred to me that this wasn't really the whole counsel of God (simply taking that part of one verse in isolation), so I brought up the following verse:
Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
I provided it to the room, and got back a mocking response that I had quoted a Psalm from a dead religion. I probably ought to have immediately identified the spirit of the room as opposed to God, but I thought that perhaps this was some sort of dispensational room, where people view (quite incorrectly) the Psalms as outdated and connected with Judaism.
So, I proceeded to provide a verse from the New Testament:
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
But the leaders of the room kept on claiming that any "fear of God" was a terrible idea. Suddenly it dawned on me - and I posted:
Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
This got a stronger reaction - the leaders of the group silenced my nick and complained to the effect that it was not appropriate to quote Bible verses to people who aren't interested in them. I clarified that they really weren't interested in the Bible, and - before they kicked me out - asked what sort of person despises the Word of God.
I was truly amazed at how openly vile and anti-Scripture the group was. The hatred for God's word was without shame. They were only afraid to be called to task for it. They didn't mind quoting the "warm fuzzy" verses of the Bible, but if any verse was presented that didn't line up with their theology, it was just dismissed.
Probably I'm just too sheltered - but the pure evil of a religion that despises God's word so openly was absolutely shocking to me. I feel so sorry for those folks - it is the "reprobate mind" of Romans 1 written large. But they are not seared in their conscience as to be able to completely ignore the Scriptures. The felt the need to mock and revile them - and to mock me for bringing them up. I've seen the latter from atheists - but a group of people would call themselves "Christians" while attacking the church and the Scriptures left me near speechless.
Please don't be like those folks I encountered today. Be a God-fearer:
Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: