Whether Fear Remains in Heaven
Whether Fear Remains in Heaven

We proceed to the eleventh article thus:

1. It seems that fear does not remain in heaven. For it is said in Prov.1:33: " . . . shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil," and this is to be understood as referring to those who already enjoy wisdom in eternal blessedness. Now all fear is fear of evil, since evil is the object of fear, as was said in Arts.2 and 5, and in 12ae, Q.42, Art.1. There will therefore be no fear in heaven.

2. Again, in heaven men will be like God, since it is said in I John 3:2: "when he shall appear, we shall be like him." But God fears nothing. In heaven, therefore, men will have no fear.

3. Again, hope is more perfect than fear, since hope looks to what is good, while fear looks to what is evil. But there will be no hope in heaven. Neither then will there be fear in heaven.

On the other hand: it is said in Ps.19:9: "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever." I answer: there will in no wise be servile fear in heaven, nor fear of punishment. Such fear is excluded by the security which belongs to blessedness by its very nature, as we said in 12ae, Q.5, Art.4. But filial fear will be made perfect when charity is made perfect, just as it increases when charity increases -- wherefore its act will not be quite the same in heaven as it is now.

To make this clear, we must observe that the proper object of fear is a possible evil, just as the proper object of hope is a possible good. The movement of fear being similar to flight, fear implies flight from a possible and troublous evil, since small evils do not inspire fear. Now the good of each thing consists in remaining in its order, while its evil consists in abandoning its order, and the order of a rational creature consists in being subject to God, yet above other creatures. It is therefore an evil for a rational creature that it should presumptuously assume equality with God, or despise him, just as it is an evil for it that it should subject itself to a lower creature through love. Such evil is possible for a rational creature considered in its own nature, on account of the natural flexibility of its free will. But it is not possible for the blessed, owing to the perfection of glory. Flight from the evil of insubordination to God, which is possible for nature, will consequently be impossible for the blessedness of heaven. Hence in expounding Job 26:11, "The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof," Gregory says (17 Moral. in fin): "The heavenly powers which unceasingly behold him tremble while they contemplate. Yet their trembling is not of fear, lest it should be a punishment to them, but of wonder" -- for they wonder at the incomprehensibility of God, whose being transcends them. Augustine likewise supposes that there is fear in heaven, although he leaves the matter open to doubt, in 14 De Civ. Dei.9: "If this chaste fear which endures for ever is to endure in the life to come, it will not be the fear which fears an evil which may happen, but the fear which holds to a good which cannot be lost. For when love is unchangeable towards a good which has been obtained, fear is assuredly certain of avoiding evil, if we may so speak. By the name of chaste fear is signified a will whereby we shall of necessity be unwilling to sin, and whereby we shall be free of the anxiety of weakness lest perchance we should sin, avoiding sin with the tranquillity of charity. Or if no kind of fear is there present, it may be that fear is said to endure for ever because that to which fear leads us is everlasting."

On the first point: the fear which this passage excludes from the blessed is the anxious fear which takes precautions against evil, not the fear of security, of which Augustine speaks.

On the second point: as Dionysius says (9 Div. Nom., lect.3): "The same things are like God and unlike him. They are like him by reason of imitation of the inimitable" -- that is, they imitate God in so far as they can, although he cannot be imitated perfectly; "they are unlike him, since they infinitely and immeasurably fall short of their cause, with which they cannot be compared."

On the third point: hope implies a defect, namely the futurity of blessedness, which will cease when blessedness is present. But fear implies a defect which is natural to a creature, since a creature is infinitely distant from God. This defect will remain in heaven. Hence fear will not be done away entirely.

article ten whether fear diminishes
Top of Page
Top of Page