I hope that's the right site to post this question.

There's a famous quote of Helen Keller's:

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

I wonder - what is this about?
What is the context?
What did she mean?
Who is being caught and who is the catcher?
And most importantly - what was the basis of her assumption?


The quote comes from Let Us Have Faith, a book published in 1940, i.e. after the beginning of World War II. (Keller mentions "the wrecking of half a civilization" in the book's first sentence.) Because of those dark times, Keller wanted people to have faith (page 1):

For faith is thought directed toward good, and like all thought-power it is infinite.

The quote in the question comes from the chapter entitled "Faith Fears Not", more specifically a paragraph that discusses "security". By security, I assume Keller means the concept of eternal security, also known as "once saved, always saved". Keller writes (pages 50-51):

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends.

Calvinism affirms the doctrine of eternal security, whereas Catholic theology does not. However, Helen Keller's faith was influenced by the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, who rejected the concept of salvation through faith-alone, a doctrine that was important to Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and other Protestant reformers. This may have influenced Keller's stance against the doctrine of eternal security.

  • Thanks - so, what does the 'being caught' refer to? Is this about Jews being caught by Nazi Germans? I thought so initially, but then I learnt that Helen Keller was American so she would have very very little insight at that time into who actually gets caught... ?
    – Bartosz
    Oct 21 '20 at 14:51
  • 1
    @Bartosz Keller does not discuss the ongoing war, nor what is happening in Germany. Even though the war may have occasioned the book, her message appears to be much more general. (The Nazis started building concentration camps in 1933, so she might have known about them.)
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 21 '20 at 14:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.