The Fear of the Lord

Posted by Jeff Iorg on

Every semester at Gateway, we have an Academic Convocation when a faculty member presents original research to the faculty and seminary community. Our most recent presenter was Dr. Adam Groza, who presented a paper entitled “Recovering the Fear of the Lord in Christian Ethics.” It was insightful, captivating, and sobering. You can view the convocation presentation here.

Looking up through a large window in a libraryOne of the most striking observations in the paper/presentation was the absence of the concept of fearing God in recent books (including textbooks) on Christian ethics. This is particularly noteworthy since “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10, Pro. 9:10) and the “beginning of knowledge” (Pro. 1:7). For example, in one recent 700+ page Christian ethics textbook, the phrase “fear of the Lord” is not included—even once. Since Christian ethics is the wise application of biblical principles to complex life situations, these omissions are significant.

But Dr. Groza’s paper is much more than an analysis of current literature. It outlines the historic importance of the fear of the Lord in Christian ethics—particularly as a standard for personal transformation and cultural mores. The paper then applies these insights to our contemporary situation and demonstrates reasons “the fear of the Lord is a central theme in Scripture relating to obedience and virtue” and should be a foundational motivation and outcome of Christian ethics.

The response to this presentation was powerful. The faculty member who led the benediction commented, “A prophet has spoken today.” The faculty have a tradition of a luncheon with follow up questions for the presenter after each Academic Convocation. Those events are usually collegial debates about the issues at hand. Not this time. The focus of their discussion was how we, as a faculty and a seminary, can teach and model what it means to fear the Lord. They recognized “fear of the Lord” is not an academic theory to be debated, but a holy conviction which produces obedience and humility.

May God help us to fear him—personally, in our churches, culture, denomination—and at Gateway Seminary.

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