Bradley R. Sickler D.Min.
The fear of the Lord is a multifaceted concept. Rather than trying to narrow down the definition to one concept, this study defines the concept in terms of four broad vantage points: first, the fear of the Lord as an emotional experience with the living God; second, the fear of the Lord as an objective truth which can be taught to people; third, the fear of the Lord as a motive for behavior; and finally, the fear of the Lord in relation to the love of God. The study was motivated by a realization that it was rarely specified as a motive in Christian decision-making or Christian behavior among the congregation. To address this problem and pastorally respond to it, this study makes use of the discipline of biblical theology, tracing the theme of the fear of the Lord and its development from Genesis to Revelation (chapter 2). Four main concepts pertinent to understanding the fear of the Lord are then examined from the perspective of systematic theology (chapter 3), in order to define the meaning and purpose of the fear of the Lord from both a biblical and systematic perceptive [sic]. In order to help the congregation understand and live in the fear of the Lord, an assessment of what the congregation currently believes about the fear of the Lord is also needed. Chapter 4 presents the results of field research undertaken to assess these belief’s utilizing ‘Q methodology,’ a research technique that allows the researcher to conduct a qualitative study using quantitative methods. Chapter 5 concludes with a summary of the results of this study and offers reflections on how to move forward in light of those results, as well as a discussion of ways in which the field research might be improved.