Fear of the Word

Aug 10, 2019 by

by Hans Boersma, First Things:

My students are afraid to preach—not all of them, but more and more, it seems. And it is often the brightest and most eloquent, those who are least justified in parroting Moses’s excuse—“I am slow of speech and of tongue”—who lack the confidence to open the Scriptures for the people of God. I write now for them, though they are not alone: I have the same feeling of inadequacy, and I know that others do as well.

I am not talking about the fear that has always—and ­appropriately—accompanied the interpretation and preaching of the Scriptures. When God calls Isaiah to be a prophet, Isaiah is rightly terrified to see God seated on his throne: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Any brashness we may feel in reading Scripture crumbles when we’re mindful of the holiness of God.

Our insecurities are different from the dread that took hold of Isaiah. In fact, they are its mirror opposite. Isaiah was terrified because God came too close. Isaiah knew that “man shall not see [God] and live” (Exod. 33:20). Today, we fear that God is too far off. We are afraid to speak for him, not because he is immanent, but because we feel he is remote.

God seems removed from us because we’re detached from Scripture. We have forfeited the confidence that we can “rightly divide” the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) because we prefer to keep the truth at a safe distance. Our anxiety arises from what I will call dissociation: As modern Christians in the West, we have difficulty seeing that the Scriptures speak of us. When we read the Bible, we think it’s about other people, distant from us in time, and we’re troubled by the question of how it all might apply to us.

Read here

See also: Dealing with Doubt in an Age of Deconstruction, by Paula Rinehart, The Gospel Coalition

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