Reverence, a Certain Fear, a Holy Joy, a Questing Obedience
by Aaron Meares
I have spent much of today doing advance study and preparation for a planned sermon series in the fall. This usually entails a rapid skimming of several different commentaries, and theologies, and monographs, etc. As I had one of the books open, the pages flipped to reveal the preface by the editor to the series to which this volume belonged. As I glanced at the title, “Editor’s Preface,” I thought: I don’t really read the prefaces to commentary series. So I thought I would read it.
This preface was penned by the editor of the series, D. A. Carson. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He is a brilliant scholar. But he is also a pastor. He has a deep love for the scriptures and desires to expound those scriptures to everyone for their good: to direct their hearts to God through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Even knowing this, I was again reminded of his passion on reading his words regarding our approach to the scriptures, especially in the second and third paragraphs (emphasis added):
“Commentaries have specific aims, and this series is no exception. Designed for serious pastors and teachers of the Bible, the Pillar commentaries seek above all to make clear the text of Scripture as we have it. The scholars writing these volumes interact with the most important informed contemporary debate, but avoid getting mired in undue technical detail. Their ideal is a blend of rigorous exegesis and exposition, with an eye alert both to biblical theology and the contemporary relevance of the Bible, without confusing the commentary and the sermon.”
“The rationale for this approach is that the vision of ‘objective scholarship’ (a vain chimera) may actually be profane. God stands over against us; we do not stand in judgment of him. When God speaks to us through his Word, those who profess to know him must respond in an appropriate way, and that is certainly different from a stance in which the scholar projects an image of autonomous distance. Yet this is no surreptitious appeal for uncontrolled subjectivity. The writers of this series aim for an evenhanded openness to the text that is the best kind of ‘objectivity’ of all.”
“If the text is God’s Word, it is appropriate that we respond with reverence, a certain fear, a holy joy, a questing obedience. These values should be reflected in the way Christians write. With these values in place, the Pillar commentaries will be warmly welcomed not only by pastors, teachers, and students, but by general readers as well” (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, Pillar New Testament Commentaries, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010, xi).
A Certain Fear.
A Holy Joy.
A Questing Obedience.
Is that how you approach the Bible? If so, how do you do this?
This is certainly how I wish to approach God’s Word.