The Fear of the Lord as a Dispositional Belief

Scripture makes numerous, significant references to the fear of the Lord, but this concept still mystifies interpreters of Scripture. In this paper, I will explore the ways in which philosophical resources can provide some much needed nuance for this concept. I will argue that H. H. Price’s concept of dispositional belief can help us form a constructive framework for understanding the fear of the Lord. I will argue that a dispositional approach to the fear of the Lord can incorporate the strengths of existing models without falling prey to their weaknesses, and it can thus better account for the nuances of the subject. I will do this by first introducing three categories of treatments of the fear of the Lord along with some strengths and weaknesses of each, demonstrating that they are helpful but insufficient on their own. I will then propose a dispositional model, drawn from the work of H. H. Price, showing how it interacts with the three existing categories. This will show (1) that the strengths of the three existing categories are maintained in a dispositional approach to the fear of the Lord, (2) that the weaknesses of the three existing models are better accounted for than in any of the three existing categories by themselves, and (3) that the dispositional approach can accommodate a wider range of voices than any one category alone. The paper will close with some implications of the research.
In this paper, I introduce three existing models for the fear of the Lord before proposing a dispositional model: Relational Fear, illustrated by Michael Reeves’s Rejoice and Tremble (2021); Numinous Fear, illustrated by Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy (1923); and Synonymous Fear, illustrated by Michael Horton’s Recovering Our Sanity (2022). I then engage with H. H. Price’s work to propose a dispositional model.