God as One Who Listens and Speaks
Wolterstorff now considers the understanding of God implicit in some of the fundamental types of Christian liturgy. He submits that the address of God is the most common type of action that occurs in the enactment of Christian liturgy. In addressing someone. In the act of (strongly) addressing God the participants of Christian worship hope, Wolterstorff contends, that God can and will attend to, grasp, and respond appropriately to their address. By addressing God directly, the participants and God enter into a “we-Thou” relationship. God as listener is implicitly understood, therefore, as one who is reciprocally oriented to those who have addressed him. He is free to respond favorably, but not bound. The community hopes and prays that he will respond favorably. The other most common type of action in Christian liturgy is being addressed by God through (1) the reading Scripture, (2) prophetic proclamation, (3) and the clerical mode (e.g., pronouncing absolution). That the enactment of liturgy is the place and sight of people speaking and listening to God provides an understanding of God as One who listens and speaks.
Nicholas Wolterstorff taught at Yale since 1989 until he retired in 2002. Previously, he taught at Calvin College, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the University of Notre Dame and has been visiting professor at several institutions. He is past President of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division) and serves on its publication and executive committees. In addition to numerous articles, he has written the following books: Religion and the Schools; On Universals; Reason within the Bounds of Religion; Art in Action; Works and Worlds of Art; Education for Responsible Action; Until Justice and Peace Embrace; Faith and Rationality (co-author); Rationality in the Calvinian Tradition (co-author); Lament for a Son; and Keeping Faith: Talks for New Faculty. In upcoming years, he will be the Wilde Lecturer at Oxford University and the Gifford Lecturer at St. Andrew’s University.