God as Listener
Wolterstorff breaks new theological ground by considering the reality that God is a listener. Employing the concepts of speech-act theory and an analogy of social structure, he distills what making such a predicate of God entails. Often people are in alienated relationships, which in some way prevent them from speaking and listening to one another. This raises the question: why would God listen to us? God is high and mighty; we are tiny creatures of the earth. However, the unsurpassably excellent God who created and sustains the astonishingly complex world in which we live humbles himself and simultaneously raises us that we might be linked in a speech-act relationship. This mutual dignity, suggests Wolterstorff, is not unconditional nor without need for particular stipulations. Yet God still invites us to address him as a result of our desire to praise him. When our address to God is an expression of a humble heart, then God listens. This is the beginning of what Wolterstorff believes is entailed by understanding God as a listener.
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.