September 24, 2022

What do Jack Phillips, Mr. Bean, and God have in common? They all speak. They have free speech.

Listen to “Episode 110: Speech” on Spreaker.

Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. Chris is off today and so is Robb so I am solo at the Defenders Media Office, our makeshift studio if you will. We do have a nice setup here when we’ve got people to man the equipment, but doing something more lowkey today with just me, no guest. On today’s program, we’re going to be talking about free speech. Jack Phillips, Mr. Bean, and God, what do they all have in common? They have speech. They have free speech. We’re going to be talking about that for today’s show. On the second half of the program I’ll be talking about divine discourse. What does it mean when Christians say that God speaks? I’ll be going through a Facebook discussion that I was involved with earlier this week and someone objected to Christian belief on that basis that we can’t even God speaks, but before we get into talking about that, just a couple announcements. Please forgive me if there are any tech difficulties as again I’m running solo so I’m trying to man everything here. September 28-29, we’ve got Genocide in Scripture, the Defenders Conference, at the Christian Church of Clarendon Hills. It’s going to be an awesome time for those of you who are regular listeners, you know that we have promoted this event already, but we’re going to keep doing it every week until the conference. We’re bringing in Drs. Paul Copan, John Walton, Clay Jones, and Kenton Sparks, to talk about their unique interpretations of the supposed genocide commands in the Old Testament and so it’s really going to be fascinating to hear these different perspectives and hopefully, I imagine many of us will show up to the event with our own ideas as to show we should interpret those passages, but the purpose for putting it on is to illustrate that Christians have a rational faith, that we can have good reasons for why we believe in the Christian worldview and we are not afraid to tackle these difficult subjects which pose as obstacles to faith in Christ and so if you have questions or objections about this topic, you have doubts, you have worries, this is the event for you and I want to invite people from all over the nation to come to this event. We already have a whole family actually coming from Oklahoma because they are so excited about this event that they want to be here in person. We’d love for you to be there. If you have questions about that, you can send an email to one of the conference volunteers coordinating things. Beth@DefendersMedia.com. Beth Bakker. She gets a big shoutout for all the work that she’s doing to put this event together.

That’s that event. Let me say this. If you are interested in learning how you can support our program, you can go to our website, veracityhill.com and click on that patron tab and, in fact, as I’m learning to work some of these systems here let me head on over to that website and see if I can pop it up here for you. Here we are. We’ve got the website here. You can see that we’re broadcasting live on spreaker as we do every week. That’s our hosting program for the podcast and you see web articles here, our sponsors, so if you want to learn how you can support our program, click on that patron and give tab and there will be ways for you to do that. Thank you for your consideration, and also if you haven’t yet already, please consider becoming one of our reviewers online. If you go to iTunes or Google Play, please put a review in on that for us because when people are searching for these terms, that’s going to help Veracity Hill get better in the searches, so people can organically discover us. That would be great. Please put your reviews on our Facebook page, iTunes, Google play stores, that’d be a great help. Michaela, my wife, always tells me, “Be sure to tell people to do that.” There. We’ve got that out of the way here. Hope I’m doing okay running solo today and I also hope, one of the tech issues we’ve always had, is matching up the people to the voice. That’s something I’ll keep a lookout here. We’re talking about free speech on today’s show. No guest. Just me, but I want to have a conversation with you and if you are interested in communicating online, I’m keeping tabs of the commenters, Jonathan writes, “You’re doing swell.” Thank you. Thanks for watching. You could also text in, text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and we can have a conversation there. I’ve got our texting platform up and loaded here. 

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado, made a lot of headlines this summer. He won in a narrow sense, he won the Supreme Court case and so just to give you a review of that, let me pop up here, we’ve got a video I want to play to refresh your minds because he’s now been back in the news with something else. Let’s give you a refresher as to what’s been happening.

*clip plays*

Kurt: Alright. So see here. This is good. This is straight from the findings by the court. The laws in the Constitution can and in some instances must protect gay couples and lesbian couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expressions. This is interesting because this was the ruling of the court, 7-2, and it was announced that it was a narrow rule and a lot of people were up in arms. “It’s not narrow. It’s a big win. 7-2.” It was narrow with regard to the scope of their findings. It’s not about the outcome of the justices, but it’s about the content of the decision is narrow. That’s true. In order to try to bully the right way, I guess, Colorado has come back to Jack Phillips now and is hot on his tail again and he is suing them for really something fascinating here. He’s written an opinion piece here in USA Today. “Despite my court win, Colorado Civils Rights Commission is coming after me again.” So what the heck is going on here? Why are people bullying on Jack Phillips. Let’s get this here. We have an article here by David French from the National Review that I’ve been reading and in fact, I think I can be able to share this in the stream here. This is the article that I’m going to be reading from right here. 

David French sort of summarizes it for us. Colorado defies the Supreme Court, renews persecution of a Christian baker. What is going on? According to a verified complaint filed today by my old colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, this is David French, on June 26, 2017, the very day the Supreme Court granted Jack’s request to review his wedding cake case a lawyer named Autumn Scardina, remember that name, Autumn Scardina called Masterpiece Cake Shop and asked Masterpiece Cake Shop to create a custom cake with a blue exterior and a pink interior, a cake design that according to the lawyer, reflected the fact that the lawyer, the person complaining, conditioned from male to female and that that lawyer had come out as transgender. David French writes, “Lest anyone wonder whether this request was made in good faith, consider that this same person, Autumn Scardina, made a number of requests to Masterpiece Cake Shop and these have been categorized, September 2017, a caller asked Phillips to design a cake for Satan including a feature of an image of Satan smoking marijuana. The name Scardina appeared on the caller ID. A few days later the person asked for an upside-down cross under the head of Lucifer, same caller, same emailer, reminded Phillips that religion is a protected class. Fascinating here. In fact, that’s not even the worst of requests that have been made to Jack Phillips. One, I’m not even going to mention on this program because it’s inappropriate, but people have been bullying and harassing Jack Phillips in order to make these cases. Lo and behold, the Colorado Civils Right Division, found on June 28, probable cause to believe that Phillips violated Scardina’s civil rights. Now you have the Colorado Civil Rights Commission encouraging and helping to promote a harasser, someone who has been harassing Jack Phillips and now they’ve said, “Oh. This is an okay case of harassment.” That’s really strange and so here is French again. He says this decision is as foolish as it is malicious. The one weakness of Jack’s Supreme Court was that he denied the gay couple’s request to custom design their cake before he knew the design they wanted. Why is that a weakness? Because Jack already knew what the intent was and that’s why he decided not to do it and so the Supreme Court found that Jack has a right to that. In fact, here I’m going to load up the findings. A specific section from the Supreme Court case.

Here we are. “Phillips is free” this is the Supreme Court ruling, “Phillips is free sell cakes with anti-gay designs or inscriptions. He’s also free to decline to sell cakes with pro-gay designs or inscriptions.” It’s highlighted now for you. Why is that important? Well, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission or Division whatever their last label there is, according to Phillips in his opinion piece, has noted that the Civil Rights Commission has protected bakers from having to make anti-gay cakes and says that that’s not the case. Let me do this search here. Here we go. Meanwhile, the same state officials who punished me allowed three other cakes artists to refuse a religious customer’s cake with messages criticizing same-sex marriage. Isn’t that interesting? What double standard the Civil Rights Commission has. These folks are really out to get Jack. He has free-will and free speech through exercising that free-will. It’s really a shame that they are really out to get him here. As he requests in his opinion piece, he’d like for the federal court system to put a squash on this. I’m going to put this link here to Jack Phillips’s article right there and I’ll come back to you. So Jack Phillips is really just being bullied at this point, and I hope everyone else can recognize that and it’s a big problem because if we believe that the government should be protecting these persons from being hurt, that so and so wouldn’t make a celebratory cake for us, that’s a problem.

We do not want to be forcing, coercing, individuals to participate in things that goes against the right of conscience. I’ve got this article or a video actually to play for you from the United Kingdom of all places so this is where Mr. Bean comes in today. About four or five years ago, the United Kingdom was having a political issue over this, and I kid you not, the police were monitoring things people would say to other people and if it would be insulting to them these people would be arrested. Let’s play this clip here from Rowan Atkinson, the actor of Mr. Bean so there’s the connection for you. Here we go. Let’s listen in on this two minute clip of Rowan Atkinson and the importance he thinks free speech has in a free society.

*clip plays*

Kurt: Alright. That’s Rowan Atkinson and he is the actor most famously known for portraying Mr. Bean, and for younger folks here who may not be familiar with that, a great English TV series, hilarious, mind you. A hilarious TV series. I’m sure there are probably old clips on YouTube or something of Mr. Bean. Okay. Free speech. So important. Even President Obama says laudable attempts can stifle the free speech of minorities and dissenting views and so here you have the piety myth, the good intentions lead to good outcomes, that’s not always the case. Good intentions might lead to bad outcomes. That can happen when we have the government trying to prohibit and influence free speech and art is a protected class of free speech lest anyone have concerns about that with regard to Jack Phillips.

What about just verbal speaking? It was also in the news recently that Facebook kicked out Alex Jones, the conspiracy guy, and his radical, extreme views. YouTube also I think kicked him off of their problem. He’s got a right to free speech say conservatives generally speaking. Actually, we need to draw the distinction and this is a very important distinction between the way government treats someone and the way that a business treats someone. With regard to Facebook and YouTube, these are private corporations, YouTube owned by Google, and interestingly enough, they can do what they want. If they think that Alex Jones has gone against the fine print that no one reads anymore, then they can boot him off and that should be a warning to people that we shouldn’t be too invested in these media platforms and some of these media platforms and, in fact, we’ve got just recently Prager U videos have been censored. I just put in Facebook censorship and you can click on news on Google, speaking of Google, and you can see here some of these videos have been taken off. Here’s one. Facebook Apple Spotify ban Info Wars. That’s Alex Jones’s platform. Is that okay? I think that should be okay for these private companies. If so and so’s going against their policy, then they should be able to be booted. Veracity Hill uses Facebook to livestream our videocast here and that should be a warning that we shouldn’t be putting too much into Facebook so let this be a shameless plug that you should subscribe to our website and to the Veracity Hill texting plan here. Just text the word VERACITY to 555-888, because if Facebook were to ban us even for this video or say a video on some other social issues that we disagree with the collective Facebook employees on, then what’s the way you can stay in touch with us? How do you know we’re even gone if you’re not looking out for us all the time on Facebook? That’s a warning, and in fact, this is great, the guy who sold the Babylon Bee, Adam Ford, or a majority share, warns us of this. He talked about how he was concerned that he was putting so much into social media platform that he had no control over. They were dictating who would see what, that he pushed away from it and he’s now starting his own platform for content that fits his values, his morals. Here’s his explanation. I’m going to load this up here and after I load this up here we’ll head to our break. Let me see if I can load this up. Many of you perhaps are unaware of Adam Ford. He founded the Babylon Bee. He’s a comic artist and if I do this right here. Here we go.

I sold the Babylon Bee about a month ago. This article came out probably a month or so ago. What were his reasons why? He’s launched this other platform and he notes here, here it is, not because Facebook decided to put a link in the feed or because Google chose to include it in their search results. It harkens back to a time before the internet was centralized and controlled by a few behemoths who by the way don’t like Christians and don’t like conservatives, not playing by their rules had allowed me to make a barebones web page that has all the functionality of a massive site. I also recently did my first Podcast, CDR Talk, so basically, he’s concerned, here it is. Point two. He’s superconvicted about the large scale ills of Facebook and Google. At what point do we become slaves to the system? We wake up. We check our Facebook. How much are they in control of information that we have, that we read, so this is one of the reasons why he pushed away from this. Facebook is totally free to determine and to curate information, news article, data, just for you. They’ve been trying to do this. There’s nothing new to this and so this is really a problem that he sees here and that we should all be wary of. We’ve been talking about free speech. The importance of it. Concerns that we should have from private businesses on the ways and the views that they have on free speech, but after the break, I want to get into talking about an interesting topic, something called divine discourse. What does it mean when we say that God speaks and why is this important? It’s not like God sort of has a right to free speech, a right that’s protected, God just speaks. He is free. He has the freedom to speak. What does that mean though for God to speak? For one Facebook non-Christian that I engaged with earlier this week, he was objecting to this and mocking Christians. We’re going to go through that thread. We’re going to talk about the straw man that this person has, the misconception that this person has about Christian theism and you can see how I’ve engaged with a non-believer online and maybe you might be able to benefit from that. If you will, stick with us from this short break from our sponsors.

*clip plays*

Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you want to learn how to become a sponsor you can go to our website, VeracityHill.com, and click on that patron tab. I am solo today in the office. Chris is off and so is Robb and so I’m just talking about free speech. We’re going to talk about what it means when Christians say that God speaks. I’ve been sharing some articles with those that are following along here. If you’re listening to this on podcast, I want to encourage you to go to our Facebook page so you can get some of these links. We’ll also put them over at our website, just in case Facebook decides to boot us sometime between now and whenever you’re listening. Highly unlikely of course. Before we get into talking about speech and what it means God speaks, let me go through a couple things with you.

Check out the Apologetics315 weekly links here, weekly bonus links. What a great resource that we make available to you day in and day out. Daily apologetics resources, including audio, debates, podcasts, book reviews, and more. Here, you’ve got some Kindle deals. This book, Passionate Conviction, by Paul Copan, that’s a great book. Wonderful book. Collection of essays which can really help people. I was reading that when I was in college. Articles by scholars on apologetic issues. Really great. Weekly links. Articles to videos and podcast. Resurrection. Real or Real Dumb by Ryan Pauly of Coffeehouse Questions. All sorts of different articles you can check out and you can check out those weekly bonus links every Saturday. We try to get them posted Friday evening. Available for you all day Saturday and beyond, and be sure to subscribe to the website as well. I want to talk about being a patron for Veracity Hill and this could be an opportunity for folks to just chip in a couple bucks each month. Entry level, $5, or the fan package, $10, or if you really are feeling like this program is great, $20 a month and we will send you a Veracity Hill branded USB flash drive, preloaded with all of our favorite episodes of what we’ve done for this program and this is episode 110. We’ve put together 110 episodes thus far which is great. We’re still going strong. I also want to tell you about this newish app. I don’t know how long it’s been around, it’s been new to me, called Marco Polo and it’s a really neat app here where people can do a video walkie talkie feature and what I’ve done is I’ve created a Veracity Hill group and it’s a shameless steal off of Braxton Hunter and what he’s done with his Trinity Radio. Braxton. Thanks for the idea. Just a group here, starting a group of our financial supporters where we can chat about anything you want. Theology. Apologetics. Politics. Economics. You name it. We can talk about it. If you have guest requests or show topic requests, we can do that. If you become our supporter you’ll get an invite to that exclusive Veracity Hill group.

Today’s topic.Speech. We’re talking about free speech. We’re talking about Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop and how he is being bullied, he is being hunted down by the Colorado so-called Civil Rights Commission. He is now suing them again, thanks to his team of lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom. It’s really a sad state of affairs that it’s happened this way and hopefully, he will win, prove victorious, and people will know Christians have rights and I say Christians have rights because Christians are the only ones being picked on here. This is a targeted attack against Christian belief. They’re not going to the Orthodox Jews. They’re not going to the conservative Muslims and they’re not suing them. Why not? There are some that are suggesting and I’ve read some news lawyers about this, these lawyers, like the transgender lawyer, these people know that there are other cake shops. They’re not picking the Muslims. They’re picking the conservative Christian and that’s really, it’s perverse, and it’s unjust. Let’s pray for our court system to be protecting Christians and pray for the people that have such hurt on their life that they have to go pick on Christians. Let’s pray for them to repent of their ways and accept the gospel message. 

I want to talk about what it means when God speaks. This is why we’re sort of doing two sub-episodes today on the program. Free speech and God speech, all encompassed by speech. Why is this? I got into a Facebook discussion earlier this week with someone, his name is Kris Key, and I’m going to pretty soon here load up the thread so you can see all of this, but he has a big misconception about who God is and really, it’s a shame, it’s like if this guy was raised in church or he goes to church on Christmas and Easter, he thinks he’s an expert on what Christians believe, and that’s really a shame, because he’s not really an expert on what Christians believe. A lot of people, they think sadly, if you’re sick, you try to figure out your best what’s going on. Otherwise, you see a doctor. If you need help figuring out the law you go to a lawyer. If you have worldview problems, you just try to read the Bible all for yourself. I think that’s a tragic problem in our society. We should be seeking out the advice of pastors, people who have some training in theology, or theologians, and Christian philosophers, people who think about these things professionally. We need to try our best to seek out those that are wise and have quite a bit of knowledge and not be boastful in our vain, empty, knowledge. I want to now go over to that thread here and let me load it up for you so you can read what’s going on here. I’ll give you an overview as well. Here we are.

Dr. Mike Licona shared the Defenders Conference which was really great. Thanks, Mike, for doing that. This struck up some threads with folks. By the way, if you want to register for the conference, just text the word genocide to 555-888. Funny how that works, huh? So Jason Clark here has a point he’s made. The occupation of Canaan took 400 years from the crossing of the Jordan to David finally conquering Jerusalem. Anyone who wasn’t determined to fight against Israel simply had to move twenty miles down the road to avoid any conflict. 

This led to some, David Floyd, who’s an atheist, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll come over to your house. If you want to avoid conflict, just move. Simple. Why didn’t I think of this? Clark responds, “I doubt you count as a superior military force.” Here’s where it begins to get interesting. Kris Key here, let’s keep an eye on him and his writings. Seems reasonable after all, simply moving away from a conquering force has always worked. You can ask the Indians and the Aborigines. Here was my reply. “Why do Canaanite sympathizers act as if the Canaanites moral people? Why are the Canaanites so innocent according to the minds of these folks?” I wrote, “I think burning children alive on the arms of an idol constitutes a just war.” This is literally, I kid you not, back in the Ancient Near East, they would heat up a metal idol and so the arms were bright red because of the heat and they would place the baby as a sacrifice on the idol and they had these drums beating, boom, boom, boom, and the drums beat so loudly and they did that intentionally so that they could put out the noise of the crying child dying on the arms of the burning idol. This sort of sacrifice is perverse, it’s immoral, there is a right to life for the baby, and so the Canaanites were very evil and wicked people. They should not be seen as an innocent people group. All I’m talking about here now is just war theory. That’s all I’m talking about. Let’s head back to the thread.

Kris writes, “I’m not. I just don’t buy the ridiculous idea the almighty creator of the universe really got Himself involved in a land dispute. It is as believable as the Serbian claim that God wanted them to conquer Kosovo and subjugate the ethnic Albanians.”

Alright. Remember. I’m talking about just war. I’m talking about just war theory. What constitutes as a just war. Right? Was it wrong for the Israelites to go to just war? Kris apparently wants to have a discussion about whether God told them to do so and that’s not my intent. My intent is just to talk about just war. He says “In my home state of Georgia, many Georgians thought God wanted them to have Cherokee land, all the Cherokee had to do was leave. Completely ethical. Right? He forgot a question mark there. And I write, “Kris, unfortunately, your first comment above objects to the Israelites use of warfare even if it were justified so do you care to amend your comment above?” I want to hold him to this on just war. He doesn’t care to do that. He says, “Way to dodge the sheer unlikeliness of your claim so would you care to demonstrate a deity really ordered the conquest of Canaan?” Again, he’s avoiding the just war issue. He’s sympathizing with the Canaanites as if they were innocent people. He’s totally missing the critical issue in my opinion about justification, about whether what the Israelites did was wrong. That’s the heart of the issue. There are ancillary issues and an ancillary issue or side issue or related point is whether God told them to do that which is a good question to ask if you’re having sincere questions. As you’ll see, Kris, is not having sincere questions.

There I note I look at it through the lens of just warfare first. I think the Cherokee analogy’s a weak one on that basis. That’s why I’m putting across his analogies are weak. His comparisons are not strong ones. Why? Because the way that those people groups were treated was unjust compared to the way that the Israelites were treating the Canaanites. It’s about just war. That’s the crux of the issue. 

Moving along here, I wrote, and in order to illustrate this distinction, I wrote, “Kris. The Israelites could have been completely wrong about YHWH speaking to them and their warfare actions still justified” and I wanted to know if he understood that distinction. He gets back to the weak analogy. I explain why it was a weak analogy. “The ancient Israelites practiced human sacrifice too. There is nothing the people of Canaan did that they didn’t do.” I was a bit confused about this. What did he mean? I asked him what his source was for that. He says, his source is the Bible. Have you read it? That’s a bit broad. There are different interpretations about the Bible. He writes, “The Inca practice human sacrifice. Do you think it was justified for the Spanish to exterminate them, take their land, and enslave the survivors? They claimed God gave them permission. When OT prophets condemn the Israelites for doing human sacrifice, it wasn’t literal. Gotcha. Skipping through Bill’s comment here. Let’s go back to Kris. Here’s Kris. He talks about how the prophets condemned the Israelites for doing human sacrifice. 

Kris. Let’s think about this. Israel was judged by God according to the prophets for their wickedness so the fact that the Bible’s descriptive of what the Israelites did? Right. You’re objecting, Kris, you’re objecting to the Old Testament text because it describes the Israelites as sacrificing humans. Alright? The prophets aren’t disagreeing with you. The prophets are condemning the Israelite actions for their wickedness and unfaithfulness to YHWH and the covenant. Do you see here how misguided your objection is? Getting back here. That story only makes sense though if it came from a society which accepts the possibility of YHWH accepting human sacrifices. Well, He doesn’t. We know Jephthah sacrificed his daughter to YHWH after all. Again, descriptive vs. prescriptive. The Bible tells us that there were these judges in Israel and yet these judges had their shortcomings. Have you read the story of Samson? Okay. I think it’s really important for Kris here to approach the text with a humble heart. He clearly doesn’t. He’s not intent on understanding the story, or the way the story was to be understood by the author. Let’s move along here. 

“Kurt. Are you going to actually bother demonstrating God actually gave commands to engage in genocide? Heck. For that matter, demonstrate that God actually judged Israel.” Okay. So he continues, “The problem with this all Ockham’s razor. Which is more likely? The massacre of Canaan was actually ordered by God or simply the people of Israel claimed YHWH told them to do it?” This isn’t Ockham’s Razor, Kris. This is just reductionistic thinking. Did God actually judge Israel or simply did the authors of the OT think this is the same way many primitive cultures attached a divine judgment to catastrophes. Technically, Kris, even if your distinction were true and a good one, that doesn’t mean that the perception was wrong. You don’t give any reasons for thinking their perception was wrong. If the claim to divine revelation is merely based on perception, a perceiving of what God wanted them to do, why think that what they did was wrong or why think that their perception was wrong? See those issues? Those distinctions? That’s important here. 

In fact, we’re going to talk about that right after we finish going through this thread. He says the problem with this is Ockham’s Razor. YHWH simply looks like a Middle Eastern deity from around 1,000 BC. He requires sacrifices. He doesn’t require human sacrifices mind you. He lives in a temple. He has a chosen people. Some Jews thought He had a consort. Other Jews worshiped Him alongside other gods. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no negative value there. That’s simply descriptive. That doesn’t mean that the Israelites were mistaken. He writes here, “Kurt needs to demonstrate these things that is assuming the supernatural and historical claims of the Bible, before we can consider ethical dimensions. Kurt doesn’t believe God actually told the Georgians to[NP1] .He continues on and on. 

He has this problem, this qualm, over divine speech. I referred him to a book called Divine Discourse. Okay? Of course, I put a gif in here from this great TV show, Psych. Come on, son. Then it just kind of, the conversation degrades a little bit, but not all that much on my end, just on his end. He sort of assumes a fundamentalist perspective on what it means that God speaks. What is this fundamentalist perspective? It’s the idea that God has His own vocal chords. It’s the idea that God is just like Hercules or Thor or Zeus and is human in form and can speak with a voice. That’s not how God speaks. This is a straw man, so this is a misconception over what it means that God speaks. In order to help understand this, I’ve got this book here, Divine Discourse, by Nicholas Wolterstorff. He’s a Christian philosopher and so I’m going to read a couple excerpts, just from the preface for you, which I hope will even at its start clear up some misconceptions that maybe even you have that what it means that God speaks. Alright?

Wolterstorff is going to draw a distinction between three different acts or really two. Locution, illocution, and perlocution. Locution is when someone speaks, the actual words. Illocution is the meaning, and perlocution would mean the action or the effect, but before we go into Wolterstorff let me give you an example. My wonderful father, an honorable man, would sometimes ask my mother, “Is there any ice cream in the freezer?” I’m smiling because I imagine my siblings would laugh. They know exactly where I’m going with this? “Is there any ice cream in the freezer?” He might ask. Those are the words he said, the locution, but what did my father mean? What is the illocution? He meant, “If there is any ice cream in the freezer, would someone mind scooping some?” There’s the implied meaning. That’s the illocution. The perlocution would be someone goes and performs the scooping of the ice cream. So three distinct acts and this all comes from what is called speech-act theory. Keep those things in mind as we consider what Christians mean when we say that God speaks. Think about those distinct things. Okay? We’re going to read here, I’m going to read from my book. Actually, what I’m going to do, I’ve got it up on the internet here from Google. Let me find it and you can read along if you’re watching with us. This is page ten. This is the preface. 

I’m going to correct here the screen for you so you can zoom in I believe. There we go. Okay. Here we go. The traditional assumption that divine speech is reducible to divine revelation was not just fortuitous error. An interesting reason was sometimes offered. Since God had no vocal chords with which to utter words and no hands with which to write them down, God cannot literally speak, cannot literally be a participant in a linguistic community. Okay? So accordingly, attributions of speech to God if not judged bizarrely false must be taken as metaphorical. So taken, what is the fact of the matter to which the metaphor points? What is the referent? What is the grounding? Tony’s watching here online. “Perlocution, illocution, and bilocution? Too many $10 words for me.” Locution, Tony, is the speaking. The illocution is the meaning and the perlocution would be the act itself. 

Let’s scroll down here on to page 11. He tells us his intention. But what I want to do in the chapters which follow is pursue what seems to me a much more interesting line of thought than say one which seeks to view matters as strictly figurative, so from the Jewish philosopher-theologian, Moses Maimonides, you have this view that when God speaks, when the Bible talks about God speaking, it’s merely figurative, or here you have Sandra Schneider arguing that, let’s read what she says. She says, “Despite the widespread instance to the contrary that biblical fundamentalism represents, it seems evident that the Word of God or divine discourse cannot be taken literally.” Wolterstorff’s going to argue it can be taken literally. It’s how we understand it. Okay? He’s going to clue us in on page 13. This is all just the preface. All you have to do is read the preface to begin to understand, awww. 13 not shown. I’m sorry. I’m going to read it for you so we’ll go back to my view here. I’m gonna read it. “When one thinks about speaking in the context of so-called speech-action theory, initiated some 40 years ago by J.L. Austin, then the argument of Maimonides and Schneider against God speaking appears patently fallacious. Fundamental to that theory is the distinction between locutionary acts and illocutionary acts. Locutionary acts are acts of uttering or inscribing words. Illocutionary acts are acts performed by way of locutionary acts. Acts such as asking, asserting, commanding, promising, and so forth.” This is the important point. Here we are. “Once illocutionary acts are thus distinguished from locutionary acts, then it immediately occurs to one that through the case, such actions as asking, asserting, commanding, and promising, can be performed by way of uttering and inscribing sentences that can be performed in many other ways as well.” What does he mean here? 

Wolterstorff means, and he’s going to argue, that there are ways to communicate without speaking and that constitutes as speaking. Let’s talk about some examples and these are a couple examples he uses. Some terminology, these are just two of many others and I’m going to give you an analogy, a way of understanding these things. One is double agency discourse. This relates to the doctrine of divine concurrence, another $10 term Tony for you, but double-agency discourse. This is when two people speak at the same time. We can still credit someone or when we only hear one person speak, but really there are two people. Let me give you an example. A political speechwriter, speaking of speech, someone who writes speeches. When President Trump is reading off of a teleprompter, he’s very likely reading a speech written by someone. Who is speaking? It’s President Trump that’s speaking. Okay? But isn’t it also the speechwriter who has spoken, who has written down these ideas? It’s both, the speechwriter and President Trump who has spoken. 

So when Christians say that God speaks, sometimes we can hear God’s voice even when we don’t hear the audible voice of God. Alright? Here’s a second example. Deputized discourse. Deputized. When God gives authority to a prophet to speak. Alright? What’s a common example we could understand this about how God speaks through the prophets? I always like giving these political examples I think because, A. I’m interested in politics as many of you know, but B. it’s an everyday example that we can more easily understand. An ambassador. When an ambassador goes to meet an official of another government, the ambassador has been deputized to speak on behalf of the president. This person is speaking for someone else and had that same authority as that other person. The ambassador speaks for the president, so through the ambassador, the president is speaking. In the same way, when the prophets speak on behalf of YHWH, YHWH is speaking. God speaks. These are just two examples. The double-agency discourse and the deputized discourse, of understanding ways that God speaks. 

So if Kris Key here, back on Facebook, were really interested in learning more about what it means that God speaks, I want to encourage him to check out Divine Discourse instead of having this fundamentalist of the text, a fundamentalist view which he rejects and rightly rejects, but he rejects wholesale instead of just rejecting his interpretation of that text. That’s really a problem that exists amongst many atheists, but also amongst many Christians, having this fundamentalist view of the text that we need to separate ourselves from. We need to understand the text in its day as it was written and as John Walton has often said, the Bible was not written to us, but it was written for us. Okay? It’s not written to our 21st-century context. No way. But it’s written for us in the sense that while it was written to an ancient audience, when we understand these truths, these transcendental truths, these principles, we apply them to our present-day context. When we do that we can better understand what the text originally meant. That’s what Christians mean when we say God speaks. Those are a couple ways of what we mean when God speaks. That God is speaking to humans in the course of human history and His speaking is verified, so if you want to talk about Kris’s objection about the mere perception that God was telling them to do this, I think it’s an accurate perception, that it was verified. All of the warnings about what would happen then did happen. They saw God’s presence in their midst, the miraculous claims that occurred verifies their perception, so their perception, Kris, was an accurate one. I think we shouldn’t have this simplistic dismissal of the Biblical narrative. We need to have a deeper understanding of what they mean and when we do that we can understand more so, how they meant it and that it makes sense and it corresponds to reality. Those are my thoughts on God speaking. I know that’s kind of heavy stuff, especially for Tony following along. Thanks again Tony, sticking with us, stretching the mind. In the first half of the program we talked about free speech. Jack Phillips and how he’s, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado. He’s being bullied again because he won’t make a transgender cake this time and so he’s suing the Colorado so-called Civil Rights Commission. I’m adding so-called there because they’re clearly not protecting not just civil right but God-given right. Not just a right given by government, but a right that God has given him not to be coerced into a certain type of labor. 

Alright. I think that does it for the program today. I’m grateful you’ve been able to stick with us. I’ve been hopeful that the tech here has been working. It’s all been me. This time around I was able to share some links. Let me know what you think about that, if you like having those references. I might seek to do that on a new regular basis. If you become one of our monthly supporters, our patrons, you can join our Marco Polo group which I just started. Totally free by the way. You just have to support the podcast to get an invite. I’m looking forward to utilizing that platform to communicate with supporters of the program. 

That does it for the show today. Again, I’m grateful for the continued support we have of our patrons and those of our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Fox Restoration, and Non-Profit Megaphone. I want to thank you for tuning in here, for listening in, and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. 


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Seth Baker

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