Dios Dice! (Dominus dixit)

Let us review.  The first guidepost says: beware of theology which treats talk of God as a description of our own religious experience. And the second warned that God’s cause and our own, especially political, don’t readily line up.  But this leaves a question: how can we know of, and speak about God, since He is God, Whose thoughts and ways aren’t ours?

This third guidepost is called ‘Dios dice’, Spanish for “God speaks.’  I am alluding to the words from the Latin translation of the Psalms, Dominus dixit, the Lord spoke, a text with famous music by handel.  God speaks! Dios dice! That is what I want you to remember.  God is all powerful and quite capable of accommodating himself so that he can speak for himself and make himself understood by us. To be sure, there will on our side always be more to learn, since we are humans. Still God speaks!  And where we can be sure that he has reliably spoken and speaks still is in the bible.  There we do find information, about Him and about the world, but primarily he addresses us- God speaks, to you and to me!

Now at this point you may be anxious, because you have come from a certain kind of conservative evangelical background, and you are worried that you will be regressing into fundamentalism.  But that is not a justified concern. For fundamentalism is a specific kind of theory about how the bible refers in relation to scientific theories about the world.  And you do not need to agree with such a theory in order to believe that God can speak and has spoken to us. He is able! Fundamentalism also tends to reject the idea that the Bible included editing,  a process of passing the text on, and of course copying in the ancient world that had no printing presses. The God who chooses to use the prophets and apostles is quite capable of using handing on, and a process of collecting and editing that material.  We believe that he has been in the entire process in order to – speak!  For example, the four gospels are four faithful memories of the Lord, with specific memories added, and retold with emphases to convey who he was. They are stereoscopic, so as to see him better.  And through it all- God speaks, and to you!

Of course, God being God, His speaking is different from ours. A philosopher named Austin wrote in the last century about what he called ‘performative utterances.’ By this he meant words that do things. When the priest ‘I now pronounce you…’, you’re married, ready or not!  Something happened. This is a hint of what God speaking means. For when he speaks, the world comes into being. And when he speaks, Jerusalem falls.   And when he shall speak the heaven and the earth will pass away.  Jesus the Son said on Easter evening that his word given to the apostles will affect the forgiveness of sins!  That word and its power are not from us. God speaks into being what he speaks of.  His word is supremely performative. 

We are creatures only, but we have been given ears and minds to hear- that is part of what it means to say that we are in the image of God.  To be sure, because we are cracked, we also misunderstand, argue, and forget. So there will be struggle over the interpretation of God’s speech from our side.  But the Reformers in the 16th century importantly stressed that on the things that matter most, the bible’s plot line, who God is, and his gift of grace, the bible is clear and we can see what it is getting at. We may be obtuse, but on the biggest things, God speaks and we can hear.  That is what you and I are doing in morning prayer or our own devotions and Sunday morning- speak to me Lord, hablame Senor, your servant is listening, and may what you say to me be so in me.

Click here for link to purchase book

He is not Blue or Red or even Purple

See Video of this blog here

We concluded our first guidepost with the quotation from the prophet Isaiah: "my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways."  Let that be our jumping off point for our second guidepost. 

Treebeard is the leader of the Ents, tree beings, in the Lord of the Rings. At one point he says ‘side? I am on no one’s side because no one is on my side?”  We could change that quotation a little and use it for God, when he looks down on the political affairs of humans.  No one can simply claim that ‘God is on our side.’  God brings his own word to bear on all our political struggles. And as a result we can never get religion and politics to line up, however much we want! God is not the Tories at prayer (as Anglicans were once said to be- more likely Labor at prayer now). He is not blue or red or even purple.  The Church of God has been faithful, and faithless, under monarchy, and tribal chieftains, and socialism and capitalism.  For a long time, we live in the West under what is called ‘Constantinianism’, where there was a compact between Church and state, always to some extent uneasy (ask Thomas a Becket), and quite gone in our own epoch (the Queen, who happens to be a devout Christian,  as defender of the faith is a vestige of that bygone era). 

But humans want them to line up. We want to enlist him to accomplish our own ends.  But God is not at our disposal- it is the other way around!

This doesn’t mean that God is not relevant to the political sphere.  He rules over every sphere.  And he cares about order instead of chaos. And he cares about the weak, vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged, which the Bible sums up in referring to the widow and orphan. And God opens our eyes to our own corruption, found both in us as individuals, and in institutions. There is some truth in St. Augustine saying that the difference between a government and a criminal syndicate is size. The closest to divine favor I can get is the observation that divided government, and a free press, and an independent judiciary came from our founders sharing that Augustinian insight. And God has an interest in our seeing every human being, every group, as one ‘in the image of God.’ That is why apartheid in South Africa was more than political error- it was heresy. And the Word of God does have something to say about every moral issue. And yet finally God extends his mercy on us, of many persuasions, beyond our deserving.  God has then. His agenda, but by contrast we cannot make him part of ours.

As Christians God’s cause, and our human political allegiances, do not finally line up. He has more to say.  But we can say this much- that the virtues remain the virtues, and the vices the vices, whatever we think is at stake here and now politically. Our time is awash in anger, and it remains a vice, in part because it makes it so hard to hear.

We speak earnestly for what we see as the good, and ought to be humbly ready to be wrong too.  We understand that politics is by nature conflict, and yet the Church is different, for there by God’s gracious will we sit as siblings with people whom we regard as in error, whom we would never select as companions. This too is a sign of the divine sovereignty, for we are. Not there in church simply by our own leisure time choices.  It is a ‘mixed body,’ as Augustine again said, and we are there only by ‘amazing grace.’ 

By that grace we are with God, but he is not with us, in the sense of being enlisted in our cause.  And thus we sit together, in Church, ready to hear in God’s Word both judgment and mercy, directed at us.


It is often hard to make sense of things Christian. The bible, church history, denominations, the cross-currents of culture. This series is meant, in each episode, to give you a single, clear guidepost,  in order to ‘discern the signs of the times.’