God in Our Speech

Conclusions, conclusions. My research is coming to some conclusions worth sharing. Some of the conclusions seem to be for pastors and the like, others for seminaries, but all of them can and should be generally shared. So here's another part from my thesis--one of the conclusions that looks at the way people talked about God during their interviews.

A Passive God

The overwhelming use of God as the object of passive verbs at least indicates that those interviewed could speak of God but not, by and large, as an other with whom a relationship can be formed or who might be active in the world. Theological education needs to substantially and intentionally speak of God as the subject of active verbs for the sake of forming public Christian leaders in this habit. Public Christian leaders, in turn, need to speak of God as the subject of active verbs as a model to those they lead. The heavy emphasis on and experience of relationships demands this change in speech patterns.

An Active God

A god that need not be present or active is at best the god of Deism who shows no continuing involvement with creation. Jesus entered into creation because of the relationship God began with creation. Jesus became human in order to be in relationship with humans as human, and as the only acceptable offering to repay our debts. Jesus sent his Spirit after his ascension to continue the relationship God established with creation in Jesus’ incarnation. Jesus has promised to return and heal all relationships, even across death. The biblical witness testifies to God establishing a relationship with creation that God develops and deepens over time—something that would not happen with a god that is the object of passive verbs. If God is only a passive object, then we have no story in which to act.


Theological education must intentionally speak of God, present and active in relationship to creation. Public Christian leaders need to speak of God, present and active in the lives of those who have called them to lead. We must be more aware of when our language does not match the faith we confess so that we might truly repent and live into our Christian vocation for the sake of the Gospel.