The Language of God

by Max Andrews

In our experience, intentions get actualized any number of ways[1]: A sculptor by chiseling at stone, musicians by writing notes, engineers by drawing up blueprints. In general, all actualizations of intentions can be realized in language. Precise enough sets of instructions in a natural language can tell the sculptor how to form the statue, musician how to record the notes, and engineer how to draw up blueprints.

Why should an act of speech be God’s mode of creation? Language is the universal medium for actualizing intentions. The language that proceeds from God’s mouth in the act of creation is the divine Logos (Jn. 1.1-5). In the act of creation God the Father speaks the divine Logos in the power of the Holy Spirit. The divine Logos is not just language in the ordinary sense (utterances that convey information), but the very ground and possibility of language. Words need power to accomplish their end and God’s Word has that power (Is. 55.11).

Given that we are made in God’s image, the Trinitarian structure of creation is reflected in human speech.

“The word [goes] out of the mouth of God in such a manner that it likewise ‘[goes] out of the mouth’ of men; for God does not speak openly from heaven, but employs men as his instruments, that by their agency he may make known his will.”[2]

Thus, when we form an intention, this reflects God the Father forming an intention to initiate an act of divine creation.
Then, when we articulate an intention with our words, this reflects God the Son acting as the divine Logos in articulating divine intention. Finally, the air over our vocal chords reflects the Holy Spirit empowering the divine Logos thereby actualizing divine intention. (It’s not a coincidence that “spirit” means “wind” or “breath”).

Intention and language are associated with personhood. The Hebrew word for “image,” tselem, indicates personhood.  Whenever tselem is used, it never describes a characteristic of anything but rather a meaning behind something or a personhood to someone be it YHWH (Gen. 1.26, 27, 5.3, 9.6), false idols (Num. 33.52), or other forms of ungodliness (Ps. 73.20).  The reference to Numbers 33.52 does refer to a physical object but is directive to the purpose and meaning behind the melting of the physical object so that it’s image or purpose should be destroyed. The Greek word for “spirit,” πνεῦμα (pneuma), is always neuter.  However, whenever pronouns in the NT refer to the Holy Spirit, the gender is masculine—further confirming the third person of the Trinity is fully personal.

Consider Claude Shannon’s theory of information below:

Now, the difference between a computer speaking and a human speaking is not the mechanical power as mere sound waves, rather the timber (character or quality), inflection, and cadences that make a voice come alive.

Communications expert George Thompson:

“From the receiver’s point of view, the quality of one’s voice carries four times the weight of the content element.  Your very message, which you may see as the most important part of the process [of communication] is the least-considered factor [by the receiver of your communication].” (THE POWER OF YOUR MESSAGE!)[3]

Is there a Trinity parallel?

The primacy of the communicative act resides with the Father (appropriately Jesus states “my Father is greater than I” (Jn. 14.28).  The “transmitter” is the Holy Spirit who takes the message and empowers it. The Father purposes, the Son articulates, and the Holy Spirit actualizes.

Is there a parallel with the created order?

Divine Energy:  Divine activity within creation.

Sin:  The distorting effects of sin and the fall which attempt to frustrate divine energy.

Look at the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”:  to the left of the noise source is in heaven and to the right is on earth (On earth God’s will is imperfectly realized.  God speaks in heaven, and it is done.  God speaks on earth, and it is routinely disobeyed.)

Receiver and sender of message is now no longer the divine Logos. The destination of the message is what it accomplishes during its temporal existence (Is. 40.8 contrasts the eternality God’s Word in the temporality of its manifestations).
To say that God’s Word does not return void (Is. 55.11) is thus to say that the divine intention at the source is fully realized at the destination. To prevent the message from being corrupted both ends of the communication channel must employ effective error correction (i.e. the reordering of the information in an Email when it’s received) in such a way, God, in revealing himself to us through nature and the Bible, has employed effective means for controlling error.

Information is everything. Perhaps this helps the Trinity stand in a more reasonable light. This explains why masculine language for the deity and feminine language for nature and the creation is normative within Christian theology.  It underscores why language is the trait that most clearly demonstrates that humans are made in God’s image. Information is not only crucial for theology but important for science.

John Wheeler, a very prominent physicist who had Hugh Everett as a pupil (the author of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics) describes his life’s career in three periods:

In the first period, extending from the beginning of my career until the early 1950’s, I was in the grip of the idea that everything is particles.  I was looking for ways to build all basic entities—neurons, protons, mesons, and so on—out of the lightest, most fundamental particles, electrons and photons.  This same vision of a world of simple particles dominated my work with Feynman.  We were able to formulate electrodynamics in terms of particles acting at a distance on one another without the need for intermediate electric or magnetic fields…

I call my second period everything is fields.  From the time I fell in love with general relativity and gravitation in 1952 until late in my career, I pursued the vision of a world made of fields, one in which the apparent particles are really manifestations of electric and magnetic fields, gravitational fields, and space-time itself…

Now I am in the grip of a new vision, that everything is information.  The more I have pondered the mystery of the quantum and our strange ability to comprehend this world in which we live, the more I see possible fundamental roles for logic and information as the bedrock of physical theory.  I am eighty-six as of this writing, but I continue to search…[4]

Information is the rock bottom of reality. It provides the bridge between theology and science.

So, what do we do? We need to understand the importance of language. God pays close attention to human language.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Prov. 18.21. Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. Mt 12.36.

We have hope. We can trust that the information in God’s revelation to be true.

This doctrine must be frequently repeated and inculcated, that we may know that God will do what He hath once spoken. For this reason, when we hear the promises of God, we ought to consider what is His design in them; so that, when He promises the free pardon of our sins, we may be fully assured that we are reconciled through Christ.[5]



[1] As partially outlined in William Dembski’s The End of Christianity Ch. 10-11. You can download the corresponding PowerPoint here: http://sententias.org/small-group-ministry/

[2] John Calvin, Commentary on Isaiah Vol. 4, Is. 55.11.

[3] George Thompson, Verbal Judo:  The Gentle Art of Persuasion (New York:  HarperCollins, 2004), 129.

[4] John A. Wheeler and Kenneth W. Ford, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics (New York: Norton, 1999), 63-64.

[5] Calvin, Commentary on Isaiah Vol. 4, Is. 55.11.


2 Comments to “The Language of God”

  1. Describing Jesus as the Word made flesh surely evidences the importance of information and communication. Great analysis here! Thank you.

  2. I like this. The way our attributes and ways of thinking shadow our Creator’s has always been interesting to me. Language is one I hadn’t thought much about.

Leave a Reply