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This is the first of several posts I’ll be doing on principles for living in what I call a worded world. Each of these principles comes from my book, The Speaking Trinity & His Worded World: Why Language Is at the Center of Everything. In this first post, let’s focus more specifically on what I mean by the phrase “worded world.”
We live in a world made, sustained, and governed by divine syllables. The utterance of God himself brought forth pine needles and parakeets, wind and whistles, clouds and carrots. Every speck of the earth around you and the cosmos beyond you came to be because the triune God opened his holy lips.
How do I know this? It’s woven into every page of Scripture. Let’s start with creation. God the Father spoke his eternal Word (the Son) in the power and presence of the Spirit (Gen. 1:3; John 1:1; Gen. 1:2). Divine sound led to earthly substance. As the psalmist put it, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host” (Ps. 33:6).
This is a richly personal view of creation. The things around us are not products of an explosion or the results of a long and slow evolution thereafter. When you look at the world around you, you’re seeing the effects of personal, divine speech. Creation, as one of my favorite theologians put it, is “shot through with personality.”
Speaking To Sustain and Govern Creation
But it’s not just that creation was uttered by the Trinity. God did not speak and walk away. He stayed by his words. God created all things with his speech, which is a reflection of eternal speech: God’s own Son, the eternal Word. And then, in Colossians, Paul tells us that “all things hold together” in this eternal Word (Col. 1:17). The writer of Hebrews echoes the same truth when he writes, “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). God the Father sustains what he’s made with the same Word and Spirit who brought it into being.
Yet, it’s not just this general sense of upholding all things through speech. God also governs the specifics of the world with his speech, too. For instance, his words set the pattern and path for fruit and seed-bearing trees (Gen. 1:11-12). When an apple seed falls to the ground, takes root in the soil, springs up as a sapling, and then begins producing more apples — that’s the speech of God at work!
Many other passages in Scripture show us that when anything in our world comes to be — big or small — it’s the result of God speaking (Ps. 33:9). Nothing happens outside the confines of divine language, divine pronouncement. God’s speech always governs.
Now, what’s the effect that this divine speech has on the world we inhabit? Simply put, there is a profound sense in which our world speaks of the God who made it. Recall the worlds of Psalm 19:1-4,
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
Romans 1:20 underscores this as well. The things that have been made (i.e., everything) reveal God’s invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature. Our world speaks of God in this special sense.
That, in brief, is what it means for us to live in a worded world. In the next post, we’ll look at what implications this has for our perception of the world: the meaning we give to the things we see and experience.