In Divine Discourse, Wolterstorff offers a series of arguments to defend his major conclusion that God still speaks today through Scripture! In order to hear God speaking, however, Christians should reformulate the relation of the Bible and divine revelation. For him, the best way to comprehend the Bible is through divine discourse and not necessarily divine revelation. Let’s begin clarifying the phrase ‘propositional revelation’ Wolterstorff refers frequently. In a nutshell, propositional revelation refers to a non-manifestational revelation. That is, God does not self-reveal himself to humanity through powerful acts but through communication. It was through propositional revelation that God communicated with his prophets and inspired them to write or to speak what God wanted to communicate in the Scriptures.
To support his controversial conclusion, Wolterstorff redefines the concept of revelation as the unveiling process via new knowledge in order to stop ignorance. By using the example of Augustine’s conversion when this one heard a voice of a child uttering “Take up and read,” Wolterstorff argues that although this experience can be considered product of a ‘divine manifestation,’ such a character of the act does not reveal anything. This happens because one ignores the exact nature of the divine act. And if that happens, there is no revelation. What is needed then in order that revelation can happen? In simple words: communication. For Wolterstorff revelation presumes the existence of a receiver, who will be the benefit of the revelation because revelation has the purpose of stop ignorance or reveal something unknown.
Once this aspect is clarified, Wolterstorff presents his idea that it is not necessary that God literally speaks. What is needed is that he engages in a discourse with the subject/person who will receive the message. The implications of this is that God can and will speak in multiple forms including literal speaking, putting a thought in someone’s mind, appropriation of other’s discourse. It is through the latest means that Wolterstorff believes the Bible was formed. The implication of this is that God does not constitute the author of the Bible but simply appropriated the written text.
One strength I find in Wolterstorff’s discussion is that his theory of discourse opens the door for a better connection between theological discourse and philosophy of language. This will continue bearing good fruits in the future. However, there is an important point of concern: he seems to relativize the Scriptures. This is shown in the way that the truth of revelation depends on the receiver’s notion of God, who may interpret the message according to his own situation.