The main contention of [The Doctrine of God, A Theology of Lordship] is that God’s speech to man is real speech. It is very much like one person speaking to another. God speaks so that we can understand him and respond appropriately. Appropriate responses are of many kinds: belief, obedience, affection, repentance, laughter, pain, sadness, and so on. God’s speech is often propositional: God’s conveying information to us. But it is far more than that. It includes all the features, functions, beauty, and richness of language that we see in human communication, and more. So the concept I wish to defend is broader than the “propositional revelation” that we argued so ardently forty years ago, though propositional revelation is part of it. My thesis is that God’s word, in all its qualities and aspects, is a personal communication from him to us.
Imagine God speaking to you right now, as realistically as you can imagine, perhaps standing at the foot of your bed at night. He speaks to you like your best friend, your parents, or your spouse. There is no question in your mind as to who he is: he is God. In the Bible, God often spoke to people in this way: to Adam and Eve in the garden; to Noah; to Abraham; to Moses. For some reason, these were all fully persuaded that the speaker was God, even when the speaker told them to do things they didn’t understand. Had God asked me to take my son up a mountain to burn him as a sacrifice, as he asked of Abraham in Genesis 22, I would have decided that it wasn’t God and could not be God, because God could never command such a thing. But somehow Abraham didn’t raise that question. He knew, somehow, that God had spoken to him, and he knew what God expected him to do. We question Abraham at this point, as did Søren Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling. But if God is God, if God is who he claims to be, isn’t it likely that he is able to persuade Abraham that the speaker is really he? Isn’t he able to unambiguously identify himself to Abraham’s mind?