“Who’s to Say?”

“Who’s to say?” is a question I hear a lot from the lips of the young. It is the verbal equivalent of a shrugged shoulder. It is supposed to allow its users to adopt a pose of epistemic humility while allowing them to abort any conversation that threatens to take them to an uncomfortable place. The question is generally assumed to be unanswerable.  One is expected to shrug one’s shoulders in return and repeat the liturgical phrase in confirmation.  “Who’s to say?”  Who, indeed?  World without end, amen.

I do not give the expected non-response.

What I have to do to my students sometimes . . . and what my professors probably thought of me.

Who’s to say?  Apparently not Harry or Ron, when it comes to Potions.

Who is to say?  I am to say. I am to say, not because I have any special authority in myself, but because I propose to give you good and sufficient reasons for why what I am about to say is true. If you find them good and sufficient too, you should accept them, whether the conclusion to which they lead makes you comfortable or not. If you don’t, you should reject them. Either way, now, you are to say.

We are to say . . . but how?

We are to say . . . but how?

We are to say. And God holds us accountable for what we say.  He has spoken first, in Nature and even more definitively in Scripture, so that we should be able to speak in turn.  He has spoken first—indeed, His ultimate act of self-giving is called by St. John “The Word”—so that we should ourselves have something worth saying.  He has spoken first, in creation and redemption, so that we should be able to say it.  Thus we are accountable to say things that are in accordance with His Word, consistent with reality, and conducive to edification.  We are accountable to look the evidence in the eye, ignore the siren songs of popularity and political correctness, and speak the truth in love.


We are to say . . . and can, because God has already spoken.

We are to say.  If this be a burden, it is one that gives meaning to our existence.  It is inescapable. We are to say, you and I.  And there are things so worth saying that we should be willing to write them with our life’s blood.  We had best be about it. The verbal shrug is not only a conversation stopper; it is a lazy and cowardly evasion of responsibility.

So say I.


For more of what poet/theologian Donald T. Williams says, check out his books in the Lantern Hollow E-store!


About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on April 21, 2014, in Lantern Hollow Press. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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