“Who’s to say?”
It 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 supposed 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.
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. You are responsible to say.
We are to say. And God holds us accountable for what we say, for the way we say it, and for why we say it. 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. 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 examples of Dr. Williams taking the responsibility to tell the truth as he has been given the light to see it, check out his books from Lantern Hollow Press: Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (2011), Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (2012), and Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. revised and expanded (2012). Order these ($15.00 + shipping each) at
And especially look for his latest book, just out from Square Halo Books: Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis!