I began this work with an antipathy for “God uses” language that was founded in personal experience and a concern for God’s mission in the world. Having completed it, my antipathy for the language is deeper. From the literature review it was evident to me that these writers have a deep appreciation of the sovereignty of God, of God’s care for all people, and of the urgency of God’s call on their lives. However, I believe that I have shown that this could, and should, be expressed using different language.

From the first critical perspective, it was difficult to see much evidence that there is a Biblical precedent for “God uses” language. From the second critical perspective, it was clear that in secular English, a construction in which one person is described as using another person says nothing good about the first person. It implies an unhealthy power dynamic in which the person being used is a victim.

From the third critical perspective the damage that this language does to conceptions of God, self, and relationships was evident. Using language which describes God’s relationship with a person as an I-It relationship has several consequences. It objectifies and depersonalises the person. It makes God the I of I-It, someone who is not truly present to the other. It gives permission for people to believe that they may relate to other people as It. Finally, it encourages the tendency for humans to relate to God as It, someone who is there for us to experience and to use, but not to encounter.

Having considered three different perspectives on God’s sovereignty, it was argued that this could be expressed more fully than “God uses” language allows. Knowing that God relates to us as Thou does not preclude our submission to God. I believe that it leads to a deeper, more active, submission to the God who encounters us.

Similarly, the place of “God uses” language in pastoral care was explored. It was seen that it could be replaced by alternatives, which are more fruitful, in the contexts in which it was promoted in the literature. It was also argued that not only is “God uses” language unnecessary to pastoral care, but is also deeply antithetical to it.

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