Sunday, September 28, 2008

Analogia Entis

If you don't already subscribe to the RSS feed for the Theological Word Of The Day, correct that oversight immediately.  TWOTD is a stupendous resource, giving very helpful summaries of important theological words and terms.  It's one of the blog feeds I read on a very regular basis, operating as I do under the twin assumptions that (1) you can't know too much about God, and (2) theology, being the study of God, is an indispensable resource for it.

September 26th's word was analogia entis - the "analogy of being," a very, very important concept, especially in light of so much of the ECM's love-affair with "chastised epistemology" which in essence states that we can't really know anything for certain about God except that we can't really know anything for certain.

Tony Jones summarized this sort of thinking well in his published dialog with Collin Hansen over the differences between the newbreed "Young Calvinists" and the Emergents:

Where we probably differ is not so much on theology, but on epistemology. That is, it seems the difference between the people you profile in Young, Restless, Reformed seem pretty darn sure that they've got the gospel right, whereas the Emergents that I hang out with are less sure of their right-ness. In fact, they're less sure that we, as finite human beings, can get anything all that right.

The Emergent party line is that, as result of the noetic effects of sin (that is, that among other things the Fall corrupted the mental faculties of man - which I agree with, BTW, and why I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the Presuppositional Apologetic) we as humans ultimately can't know anything with an absolute degree of certainty save that we can't know anything else than that with an absolute degree of certainty.

In other words, since we are finite, fallen beings, it is impossible to fully know an infinite, holy God; and by extension (they say), we cannot know Him directly at all, but only obliquely, and imperfectly at that.

The argument, however, presupposes what it tries to prove - it begs the question, in other words.  It presumes that an incapacity for absolute knowledge precludes a capacity for moral certitude.

In other words, though I as a finite, fallen human cannot know God with absolute clarity, I can know what I know of God and what He has revealed of Himself with absolute certainty.

I can know, for instance, that God is good, holy, loving, and just, and that He took upon Himself human flesh, suffered and died, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I can know that His Word is true, and that any problems I have with that Word derive from myself and not the Word itself.


Back to the point of this blogpost...TWOTD posted a brief article on analogia entis which answers the ECM's "chastised epistemology" party line very well; turns out this isn't a new idea at all, and that the faithful in the church have dealt with this already in ages past and come up with a very sound position:

The belief that there exists an analogy or correspondence between the creation and God that makes theological conversation about God possible. While many would say that finite beings with finite language cannot describe an infinite God, theologians of the medieval era discussed this problem, seeking to resolve it by developing a theory which alloted the communication of words into three separate categories. Some words are univocal (always used with the same sense), some were equivocal (used with very different senses), and some were analogical (used with related senses). It is this third sense that the analogia entis finds meaning. While finite man cannot describe and infinite God perfectly (univocally), he can do so truly being that God has created man in his image and, through this, has provided and analogical way of communicating himself. To deny the analogia entis is thought, by some, to be a self defeating proposition since it would present the situation where an all-powerful God is not powerful enough to communicate himself to his creation.


So - if you haven't already subscribed to TWOTD's feed - do it, now. Tons of good, solid stuff.

You'll thank me later.

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