The doctrine of analogy had its genesis in Aristotle. Dr. Clark explains,
“The notion of analogy begins quite simply and innocently in Aristotle. He notes that when we call a book a medical book, and when we call an instrument a medical instrument, and when we call a man a medical man, the predicate medical does not bear the same sense in the three instances. The term is not equivocal, as is the case when we call Argos the dog of Ulysses and when we call Sirius the dog in the sky; but on the other hand, the term is not strictly univocal. It is analogical…Aristotle’s original analogies cause no difficulty. The term medical, whether applied to a man, a book, or an instrument, is presumably derived from experience. In all three cases there is a relationship to the science of medicine. And for this reason there is a univocal basis for the analogy. The term medical might univocally be defined as ‘having to do with the science of medicine’ ”. (A Christian View of Men and Things, pg. 216-217)
Yet Aquinas extended this principle further away from Aristotle’s intention. Dr. Clark explains,
“Thomas developed the theory of analogy far beyond the simple observation of Aristotle, and it took on major proportions when the subject was God. Thomas held that the simplicity of the divine being required God’s existence to be identical with his essence. This is not the case with a book or pencil. That a book is and what a book is are two different matters. But with God existence and essence are identical. For this reason an adjective predicated of God and the same adjective predicated of man are not univocal in meaning. One may say, God is good, and one may say, This man is good; but the predicate has two different meanings. There is no term, not a single one, that can be predicated univocally of God and of anything else.” (Three Types of Religious Philosophy by Gordon Clark [The Trinity Foundation: Jefferson, Maryland, 1989], pg. 63)
Aquinas’s doctrine of analogy is not one simple concept that the philosopher must master. There are numerous ways that analogy is used and even with the analogy of proportion there are a couple ways to understand proportion as well. Herman Reith wrote a very helpful book titled, The Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas (Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1958). Even within an analogy there are more analogies to be found. Reith says,
“analogy is itself analogical…Just as the meaning of person, for example, is derived from our own experience yet can be extended to divine persons, giving us some vague insight into what is really above us, so analogy can be transformed from a logical device to a mode of knowing necessary to the science of metaphysics.
For the logician analogy is based on the mode of signification of concepts and refers to the manner in which our mind attains its concepts. For the metaphysician analogy is a question of both the mode of signification and the modes of existence outside the mind and consequently refers more precisely to the thing signified.” (pg. 44)
This distinction between analogy as it operates with the Logician compared with the Metaphysician is referred to as a “difference in mode, that is, a difference between conceptual and real being.” (Reith, pg. 45) Scripturalists deny a distinction between conceptual and real being. Everything is real. The primary distinction of analogy that is used in man’s knowledge of God is the difference between an analogy of proportion and an analogy of proportionality. The latter is described by Reith as a “kind of relationship that exists between things that are related to each other by some kind of extrinsic bond, namely, by reason of a third thing to which the signification of a particular belongs primarily” (pg. 51) and the former as a “kind of relationship that exists between one thing and another in a one to one association.” (Reith, pg. 51)
Reith surrenders the core error of this position when he says,
“When two things are related to each other by reason of a third, the common name that is attributed of them does not necessarily imply a real relationship between the first two members of the analogy (pg. 51)…St. Thomas excludes the kind of proportion between God and creatures that would posit a real relationship in God as well as in the creature. The relationship between God and the creature is not reciprocal from the aspect of the foundation in causality. From the viewpoint of the creature, the relationship is real; from the viewpoint of God, the relationship is not real.” (pg. 52)
The entire problem with this construction is that it eliminates the possibility of a hypostatic union in Christ. Christianity teaches that humanity and divinity united metaphysically/really at the level of hypostasis. Aquinas’ construction is exposed as Adoptionism and at best Nestorianism by Jules Grisham. Grisham states in his Felled By “Good Pleasure”. An Examination Of The Condemnation Of The Grammatico Historical Method Of Interpreting Scripture, As It Was Developed In The Exegetical School Of Antioch
“Theodore, then, to his own thinking, was only being consistent when he taught that the human nature of Jesus was essentially distinct from the divine nature of the Son-Logos. Because he understood hypostasis as referring to the concrete instance of a nature (in the sense that a person is a concrete instance, a particular expression, of human nature), and because, according to his fundamental understanding concerning the radical “other-ness” of God, he insisted that the divine and human natures could not be hypostatically joined without corruption of the divine, Theodore held that there is an inhering dualism in Christ’s person. Accordingly, he taught that we must think of Christ’s union not as a hypostatic one (that is, of substance) but as a prosopic one (that is, of manifestation and benevolence). Prosopon means “face,” “role” (referring to drama as well as to social status), or “person,” in the societal-functional sense –i.e., what one does. And the concept he used to explain how this prosopic union came to be and remains intact is “assumption.” (pg. 27)
I wonder how Theodore would take Aquinas’ “extrinsic bond… a third thing to which the signification of a particular belongs primarily”. Upon examination I can find no difference between the two. Theodore’s Prosopon was just that; namely a product of the union of the two natures: a third thing as the common bond between the two natures. This is precisely the opposite of what Scripturalism teaches. We believe in a univocal participation in God and deny that God is totally other as the Van Tillians, the Scholastics and the Neoplatonist Eastern Church teaches. Gordon Clark says in Three Types of Religious Philosophy (Jefferson Maryland, The Trinity Foundation, 1989) by Gordon Clark pg. 123 –Dogmatism-Realism
“To be sure, Christian dogmatism does not accept the unaltered World of Platonic Ideas. The Philonic Interpretation is better. [By the way Philo's construction posited the Ideas in the mind of God. DS] Still better is the replacement of Ideas (minus predicates) by propositions or truths…Christian dogmatism therefore must be realistic. The real object of knowledge is itself present to the mind…There are of course other thoughts, objects, or realities. Every Biblical Proposition is one. These never change nor go out of existence, FOR THEY ARE THE CONSTITUENTS OF GOD’S MIND…We know God directly for in him we live and move and have our being.”
Aquinas’ Nestorianism at this point is again reiterated by Francis Turretin when he says,
“For the Son of God only is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15)-the essential and natural, and no mortal can attain to it because the finite cannot be a partaker of the infinite. And if we are said by grace to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), this is not to be understood of an essential, formal and instrinsic participation, but an analogical, accidental and extrinsic participation (by reason of the effects analogous to the divine perfections which are produced in us by the Spirit after the image of God).” Institutes of Elenctic Theology Vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1994), pg. 465
An accidental connection between humanity and divinity? That is Adoptionism and Nestorianism. I posit a direct, univocal and real participation in God. We are made in God’s real image and were given language structures that in category are uncreated. Obviously English, Spanish and German are created but Language itself is not created. Neither is logic. What is the East’s superiority? They will say: THE ENERGIES THE ENERGIES! But what are the Energies? Do they support a real participation in God? Lossky refers to the energies as
“another mode of the divine existence outside the essence of God, the mode of grace, in which God communicates Himself and manifests Himself….far from being a separation or division of God into two parts, communicable and incommunicable, is an inevitable theological postulate if we wish to maintain the real and not just the metaphorical character of deification, without suppressing created being within the divine essence”. (The Vision of God, pg. 166)
Earlier Lossky said of the Energies,
“Divinity is manifested fully and is wholly present in the dunameis, but created beings participate in it in the proportion or analogy proper to each one, hence the hierarchical order of the universe, which develops in an order of decreasing participations, of decreasing analogies in created beings. Dionysius’ hierarchy definitely does not limit the plentitude of union; at every step of this ladder the union with God is realized fully, but the plentitude is not uniform, it is personal. In the analogy of each created nature there is an encounter, a synergy of two wills” (The Vision of God, pg. 125)”
So on their view, the human nature of Christ analogically participated in a mode outside of God’s essence. First, I reject the Essence and Energies distinction (See Chapter 4). Second, Lossky does not tell us which doctrine of analogical proportion he means, so we have to guess. I am very aware that Clark, or at least Robbins constructed a two person view of Christ. I do not think they were aware of the huge Theological issues that Clark’s change in Reformed Philosophy implied. They were professional academicians not Theologians. I affirm, therefore, a real union between humanity and divinity in the One Person of Christ, as all those who have faith in Christ are united to Him univocally and directly. As comprehended as united to Christ univocally in faith, they are justified. For it is the Ideas in the mind of the Logos, which are inseparable from his person, that are the objects of justification (Isa 53:11) This should be enough to bury this error forever, but Clark adds much more.
In Thales to Dewey Clark explains Thomas and then refutes him,
“In the assertions, God is wise, and man is wise, the term wise is not used univocally. Univocal predication is impossible between God and creatures, for the reason that the creatures are not effects proportionate to the infinite power of God, and hence they fall short of similitude to their efficient cause. The relation is exemplified also in the case of the Sun which causes heat in things on the Earth but which itself is not hot in the same sense of the word hot. When, therefore, it is said that a man is wise, the term wise signifies a quality distinct from the man’s essence, distinct from his power, and from his being. But when we say that God is wise, we do not signify anything distinct from his essence, power, or being. The term wise applied to man circumscribes and comprehends the thing, the man, signified; whereas, in the case of God, the term leaves the object, God, uncomprehended. Hence name or predicate can be applied to God and things univocally. Not only is this true of names and predicates, it is also true f the verb to be. When we say that God exists and that man exists, the verb does not bear the same meaning in the two cases. In God existence and essence are identical; in all other things they are not. Hence God is, but not in the sense that a man is. Yet if these predications were actually equivocal, it would be impossible to learn anything about God from a study of nature; whereas the apostle Paul has assured us that we can. And besides, this would contradict Aristotle too. Therefore, these predications, neither univocal nor equivocal, must be analogical…In Thomas’ explanation he referred to the Sun as being the cause of heat, and drew a parallel with God’s being the cause of wisdom in man. Perhaps this suffices to preserve intelligibility for the predication of wisdom to men and to God; but does it not assume that the predicate cause is used in the same sense for God and for the Sun? If the assertions, God is a cause, and the Sun is a cause, do not use ‘cause’ in a univocal sense, then what can be meant by saying that God is the cause of wisdom as the Sun is the cause of heat? Thomas explicitly declared that univocal predication is impossible between God and creatures, and that no name is predicated univocally of God and of creatures. Since this applies to the term cause as well as to the terms hot or wise, the parallel fails. Our knowledge of causality comes entirely from things; of divine causality it must be said that we have no true concept; from which it would follow that the theory of analogy does not advance us beyond negative knowledge. Or, more generally, it would seem that any useful theory of analogy must be based on some univocal element…Hence if the term exist bears a temporal meaning in the premises of the cosmological argument, but in the conclusion bears the meaning of eternity of which we have only a negative knowledge…if thus there is no univocal meaning in this term or in any other, then the proof of God’s existence turns out to be not a demonstration but a fallacy.” (Thales to Dewey, pg. 220-221)
Image of God
Reith touches upon the anthropology of Aquinas’ theory a bit when he notes that Thomas refuses to, “put God and the creature in the same category and set up a definite measure of distance between them.” (Reith, pg. 51) Contrary to Aquinas Man is the Image and Glory of God (1 Cor 11:7). The image is not something pressed upon man, man is the image. The image is not the body (2 Cor 12:2) therefore, man is not his body. The body is man’s instrument of operation. Augustine says in Letter 137 From Augustine to Volusianus (A.D. 412) Chapter 2.4-5
“4….I wish you to understand that the Christian doctrine does not hold that the Godhead was so blended with the human nature in which He was born of the virgin that He either relinquished or lost the administration of the universe, or transferred it to that body as a small and limited material substance. Such an opinion is held only by men who are incapable of conceiving of anything but material substances…The nature of the soul is very far different from that of the body; and how much more different must be the nature of God, who is the Creator of both soul and body! God is not said to fill the world in the same way as water, air, and even light occupy space, so that with a greater or smaller part of Himself He occupies a greater or smaller part of the world. He is able to be everywhere present in the entirety of His being: He cannot be confined in any place: He can come without leaving the place where He was: He can depart without forsaking the place to which He had come.
5. The mind of man wonders at this, and because it cannot comprehend it, refuses, perhaps, to believe it. Let it, however, not go on to wonder incredulously at the attributes of the Deity without first wondering in like manner at the mysteries within itself; let it, if possible, raise itself for a little above the body, and above those things which it is accustomed to perceive by the bodily organs, and let it contemplate what that is which uses the body as its instrument. Perhaps it cannot do this, for it requires, as one has said, great power of mind to call the mind aside from the senses, and to lead thought away from its wonted track. Let the mind, then, examine the bodily senses in this somewhat unusual manner, and with the utmost attention. There are five distinct bodily senses, which cannot exist either without the body or without the soul; because perception by the senses is possible, on the one hand, only while a man lives, and the body receives life from the soul; and on the other hand, only by the instrumentality of the body vessels and organs, through which we exercise sight, hearing, and the three other senses. Let the reasoning soul concentrate attention upon this subject, and consider the senses of the body not by these senses themselves, but by its own intelligence and reason.”
The body is not actively hostile toward the human endeavor neither is the mind alien to this created physical realm but sin has corrupted it and introduced elements that are alien to its original creation. The essential attribute of man is his rational faculty while the body and man’s original righteousness is accidental. Clark in his The Biblical Doctrine of Man clearly taught that human nature was man’s rationality but this was combined with a body. In his book on The Incarnation (having no intention on teaching anything close to a Gnostic hostility to creation or human flesh) Clark makes the conclusion that a human person like Paul who was out of his body or in it he could not tell assumes that Paul’s human personhood was not dependent on his body. I agree. With regard to original righteousness, I affirm that it is accidental to man in this sense: Dr. Clark says, “Without reason there can be no morality or righteousness: These two require thought.” (Ibid., pg. 16-17) However, one can have rationality without righteousness. (Rom 1:32) Clark says,
“The Fall seriously damaged God’s image in man in all its parts. The intellect became depraved as well as the will…fallen man is deceived by fallacious thinking, and he makes mistakes in arithmetic. But even the most hardened sinner sometimes constructs valid syllogisms and sometimes gets his bank account correctly balanced…in order not to assert that the image of God has been completely annihilated, stress must be laid on its component of logic and reason…Had the fall completely annihilated the image of God, so that rationality itself were existinguished, salvation could not have been mediated by gospel…The preaching of the gospel therefore presupposes at least the rational remants of the image of God in man.” (The Philosophy of Gordon Clark, pg. 69-70)
The image is man’s soul or rational faculty. Dr. Clark says, “The image must be reason because God is truth, and fellowship with him…requires thinking and understanding.” (The Biblical Doctrine of Man, pg. 16) Image and likeness are not two different things (Gen 1:26-27). The image that God created man was in knowledge (Col 3:10). This is a clear proof of apriori forms. These apriori forms provided the basis for Adam’s understanding of the commands that God gave Adam directly after his creation in Gen 2:17. Adam had never seen, tasted, touched, smelled, or heard death but he understood what death was and the moral law that God gave him. If there is no communication in heaven or in God [i.e. Divine Simplicity, because language requires distinctions, which is why Plotinus denied it of his One], rational communication or the rational faculty of man cannot be a part of the image of God and is not innate. I affirm Clark’s view where communication was innate in man from creation because it was given by God, who is not completely simple, to communicate with Him and about him, positively. Ergo God is not beyond predication.
Therefore, if God and man both think the same rationality, if both God and man have the same objects of knowledge: propositions, then God and man are in the same category. We are both rational persons. Scripturalist Christianity is the exact opposite of Thomism’.
Participation in God
Some object that our commitment to univocal predication requires an absorption into God himself that is incompatible with Christianity. Carl Henry replies,
“Of course God is epistemologically transcendent; of course human beings do not have exhaustive knowledge of him; of course we do not have ‘infinite’ concepts, language or ideas. Curiously enough, it was Hegel, manipulating a theory of truth in which man’s mind was considered part of the divine mind, who regarded concepts as an object of knowledge. To know truth about God man requires only God’s prior intelligible disclosure; rational concepts qualify him on the basis of the imago Dei to know God as he truly is and to comprehend the content of God’s logically ordered revelation.” (God, Revelation and Authority Vol. 3, Waco, TX: Word Book, Publisher, 1979)
Scripturalism teaches that we can know what God reveals to us (Duet 29:29, Mat 11:27). 1 Tim 6:16 says that no man can see God. Yet Job 19:26 says that man can and will see God. Are these contradictory? No. 1 Tim 6 is referring to “physical” sight. Job is referring to intellectual sight, or contemplation. Psalm 145:3, Isa 40:28, and Job 11:7-8 are referring to the fact that man cannot of himself find out knowledge of God. Knowledge must be revealed to man at God’s, pleasure. (See, The Answer , pg. 10) Isaiah 55:8-9 in context refers to the fact that God chooses to do things that are not in accord with the sinful nature of men. Men would have salvation to be accomplished by our own merits so that we receive the glory. However, God has chosen to save us by grace that he alone would receive the glory. In this sense he “chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” (1 Cor 1:27) The scripture is not saying that God’s thoughts are of a different conceptual quality, but that they affirm a different end. Man’s ends would be for his own glory but God has affirmed that the end of man be for God’s glory alone. Psalms 36:9 seems to be the strongest passage affirming univocal knowledge. It says that in God’s light we see light. The same light that is God’s is ours when he reveals it to us. This does not mean that our knowledge does not differ at all from God’s for it does. God’s knowledge is intuitive ours is discursive. This does not mean that the information is different in God’s mind and in ours. I can write a sentence on a piece of paper and write it on a word file and save it in my computer. The attributes of the knowledge written on the paper are different from that in my hard drive but the information is exactly the same. The Answer says,
“The word knowledge has two meanings; both are good English; but the one should never be taken for the other. When one says, This man has great knowledge, the word refers to the objects. On the other hand when one says, Man has discursive knowledge, the word refers not the objects known, but to the manner of knowing…In the phrase, God’s knowledge of a proposition, the word knowledge refers to the intuitional character of his knowing. It cannot refer to the content known, for if it did, the phrase could be exactly reproduced as God’s object of an object or God’s truth of a truth, or, God’s proposition of a proposition. they (The Complaintents) claim that the manner of God’s knowing is no part of the doctrine of incomprehensibility. Hence the theory of the Complaint is that the objects or truths known by God are different from those known by man.” (The Answer pg. 20)
God’s Revelation to Man is Given by Plenary Verbal Inspiration.
2 Sam 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.
2Pet :21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Plenary verbal inspiration posits a form of revelation in specific words where the Holy Ghost guides the writers but at the same time gives them the freedom to express the core meaning of the Spirit in their own words and express their own personalities. There is an important assumption at the base of this position. Namely, it assumes that men can understand what God is saying. The dictation theory asserts that God gave men word for word what they were to write with no freedom at all. The assumption here is man’s inability to understand what God is saying but God feels an obligation to dictate the scriptures to men so men do not mess it up. And since men cannot understand the real truth, the scriptures are mere signposts pointing to the true revelation.
Mat 16: 13-17 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Here, the doctrinal proposition that Jesus is the anointed one and the Son of God, is a revelation from the Father. This proposition does not point to some other revelation but is the revelation. Some will say that doctrines are not the revelation but signposts that point to the revelation, namely, the always ambiguous “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Very pious indeed, though, not to be the bearer of bad news but Judas Iscariot had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ though it did him no ultimate good. He did not know the truth and his actions proved it. So to what are the signposts pointing to? Dr. Clark says in The Bible as Truth,
“This thesis that the Bible is literally true does not imply that the Bible is true literally. Figures of speech occur in the Bible, and they are not true literally. They are true figuratively. But they are literally true. The statements may be in figurative language, but when they are called true the term true is to be understood literally. This simple elementary thesis, however, would be practically meaningless without a companion thesis. If the true statements of the Bible could not be known by human minds, the idea of a verbal revelation would be worthless.”
One of the reasons Patristics reject plenary verbal inspiration is that it presents the possibility that men may misunderstand it and for this reason many of them take the dictation theory. However, their arguments are pointless for they themselves are subject to being misunderstood.
This God Created Man Rational; that is, God’s Knowledge and Man’s Knowledge do Coincide at Univocal Points
First some definitions:
Incomprehensibility: This means we cannot know God completely. It does not mean that we have no point of univocal knowledge at all. Man can know some things of God but not all. This we believe is the quantitative distinction not qualitative.
God’s Knowledge and Infinity: God’s knowledge is not infinite. The word “infinite” means a series with no last term. If God’s knowledge was infinite he could not be omniscient. How can one know all of a series that has no last term?
Univocal Knowledge: Man knows the same proposition that God intends man to know, not completely as God knows, but man does understand some things at least sometimes in the same sense that God means. God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge is propositional. We understand our knowledge to be like that written on a piece of paper while the knowledge of God is like that in a hard drive. The attributes of each are different yet the information is the same. Man’s knowledge and God’s are of a different essence in the sense that man’s knowledge is discursive while God’s knowledge is intuitive. Yet they are the same essence in the sense that they are univocal and mean the same thing.
Analogical knowledge: Man’s knowledge is anthropomorphic. The essence of man’s knowledge is different than the essence of God’s: i.e. a qualitative distinction. The Text of a Complaint reads, “there is a qualitative difference between the contents of the knowledge of God and the contents of the knowledge possible to man.” (The Text of a Complaint, 5:1)
Truth: A value containing a variable error of zero. Things are true because God believes them to be true. Truth does not have an external independent existence from God.
Though the opponents of the univocal knowledge of God argue that our view at least leans towards pantheism or idealism, my answer is simply this: so is Paul’s assertion in Acts 17:28 when he quotes the pantheist Aratus’ Phaenomena. We will err on the side of pantheism rather than a confused materialism without apology. Though I believe Clark’s view can be easily explained in a form of Christian Panentheism. If indeed it is proved that we have errors in our theory the Van Tillians far more. They say that unless you understand it all you can know nothing and only when a man is regenerate can he know anything. In this theory an unregenerate man can never understand a regenerate man’s sentence in the same sense, ever, nor can their conscience ever bear witness to the truth Rom 2:15. Clark says, “If there is not a single point of coincidence, God and man cannot have the same thing, namely, knowledge…if there is not a single point of coincidence, it is meaningless to use the single term knowledge for both God and man.” (The Bible as Truth by Dr. Clark) In the analogical or equivocal theory when God says something these theories can only guess what God means. It is because of this that authoritarian Church governments are needed to control the minds of the people. This point was asserted by Pseudo Dionysius. Epistemology and Authority go hand in hand (See Chapter 29). If the objection is that Van Til and his followers do not believe in authoritarian Church governments we heartily agree and point to the results of this incompatible theology that keeps producing faction after faction. How many “Reformed” denominations influenced by Van Tilism are there now? The system doesn’t produce uniformity in knowledge. In order for man to know anything, God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge must have at least one point of similarity. Yet they deny this. The Text of a Complaint says again, “We dare not maintain that his knowledge and our knowledge coincide at any single point” (5:3). Clark says, “The authors repudiate another view on the same grounds that ‘a proposition would have to have the same meaning for God as for man’ (7:3)… But if a predicate does not mean the same thing to man as it does to God, then, if God’s meaning is the correct one, it follows that man’s meaning is incorrect and he is therefore ignorant of the truth that is in God’s mind.” (The Bible as Truth by Dr. Clark)
There is indeed a difference though, between man’s knowledge and God’s. Man’s knowledge is discursive while God’s is intuitive, therefore they do have different attributes. Propositions are what men think. Though Plato’s Ideas were thought to be neither in this world or in man; the distinction Clark makes is in positing propositions as the true “essences”. This does not exclude the world of Ideas but places them in the mind of God instead of making them external and superior to God; similar but not the same. In this case, the world is a set of propositions and men think propositions and are propositions. Yet we are in God’s mind and have contact with the Ideas.
Logic is part of the image of God. John 1 says that in the beginning was the Logic and the Logic was with God and was God. We men being made in God’s image in knowledge righteousness and holiness are created rational beings. This does not mean that we always use logic. Due to the fall we do not use logic correctly, sometimes. But sometimes we do and we can. Arguments for this:
1. God holds people accountable to the logical inferences of his word in the construction of doctrine. Jesus argues from a logical inference in defense of the resurrection:
Mat 22: 31″But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32’I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
2. God holds people accountable to the logical inferences of his word when the logical inference of their belief is a heresy. Paul condemns those who deny the resurrection of the dead as denying Christ’s resurrection by logical inference:
1 Cor 15: 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
3. Col 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. Though men are fallen they have not lost the image of God which though dim from the fall still shines its light as we see in Rom 2:15. It testifies to lost people’s conscience and bears witness to the truth. It does not always but it does sometimes.
Therefore, in case some object that 1 and 2 are commands and not declarative statements, 3 provides the ability and not just an imperative.
Therefore, our opponents do not even have a leg to stand on. This distinction admits Spinoza’s criticism of Christianity that the concept of the intellect as applied to men and God was equivocal and meaningless. Clark says, “Spinoza in attacking Christianity argued that the term intellect as applied to God and as applied to man was completely equivocal, just as the term dog is applied to a four‑legged animal that barks and to the star in the sky.” (The Bible as Truth)
Second, how does this apply to the Incarnation? If they admit only one mind and say that the knowledge of the human nature of Christ was of a different metaphysical nature as the divine, they must posit a two person theory or deny the human nature of Christ and become Appollinarian. This leads directly to their kenosis theory in the Incarnation. They may not admit it openly but in order for the Second Person to condescend to analogical knowledge, a kenotic theory must be posited.
Suppose I were to say a flajibubblesmiter is like an apple. Does this mean the flajibubblesmiter is red, round and red, neither red nor round but soft? Who is to say? When I speak in an analogy and give you no univocal point of coincidence between the two you know nothing of the flajibubblesmiter and it remains what it always has been, a nothing.
Analogies if they Have no Univocal Point of Coincidence Give no Knowledge
Knowledge is the possession of the truth itself, not an analogy or signpost pointing to truth. Gilbert Weaver (A critic of Clark) says Van Til’s use of analogical knowledge is different than Aquinas’ analogia entis:
“Aquinas¼ taught that no predicate can univocally be applied to God and created beings… When therefore a man thinks that God is good or eternal or almighty, he not only means something different from what God means by good or eternaloralmighty, but, worse (if anything can be worse) he means something different by saying that God is. Since as temporal creatures we cannot know the eternal essence of God, we cannot know what God means when he affirms his own existence. Between God’s meaning of existence and man’s meaning there is not a single point of coincidence.”(Festschrift)
Weaver says, “The word analogical, so far as I can find, is not used by Van Til to apply to terms, but to the process of reasoning it is based squarely upon the doctrine of the creation of man in God’s image.” (, 304-305) For some strange reason Van Til actually thought this is the only way that man can have knowledge of God. Clark says, “if Van Til means nothing else by the term analogical than the dependence of all knowledge on knowledge of God, what is the point of Weaver’s criticisms?” (Festschrift., 463) Van Til’s appeal to analogy merely disguises the skepticism, it does not remove it. Van Til’s system is supposed to preserve the idea that man cannot have knowledge apart from God. We heartily agree. The word “apart” though is ambiguous. Does “apart” mean apart from effectual calling, apart from common grace, apart from a priori structures? Even Clarkians believe that man must have a priori structures to have knowledge of God, even a lost man must have them and does have them. Clark’s take on Van Til was that he was inconsistent and at times said things that were on the right path but then would go back on them. Who knows? Van Til’s writings are so cryptic, it’s difficult to determine what he believed. Who then is more consistent with 1 Cor 14? Clark or Van Til? The answer is to obvious to write.
Do not let me confuse you reader. Analogies are fine as long as the analogy is accompanied by an explanation that reveals the univocal point between the sign and that to be signified. Clark says,
“A paddle for a canoe may be said to be analogical to the paddles of a paddle‑wheel steamer; the canoe paddle may be said to be analogous even to the screw propeller of an ocean liner; but it is so because of a univocal element. These three things–the canoe paddle, the paddle wheel, and the screw propeller–are univocally devices for applying force to move boats through water.” (The Bible as Truth)
I will conclude this discussion with a quote by Dr. Clark that puts the last nail in the coffin,
“if the human mind were limited to analogical truths, it could never know the univocal truth that it was limited to analogies.”(The Bible as Truth)
The Bible Promises us That we Can Know What the Truth is in a Complete and Mature Capacity.
Eph 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life.
1 Cor15:34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame.
1 Cor 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God
Romans 6 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him…knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him…Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…
1Ti 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Col 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Col 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
Col 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Col 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
In Clark’s philosophy he posits a realist view of knowledge. Clark says,
“By realism in this connection, I mean a theory that the human mind possesses some truth–not an analogy of the truth, not a representation of or correspondence to the truth, not a mere hint of the truth, not a meaningless verbalism about a new species of truth, but the truth itself. God has spoken his Word in words, and these words are adequate symbols of the conceptual content. The conceptual content is literally true, and it is the univocal, identical point of coincidence in the knowledge of God and man.”( The Bible as Truth)
When an advocate of analogical or equivocal knowledge argues for his position he will usually quote these verses in some variation of emphasis:
Job 11:7 Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?
Job 36:26 Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable.
Psalm 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Isa 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Rom 11:33-34 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?
1 Cor 2: 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
The telling element of the last verse in 1Cor 2 is that in the next verse Paul says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” Moreover the verses preceding verse 11 assert, 9“but just as it is written, THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 10 “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit;
Notice the epistemology that God presents us with. How does God make these things known to us? Does God reveal it through sensation? No, God reveals it by the Spirit. Not only so but those things that are hidden, through the Spirit we know them. Certainly these verses assert our need for God to reveal knowledge to us if we are to know anything about God. In this, both Van Tilians and Clarkians are in agreement. This does not mean, however, that Christians have no knowledge of God, but that we do not have it all. As Duet 29:29 says “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” Certainly we cannot completely understand God, but the things that God has revealed he has promised us that we can know them and even as Luke said, have perfect understanding!
When someone says that he knows what he means but he just can’t find the words to explain it, he has just demonstrated that he doesn’t know what he means. When someone says that a certain doctrine is inexpressible in human words, either it has not been revealed and he has no business pursuing concealed mysteries, or the doctrine is simply a figment of his imagination. Dr. Clark says, “The Bible nowhere suggests that there are any inexpressible truths.”( The Bible as Truth) If it has been revealed it is expressible. Why would God reveal something to man, that he cannot understand? Why even go to the trouble and then turn around and inspire Paul to say, 1 Cor 14 “Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?…So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken?… seek to abound for the edification of the church.” How am I to be edified by an inexpressible truth? If God’s purposes in redemptive history are wrapped up in the Church, and the Church is not furthered unless it understands what is being taught, an inexpressible truth argues for a different religion. Clark says again, “If there could be a truth inexpressible in logical, grammatical form, the word truth as applied to it would have no more in common with the usual meaning of truth than the Dog Star has in common with Fido.” (The Bible as Truth)
The whole idea of an inexpressible revealed truth is meaningless to begin with. Why reveal something that cannot be understood? This may sound strange to the reader, but what led me to Gordon Clark was reading Samuel Rutherford’s book Free Disputation. It was Rutherford’s Anabaptist opponents that were constantly appealing to the irrationality of the Bible and the impossibility of understanding it when they were arguing for their pluralistic and toleration principles.