What is meant by 'analogical' knowledge? Or, Why a qualitative distinction?

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chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
In light of recent discussions, I thought this might help those unfamiliar with what CVT means by knowing ‘analogically’. This, obviously isn’t a full explanation, but hopefully it will be of some usefulness.

CVT uses the term “analogy” often. It’s one of his most radical contributions. But in some ways the term is unhelpful. It’s unhelpful because he means something very different than what Aquinas or Butler meant by the same term.

So what did CVT mean?

God’s revelation is anthropomorphic. Traditionally, theologians have wanted to emphasize the anthropomorphic character of revelation, specifically when Scripture speaks about God. He has an arm, a nose, eyes, passions, etc. These are anthropomorphism -- revelations given to us that are suited to our understanding. But Van Til wants to extend that idea and say that all of revelation is anthropomorphic; it is all suited to our limited capacities as created people.

WCF 7 (Of God’s Covenant with Man) begins, “The distance between God and the creature is so great that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him... but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.” In order for us to have any blessedness or reward, God had to somehow voluntarily condescend to His creatures. The distance between God and the creature is so great. The difference between who God is and who we are is such that a relationship is not automatic. Rather, God condescends to establish that relationship. God has been pleased to express this condescension by way of covenant. And with that kind condescension comes obligation.

This Creator-creature distinction is crucial and determinative. When Van Til speaks of a dual metaphysic, he is not positing dualism -- two ultimately equal things. There are two things that must be taken into account in terms of our metaphysical understanding. The nature of ultimate reality is dualistic (not dualism) -- Creator and creature. Those have to be postulated and assumed in everything we say. Metaphysics and epistemology having a mutual relationship, we need to apply this to epistemology -- and it is here that Van Til’s teaching becomes so controversial.

The notion of analogical knowledge attempts to argue that there are two kinds of knowledge, just as there are two kinds of existences. The controversy here begins to reach its peak when we try to flesh out exactly what we mean by two kinds of knowledge, when we try to give specific characteristics to two kinds of knowledge.

Knowledge is about truth, so the controversy heats up. The question immediately rises: “Are you affirming a two-truth theory -- in which you can have internal contradiction? Enter the Clark controversy. He was attempting to formulate the difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man. In his attempt, others including John Murray, Ned Stonehouse and Cornelius Van Til, argued that his formulations were dangerous and compromised the incomprehensibility of God. Really, it was a controversy dealing with knowledge and the two different kinds of knowledge -- God’s and the knowledge of creatures.

We need to be aware of the inherent difficulty of talking about the incomprehensibility of God, particularly when we begin discussing what the knowledge of God is like. Scripture does not give us clear teachings on the way God knows. That is because Scripture is suited to what we can understand -- and there is something that we cannot understanding, and that is the mind of God. Vagueness and etheriality surround the very topic. Nevertheless, it is important that we don’t presume at any point that God’s knowledge is like ours. That kind of error looms large in the history of the church; as creatures we are always prone to want to be like God. So we have to be careful.

CVT says, then, that there is at every point a qualitative difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man. The difference is of quality. Gordon Clarke, on the other hand, wanted to maintain that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man were quantitatively different. Frame notes in his discussion of analogy that those terms are not particularly helpful. Particularly, qualitative is not clear. On the other hand, the terms used in this discussion can be made clear, particularly in the context of this discussion, and should not be thrown out completely.

Qualitative and quantitative can be helpful categories. Qualitative distinctions are about the essence of the thing, the qualities without which a thing would not be what it is. So qualitative distinctions speak to at least two things that are essentially different. What is of the essence of a thing in one case is different from the essence of the thing in another case. There is an essential difference between one thing and the other. Clark says simply that God has more knowledge -- it is a quantitative distinction only. God knows the chair in the same way that we do, but He has infinitely more knowledge than we do of the chair. Those who were working against this position said it has to be more than quantitative, because otherwise we have compromised the incomprehensibility of God -- there is a point in our knowledge that meets in the mind of God. And at that point we would have divine knowledge.

Of course, to speak of a quantitative difference is to assume a qualitative difference. One is infinite, the other finite. That is qualitative. So qualitative is coterminus with quantitative, but it says more. Clark wants to say less, Murray & Van Til demand we say more.

CVT: God’s thoughts are creatively constructed; ours are receptively reconstructed. That’s part of what Van Til is saying about the essential difference. The point is our utter dependence in knowledge on God’s knowledge. God’s knowledge is always independent and ours is never at any point and in any way independent.

The typical Romanist view is that our knowledge and God’s knowledge is on a straight line. If we just had more of it we would have the mind of God. But since we affirm the simplicity of God, that God is without body, parts, or passions -- that is, God is not composed of things -- Van Til says that God’s thinking and His being are co-terminus. He thinks what He is and He is what He thinks. God being simple, therefore, any knowledge that god has is essentially who God is. God is not a person upon whom knowledge has been heaped. As if He somehow and sometime picked up knowledge. Rather, God is what He thinks. This is not true of creatures. But if we don’t affirm this we say that there is God over here, and truth over there. Truth is eternal and unchangeable; but it does not have its own independent status. Of course Augustine and most Christian philosophy thought that it did, that truth has an eternal, immutable quality apart from God.

But because of divine simplicity, if there is any one point that is identical in our minds to the mind of God, it is identical at that point with God, and at that point we are God. And because of simplicity, if at that point, then at every point. You cannot separate the knowledge of God from the being of God.

So what we as creatures have is God’s revelatory knowledge. That is a crucial distinction. What we have is what God has revealed. In a creaturely way, anthropomorphically, suited to us as creatures. But what is in His mind we cannot know, because we are essentially different.

This does not lead to skepticism because we have a suitable message given to an appropriate receptor.

Part of the problem comes when we say that the reference point, which is identical, is in the mind rather than in the thing. This is what Clark did and this is why he thought Van Til’s formulation leads to skepticism. But this is not so if the reference point for reality lies in the thing rather than in the mind. God and I have two different kinds of knowledge of a chair, but there is only one chair. The point of reference is in the created thing; and that created thing was in the mind of God eternally, immutably, infinitely. At some point, God created it. This is true even of concepts, which are created by God. The mercy of God is something accommodated to our knowledge, but it is not something that is known by God.

The nature of how we know is dependent. Dependent on God’s condescending revelation. We don’t have an analogy of the truth, but we have real truth, which is essentially analogical. There is still truth, and that is absolute truth -- not just metaphors -- and we have it. But it is analogical. We don’t have truth as God has it. The real truth that we have we receive analogically from God.

God knows everything but He knows as God. He does not know in a creaturely, time-conditioned, anthropomorphic way.

But now in the Incarnation God does know as man? Perhaps, but we must be careful not to use the mystery of the Incarnation to understand the mystery of the mind of God -- that leads down the road to heresy. The reason we have the Incarnation is because knowledge is analogical. God goes to ultimate extremes in revealing to man. It is the quintessential ‘stoop’. The Son of God humiliating Himself to become man.

The issue in this discussion is on the mode of knowledge. God was never ignorant of anything. Including our emotions, our actions, our pain -- all of it is there in eternity, exhaustively, incomprehensibly... and now taking place in history. What we have to say is that God and man know the same truths -- but they know them differently.

We need to avoid two errors: 1) the glorification of our ability to know; and 2) skepticism.

So where does the rubber meet the road in all this?

Classical apologists want us to affirm logic in a way that it has been traditionally affirmed -- an ultimate, eternal, immutable presupposition. But, if we think analogically, we can affirm logic, but only as created. It is limited, and created, and revelatory. It is not identical to the mind of God. Nor is it something that God is subject to or alongside of.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
You can find the term "analogy" in later Reformed writers like Turretin and Thornwell, that seem to be speaking, at the very least, similarly.

I know I was surprised to find it there, after reading blistering critiuqes of CVT's "novelty" by the Robbins/Clark faction.

I think CVT was using the "philosophical terminology" of modern currents (which could also be the modified language of the post-Ref) to express the older and Ref.Orthodoxy understanding of the "archtype/ectype" distinction. The thought of CVT seems to coalesce quite neatly around those older terms.
 

Reformed Thomist

Puritan Board Sophomore
God’s revelation is anthropomorphic. Traditionally, theologians have wanted to emphasize the anthropomorphic character of revelation, specifically when Scripture speaks about God. He has an arm, a nose, eyes, passions, etc. These are anthropomorphism -- revelations given to us that are suited to our understanding.

I wouldn't call theological anthropomorphism 'traditional' at all. From Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas to Calvin, Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, what we find is classical theism. (It was understood by each of these men that when we speak of God being 'angry', God's 'fist', etc., we are speaking analogically and so does Scripture. God, being on a whole other level from human beings, had to, in a sense, 'humor' us in order for us to receive His Word.) Theistic personalism, which does (arguably) emphasize an anthropomorphic portrait of God based on Scriptural concerns -- and does reject 'non-anthropomorphic' tenets of classical theism, such as the doctrines that God does not have passions, is impassible, immutable, etc. -- is a fairly recent movement in Christian theology. (Here God is not understood as other, but rather something like the Greatest Possible Person, on our level but to the maximum degree.) Tellingly, virtually all of its proponents are Arminians.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Clark,

Thanks for writing this. However, there are still a few things either with which I disagree or which I do not understand.

CVT says, then, that there is at every point a qualitative difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man. The difference is of quality. Gordon Clarke, on the other hand, wanted to maintain that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man were quantitatively different. Frame notes in his discussion of analogy that those terms are not particularly helpful. Particularly, qualitative is not clear. On the other hand, the terms used in this discussion can be made clear, particularly in the context of this discussion, and should not be thrown out completely.

Actually, I think the terms are helpful, but only when applied to the right concepts (to prevent a category mistake). Perhaps we can stick with "univocal," "analogical," and "equivocal." Here is something I wrote to a friend in an email to try to add some clarity to this discussion:

In this situation, it's a false dilemma from the outset to say immediately that some people believe that man's knowledge is univocal to God's knowledge and others believe that it is analogical. Analogy always implies some points of correspondence and other points of discorrespondence, and no Clarkians would say that there is no discorrespondence in any sense between man's and God's knowledge -- therefore no Clarkians would affirm that man's and God's knowledge are completely univocal. They understand that man and God know in different ways, that God creates facts while man discovers them, etc. (You probably already know this, but nonetheless it's an important qualification to make to avoid misunderstanding with Clarkians.) In other words, if we can divide up some concept ("knowledge" broadly speaking) into parts and consign some parts to be the same for God and man and some parts to be different, then that concept as a whole can be deemed analogical. "Analogical" as a descriptor can apply only to those concepts which can have some parts be univocal and other parts equivocal. (If all the parts of a concept are univocal, then the concept as a whole is univocal; and if all the parts of a concept are equivocal, then the concept as a whole is equivocal.) Therefore, "analogical" can apply only to concepts made up of parts whereas "univocal" and "equivocal" can apply to irreducible parts of concepts. "Analogical" cannot apply to an irreducible part of a concept.​

The debate is not over whether knowledge as a whole is analogical (for both Van Tillians and Clarkians agree that there is some measure of discorrespondence) -- but whether the referents of knowledge (a particular component of the more broadly encompassing concept called "knowledge") are univocal, analogical, or equivocal. As shown in my quotation above, the referents can be deemed analogical iff they can be subdivided and have some of its parts univocal and other parts equivocal. If the concept of "referent" cannot be subdivided, then it can be univocal or equivocal, but not analogical. To apply "analogical" to an irreducible part would be a category mistake.

Now, I would contend that the referents of knowledge cannot be subdivided (as they are propositional), and that if they were equivocal, then skepticism ensues. Therefore the referents of knowledge only differ with God in a quantitative degree. What is crucially important for the Van Tillian side to acknowledge is that if knowledge is to be declared analogical, then some aspect must be univocal. If not the referent of knowledge, then what?

And at that point [i.e. when we know what God knows] we would have divine knowledge.

It's ambiguous language like this that I think stifles the debate. Just as Clarkians (righteously) revolt against claims that "human logic" cannot resolve some contradictions that "divine logic" can resolve -- does that imply for instance that ~(A . ~A) [the law of contradiction] is not true for God? -- so also statements like "we cannot have divine knowledge" seem kind of dangerous. Could you explain what you mean by this? It seems that to know one of the infinite number of propositions that God knows is not to claim "divine knowledge" but to claim knowledge proper.

Of course, to speak of a quantitative difference is to assume a qualitative difference. One is infinite, the other finite. That is qualitative. So qualitative is coterminus with quantitative, but it says more. Clark wants to say less, Murray & Van Til demand we say more.

I'm not sure what this means. Is this similar to what I said in the other thread regarding how God can have a deeper knowledge that is qualitative in a sense but at root just quantitatively "thicker"?

But since we affirm the simplicity of God, that God is without body, parts, or passions -- that is, God is not composed of things -- Van Til says that God’s thinking and His being are co-terminus. He thinks what He is and He is what He thinks.

I don't quite follow this. Can you explain how God's simplicity implies coterminous being and thinking? Or, alternatively, can you point me to where Van Til says that? (On second though it might be better if anyone but Van Til explained that. ;))

God being simple, therefore, any knowledge that god has is essentially who God is. God is not a person upon whom knowledge has been heaped. As if He somehow and sometime picked up knowledge. Rather, God is what He thinks. This is not true of creatures. But if we don’t affirm this we say that there is God over here, and truth over there. Truth is eternal and unchangeable; but it does not have its own independent status. But because of divine simplicity, if there is any one point that is identical in our minds to the mind of God, it is identical at that point with God, and at that point we are God. And because of simplicity, if at that point, then at every point. You cannot separate the knowledge of God from the being of God.

So, the argument here is essentially twofold (I think so; correct me if I'm wrong):

[1] God's knowledge is God's being; therefore to possess God's knowledge is to possess God's being.
[2] If we possess any amount of God's being, then due to His simplicity, we must claim full divinity.

[2] seems superfluous in my opinion if [1] is sound. If it can be established that Clark's view of knowledge entails that man is partially divine, then it's already heretical. Establishing that it also entails man's fully divinity is just unnecessary.

Therefore, sticking with [1], a few things can be said, mostly regarding the concept/part distinction from above. When man claims to have the same referents of knowledge as God (a part of the whole concept), it doesn't follow that he claims to have the same knowledge of God as an entire concept. As a result, the antecedent if [1] would be denied due to the fallacy of equivocation, and Clark's view would not result in heresy at all.

So what we as creatures have is God’s revelatory knowledge. That is a crucial distinction. What we have is what God has revealed. In a creaturely way, anthropomorphically, suited to us as creatures. But what is in His mind we cannot know, because we are essentially different.

This does not lead to skepticism because we have a suitable message given to an appropriate receptor.

I would actually agree with this, but I think it needs to be qualified. What does "revelatory knowledge" consist of? If it's analogical, which aspects of it are univocal and which are equivocal? I would, again, contend that the referents (the propositions) must be univocally related.

To put it another way, if you want to say that "what is in His mind we cannot know," and if you also say that truth is only in His mind, then you must conclude with skepticism. If you do not want to conclude with that, then you must explain how truth (not an analogy of truth) can be revealed without harming the Creator-creature distinction.

Part of the problem comes when we say that the reference point, which is identical, is in the mind rather than in the thing. This is what Clark did and this is why he thought Van Til’s formulation leads to skepticism. But this is not so if the reference point for reality lies in the thing rather than in the mind. God and I have two different kinds of knowledge of a chair, but there is only one chair. The point of reference is in the created thing; and that created thing was in the mind of God eternally, immutably, infinitely. At some point, God created it. This is true even of concepts, which are created by God. The mercy of God is something accommodated to our knowledge, but it is not something that is known by God.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Bahnsen in Van Til's Apologetic speaks of the "point of reference" as the same for man and for God, because both look towards the mind of God for reference. In this context he used it, he was meaning as an ultimate standard; e.g. God is the standard of truth for both man and God. You're clearly not using "point of reference" in the same sense as Bahnsen, but I thought I would point it out to avoid any readers' future confusion. Second, it appears here that you agree with me that the referent of knowledge is univocal for God and for man. At this point I would ask, Does this imply that some aspect of man's knowledge is only quantitatively different from God's? As I said before, if the concept of knowledge in toto is analogical, then some irreducible parts of it must be univocal, and some equivocal. If you declare that the referent of knowledge (an aspect of the whole concept of knowledge) is univocal, then that aspect can be compared quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Would you agree with that?

Classical apologists want us to affirm logic in a way that it has been traditionally affirmed -- an ultimate, eternal, immutable presupposition. But, if we think analogically, we can affirm logic, but only as created. It is limited, and created, and revelatory. It is not identical to the mind of God. Nor is it something that God is subject to or alongside of.

Would you not agree that logic is the system by which God's mind was (is) unified before He even created anything? Bahnsen always used to argue presuppositionally that atheistic worldviews contradicted belief in the laws of logic, and he defended Christianity by saying that logic "reflects the mind of God." It would therefore be uncreated.

This, however, does not mean that logic is "identical to the mind of God," much less that logic is God (as Clark claimed)! I think you may have posited a false disjunction.

Blessings,
Ben
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Classical apologists want us to affirm logic in a way that it has been traditionally affirmed -- an ultimate, eternal, immutable presupposition. But, if we think analogically, we can affirm logic, but only as created. It is limited, and created, and revelatory. It is not identical to the mind of God. Nor is it something that God is subject to or alongside of.

This is the part of the discussion that I, in particular, wanted to address. I think you are drawing a false dichotomy here between theonomy and autonomy when it comes to things like the laws of logic, morality, mathematics, etc.

It is inaccurate, on the one hand, to say that these concepts exist apart from God. This would be to deny His sovereignty. On the other hand, it would surely be inaccurate (and heretical) to say that these things are not necessarily true and have simply been created by God. This would not describe the God of the Bible, but Allah, who is arbitrary and pure will.

Rather, I maintain that the laws of morality, logic, mathematics, etc are necessarily existence because they are part and parcel of the Divine nature. It is an understatement to say that God is logical and an overstatement to say that logic is God, but we could say that God is logic--though this could also be subject to misinterpretation, as God is not mere logic (after all, He is also love-which is non-logical [not illogical]).

This also has implications for human knowledge and the imago Dei because it means that to know the laws of logic is to know God. To know goodness is to know God. What the fall has done is to cause us, as humans, to separate these things from God, and yet it gives us real common ground with the unbeliever.

A Cartesian rationalist, for example, knows God--he just doesn't know that he knows God. He knows the laws of logic and how to use them, but doesn't recognize the source--God's nature. This is the result of the fall. To know anything is to know part of God's nature--thus, all truth will point back to God.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Philip,

That has nothing to do with theonomy and autonomy as we spoke of in the other thread. You'll notice that I opposed the view of logic as "below" God as well.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
CVT says, then, that there is at every point a qualitative difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man.

CVT failed to distinguish between the propositional and personal aspects of truth. If there were a qualitative difference in the propositional content of truth then how would CVT know if God were incomprehensible, how would he know there is a Creator-creature distinction, how could he argue from the imperfection of the creature to the perfection of the Creator in order to arrive at the concepts of infinitude and eternity?

For truth to be true it must be without error and according to fact, and that quality of truth applies whether God or man is the subject who knows. The fact is that God does not think in terms of propositions. The conceptual form of truth is a part of its accommodated nature. But it is God who has conceptualised the truth by means of the Logos. Hence that conceptualised or created form of truth must be the same for God and man. Otherwise we could not say that God does not and cannot lie in the human sphere of communication.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Rev. Winzer,

I recently read your discussions on the personal as well as propositional aspect of truth with R. Anthony Coletti (Civbert) and Sean Gerety (Magma2) from early 2007. I appreciated the distinction you made (because faith is more than belief in a proposition) as well as the quotations you gave of our Reformed forebears who spoke of that blissful knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit that could not be rationally demonstrated.

Unfortunately, both of those men dismissed what you said as mystical nonsense, with which I vehemently disagreed. However, it seems that you were "kicked out" of the discussion rather early by their unwillingness to consider your distinction, and I was unable to comprehend the point you were trying to make.

Conjoining what you said in that thread with what you just recently said, I can understand two things, but I'm not sure how they are related:

[1] The Christian life is more than rigorous intellectualism. It also involves emotional, heartfelt spirituality. When we know truths about Christ, they are not propositions we know, but truths about a person, our Redeemer.
[2] God conceives of truth in a non-propositional way, but He can also understand it in terms of propositions, and that is the way humans understand truth. Both God and man can understand truth propositionally, but God also supersedes such an understanding.

If I understand [2] correctly, I love it. It seems a perfect solution to the problem. It coheres with what I said above regarding the application of "analogical," "univocal," and "equivocal," and yet it retains an analogical nature for objects of knowledge, because a distinction is made.

This also does justice to Clark's point that God's simplicity demands His unified knowledge. This is extremely pleasing to me.

-----

However, I do have one question. How does the distinction made in [2] relate to the fact that Christianity is spiritual and personal as in [1]?
 
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CDM

Puritan Board Junior
[1] The Christian life is more than rigorous intellectualism. It also involves emotional, heartfelt spirituality. When we know truths about Christ, they are not propositions we know, but truths about a person, our Redeemer.

...

I'm interested in hearing this idea fleshed out a bit. About the "emotional," and "heartfelt" (synonyms?)--are these not emotions that spring from the intellect? These emotions are a consequence of one's mind contemplating certain propositions are they not? In other words, you would not be experiencing your emotions about Christ if you did not know the revealed truth about Christ. Or, are you and others saying, that it is possible that one COULD experience these emotions about Christ without understanding (i.e., knowing) the truth about Christ revealed in his Word?

What is the difference between the "truths about Christ" (propositions) and "truths about a person"?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
How does the distinction made in [2] relate to the fact that Christianity is spiritual and personal as in [1]?

Ben, is the question asking what is the relationship of the personal to the propositional for God? or, how does our knowledge relate to God's knowledge transcending ours?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
In other words, you would not be experiencing your emotions about Christ if you did not know the revealed truth about Christ.

True, but the experience of Christ is more than knowing Christ propositionally. As Luther said, the heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns. It is not only what Christ is but what He is to the believer that makes Christianity what it is. John 17:23, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." It is not enough to know what Christ is; one must be able to say, He is mine; or, in the words of the apostle, I know WHOM I have believed.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Ben, is the question asking what is the relationship of the personal to the propositional for God? or, how does our knowledge relate to God's knowledge transcending ours?

Well, in your post (and in the other thread from 2007), you seemed to argue that what was missing from the debate was understanding truth as both propositional and personal. You then went on to essentially solve the struggle of analogical knowledge by positing that God understands truth both propositionally and non-propositionally (i.e. in a way that exceeds our understanding).

I was wondering if these concepts were related, as you seemed to espouse them in juxtaposition.
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
I apologize for the delay. I just got home from taking some kids rafting. I'm a little too water-logged and beat to respond now. Also, Ben, your initial response was quite long. I'll need to read it and let it stew a bit to make sure I don't misunderstand you. So ... all that to say, I do plan to respond. But I need a little time. Thanks for your patience.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Clark,

For the record, I think Rev. Winzer supplied the information to perfectly reconcile your position and mine. And of course, he did it very succinctly, as always. :D
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Confessor said:
That has nothing to do with theonomy and autonomy as we spoke of in the other thread. You'll notice that I opposed the view of logic as "below" God as well.

I actually agreed with your response--I was just trying to clarify what I, as a classical apologist, mean when I say that the laws of logic, morality, etc are immutable and necessarily true.

I think it does have to do with theonomy and autonomy (in fact, those were the terms used when I was introduced to the concept) because this is at the core of what we think on that level.

Amen, Rev. Winzer.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I think it does have to do with theonomy and autonomy (in fact, those were the terms used when I was introduced to the concept) because this is at the core of what we think on that level.

Are you implying that I am obliged by my view on theonomy (i.e. that God has the prerogative to interpret the universe) to accept that logic is purely created by God?
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Confessor said:
Are you implying that I am obliged by my view on theonomy (i.e. that God has the prerogative to interpret the universe) to accept that logic is purely created by God?

That's the position (particularly on morality, not specifically on logic) that was introduced to me under the title of theonomy (distinguished from the political position).
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Confessor said:
Are you implying that I am obliged by my view on theonomy (i.e. that God has the prerogative to interpret the universe) to accept that logic is purely created by God?

That's the position (particularly on morality, not specifically on logic) that was introduced to me under the title of theonomy (distinguished from the political position).

Saying that only God can objectively say what is moral does not mean that God is "above" morality. That only the divine lawgiver can give true moral absolutes dos not mean that He causes the moral absolutes.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Confessor said:
That only the divine lawgiver can give true moral absolutes dos not mean that He causes the moral absolutes.

I would say you're still making a distinction between the lawgiver and the law. God is not a mere moral being or a mere maker of morals--God is morality Himself. God is not merely just, He is justice Himself. The term "theonomy" has connotations of God somehow arbitrarily coming up with law, when in reality, the law is part and parcel of God Himself.

In terms of truth, this means that all truth is a revelation because all truth is God revealing Himself to man.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Confessor said:
That only the divine lawgiver can give true moral absolutes dos not mean that He causes the moral absolutes.

I would say you're still making a distinction between the lawgiver and the law. God is not a mere moral being or a mere maker of morals--God is morality Himself. God is not merely just, He is justice Himself. The term "theonomy" has connotations of God somehow arbitrarily coming up with law, when in reality, the law is part and parcel of God Himself.

In terms of truth, this means that all truth is a revelation because all truth is God revealing Himself to man.

It is not a problem to distinguish between the law and the lawgiver. I would not say the imperative, "Thou shalt not steal," is itself God. Rather, it is a problem to disconnect the two in such a way that the law is based purely on God's will rather than on His nature (i.e., as if His will can act contrarily to His nature).

However, even with all this considered, I don't understand how this has any implications on "theonomy" in the presuppositional sense. If the word gives you a sense of Islamic fiat, then I would ask you to think of it in a different sense. :)
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
I'm still working on a response to you and Matthew, Ben. But I thought the back and forth with Philip relevant to the larger conversation. It is absolutely essential that we distinguish between God and the law. Now, of course, the law is reflective of God. It is an expression of his character. But it is created. By creating the law, and by creating logic, God accommodated his character and thought to the mind of man.

God is not subject to logic. Logic reflects his thinking. So God is certainly rational. But he is the source of rationality, and cannot be judged rational. Who would do the judging? If we say logic, then we posit an equal ultimacy of logic and God. An equal ultimacy is an impossibility. There can be but one ultimate. Now when I say that logic reflects his thinking, I do not mean that God's thought is discursive or propositional. It is not even made up of a handful of axioms from which everything else can be derived. The entirety of God's mind is itself the one grand axiom.

REMEMBER, when we talk about logic. We're talking about that which we can understand. It is an accommodation. And it is a tool. Surely, we must not say that the law of non-contradiction is 'part' of God (denial of simplicity), or 'is' God (pantheism?). And surely wouldn't our use of logic as a tool of thought threaten incomprehensibility if we thought of logic and God as equivalent terms?
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
In other words, you would not be experiencing your emotions about Christ if you did not know the revealed truth about Christ.

True, but the experience of Christ is more than knowing Christ propositionally. As Luther said, the heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns. It is not only what Christ is but what He is to the believer that makes Christianity what it is. John 17:23, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." It is not enough to know what Christ is; one must be able to say, He is mine; or, in the words of the apostle, I know WHOM I have believed.

Thank you, sir.

When you say knowledge is (1) "not only what Christ is” and (2) “…what He is to the believer" it prompts me to ask "Isn't the knowledge of Christ propositional and also the knowledge of my relationship to Christ propositional?" I still fail to see the difference between the two other than the accompanying emotional distinctions.

A part of me thinks I understand you--it appears you are saying the knowledge of Christ (your first clause) as mere understanding (unbelievers can have this), and the knowledge of Christ in relation to you (your second clause) is understanding plus assent to that understanding (this is the believer's experience). But, is not the latter merely describing saving faith as opposed to simply faith?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Clark,

If by "creating logic," you mean that God transferred His non-propositional understanding of His own thought into propositional form (so humans could understand it), then I agree with you.
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
Clark,

If by "creating logic," you mean that God transferred His non-propositional understanding of His own thought into propositional form (so humans could understand it), then I agree with you.

Then why would you not understand his knowledge as qualitatively different than ours?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Clark,

If by "creating logic," you mean that God transferred His non-propositional understanding of His own thought into propositional form (so humans could understand it), then I agree with you.

Then why would you not understand his knowledge as qualitatively different than ours?

That is why I said this:

Clark,

For the record, I think Rev. Winzer supplied the information to perfectly reconcile your position and mine. And of course, he did it very succinctly, as always. :D
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
I'm still working on a response to you and Matthew, Ben. But I thought the back and forth with Philip relevant to the larger conversation. It is absolutely essential that we distinguish between God and the law. Now, of course, the law is reflective of God. It is an expression of his character. But it is created. By creating the law, and by creating logic, God accommodated his character and thought to the mind of man.

God is not subject to logic. Logic reflects his thinking. So God is certainly rational. But he is the source of rationality, and cannot be judged rational. Who would do the judging? If we say logic, then we posit an equal ultimacy of logic and God. An equal ultimacy is an impossibility. There can be but one ultimate.

Without agreeing or disagreeing with you brother (I would first have to understand exactly what you mean), I find some of this language very confusing. I admit the problem may be ignorance on my part.

Specifically, how is it God "created logic"? To my mind, that's like saying God created rationality or reason. The laws of logic find their source in the mind of God--they are not separate from him. I do not understand how it can be said that God is not bound by the laws of logic. Of course he is **bound** by the laws of logic (as they are within the mind of God), otherwise this is to call God illogical at least in some sense. Yes, there is only one ultimate, and this Ultimate’s mind operates in accordance with the laws of logic (which, again, proceed from the mind of God).

How did God "create" the Law if it reflects his character? Wouldn't be sufficient to say the Law is an expression of his character? If this be so, then the Law was not created but eternally existed in God. Now, the giving of this Law to Moses was "created" in the sense that it wasn't revealed to Man before its publication on Mt. Sinai. I do not know what you mean that the Law was “created”.


Blessings,
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
Okay, I think I'm seeing where all the confusion is. Notice Rev. Winzer's penultimate sentence.
Hence that conceptualised or created form of truth must be the same for God and man.

Fine. But that's no different than saying we both know the same chair. Knowing the same chair does not indicate that we know it the same way. I know it dependently. He knows it independently. I know it in a creaturely way. He knows it as Creator. It has ultimate coherence and correspondence only in the mind of God. I can only find coherence and correspondence in relation to that mind of God.

I noted above that we make the mistake when we place the conjunction in the subject, and not in the object. We know the same thing. But we know them differently. We stand in an entirely different relation to them.

By the way, I'm not sure I understand the comment about CVT failing to distinguish between propositional and personal aspects. Surely we don't know either one independently. No creaturely knowledge is independent. We cannot have an independent epistemology because we don't have an independent metaphysics. Our knowledge of propositions and our knowledge of persons are equally receptive.

CVT says, then, that there is at every point a qualitative difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man.

CVT failed to distinguish between the propositional and personal aspects of truth. If there were a qualitative difference in the propositional content of truth then how would CVT know if God were incomprehensible, how would he know there is a Creator-creature distinction, how could he argue from the imperfection of the creature to the perfection of the Creator in order to arrive at the concepts of infinitude and eternity?

For truth to be true it must be without error and according to fact, and that quality of truth applies whether God or man is the subject who knows. The fact is that God does not think in terms of propositions. The conceptual form of truth is a part of its accommodated nature. But it is God who has conceptualised the truth by means of the Logos. Hence that conceptualised or created form of truth must be the same for God and man. Otherwise we could not say that God does not and cannot lie in the human sphere of communication.

Ben,
Rather than going tit for tat as is so common on the PB, I’m going to just respond and hope I cover your objections. If I don’t, then you can follow up. But we’ve both expressed frustration with the ‘quote-a-little and give a shallow response; quote-a-little more and do the same’ approach.

In your letter to your friend, you acknowledge that man and God know in different ways. But that is precisely what I want to maintain. I am not maintaining that the object of our knowing is different. But as God is the Creator and ultimate interpreter of any fact, as any fact is only truly known when it is known in its relations to every other fact, our knowledge is true only as it has correspondence with God’s knowledge. But that correspondence is correspondence to what has been revealed of God’s knowledge. We see a dog. I’m not maintaining that God and I don’t know the same dog. That would indeed lead to skepticism. I’m maintaining that to know a dog at all, I must place that dog within a larger category of dogs, and then into a larger category of mammals, and then to the animal kingdom, etc. until it ultimately stands in relation to all things. That only God can do. So I can never have ultimate knowledge of a dog or dog-ness. And yet I have true knowledge. That is because I have knowledge of these categories, not as they exist in the unified, non-propositional mind and will of God, but as they are accommodated to my finite mind. CVT puts this much more succinctly:
CVT said:
The whole meaning of any fact is exhausted by its position in and relation to the plan of God. This implies that every fact is related to every other fact. God’s plan is a unit.”

So, as you can see, I think the problem is that you are seeking a nexus of thought in the referent. But I’m maintaining that all referents have their ultimate meaning and interpretation in the mind of God, and that we have only an accommodated revelation of God’s mind -- though it is a true revelation. Therefore, there is necessarily a qualitative distinction between God’s knowledge and ours. We cannot have univocal knowledge at even one point or part. The object (referent) is identical. But our knowledge of the object is different.

What is crucially important for the Van Tillian side to acknowledge is that if knowledge is to be declared analogical, then some aspect must be univocal. If not the referent of knowledge, then what?

The referent is not uniVOCAL, since our ability to place the referent in relation to all other referents is not coterminus, nor on a continuum with God’s ability to do so. Ultimate coherence is found exclusively in the mind of God. There is correspondence between our knowledge of an object and God’s knowledge of an object, but it is a revealed correspondence.

I am not maintaining that our knowledge of a dog is not true knowledge of a dog. Actually, I’m claiming that only the Christian theist can have true knowledge of a dog. And that is simply because only the Christian theist can place the dog in relation to other facts. But even this is done dependently. At no point do we have all facts unified in our own mind. Rather, we have true creaturely knowledge, which puts all facts in relation to their ultimate cause and unifier -- God. We never have Divine knowledge, wherein all facts cohere. We have creaturely knowledge that recognizes their ultimate coherence only in the incomprehensible mind of God. Nevertheless our knowledge corresponds to the knowledge of God via revelation. So, when you and others argue that ~(A.~A) is true for God, I say that it is only true for us because God accommodated what is ultimately true to a form suitable to us. I will not say that the law of contradiction is something that is out there ... something to which God must submit. And I will not say that our construction of the law of non-contradiction is univocal with that to which it corresponds.

I hope this brings some clarity to my maintaining that the finite is not on a continuum with the infinite. That mistake only highlights the distinction. We can only approach the infinite on tip toe, straining as it were to grasp the notion. Our finite minds cannot actually comprehend it. We only approximate it through extension of the finite. But the infinite is not really extension of the finite. THAT is a category mistake.

On the simplicity and cotermination in divine epistemology and metaphysics, I’m not sure what you want explained further. Again, our finite minds struggle to grasp it. But to divide between the being and thinking of God is to make God contingent and therefore finite. I’ll look for where Van Til or someone else says that. But you’ll have to give me time. There aren’t a lot of full treatments of simplicity that I’m aware of.

So, the argument here is essentially twofold (I think so; correct me if I'm wrong):

[1] God's knowledge is God's being; therefore to possess God's knowledge is to possess God's being.
[2] If we possess any amount of God's being, then due to His simplicity, we must claim full divinity.

[2] seems superfluous in my opinion if [1] is sound. If it can be established that Clark's view of knowledge entails that man is partially divine, then it's already heretical. Establishing that it also entails man's fully divinity is just unnecessary.

You were correct that [2] is superfluous if [1] is sound. But since I believe [1] is sound, and yet people do not grasp [2], it must be made explicit.

Therefore, sticking with [1], a few things can be said, mostly regarding the concept/part distinction from above. When man claims to have the same referents of knowledge as God (a part of the whole concept), it doesn't follow that he claims to have the same knowledge of God as an entire concept. As a result, the antecedent if [1] would be denied due to the fallacy of equivocation, and Clark's view would not result in heresy at all.

I hope I’ve dispatched this objection above. The issue isn’t in the referents. It’s in the knowledge of the referents. We aren’t saying that we know different things. Or that I see a chair and God sees something else. We are saying that I know the chair only by placing it in its proper relations. The absolute furthest I can go is to place it in its relation to the creator -- that is the extent of creaturely coherence. But God knows the chair in its ultimate coherence. I know the same chair as a dependent being. I know the chair as a receptor of revelation. I have a true, but accommodated correspondence of this chair and chair-ness. My knowledge is only true as it does, in fact, so correspond. But for ultimate meaning and knowledge, correspondence has to have its own categorical referent. As every fact is related, for any one fact to be known ultimately, every fact must be known. And that is only found in God (ultimate coherence). So, insofar as my knowledge corresponds with the ultimate coherence in the mind of God, it is true. But as I cannot attain infinite knowledge, I never have ultimate coherence in myself. If I did, I would be omniscient. I would be God.

I think that in my initial post I anticipated your objection when I wrote:
Part of the problem comes when we say that the reference point, which is identical, is in the mind rather than in the thing. This is what Clark did and this is why he thought Van Til’s formulation leads to skepticism. But this is not so if the reference point for reality lies in the thing rather than in the mind. God and I have two different kinds of knowledge of a chair, but there is only one chair. The point of reference is in the created thing; and that created thing was in the mind of God eternally, immutably, infinitely. At some point, God created it. This is true even of concepts, which are created by God. The mercy of God is something accommodated to our knowledge, but it is not something that is known by God.

But you followed with
Does this imply that some aspect of man's knowledge is only quantitatively different from God's?

There are no ‘irreducible parts of it’ in the mind of God. God knows it in its totality and in its full coherence. Once you link the terms uni- or equi- VOCAL with such ‘parts’ you are talking about their meaning, not their existence. But there is no uninterpreted element or ‘part’ that we can know with God. Once we get ‘irreducible’ we are in the mind of God itself, and there we cannot go. Can you give me an example of what you mean by an irreducible part?

Would you not agree that logic is the system by which God's mind was (is) unified before He even created anything? Bahnsen always used to argue presuppositionally that atheistic worldviews contradicted belief in the laws of logic, and he defended Christianity by saying that logic "reflects the mind of God." It would therefore be uncreated.

No. And the reason I would not agree is that I do not think ‘logic’ is univocal with God’s mind. I think that there is an analogy between human logic and God’s mind, but not identity. Our reasoning is reflective of God’s mind. Just as he created our minds, he created our ability to reason and the axioms by which we reason.

To say that God conceives of things non-propositionally as well as propositionally does not solve the problem. All of our propositions are dependent and find ultimate meaning in God. God is not dependent, and cannot know himself as if he were. I guess we could say, given what is said above, that ultimate knowledge is non-propositional (since it has ultimate coherence). So, to say that God adds propositional knowledge to non-propositional is to say that a) he limits himself, and b) ultimate knowledge can be added to. That’s why, elsewhere I said that this is akin to “Can God make a rock too big for him to budge?” It is irrational.

-----Added 6/18/2009 at 11:41:16 EST-----

Does this help CDM? ...

Creation is revelatory.
The revelation of the law is the revelation of God's requirements of his creatures to conform with his character.
But, since his character cannot be understood as it is (infinite), it was accommodated to the finite mind.
Because no accommodation is necessary apart from creation (the trinity has total self-understanding), the accommodation is a part of creation itself.

Does that help?

All I'm trying to maintain is that we cannot place law or logic or anything else as some abstract notion to which God must submit. I'm maintaining that to do so leads to dualism. He does not submit to logic because he must. Logic is what it is because he is who he is. And our logic is only a dim reflection -- a true reflection, but an accommodated one -- of his being/character/thinking.

I'm still working on a response to you and Matthew, Ben. But I thought the back and forth with Philip relevant to the larger conversation. It is absolutely essential that we distinguish between God and the law. Now, of course, the law is reflective of God. It is an expression of his character. But it is created. By creating the law, and by creating logic, God accommodated his character and thought to the mind of man.

God is not subject to logic. Logic reflects his thinking. So God is certainly rational. But he is the source of rationality, and cannot be judged rational. Who would do the judging? If we say logic, then we posit an equal ultimacy of logic and God. An equal ultimacy is an impossibility. There can be but one ultimate.

Without agreeing or disagreeing with you brother (I would first have to understand exactly what you mean), I find some of this language very confusing. I admit the problem may be ignorance on my part.

Specifically, how is it God "created logic"? To my mind, that's like saying God created rationality or reason. The laws of logic find their source in the mind of God--they are not separate from him. I do not understand how it can be said that God is not bound by the laws of logic. Of course he is **bound** by the laws of logic (as they are within the mind of God), otherwise this is to call God illogical at least in some sense. Yes, there is only one ultimate, and this Ultimate’s mind operates in accordance with the laws of logic (which, again, proceed from the mind of God).

How did God "create" the Law if it reflects his character? Wouldn't be sufficient to say the Law is an expression of his character? If this be so, then the Law was not created but eternally existed in God. Now, the giving of this Law to Moses was "created" in the sense that it wasn't revealed to Man before its publication on Mt. Sinai. I do not know what you mean that the Law was “created”.


Blessings,
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Honestly, Clark, I'm pretty sure we're agreed on most things, except for perhaps a few things I don't understand regarding God's thinking as His being. But I am pretty sure that we agree on whatever I do understand. First, I want to make my point about "univocal," "analogical," and "equivocal" clear. To do so, I'll replace them with the concepts of black, white, and gray.

Say you have only black and white paint, and the smallest (irreducible) units that they come in are buckets. If you pour several black buckets into one larger container, then that entire container will be black. If you pour several white buckets into one larger container, then that entire container will be white. However, if you pour any combination of black and white into a larger container, the container will have some degree of grayness to it.

Likewise, if you have component parts of some concept, and you can declare all parts to be equivocal (i.e. applying differently to God and man), then the concept as a whole is equivocal; and if all the parts are univocal, then the concept as a whole is univocal. Most importantly, if you have some component parts be univocal and others equivocal, then you end up with a whole concept that is analogical. And just as the buckets were either white or black but not gray, so also the irreducible parts of a concept must be either univocal or equivocal but not analogical. "Analogical" can apply to concepts made up of parts, not to parts themselves.

Then what I did was this: if we divide up the whole concept of knowledge into different parts, such as the referent, the knower, (in)dependence, the ultimate standard of knowledge, the means of knowing facts (discursive or inferential), etc.; then we can label some parts as the same for God and man (univocal), and some parts as different (equivocal). If all parts are equivocal, then knowledge as a whole in equivocal and skepticism ensues. Therefore we must ensure that some part is univocal, yet we must protect the Creator-creature distinction.

After this, since I thought the referent of knowledge was an irreducible part (a proposition), then I deduced that that must be the same for God and man -- univocal -- and therefore the difference could be purely quantitative.

However, when Rev. Winzer made the distinction between referent qua proposition and qua non-proposition, he broke down the part of knowledge that I thought was irreducible and therefore made the referent analogical. Man and God still know the same referent qua proposition, but man can never know it non-propositionally and therefore man can never gain truly divine knowledge. And that is why the dispute seems settled.

But that's no different than saying we both know the same chair. Knowing the same chair does not indicate that we know it the same way. I know it dependently. He knows it independently. I know it in a creaturely way. He knows it as Creator.

We never disagreed on this. The disagreement was whether the referent of knowledge was the same for both God and man, and then, if it was the same, it would follow that the distinction between man's and God's referents of knowledge is only quantitative. That is, both understand the referent of knowledge as a proposition and the only difference is that God has infinitely more propositions so that He can view one proposition in the context of all of them. (That was my previous argument, prior to being corrected by Rev. Winzer.) Do you see how Rev. Winzer's distinction in the referent of knowledge solves this?

On the simplicity and cotermination in divine epistemology and metaphysics, I’m not sure what you want explained further. [...] But to divide between the being and thinking of God is to make God contingent and therefore finite.

Okay, I understand what you're saying. We're good on this front.

To say that God conceives of things non-propositionally as well as propositionally does not solve the problem. All of our propositions are dependent and find ultimate meaning in God. God is not dependent, and cannot know himself as if he were. I guess we could say, given what is said above, that ultimate knowledge is non-propositional (since it has ultimate coherence). So, to say that God adds propositional knowledge to non-propositional is to say that a) he limits himself, and b) ultimate knowledge can be added to. That’s why, elsewhere I said that this is akin to “Can God make a rock too big for him to budge?” It is irrational.

Well, God would have to know how to conceive of things propositionally in order to give us an intelligible revelation. I'm not saying He is forced to think propositionally, but nonetheless it must be true that He is capable of delivering an intelligible revelation to us that is comprised of propositions, and this would entail some knowledge of how to do that.

Also, I'm not saying that God creates new knowledge, just a different mode of knowledge.
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
However, when Rev. Winzer made the distinction between referent qua proposition and qua non-proposition, he broke down the part of knowledge that I thought was irreducible and therefore made the referent analogical. Man and God still know the same referent qua proposition, but man can never know it non-propositionally and therefore man can never gain truly divine knowledge. And that is why the dispute seems settled.

Okay. I didn't understand this to be his point. I'm not the brightest bulb sometimes. But that would seem to settle our dispute, so long as the qua proposition of God's knowledge is not identical to the qua proposition of ours.

I'm not saying that God doesn't understand the accommodated form of the revelation he gives. That would be silly. But, in the divine mind, even this accommodated form is understood in all its ultimate relations. We have a finite understanding of it.

I'm not trying to be obstinate. I just want to maintain the Creator/creature distinction and the simplicity and aseity of God. I'm just afraid you are sneaking in a dismissal of the qualitative with the "qua proposition". I agree that the solution to our disagreement works, so long as we recognize that in our apprehension of the referent, there is a qualitative distinction -- even at the propositional level. God is accommodator. We are recipients of the propositional accommodation.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I agree that the solution to our disagreement works, so long as we recognize that in our apprehension of the referent, there is a qualitative distinction -- even at the propositional level. God is accommodator. We are recipients of the propositional accommodation.

Yeah, absolutely. I would never dispute that.

The point I was trying to make before is that if the referent is identical for God and for man (not the means of apprehending the referent), then the difference could be only quantitative -- because if it were qualitative then the referents could not be identical.

So, I guess our misunderstanding might have been that I was stressing just the referent, while you were stressing the apprehension of the referent.
 
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