Will the real Aquinas please stand up?

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Puritan Board Freshman
I am looking to learn more about Aquinas and his view of language about God, particularly regarding univocal, analogical, and equivocal langauge.

Interpretations of Aquinas and where he fits in classical theology/apologetics/philosophy are what I am aiming for in the thread.

I was introduced to Aquinas through reading Sproul. Sproul (classical apologetics) includes Aquinas as orthodox on this issue. That is, he upholds the creator/creature distinction in theological language/knowledge through using analogical langauge.

(The sources of my education on this issue to this point in time are: Sproul's The Consequences of Ideas, Defending the Faith, Classical Apologetics[book and video series], Gordon Clark's various books, Robert Reymond's systematic, Ron Nash'sLife's Ultimate Questions, some of Frame's writings,and posts on the PB.)

Clarkians tend to regard Aquinas as a pure empiricist, and therefore Aquinas was actually guilty of using equivocal language, and was therefore irrational.

VanTillians (I think?) tend to regard Aquinas as a Neo-platonist? That is, he was actually guilty of univocal language and was therefore a pure rationalist.

My liberal professors in college taught that Aqiuinas was neither an empiricist, nor a strong rationalist, but rather a weak rationalist.

Francis Schaeffer states that Aquinas separated faith and reason (grace and nature), while Sproul says this is false and that all Aquinas was doing was distinguishing them, considering that the context he was trying to deal with was the Muslim Averroes's teaching that Aristotle allowed for the two spheres to have contradictory truths. Aquinas's doctrine of analogy was his solution to the problem.

I have been told by a Clarkian that Aquinas view and VanTils view were entirely different regarding analogy. Sproul says the same in his classical apologetics book. When I read Van Tillians on the PB describe the doctrine of analogy, it seems to be the same as Aquinas's, and makes me wonder if they have more in common than is realized.

I have a section of Aquinas's Summa where he discusses analogy, but his scholastic style is hard for me to grasp what he is saying considering there is so much misunderstanding and differing interpretations of him.

Did Aquinas deny the ectypal/archetypal distinction? If so, was he a rationalist/neo-platonist, or was he an empiricist?

How is his view of analogy different from VanTil's exactly?

Barth denied Aquinas view of the anologia entis (analogy of being), which puts him in agreement with the presuppostionalist rejection of Aquinas. Clarkians agree with this rejection, but then also claim that VanTil is neo-orthodox like Barth, somehow thinking their agreement with Barth on this point keeps them from the same label. Barth swung towards the equivocal pole, while Clarkians swing toward the univocal pole. Classicists think they are in the middle with the analogical and that VanTillians swing toward the equivocal. VanTillians think that classicists swing toward the univocal, and Clarkians think that classicists and VanTillians swing toward the equivocal.

This is my understanding of the three language categories:

1. univocal = a word means the exact same thing regardless of the subject it refers to.

2. equivocal = a word means something completely different even when applied to the same subject

3. analogical = a word has a similar meaning in proportion to the two subjects being compared

[Edited on 6-7-2006 by RAS]
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