Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conclusion to my personal chapter from our book: 'Either through Christ, or through Nature'

Here is the conclusion to my personal chapter (4) from mine and Myk's recently released book (my chapter is entitled: Analogia Fidei or Analogia Entis: Either through Christ or through Nature):

The contention of this chapter has been to provide insight into the inner workings of Evangelical Calvinist prolegomenon. The procedure has been to introduce the specific way that Evangelical Calvinism understands the triune nature of God as Father of the Son by the Holy Spirit. All such thinking is diametrically opposed to the Thomistic way of construing God; namely, by use of the analogia entis. These two ways were then illustrated by means of several of the significant Reformed Confessions and a Catechism.
Evangelical Calvinism is committed to the tradition of dogmatic reflection known as the analogia fidei; that is, our grounding in the "analogy of faith" means that our epistemic root is centered in our union with Christ, and that out of this fertile ground we have a knowledge of God that necessarily understands him in terms of being eternally Father of the Son by the Holy Spirit; and then finally, we see ourselves standing within the confessional shape of the Reformed tradition as evinced by our resonance with both The Scots Confession of Faith, 1560 and The Heidelberg Catechism. [taken from: Myk Habets & Bobby Grow, Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church, (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2012), 111]

What you should expect when reading my chapter is not an original proposal, or ground breaking work into the ongoing constructive work on the theological method known as the 'analogy of faith'. But instead, you should expect a general compare and contrast between Thomas Aquinas' and Thomas Torrance's disparate approaches to theological method (e.g. the 'analogy of being' V. the 'analogy of faith'); and then (I think) a creative application of this comparison (and its results) to the theology presupposed in Westminster Confession of Faith & The Belgic Confession of Faith V. The Scots Confession & The Heidelberg Catechism. The basic contention of my personal chapter is that, as the title suggests, we either, methodologically (theologically) approach God and knowledge of God through the ordained means by which he has freely chosen to provide for that (in his Self-revelation, Jesus Christ); or we seek to approach God (with good intentions and everything) through a preconstructed concept of what it means to be God, and then distill God into that packaging. Certainly, we can get highly technical about this whole project. But my chapter is intended to be a bit more basic than that (although I think that it requires some technical background, to some degree, to understand exactly where I am coming from in the chapter). So, it is either through Christ, or through Nature ...


  1. This post is great, thanks Bobby!

    Recently I've been having a good back and forth between me and my friend basically between these two ideas. My friend is a Thomistic catholic.

    Anyway, a quick question came to my mind as I was drafting a response. Does it fall under 'analogia entis' if one uses natural metaphors as a didactic tool? This may seem a silly question, and I don't think it does mean this but I thought I would check it.

    By that I mean something like the statement: "God is a consuming fire" or "The Spirit is like the Wind".

    1. Hi Cal,

      No, usage of literary devices in scripture, like anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms (attributing human emotions to God etc) would not be examples of appeal to natural theology (in state of fact). And yet at the same time, when we speak of something like an anthropopathism, often these attributions like "grieving" "laughter" etc. on God's part are not just intended to be "figural," but I think they actually correspond to real emotion in God. I think this gets us into a discussion, if pressed, on thinking through a properly construed theological anthropology or christological one (which would require more of a post for me to try and at least gesture towards what I think further on this). But when we say God has "hands" (an anthropomorphism) etc., obviously, since God is 'Spirit' (Jn 4.24); we know from the context that this ought to be taken as figurative of God.

      But the issue of analogy of being V analogy of faith has much more to do with how we frame and understand our hermeneutical theory; which is of first order concern. This concern, then, implicates our second order work as we engage in actual exegesis of the text. It will inform the way we make our interpretive decisions etc. And there is much more to say, Cal, but this is all I'm going to here :).


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