Analogia Entis

As Hans Boersma notes, the analogia entis is first and foremost a “sacramental link” between God and creation (Boersma 71).  It is “hinged” or “suspended” by God.  Yet, and here is where an analogia entis cannot be equated with chain of being, it “also insists on the infinite difference between Creator and creature.  In fact, dissimilarity is the main point of the doctrine of analogy.”
last judgment

The following is from David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite.  “The analogy of being does not analogize God and creatures under the more general category of being, but is the analogizing of being in the difference between God and creatures” (241-242).  It rejects both the univocity of Apollos and the equivocity of Dionysius, “neither of which provide a vantage point on transcendence.”

Further safeguarding the Creator/creature distinction, Hart notes, “if the primary analogy is one of being, then an infinite analogical interval has been introduced between God and creatures.”

Hart suggests that without the analogia entis, revelation is impossible.  If there is no analogy or connection between God and man, then either man cannot understand God’s words (equivocity; difference) or man is God’s words (univocity; identity; the problem of Cratylus).

Implications:

  1. If analogia entis implies a sacramental link between God and creation, and if Barth rejected this as the invention of Antichrist, is it no surprise that Barth (and his followers) have such an anemic view of the sacraments?
  2. There is a connection between God and the world. It is a sacramental one.  The “sign” is filled with deep meaning.  It is “thick.”
  3. Yet, the connection is not an essentialist one, which is the case with chain of being.
  4. This means human “faith,” human “reason,” and human “discourse,” all participate in God
  5. Contrary to chain of being, creation isn’t a diminution; rather, the “most high principle…is present in the very act of each moment of the particular” (247).  In other words, the “lowest” particular reflects the highest transcendence

 

Boersma, Hans. Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry. Baker Academic.

Hart, David Bentley.

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About Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism
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4 Responses to Analogia Entis

  1. cal says:

    I’ve read The Beauty of the Infinite, and have appreciate Hart much. But I am more convinced that these paens to analogia entis are relatively incoherent. Merely asserting that “analogy means qualitative difference” doesn’t do it for me. If anything, the most stunning thing Hart introduces is a revamped reading of Gregory of Nyssa, but that does not require this reconstruction. And I think it’s off to merely connect Barth’s views between the analogia entis and sacraments over this.

    I’m a little wigged out by your seeming about face on this issue. It wasn’t hidden or mysterious that RO, and neo-platonism sympathizers, rejected the connect between analogia entis and chain of being. I’d be curious to here further explanations (not that I’m privy to know!); it’d be helpful (and not that I’m anybody worth helping!).

    cal

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  2. JB Aitken says:

    I’ve always rejected chain of being, and still do. Chain of being cannot posit a difference or chasm between God and creation, the latter being a lesser emanation. Analogy of being has to posit such a difference, otherwise it wouldn’t be an analogy.

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    • cal says:

      But that’s the thing: who, in the main, openly holds to a chain-of-being that just puts God on a spectrum? Does anyone really read Psuedo-Dionysius that way besides closet groups of monks and mystics? RO is openly neo-Platonic, and Hans Boersma especially, so where are people who read Plato as along a gnostic chain? Maybe I’m missing something.

      Of course analogy posits a difference, it’s the kind of difference, the kind of epistemic link between the two. But what separates analogia entis, as method, apart from analogia fidei? What other ‘analogia’ could there be?

      This is in part rhetorical, but also because I hope you flesh this out more. I’ll stop commenting after this because it seems like I’m pulling teeth to try and get a kind of dialog going.

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  3. JB Aitken says:

    ***But that’s the thing: who, in the main, openly holds to a chain-of-being that just puts God on a spectrum? Does anyone really read Psuedo-Dionysius that way besides closet groups of monks and mystics? ***

    Jonathan Edwards, for one. See his Essay on the Nature of True Virtue. But more importantly, post-Barthians read the Tradition as teaching that.

    *** RO is openly neo-Platonic, and Hans Boersma especially, ***

    This is not true on Boersma. Boersma specifically breaks with Plato at key points. Whether RO is neo-Platonic depends on which RO figure.

    ***. But what separates analogia entis, as method, apart from analogia fidei? ***

    When Barth was forced to think on this problem later on in his career, the difference between the two lessened. Probably the main difference is that analogia fide doesn’t answer as many metaphysical questions.

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