Van Til and Analogical Knowledge

Updated: Sep 21

Van Til’s insistence on the analogical relationship between divine and human knowledge, even human knowledge derived from revelation, is the greatest single weakness, in my opinion.

Dr Robert L Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge


When reading Van Til you're bound to arrive at the concepts of univocal and analogical reasoning. The aim of this article is to more simply and clearly expound what Van Til meant by the term "analogical reasoning", drawing heavily on the works of Van Til, Bahnsen and Bosserman.


Why did Reymond believe that Van Til's teaching on analogy is his single biggest weakness? His answer: Because Van Til wrote that the content of God's knowledge and man's knowledge does not "coincide at any point". Why would Van Til say this? To grasp why, we first need to talk about the incomprehensibility of God.



The Incomprehensibility of God

The Westminster Shorter Catechism definition of God is very familiar. “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” The remaining chapters may be said to be in the nature of an effort to ascertain as clearly as possible the meaning of this definition and its present day significance.
But the question will at once be asked how it is possible that man should say anything at all about a God who is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in all his perfections. This question becomes all the more pressing if the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith are added to those quoted from the Catechism.
There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


The question that comes to mind when we consider God, who is totally other and incomprehensible, is how can we saying anything meaningful or intelligible about this God to begin with? We'll try to outline two approaches to answer the above question. First, let's take a look at those who Van Til calls "modern" philosophers and theologians. Second, we'll take a look at a Christian way of approaching the question.

The modern theologian, with the modern philosopher and the modern scientist, makes the universe or reality as a whole his final or ultimate subject of predication. He includes his god and himself within a common universe. Then he makes assertions about the nature of this universe. He does so by means of the laws of logic that he finds operative in his mind. Without the least bit of justification he assumes that reality must answer to the nature of these laws.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


Van Til's statement above is visualised below:


Figure 1, The Non-Christian View

It is this view of reality that led theologians like Aquinas to conclude that man cannot know what God is, only what He is not.

Working with this Aristotelian idea of knowledge, Aquinas asserts that man cannot know what God is, but only what he is not...

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


Van Til argues that this conundrum of man not being able to know God by natural reason alone is solved when we take account of God's revelation (the Christian worldview). The main reason people fall into the above conundrum in the first place is because of their failure to take seriously the Creator-creature distinction and rather regarding their own intellect as ultimate, and not God:

Failing to make the distinction between a primacy of the intellect that is based upon the Creator-creature distinction and a primacy of the intellect that is not based upon the Creator-creature distinction as is the case with the Greeks, [it is argued] that it is the primacy of the intellect that saves from scepticism. But the primacy of the intellect as the Greeks held it has historically and logically led to the scepticism of the modern irrationalist. It is Christianity alone that saves from scepticism.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


Van Til argues that by making the Creature-creature distinction basic in our thought, it allows us to conceive of man's intellect and rational faculties as created. Moreover, the human mind was never designed to operate outside of an environment of God's revelation. We can't reason to the incomprehensible God, rather we can know the incomprehensible God through His revelation and moreover can't reason without Him:

It is only Reformed theology that does full justice to the idea of revelation in all its comprehensiveness and depth of meaning. It is only if the doctrine of revelation is taken thus seriously that the knowledge of God is assured. Man may be certain that he knows God. More than that, man cannot help but know God... The sinner’s problem from his point of view is to cast doubt upon this evidence [of God's existence], to make it appear as though the evidence were not clear.
With the rich man who lifted up his eyes in torment, it is the effort of every man to put the blame for his failure to serve God upon the elusive character of the evidence for God’s existence. If he could rightly say that God has to be diligently searched for, that he might possibly be hidden in some remote corner of the earth, or moon or Jupiter, then he would have an excuse for his ignorance. Following Paul, the Reformed theologian, and he alone, will stress the inescapable character of the revelation of God.
Thus it is clear that the incomprehensibility of God presupposes the revelation of God in all its comprehensiveness. One could not talk about God at all except in terms of his revelation to man. Without the presupposition of God’s revelation to man there could be no predication of God at all. God would be not incomprehensible, but inapprehensible*. That is, no predication could be made of him or of anything else.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


* Apprehend denotes the laying hold of a thing mentally, so as to understand it clearly, at least in part. Comprehend denotes the embracing or understanding it in all its compass and extent.


Figure 2, The Christian View

Operating with God's revelation we now speak of the incomprehensibility of God differently. No longer is it in the sense that we cannot know God, but rather that we cannot exhaustively understand everything that is revealed to us by God. When God reveals something about Himself to us, He is really telling us about Himself. So we are not in a state of total ignorance with regards to who God is.

If we speak therefore of the incomprehensibility of God, what is meant is that God’s revelation to man is never exhaustively understood by man.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


The Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Man


It is at this point which we reach Reymond's initial charge. Due to the Creator-creature distinction, there is also a distinction between human knowledge and God's knowledge. Bahnsen notes that it is important to note the different uses of the word "knowledge":


It can be used to describe:

  1. What is known (to know some object)

  2. Methods of criteria of knowing

  3. The act of knowing (two different actors can drive a car in a non-identical way).

With this in mind, let's head to the text of Van Til that Reymond is critiquing:

In the first place, it is possible in this way to see that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man coincide at every point in the sense that always and everywhere man confronts that which is already fully known or interpreted by God. The point of reference cannot but be the same for man as for God. There is no fact that man meets in any of his investigation where the face of God does not confront him.
On the other hand in this way it is possible to see that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man coincide at no point in the sense that in his awareness of meaning of anything, in his mental grasp or understanding of anything, man is at each point dependent upon a prior act of unchangeable understanding and revelation on the part of God. The form of the revelation of God to man must come to man in accordance with his creaturely limitations. God’s thought with respect to anything is a unit. Yet it pertains to a multiplicity of objects. But man can think of that unit as involving a number of items only in the form of succession. So Scripture speaks of God as though he were thinking his thoughts step by step.
This is true with respect to every bit of revelation that God gives to man. Accordingly, the fact that man is given more and ever more revelation of God does not tend to reduce the incomprehensibility of God. For man any new revelational proposition will enrich in meaning any previous given revelational proposition. But even this enrichment does not imply that there is any coincidence, that is, identity of content between what God has in his mind and what man has in his mind. If there is no identity of content in the first proposition that God gives to man there can be no identity of content attained by means of any number of additional propositions of revelation that God gives to man... It is only on the assumption that the human mind is not the mind of a creature but is itself the mind of the Creator that one can talk consistently of identity of content between the mind of man and the mind of God.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


The above text can be visualised as follows:

Figure 3, The Knowledge Situation

We need to keep in mind that all facts are created facts, and God alone knows all facts exhaustively as He knows Himself exhaustively. Van Til writes above that God's thought with respect to anything is a unit. God knows all facts as a unit, whereas we need to discover the facts in a sequential manner (notice the listing of the facts from 1 to n).


Van Til then makes the important point that as we learn more about who God is through revelation, it does not reduce the incomprehensibility of who God is. It increases it. We might grow in our enrichment of our understanding of who God is, but part of this enrichment entials "the more we know, the more know how little we know". It is at the point that Van Til states that there is no identity of content between the mind of man and the mind of God. Before we discuss what Van Til meant, let's revisit the criticism of Reymond that we opened with. He writes:

Not only does Van Til deny that God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge ever coincide as to content at any one point, but he also refuses to make an effort to explain what the qualitative difference between them is. He refuses to “state clearly” how “two times two is four” is different for God; and he does this, he says, because of “the Christian doctrine of revelation.” Is it not clear from this quotation that, for Van Til, God’s revelation of Himself to man does not really reveal to man anything of what God is essentially; that, for Van Til, any knowledge of God gained through His revelation to man is never univocal but always only “analogical” knowledge; that, for Van Til, God “with respect to any revelational proposition” still is as incomprehensible as He was prior to the revelation? Is it any wonder that Clark contends that Van Til’s position inevitably leads to skepticism and total human ignorance?

Dr Robert L Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge


Reymond writes the above in response the following from Van Til:

Dr. Clark seeks not only for an identity of reference point between the divine and the human mind, but an identity of content between them. It is natural that he should do this. It is involved in any non–Christian methodology… But asserting a qualitative difference between the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man, the Complaint [that is Van Til himself] was merely asserting the Creator–creature relationship.... That two times two are [sic] four is a well–known fact. God knows it. Man knows it.
On Dr. Clark’s principles there must be identity of content between the divine and the human minds on such a proposition. If not, he argues, there would be scepticism...
The Complaint [Van Til] is said to teach that the first proposition itself, viz., two times two are [sic] four in its narrowest and minimal significance, is qualitatively different for God (The Answer, p. 21). To this it is added [by Clark]: "But if they cannot state clearly what this qualitative difference is, how can such an unknown quality be made a test of orthodoxy?"
Suppose now that the complainants [Van Tillians] should try to “state clearly” in Dr. Clark’s sense the qualitative difference between the divine and the human knowledge of the proposition that two times two are[sic] four. They would have to first deny their basic contention with respect to the Christian concept of revelation… It is precisely because they are concerned to defend the Christian doctrine of revelation as basic to all intelligible human predication that they refuse to make any attempt at “stating clearly” any Christian doctrine

At this point I agree with Bahnsen that both Clark and Reymond misunderstood Van Til when Van Til spoke of the "no coincidence of content" between the mind of God and the mind of man. The misreading of Reymond becomes more evident when he writes that, "The solution to all Van Til's difficulties is to affirm, as Scripture teaches, that both God and man share the same concept of truth and the same theory of language". But as Bahnsen wrote in Van Til's Apologetic, "It is clear from Van Til's own words that "no coincidence" in "content" never meant a difference in the knowledge, truth, theory of truth, meaning or the theory of meaning regarding that which both God and man can know".


This is evidenced when Van Til himself explains what he means:

In setting out a series of propositions about the revelation of God, as the church has done in its confessions, the Christian may rest assured that he has “the system of truth” while yet he may add to his knowledge of that system. All his knowledge is analogical of God. God is the original knower and man is the derivative re-knower. Man knows in subordination to God; he knows as the covenant-keeper.
If he is not a covenant keeper he will set the false ideal of knowing even as God knows, by complete coincidence with the contents of the mind of God, and end up by knowing that what he calls knowledge is no true knowledge at all, and that what he calls false submission to authority is the true knowledge of God and of man.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


And further...

When his God makes a revelational proposition to him such as that he, God, is eternal, man in repeating this proposition says that God is eternal. The reference point is the same but the content is not. Being subject to no conditions, himself the source of all conditions for man. God at once sees the significance of such a proposition in all the depth of its meaning God knows the meaning of this proposition in all the fulness of its significance because he knows it in relationship to all other propositions that he will make or will not make to man. If God had made all the revelations propositions that he will ever make to man about himself, even then man could not have the same thought content in his mind that God has in his mind unless he were himself divine. Man can never experience the experience of God.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Ch 13


Also recall...

...the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man coincide at no point in the sense that in his awareness of meaning of anything, in his mental grasp or understanding of anything, man is at each point dependent upon a prior act of unchangeable understanding and revelation on the part of God.

From this it becomes quite clear. Van Til is simply applying the Creator-creature distinction to the realm of knowledge. Refer back to Figure 3. God knows all facts exhaustively. We don't. God grasps the full significance of all the facts. We don't and we never will be able to in the same sense that God does. Van Til clearly states that "That two times two are [sic] four is a well–known fact. God knows it. Man knows it.".. It's therefore not that we don't know that 2+2=4, we do as does God. The difference is that it's God's knowing of the fact that what makes it what it is, whereas we are only discovering this fact by thinking God's thoughts after Him in a sequential manner. God also knows the full significance of the fact and we don't. God does not know in the same sense that we do as His creatures (see figure 3).


This leads us into what Van Til meant when he talked about the quantitative and the qualitative difference between man and God's knowledge. Quantitatively because God knows all facts whereas we don't. Qualitatively, because man and God does not know in the same sense (although the reference point is the same - the mind of God)

Clark's charge that Van Til must describe exactly how the knowledge of God regarding 2+2=4 differs was also unfair on his part, as that will require the rejection of the very thing Van Til is trying to uphold: the Creator-creature distinction. If we can explain exactly how the knowledge of God and our knowledge differs, there wouldn't be a difference! Only God can explain how our knowledge differs.


Van Til's Analogical Reasoning


So what did Van Til mean with analogical reasoning? We must be careful not to conflate Van Til's view on analogy with that of Aquinas, and to that goal I'll refrain from touching on Aquinas just yet (perhaps in a future article). On John Frame and Vern Poythress' website the following definition is offered:

What does Van Til mean by “analogical system” and “analogical reasoning”? On first hearing these phrases, we might suppose that Van Til here is advocating a doctrine about Christian religious language–that such language is “analogical,” figurative, as opposed to being “literal.” The term “analogical” is often used this way in theological and philosophical literature, especially when contrasted with “univocal,” as it is in Van Til. It is evident, however, that Van Til’s concept of analogy is a doctrine about human reasoning (even human life!) in general, not about religious language in particular.

John Frame, Van Til the Theologian


Similarly, Bosserman writes:

Van Til’s doctrine of analogy concerns the relationship between different sorts of minds—that of God and man—and not between concepts and different grades of objects. Just as there are two levels of existence (uncreated and created) there are “two levels of knowledge, the level of God’s knowledge which is absolutely comprehensive and self-contained and the level of man’s knowledge which is not comprehensive but is derivative and re-interpretive.” The pertinent question regarding our thought forms is not whether they reflect external objects when taken in isolation, but whether they reflect God’s all-encompassing interpretation/plan for that object. After all, no object can convey the whole story about itself. But, supposing that there is a Creator who has foreordained the end from the beginning, it follows that he must possess a complete systematic interpretation of things. Man’s interpretations, then, are “analogical” of God’s when they reflect, in a finite measure, God’s perspective on reality.

Bosserman, The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox


Van Til agrees with Clark (over Aquinas) that man can only rest assured that analogical knowledge is true if he has some standard that can confirm this belief. However, he denies that this standard can be a set of impersonal qualities/propositions that have identical meaning for God and man. The only way that man’s finite knowledge could be univocal with the divine mind is if certain propositions were self-evident expressions of a universe that was independent of, and superior to both its divine and human interpreters.
However, the only being who resides above man and God alike, and Who may confirm the correspondence of the mind of the former to the mind of the latter, is God Himself, in the second person of the Trinity (1 Tim 2:5). The Word of God testifies that finite words may reflect the mind of God truly, even though not identically (John 1:18), by utilizing and authenticating them himself (Matt 5:18)... with Christ’s word as a reference point, true and false beliefs can be sharply distinguished. A true belief corresponds to the mind of God because it is formed in faithful submission to the Word of Christ, while a false belief does not correspond to the mind of God, because it refuses the illumination of Christ. A true belief is coherent because it is informed by that Being Who holds all things together

Bosserman, The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox


Bahnsen also commented on this writing in Van Til's Apologetic:

God and man are metaphysically different, which is evidenced in their differing acts of knowing, but man is to think the same things that God does. What man knows is literally the truth, not an analogy to the truth - the same truth known by God, accepted or verified by the same standard or point of reference for both man and God, namely God's own mind.

Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic, pg. 228-229


and

... [the Van Tillains are charged to teach] that "man can grasp only an analogy of the truth itself" Van Til did not teach that what we know is only an analogy of God (or truth about Him), much less that univocal predication regarding God must be rejected, but rather that we know God (as well as His creation) analogously to His knowing Himself and His creation. A few years following the dispute between Clark and Van Til, Clark again (falsely) portrayed Van Tilas holding that propositions have a different meaning (equivocation) for God and man, and that man is ignorant of the truth that is in God's mind, possessing only an analogy of the truth rather the truth itself. Thus he charged Van Til with unrelieved skepticism...

Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic, pg. 228-229 footnote 159


Finally, Van Til's definition of analogy in his own words:

The distinguishing characteristic between very non-Christian theory of knowledge on the one hand, and the Christian concept of knowledge on the other hand, is, therefore, that in all non-Christian theories men reason univocally, while in Christianity men reason analogically. By this distinction we mean that every non-Christian theory of method takes for granted, that time and eternity are aspects of one another, and that God and man must be thought of as being on the same plane. God and man must be thought of as correlative to one another. God and man work under a system of logic that is higher than both, and that exists in independence of both. The law of contradiction is thought of as existing somehow in independence of God and man or at least as operating in both God and man on the same level.
In contrast to this, Christianity holds that God existed alone before any time existence was brought forth. He existed as the self-conscious and self-consistent being. The law of contradiction, therefore, as we know it, is but the expression on a created level of the internal coherence of God’s nature. Christians should therefore never appeal to the law of contradiction as something that, as such, determines what can or cannot be true.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology


If one believes in the creation doctrine at all, one has to say that the novelty element of the universe is subordinate to the eternal plan of God. Christians believe in two levels of existence, the level of God’s existence as self-contained and the level of man’s existence as derived from the level of God’s existence. For this reason, Christians must also believe in two levels of knowledge, the level of God’s knowledge which is absolutely comprehensive and self-contained, and the level of man’s knowledge which is not comprehensive but is derivative and re-interpretative. Hence we say that as Christians we believe that man’s knowledge is analogical of God’s knowledge.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology


If we were to summarise this in a short section, Van Til is stating that unlike man, God does not discover truths by employing tools like the laws of logic. God is the original knower and comprehensively knows all truth. Moreover, God's pre-interpretation of all facts is constructive of the truth, meaning all truth is what it is because of what God makes it to be. Man's knowledge is that of a sequential reconstruction of what God already knows.

As man’s existence is dependent upon an act of voluntary creation on the part of God, so man’s knowledge depends upon an act of voluntary revelation of God to man. Even the voluntary creation of man is already a revelation of God to man. Thus every bit of knowledge on the part of man is derivative and re-interpretative. This is what we mean by saying that man’s knowledge is analogical.

Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology


It then becomes clear that for both God and man, the standard for judging all truth is the mind of God. Hence, God's Word must be the ultimate standard for judging claims to truth and God's word must be the preconditioning context in which man goes out to discover more truth about himself and the world. This in short is what is meant by analogical reasoning. A Christian reasons analogically when they reason in faith submission to the Word of Christ, who is the guarantee of our correspondence to the mind of God.


In contrast to this way of thinking, the unbeliever wants to reason in a univocal manner and hence disregarding the Creator-creature distinction. Rather than thinking God's thoughts after Him, they, together with God think thoughts about reality in order to discover more truths (God may already know said truth, but after we discover it, we know it in exactly the same sense). Van Til offers the rather straightforward definition of “analogical” reasoning: “To make every thought captive to the obedience of Christ speaking in Scripture, is to reason analogically in the proper sense of the term.”


So why did Van Til choose to use the word "analogical" reasoning which caused much of this confusion? Because, as Bahnsen writes, "Man cannot do what God does, expect by way of finite imitation or reflection. This applies to the act of knowing things. Because the word 'analogy' refers to and stresses the element in which of agreement or identity between two things that are different, it seemed to be the appropriate word to describe the relationship between God's knowing and man's knowing."


Man's Knowledge of God is Anthropomorphic

I would also like to spend brief moment discussing our knowledge of God in light of what we just discussed.


Van Til, Bahnsen and Bosserman agree that our knowledge of God as revealed to us is"anthropomorphic". This is defined as the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities.:

We need at this point to be fearlessly anthropomorphic. Our basic interpretative concept, the doctrine of the ontological trinity, demands of us that we should be so... Applying this to the case in hand, we would say that we are entitled and compelled to use anthropomorphism not apologetically but fearlessly. We need not fear to say that God’s attitude has changed with respect to mankind. We know well enough that God in himself is changeless. But we hold that we are able to affirm that our words have meaning for no other reason than that we use them analogically.

Van Til, The Articles of Cornelius Van Til


And all revelation of God to man is anthropomorphic. It is an adaptation by God to the limitations of the human creature. Man’s systematic interpretation of the revelation of God is never more than an approximation of the system of truth revealed in Scripture, and this system of truth as revealed in Scripture is itself anthropomorphic. But being anthropomorphic does not make it untrue. The Confessions of the Church pretend to be nothing more than frankly approximated statements of the inherently anthropomorphic revelation of God. For it is such a system that is directly involved in the idea of the self-contained God.

Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge


Although Van Til's doctrine if analogical knowing was not a thesis about religions language, it does have some noteworthy implications about such language. Since all of our knowledge of God must be based on His revelation to us, God must teach men how to speak about Him - and speak to them with human words that perfectly communicate how they are to think about Him. The words used by God to teach us how to think and speak of Him can, therefore, utilize figures of speech without jeopardizing the veracity and adequacy of what we learn and know about God from His revelation. Thus van Til could assert, "We are entitled and compelled to use anthropomorphism not apologetically but fearlessly ... we hold that we are able to affirm that our words have meaning for no other reason that we use them analogically". Because we must think God's thoughts after Him (analogously), there can be no objection if "Scripture ... has not hesitation in speak anthropomorphically of God"

Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic, pg. 232 footnote 169.


God therefore reveals Himself to humans in creaturely categories. These categories that we use that is revealed to us adequately reflect what God wants us to know about Him. He uses the perfect human phrases and expressions that will communicate the truth for human thinking. God can reveal a certain proposition of Himself, and we can repeat the exact same proposition that will carry the exact same meaning, but recall earlier we quoted Van Til: "When his God makes a revelational proposition to him such as that he, God, is eternal, man in repeating this proposition says that God is eternal. The reference point is the same but the content is not. Being subject to no conditions, himself the source of all conditions for man. God at once sees the significance of such a proposition in all the depth of its meaning God knows the meaning of this proposition in all the fulness of its significance because he knows it in relationship to all other propositions that he will make or will not make to man."


Bahnsen writes that the meaning is the same for God and man, but in certain respects which we can't articulate, it may be deeper or greater for God than for man.


This is why Van Til wrote that the human mind cannot know "even one proposition in its minimal significance with the same depth of meaning with God which knows that proposition", and just as importantly, "man can yet truly know God the meaning of the proposition" although "not exhaustively.".


It is at this point that Bosserman provides an amazing example of how we can know a proposition to be true whilst not knowing it in its fullness:

Van Til’s theory of knowledge accords remarkably well with the idea of redemptive-historical development. As each successive covenant furnishes more information about God, it carries with it certain discontinuities in the symbols, sacraments, and laws which define the divine-human relationship (Heb 10:1; cf. Matt 5:17; Gal 3:24–25; Col 2:17). Quantitative differences in information carry with them qualitative differences in man’s impression of the said information. And although an economic priority must be given to the new covenant revelation of God in Christ (Heb 1:1–2; Matt 11:11) since the earlier vantage points exist for the latter (Heb 11:39–40), they are all equally true.

Bosserman, The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox, pg. 116-117


In simple terms, everything the Jews knew about God is true in the Old Testament, however in light of the New Testament we can gain a greater understanding of the Old Testament revelation. This doesn't mean that the less clear propositions about God were false, they are equally true but they were not yet fully grasped.


Summary of Van Til's Analogical Reasoning

  • God's and man's knowledge differ quantitatively and qualitatively.

  • God knows all the facts, moreover, God's knowing of the facts make them what they are.

  • Man reinterprets the facts in a sequential manner, thinking God's thoughts after Him (analogical reasoning).

  • Therefore, man's thoughts and God's thoughts coincide at no point in the sense that in his awareness of meaning of anything, in his mental grasp or understanding of anything, man is at each point dependent upon a prior act of unchangeable understanding and revelation on the part of God.

  • The reference point for truth is the same for both God and man, namely God's mind.

  • All of man's knowledge about God is in anthropomorphic language, revealed to is in this way by God to accommodate our status as creatures.

  • Both God and man can know the same fact (e.g. 2+2=4), but never in the same sense, as we know analogically.

  • Man can know truth about God (univocally in Clark's sense, univocal predication as Bahnsen put it, anthropomorphically) based on the Word of God (e.g. God is eternal).

  • However, in certain respects the meaning may be deeper for God than for man.

  • We will never be able to explain exactly how God's thoughts differ in this respect to ours, as that would negate the Creator-creature distinction.

  • This does not mean that we don't know God, just that we don't yet appreciate the full meaning of what we know about God - our concepts are accurate as far as they go and adequate for our needs as Creatures of God made in God's image and living in His world.

  • We maintain that man can think God's thoughts after him on the scale of a creature. We can apprehend God truly and can therefore apprehend further truths about the works of God - the world and history.

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