Who’s afraid of the analogia entis?

Millinerd, a former Wheaton and Princeton Seminary graduate—has written an insightful and helpful post on the analogia entis for those interested. His post is a response to the AAR/Karl Barth Society meeting in which George Hunsinger and David Bentley Hart held a debate over the analogy of being. To formulate his response, Millinerd uses the quote from Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address—the same quote I posted on this site for discussion. While he acknowledges that Barth was right to emphasize the sole mediation of Christ between God and humanity—so that “natural theology” as the attempt to speak of God apart from Jesus Christ is ruled out completely—Millinerd uses Benedict’s statement on analogy to broker a kind of ecumenical agreement between Bonaventure, Barth, and Benedict. He articulates three main arguments:
    1. First, the analogia entis as articulated by the Fourth Lateran Council emphasizes a still greater dissimilarity in the midst of a great similarity, or as Benedict puts it, “unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness.” Thus, the analogy of being does not obscure the transcendence and otherness of God.

    2. Second, the analogy of being protects against the temptation to overemphasize the infinitely great transcendence of God at the expense of affirming a proper relation between God and humanity.

    3. Third, the analogy of being, according to Benedict, is intrinsically connected to the logos (reason) and thus to the Logos, Jesus Christ, as the one in whom “all things hold together.” Because God “has revealed himself as logos” (Benedict), our reason is capable of contemplating God. In other words, the analogy of being is an analogy between human reason and divine Reason mediated by the Logos.
In closing his reflections on the analogy of being, Millinerd makes a very interesting and helpful statement: “The matter is not whether there is more than one mediator or more than one foundation, but just how big that mediator and foundation is. The question is not which of the two analogies is true. They both are (with priority, I would submit, going to the analogia fidei). The question is in which can we afford to neglect. The answer is neither.” Millinerd sides with Barth over von Balthasar in giving priority to the analogia fidei over the analogia entis, but he nevertheless keeps the two in a kind of dialectical tension. I admire this position, but I think the question is whether or not the two positions can sustain such a dialectical unity. Barth was dialectical through and through, but he was adamantly non-dialectical on a few positions—one being the “triumph of grace” (Berkouwer) and another being the analogia fidei. I would agree with Millinerd’s statement insofar as we cannot afford to neglect the analogia entis as a subject of discussion in Christian theology, but I would not be so quick to assert that both are equally “true.” I will explain why by addressing the three aforementioned points.

1. Numerous theologians after Barth have criticized him for misunderstanding the analogia entis, and in a way, they are all right. The analogia entis does not undermine the transcendence of God; if anything, it (over)emphasizes God’s transcendence. Eberhard Jüngel makes this argument cogently in his magnum opus, God as the Mystery of the World. However, Jüngel flips the argument around and makes the “infinitely greater” transcendence of God precisely the reason why the analogia entis is wrong, or at least misguided. Why? Because it fails to understand the being of God—and thus the divine-human relation—out of the being of Jesus Christ. Transcendence and immanence are terms, for Jüngel, that must be understood in light of the coming of God in Christ. In this, Jüngel is simply operating under Barth’s own christocentric logic. For defenders of the analogy of being, such terms are defined on metaphysical grounds (starting from our general human condition and reasoning toward God) and/or on faulty biblical grounds (e.g., the imago Dei abstracted from the imago Christi). Consequently, Jüngel wishes to reframe the discussion of analogy in terms of an analogia adventus—an analogy of advent. The advent of God in Jesus Christ is the norm for our understanding of God’s being and human being, and thus the nature of the God-human relation. The point of all this is that while we can affirm Pope Benedict and others in correcting Barth’s misunderstanding of the analogia entis, we must still question the attempt to formulate an analogy of being between God and humanity which fails to think this analogy through a center in christology.

2. The analogy of being is not necessary to hold together mysticism and subjectivism, i.e., the transcendence and immanence of God. The two are held together much more appropriately in Jesus Christ as Immanuel—God with us. He is the unification of divine transcendence and human immanence. He is the ontological unity of divinity and humanity, who is apart from us as the divine Judge and near to us as the one judged in our place. Jesus Christ is thus both God and humanity, the one in whom we discover both an asymmetry and an analogy. If we think through the divine-human relation in light of Christ, we have a way of sustaining a kind of analogy of being but in a radically different form. The analogy is one that exists in Christ alone, not in general humanity. Jüngel understands his analogia adventus to be ontological in nature, but the ontological analogy is found in the being of Jesus Christ. Human being thus corresponds to divine being only by faith alone (sola fide). There is no general analogy between humanity and God, because that analogy is given to human persons; it is not possessed by them. Thus, if we wish to hold together mysticism and subjectivism, we are far better off locating that dialectic in the being of Jesus Christ, not in ourselves as those who attempt to speak of God on our own rational terms.

3. The grave mistake in considering Jesus Christ independently as the Logos—in whom we find the link between God and the general human logos—is that such a theology effectively separates Christ as Logos from Christ as Salvator. The mediation of Christ is thus understood on two separate planes: one understands him as the mediator between prelapsarian creation and God, and the other understands him as the mediator between postlapsarian creation and God. The former views Christ as the one who holds creation together; the latter views Christ as the one who redeems creation and brings about a “new creation.” To use the formulations of Bruce D. Marshall (presented to me by George Hunsinger), the former position understands Christ as “materially decisive” but not “logically indispensable,” while the latter position understands Christ as both “materially decisive” and “logically indispensable.” That is, for the former position, Jesus Christ is presented as the one through whom the world is created, and thus is materially decisive for a created analogy to exist between God’s being and human being. But he is not logically indispensable, in that he does nothing which God the Father or God the Spirit could not do, in that they too are involved in sustaining the world and holding all things together. Christ is only logically indispensable as the savior of the world, as the Judge judged in our place, as the one in whom God reconciles the world. He alone can do this work, and in fact has done it.

I suppose one could argue that Jesus Christ is logically indispensable to the analogy of being, because Christ alone is the Logos. But it remains the fact that this analogy of (created) being is established and sustained apart from the work especially appropriated to the Son: the work of reconciliation. By separating Logos and Savior, creation from new creation, the analogia entis ends up undermining the unity of the person and work of Christ and thus fails to think through all the “ways and works of God” from a center in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, we cannot speak of creation apart from our affirmation of the reconciliation accomplished in Christ. We do not know Christ as Logos apart from our knowledge (in faith) of Christ as Salvator Mundi.

In conclusion, just how big is the mediation of Christ? It is indeed all-encompassing, universal, holistic. And yet there are not multiple mediations of Christ but just one. Jesus is the sole and exclusive mediator between God and humanity, in whom we are reconciled to God and, by faith, brought into ontological correspondence (Entsprechung). That ontological analogy is not natural to the created world but always remains a gift of faith. We are not free to reason our way to God apart from “the way and the truth and the life” that is Jesus Christ. He alone is the Mediator, and his role of mediation encompasses our reason, but not apart from our need for a Redeemer. Christ thus liberates us from our bondage to sin and death in order that we might correspond to God anew. In Christ alone there exists an analogy.

ADDENDUM: Why speak of analogy at all? Why is a doctrine of analogy essential to the Christian faith? What does it accomplish? The doctrine of analogy has two components—ontic and noetic. Our being in relation to God and our knowledge of God are wrapped up in the question of analogy. The classical formulation of analogy as analogia entis located both elements, ontic and noetic, in our created state in the image of God. By defining this “image” in terms of our reason, the old analogy of being understood our ontic correspondence to God in terms of our original created state (which was only partially lost due to the fall) and thus understood our noetic correspondence in terms of our reason which remained intact and free to think metaphysically from our creaturely state to God. The Barthian attack essentially argues that this doctrine of analogy fails to understand humanity in light of Jesus Christ. What Barth and his followers insist upon is the notion that our ontic and noetic correspondence to God is found in Christ alone. Or, to put the matter differently, we are dependent upon Christ alone for our being in the image of God. The imago Dei is not a mediator between God and humanity apart from the sole image of God, Jesus Christ. We are in the imago Dei in that we conform to the imago Christi, and thus we exist in analogical correspondence to God in that God existentially conforms our being in correspondence to Christ. We are conformed to Christ (conformitas Christi) and thus conformed to God. The doctrine of analogy in light of this christological reformulation affirms our true humanity and our certain knowledge of God in light of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. The doctrine of analogy is thus a correlate of christology. Analogy clarifies the significance of God’s coming in Jesus Christ. In conclusion, the revelation of God in Jesus—and the reconciliation between God and humanity actualized in him—is the sole criterion for our ontic and noetic correspondence to God.

Comments

Shane said…
I worry about the way the idea of analogy is being used here just because it seems completely cut free of the original question it was designed to answer (how is a science of metaphysics possible?) and instead seems to be applied to something entirely different. David, what question does analogy answer in your account? what relation is there between juengel and aristotle?
D.W. Congdon said…
Shane,

I added an addendum to answer your excellent question, though I did not directly address the relation between Juengel and Aristotle. I suppose the relation is one of appreciation in the midst of disagreement. That is, Juengel operates on very different grounds than Aristotle, in that he begins with God's self-revelation in Christ. Revelation, not reason, is his starting-point. That said, there is great appreciation. If you read God as the Mystery of the World, as you should, you will find a very appreciative exposition of Thomas' doctrine of analogy, with some discussion of Aristotle and Kant as well on the subject.
millinerd said…
Thanks for this D.W.

I'm with Shane in my concern to what extent the question as we're pursuing it is removed from its medieval metaphysical home. I hope Hemming's chapter (which Dr. Hunsinger recommended) will help on that, which I've yet to get to.

After reading your helpful post I'm afraid I still don't see what is keeping me from understanding the analogia entis Christocentrially, not as another mediator, but as an anticiapation of the one mediation. Your warnings seem to be aimed at those who don't so understand it, and there being many of those, they are important warnings. But what of those who see it otherwise?

1. Therefore, to Jüngel, I would ask why we cannot have an analogia entis-adventus? Yes there is an analogia entis that "fails to understand the being of God—and thus the divine-human relation—out of the being of Jesus Christ," but not the one I am proposing.

Where, may I playfully inquire, does it say in the analogia-entis users manual that it has to be understood apart from Christ or as a rival mediator?

2. You write that "The analogy is one that exists in Christ alone, not in general humanity... There is no general analogy between humanity and God, because that analogy is given to human persons; it is not possessed by them."

Was creation not a gift? Furthermore, it is precisely from Barth that I learned not to understand humankind apart from Jesus Christ (God was pre-eternally inclined to become human), thus how can I even consider humanity abstractly apart from Christ? Yet, if I think of humanity in Christ, how can I not have a very mitigated analogia entis that anticipates and is fulfilled by the Incarnation?

You write, "if we wish to hold together mysticism and subjectivism, we are far better off locating that dialectic in the being of Jesus Christ, not in ourselves as those who attempt to speak of God on our own rational terms."

I cannot begin to communicate how much I agree with that statement. The rational terms I am employing however are not being used apart from Christ.

3. As to Marshall's distinction, you stole my thunder by saying "I suppose one could argue that Jesus Christ is logically indispensable to the analogy of being, because Christ alone is the Logos," for that's exactly what I am arguing.

But I don't buy the gulf between creation and new creation. I see continuity.

Does Christ save the world ex nihilo? There has to be something there to redeem, seeking to be fixed, crying out for redemption, doesn't there? You write "We do not know Christ as Logos apart from our knowledge (in faith) of Christ as Salvator Mundi," and I agree, but we can know Christ as Logos alongside our knowledge (in faith) of Christ as Salvator Mundi, which is what I'm suggesting.

I imagine that Marshall (now, as you know, a Catholic) would be inclined to argue in a similar way. I too wish to argue that Christ is materially decisive and logically indispensible, and don't see how the analogia entis NECESSARILY prevents me from so arguing.

You write, "there are not multiple mediations of Christ but just one," and in this I am in emphatic agreement. The analogia entis as I am suggesting is not salvific, nor does it sneakily conceal salvific aspirtations. It is not a rival, but a complement to Christ set up by Christ that anticipates Christ and is meaningless without Christ.

My motivation for doing this, by the way, is not crypto-Catholicism/or Orthdoxy, but ecumenism. I have a hard time believing that all of medieval theology was in bondage to the antichrist, or that the church was in the dark until Barth and Jüngel came along. Can't their indispensible Christocentricity be used to correct the analogia entis rather than to just throw it away?

In short, you've shown me the analogia entis has a troubling tendency, but until I see a necessity I can't see the need to forsake it. If you can show me that, I most certainly will.

An analogy to temperance debates comes to mind! That alcohol has sadly destroyed many lives ultimately proved a poor argument for its prohibition.
Halden said…
This is a good discussion.

Millinerd, I like your first post on this topic very much, so thanks for that. David, I think this extends the conversation in some good ways and I look forward to what you have to say in response to Millinerd on this.

For you both, I plan on posting something on this topic soon which will also be partly in response to the Hart-Barthians session at AAR. So that may interest you both.
Halden said…
One question on the analogy of advent: it seems to me that this is based prcisely on Jungel's theology which, radicalizing Barth claims that "God's being is in coming." In other words, God's triune being is the event of his "coming" (adventus) to the world in Christ. Thus, the only way that we can speak analogically about God, or bear any analogical correspondence to God is through God's coming to us in Christ. I would wholeheartedly agree with this.

However, the question I have is how precisely you're construing the analogia andventus, David. It seems like for you it is even more particular that the coming of God in Christ, but is precisely his human life, death, and resurrection that define and exhaust the advent of God in Christ. While I'm all about particularity (Christ is the concrete universal, after al), I wonder if this understanding is actually more narrow than it should be. If God's triune being is itself, a being in coming, or a being in advent, can we restrict the analogia adventus to the human carerr of Christ in the the first century? This is certainly not to say that the death and resurrection of Christ are not the apex of God's advent and indeed without it nothing is intelligible, indeed I'd contend that everything is meaningless.

However, it seems to me that if this discussion is placed in a trintarian context, and God's being is in coming, we have to see the analogy of advent more broadly, though of course never less Christologically. Creation is Christological through and through, no less than reconciliation and so it seems that excluding it from the category of the analogy of advent rests on other theoloigcal considerations than simply a contrast between a "created" analogy and a christological one.
WTM said…
Matt (Millinerd),

I miss the distinct cadence in your voice, which I picked up distinctly in my mind’s ear when you wrote, “Where, may I playfully inquire, does it say in the analogia-entis users manual that it has to be understood apart from Christ or as a rival mediator?” We should hang sometime.

Anyway, I would like to call attention to this other little bit you wrote, “But I don't buy the gulf between creation and new creation. I see continuity.” The question is, “With what kind of continuity do we have to do?” It is essential that we understand how Barth conceives of the creation / covenant (Christ) relation to answer this question. For Barth, creation is the external basis of the covenant while the covenant is the internal basis of creation. The two are inseparable. For this reason, we shouldn’t think of creation as something independent in itself, for it always presupposes the covenant. If we are going to work out an “analogia entis-adventis,” the “entis” and the “adventis” are going to have to be mutually basic, even if basic in different ways.

BTW, apart from frequent discussion in CD 3, this material in Barth can be (more or less) easily accessed in the opening section of CD 4.1.
D.W. Congdon said…
Matt,

Thanks for the comment. Indeed, it is heartening that there are people like you who use these theological concepts appropriately and conscientiously, and I commend you for bringing Barth and Bonaventure and Benedict together. Even so, I struggle to see what the doctrine of analogy accomplishes for you. Before I address your particular statements, let me put forward an overarching question: Is the analogy of being given with creation or redemption? And if with creation, what does it do for us? What is the bottom line for the average person?

"not as another mediator, but as an anticiapation of the one mediation"

This is a bold statement. The problem I see is precisely the problem with separating Logos and Salvator, and that is this: How exactly does the analogy of being anticipate the analogy of advent (to use this phrase)? Or, how does the analogy of being anticipate the one Mediator, Jesus Christ?

It seems to me that anticipation requires some kind of strict correspondence between the two. But if the analogy of being is disconnected from the reconciling work of Christ then I fail to see how it anticipates at all. I will say this again later, but I think the problem here is that the analogia entis forces you to separate Christ's person from Christ's work -- and this is an unacceptable theological move. Granted, creation is part of Christ's work, but it is not essentially so. The essential work of Christ is his work of new creation, redemption, reconciliation. And we cannot understand the work of Christ elsewhere apart from this event. Thus, even if there were an analogy of being, we would only know it via faith in the Son of God as our Savior. And hence we are back at the analogy of advent.

"Therefore, to Jüngel, I would ask why we cannot have an analogia entis-adventus?"

Actually, this is precisely what he says. The analogy between Jesus Christ and reconciled human beings is most definitely ontological in nature. But the analogia entis as it is usually conceived, including by you, would not be so easily conjoined with his understanding of analogy. That is, the whole thrust of the analogia entis throughout history has been to establish a means whereby we as rational creatures might think and speak of God. Jüngel abolishes this general attempt and, with Barth, locates such speech only within the realm of faithful participation in God through our correspondence to Jesus Christ.

"Was creation not a gift? ... how can I even consider humanity abstractly apart from Christ? Yet, if I think of humanity in Christ, how can I not have a very mitigated analogia entis that anticipates and is fulfilled by the Incarnation?"

We have to understand humanity apart from Christ because not everyone corresponds to God by faith. All humanity may be elect in Jesus Christ, but this does not yet mean that all humanity bears the imago Christi. The distinction between Christ and humanity is essential and cannot be elided. Jesus defines for us true humanity, but it is not yet the humanity of every person.

You speak again here of an anticipatory analogia entis, this time one which is "very mitigated." How mitigated? What does it accomplish in such a form? Why even insist upon it? If you can reason your way to the existence of God, is it still "very mitigated"?

"But I don't buy the gulf between creation and new creation. I see continuity. Does Christ save the world ex nihilo?"

I echo Travis' comment wholeheartedly here. I do not see continuity; I see asymmetry. This is perhaps the heart of the whole discussion. Where you fall on the relation between creation and new creation will most likely determine how you interpret the analogia entis.

Regarding Christ saving the world ex nihilo, in a way, I would agree with that. I don't mean that Jesus Christ creates a whole new cosmos. But we are saved from the abyss of nothingness as Barth would say; we are rescued from the grip of chaos, from the void, from nihil. Jüngel writes a fair amount on justification as creatio ex nihilo, and I highly recommend it.

"we can know Christ as Logos alongside our knowledge (in faith) of Christ as Salvator Mundi, which is what I'm suggesting."

This is the crucial statement in my opinion, next to the one about continuity between creation and new creation. You say that we can know Christ as Logos "alongside" Christ as Salvator Mundi. My question is simply, how? Let's make it more broad. How can we know "Christ" (i.e., Messiah) at all? Or, how can we know Jesus as the Christ? It seems to me that the very identification of Jesus and Christ is a statement of faith. To say "Jesus Christ" is to confess that Jesus is the Messiah. So in my opinion, the distinction between Logos and Salvator is rather moot in that both of these require faith in Jesus as the promised Christ. Of course, such faith is faith in a Christ who saves us (Salvator), so once again, I do not think we can separate Logos and Salvator in any way. Placing them alongside each other is simply a way of saying that they are somewhat separable. This goes back to your understanding of the analogia entis as an anticipation of Christ's reconciling work.

Now maybe you simply mean to say that Christ as Logos is a knowledge which accompanies our knowledge of Christ as Salvator. If so, fantastic! I couldn't agree more. Then, of course, you are agreeing with my thesis: that the analogy of being is a consequence of faith, not of our general created state.

"In short, you've shown me the analogia entis has a troubling tendency, but until I see a necessity I can't see the need to forsake it. If you can show me that, I most certainly will."

I doubt I could ever succeed in this, but here are some final comments:

* If you simply want to affirm an ontological correspondence between God and humanity, then the analogia adventus accomplishes this for you while still properly emphasizing the coming of God in Christ and our participation in God through faith alone.

* But if you want to affirm some general human capacity to reason about God, then the analogia entis will force you to jettison Barth and Jüngel and will create some big questions:

1. Why kind of continuity is there between creation and new creation? Is it more or less the kind of continuity that many theologians saw between prelapsarian and postlapsarian humanity? That is, reason remained intact as an identifying marker of the human person in the imago Dei?

2. Are you operating with a kind of "anonymous Christianity" principle, so that all people in a sense already "know" Christ before they place their faith in him? That way, there would be a mysterious, anonymous knowledge of Christ as Logos in connection with Christ as Salvator, without a separation. In a sense, then, we are already in the imago Christi prior to an existential event faith. Is that right?

I will leave it there for now to see how you might respond. Thanks for the provocative discussion!
Shane said…
I dislike Hemming's article very much. I'm writing something for my own blog about it. more soon.
millinerd said…
I hadn't realized your thesis was, as you put it, "the analogy of being is a consequence of faith, not of our general created state." And yes, I do agree with that. Certainly in my case because I'm a Christian, I don't wish to approach the analogia entis apart from faith. And, again, the fact my analogia entis retains an "infinite dissimilarity" certainly doesn't risk working Christ out of a job.

It seems to me then that our disagreement is not with the analogia entis, which you seem to accept, but how to get there: by general reasoning or by faith.

In this post you come out pretty strong, following Barth, against reasoning to God in a general way apart from Christ.

I am not as concerned about that capacity, nor about other Barthian no-no's such as natural law. I am sufficiently immunized against the pitfalls of liberal Protestantism that I don't think they will lead to alternate paths to God apart from Christ. Instead, they can functions as pointers to Christ.

Reasoning to God in a general way is a possibility, albeit not an entirely interesting one and certainly not salvific in any way. If it proves, as it has proven, to be for some people a single step on the long journey toward faith then why proscribe it?

You are correct that I "simply want to affirm an ontological correspondence between God and humanity," and that is all my first post was trying to accomplish. The analogia adventus as you propose it sounds compelling, and I appreciate you're having introduced it into this discussion. But I am interested in the ecumenical potential and historical track-record of the analogia entis which the analogia adventus to my knowledge doesn't possess.

In ecumenical discussions I think we need to rehabilitate classic terms rather than propose new ones.