Univocal Of The Analogical

Regarding the Clark / Van Til controversy of the 1940s these points were innocuous.

1. Both sides affirmed a quantitative difference between God’s knowledge and man’s. The disagreement wasn’t so trivial as to pertain to the number of propositions known or how they exhaustively relate to each other. Surely, both sides agreed. God knows more stuff.

2. The mode or manner of how God knows is radically different than that of man. God’s knowledge is original or intuitive. Man’s, receptive or derivative. I know no disciple of CVT or GHC who’d demur.

3. The Westminster team wanted Clark and his gang to affirm a qualitative difference regarding the “content” of what God and man know.

With that as our backdrop, a few words…

All God’s knowledge is eternal and exhaustive. We oppose process theology, open theism, socinianism etc. Yet with respect to God’s ectypal knowledge, that knowledge would be God’s eternal and unchanging knowledge of the analogy he always intended to reveal to us through the things that are made. So, God knows himself originally, but as he lisps his revelation of himself to us he does so in a manner suitable to our creatureliness. The object of our knowledge is God’s revelation of himself, which is a replication or divine interpretation of the original.

Moving beyond the premise, this construct makes room for our having univocal knowledge, but not univocal with respect to God’s intuitive knowledge of himself, rather univocal with respect to God’s knowledge of his interpretation of the original. The point of contact or intersection between minds would be the analogy, which is to say God’s communication.

With that in mind, we may consider our knowledge of the ectypal univocal, but not in relation to the archetypal but in relation to God’s own knowledge of the (analogical) objects of our analogical knowledge. In other words, although our knowledge is analogical to God’s original self knowledge (analogical to the archetypal), our knowledge in another sense is univocal as it corresponds not directly to the original of God’s knowledge but rather as it corresponds to God’s own knowledge of the analogical icons that we also know.

In a word, it’s not that we know what God knows (the original), but that God knows what he has allowed us to know (the interpretation of the original).

5 thoughts on “Univocal Of The Analogical

  1. Ron,

    It is my understanding that three types of knowledge:

    1) Univocal knowledge: which means what we know is what God knows. We know facts the same as God does, to the same extent and degree. This does not allow for creature / creator distinction. God is infinite and we are finite. We cannot know to the same degree and extent that God does.

    2) Equivocal knowledge: we know nothing of what God knows. This type of belief leads to skepticism. It contradicts what the Bible says that God is knowable. God is the revealer and gifter of all knowledge. We know what we know because God revealed it.

    3) Analogical knowledge: we know truly but partially. God has revealed himself to us. This particular category of knowledge maintains the creature / creator distinction. Our knowledge is limited by our finiteness and by what God has chosen to reveal to us. Our knowledge is not exhaustive as God’s knowledge is.

    So, univocal knowledge is reserved to God only it is “an incommunicable” attribute of God because it has to do with infinity and exhaustiveness, something that humans are not and cannot possess. But analogical knowledge is reserved to us in its true but limited, finite way.

    I am not sure I understand how you are stitching these two concepts together, amalgamating what is un-amalgamatable. Help me understand.


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    1. Hi Michel,

      Those definitions are somewhat simplistic but they can be sufficient for our purposes if we don’t drill too far down. For instance, it asserts that our knowledge is analogical because it’s not exhaustive, which does not address the question of content and correspondence. It also suggests we have true knowledge but it doesn’t tell us how that can be if our knowledge is not exhaustive. In other words, it doesn’t define for us analogical knowledge. (Also, can we know what analogical knowledge is, other than analogically?) 😀

      When ectypal knowledge obtains, the object of it must be true. If the object is true, then God must believe it (since God believes all truth). God believes it as it truly is, an analogy of the archetypal knowledge, which only God has.

      Assume all our thoughts of God are analogical. Although we cannot know God as God knows himself, we can know God as he has revealed himself to us in “baby talk.” My point of the post is, the controversy of the 40s missed a distinction. If I may simplify, Clark thought that if we don’t know the content of a proposition as God believes it (not exhaustively yet at least minimally for knowledge to obtain), then we can’t have knowledge. Whereas Van Til maintained that we cannot know a proposition even minimally as God believes it lest we become like God.

      It appeared that Clark was saying that the intersection was at the archetypal level. Van Til (CVT) was correct in denying that interpretation. Yet in saying all our knowledge is analogical (CVT), it left the impression that we can’t know anything given that if we are to know anything our minds must obviously intersect God’s (Clark). (Many Van Tillians often deny this, which leads to skepticism. What is knowledge after all? Many Van Tillians compound the error by allowing for apparent contradiction in an extreme sense of logical contradiction and equivocation. These sorts do Van Til’s thought harm.)

      The solution is, God knows the original and the analogy. Did either side acknowledge that?! The creator-creature distinction does not imply that there is no similitude between God’s thoughts and man’s thoughts, but rather that the point of resemblance is at the level of analogy, not at the level of univocation. I think both sides missed it. To my knowledge CVT did not acknowledge that God knows the objects of our ectypal knowledge whereas Clark dismissed analogical knowledge altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 1 Corinthians 13:12 – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”


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