The Categorical Distinction in Berkhof

Thanks to Brandon for highlighting this passage in Berkhof (under the Doctrine of God). There’s an entire chapter on this topic in RRC.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


92 comments

  1. “‘All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archeypal knowledge which God has of himself’ (Berkhof, ST, 35).”

    I was wondering about the extent of knowledge derivable from God’s self-revelation in nature. Would it be correct to say that this type of knowledge does not point to identity (something exclusive to special revelation) but merely to an abstract concept of God that is still ground enough for moral culpability?

    Van Til might take issue with Berkhof’s “true and accurate” clause for it seems to discount the role of sinful depravity in the equation.

    • Warren,

      What we know from nature is limited.

      1. Paul gives a very short list of divine attributes that can be known in nature.

      2. What is known in nature is not saving, it is condemning. It is law, not gospel.

      3. Nevertheless it is true revelation, which the sinner seeks to suppress by his unrighteousness but like a beach ball in the water it keeps popping back up.

      4. Why would CVT would disagree (and where did he do so?) with Berkhof here?

      • Sir,

        When Berkhof says, “Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archeypal knowledge which God has of himself,” does he qualify between the kind of knowledge available to the depraved and regenerate mind?

        Can it be said that the unregenerate mind is able to arrive at “true and accurate” conclusions about God from special revelation when sin encumbers him?

        • Warren,

          Was Berkhof discussing what unregnerate man can know there or was he talking about believers? If we deny that humans can know truth then we become, like Pilate, skeptics. The Christian faith isn’t skeptical. Humans can know truth but they cannot know archetypal truth.

          Further, non-Christians can know truth even if they don’t believe it. Remember, there are three aspects to faith: knowledge, assent, and trust. A person may know the facts of the faith without assenting to them or trusting Christ.

          A person cannot have a saving knowledge of God in Christ without, however, the prevenient grace of God regenerating him, giving him faith, and uniting him to Christ.

          • Out of complete curiosity . . . is the phrase “prevenient grace” normally used by Reformed theologians? I thought that was a strictly Arminian term. Seriously, I’m probably proving my ignorance here, but humor me. 😉

            • I don’t think the term belongs to Arminians/Remonstrants any more than any other shared term. Prevenient just means “that which precedes.” The difference is in the definition of the term grace. The Remonstrants redefine “grace” so that it is more like “natural ability” than it is “sovereign undeserved favor.” Surely Reformed folk believe that God’s sovereign undeserved favor comes preveniently to dead sinners and makes them alive?

            • Dr. Clark,

              I understand what you’re saying, and I’m not trying to strain out a gnat, but your use of the term is the first I’ve ever seen by a Reformed theologian (I probably just don’t read enough). I’d gotten the idea that it’s a technical term reserved for Arminians, and I was curious if there might be some historical precedent in which other Reformed thinkers have “reclaimed” it. I’m sort of “wet behind the ears” and occasionally get shocked unnecessarily as a result. But I love Reformed theology and appreciate your contributions.

              Blessings,
              Derek Ashton

  2. A couple of thoughts –

    * In what ways, if any, might this correspond to the essence/energies distinction made by EO theologians?

    * I recall Michael Horton mentioning that Berkhof relied heavily on Bavinck as he wrote his ST (Bavinck at that time not translated into English). Is this kind of approach to the distinction characteristic of Bavinck as well?

    • David,

      Mike Horton has done some work on essence/energies distinction. It’s in vol 2 or 3 of his WJKP series.

      Yes, Bavinck uses this distinction. See vol 1.212ff.

    • Scripture tell us that something is so but it doesn’t tell us what that something is in substance. We know that God is. We know what is he to us (Deus erga nos) but not what he is in himself (in se). The Reformation inherited that distinction from Scotus, among other sources. It was basic to Protestant theology. Luther articulated it as the distinction between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross and between God hidden and God revealed. As H. Selderhuis shows in his work on Calvin’s commentary on the psalms it was basic to Calvin’s theology too. F. Junius articulated the distinction as archetypal v ectypal. It was adopted and advanced by the Reformed orthodox through the 17th centuury. Turretin wrote, “But when God is set forth as the object of theology, he not to be regarded simply as God in himself (for thus he is incomprehensible [akataleptos] to us) but as revealed and as he has been pleased to manifest himself to us in his word, so tha the divine revelation is the formal relation which comes to be considered in this object.” (1.5.4)

      (Sed quando Deus proponitur ut Obiectum Theologiae, non spectandus est simpliciter ut Deus in se, sic enim nobis est akataleptos (i.e., absconditus); sed quatenus revelatus et ut se in Verbo nobis patefacere dignatus est…)

      • Oh. Aha. Hmm…

        Could you translate the Latin for this benighted one?

        Thanks, I guess.
        Hugh

          • Beautiful, Scott — thanks!

            I reframe my question thusly, Is God’s “archetypal” knowledge his immediate, original/ innate knowledge of things (including our all thoughts), whereas ours is mediated, obtained/ derived, yet we both know some of the same facts/ propositions?

            I don’t see how the Turretin is particularly A&E, or why G.H. Clark would take issue with it.

            I also don’t see how your answer addressed my question. You do disagree that our thoughts and God’s are completely non-intersecting?

            Would you agree with this statement?:

            “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words, then the Bible is a merely human book. If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then we have no knowledge of God whatsoever… If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then man can know nothing, and we are all lost.”

            Again, of course, we know but a we bit of what God knows, but we do know something of the everything that he knows.

            Thanks,
            Hugh

            • Hugh,

              No, we have only analogical knowledge. Period. Our intellects do not intersect with God’s. Yes, Clark did take issue with Turretin. Read the essay in the Strimple festschrift and the chapter in RRC on this topic.

              Clark, Hoeksema and others departed from the historic Reformed view on this question. They sided with Thomas Aquinas (and, ironically, Jacob Arminius).

              CVT didn’t invent the doctrine of analogical knowledge. He inherited it (whether he knew it or not) from the 16th-century orthodox (e.g., Junius).

            • Oops: We know but a WEE bit of what God knows, but we do know something of the everything that he knows. Thanks, Scott. But I still think I think some of God’s thoughts after him.

              Argh! Gotta buy more books?!

              Does the Strimplefest or RRC reveal/ explain the Clark & Hoeksema/ Aquinas & Arminius connection? I know that Gerstner was an embarrassingly avid fan of St Tom, but was unaware that C&H were, too.

              Hugh

              • Hugh,

                Yes, the essay in the Strimple festschrift shows the connection. I’m not claiming that they did so intentionally, at least not in every case, but that they ended up in the same place for similar reasons.

            • Thanks Scott. However, as my brother has said (in reading this exchange):

              ‘If this is true: “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s,” then God doesn’t know everything because He doesn’t know my thoughts.* Plus, everything RSC wrote below is only analogically true. Therefore I can reject it and not have any worries… Who cares who “sided” with whom?’ Amen.

              * Would you say that God DOES know our thoughts? Then either you contradict yourself, or God knows our thoughts analogically?

              Grace & Peace,
              Hugh

            • Scott,

              “God can know what I know”? ~ Then our intellects do intersect with God’s at some points.

              You are apparently (w/ an antimony/paradox?) contradicting yourself:

              “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s.” vs. “God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.”

              Sadly, neither of us were taught logic in sem.

              Hugh

              • Hugh,

                Now you’re just quibbling. By “intersection” I had in mind the sort of view Thomas taught whereby humans are able to know what God knows, the way he knows it. Thomas talked about analogical knowledge but he was not consistently analogical.

                The issue is not what God can know but what humans can know. The Reformed have been so concerned to prevent the sort of confusion you seem to want to create that they distinguished not only between theologia archetypa and ectypa but between three kinds of ectypal knowledge:

                Theology of pilgrims (what we have) theology of the blessed (what the glorified have) theology of union (what Christ has)

                The point of the latter was to deny to Christ’s human nature the sort of knowledge that G. Clark sought to give to him.

                The Lutherans, otoh, affirm that Christ’s human nature has archetypal knowledge.

                See the materials to which I referred you. You need not spend any money. They’re available through inter-library loan.

            • “Quibble — verb (a) to equivocate. (b) to carp; cavil.
              Synonyms — evasion, equivocation, sophism, shift, ambiguity.”

              Scott ~ I am trying wholeheartedly to avoid (a), and waiting to resort to (b), and fear you’re kinda in the synonyms area…

              I believe I am arguing against you, and trying to point out what appears to be a contradiction in your statements.

              _I_ seem to want to create confusion?! Ha ha! I am certainly confused in reading your replies, but not God’s word that says that David was a king in Israel, Christ rose from the dead, and that Paul was a supralapsarian. 🙂

              I still think I think some of God’s thoughts after him. We have the mind of Christ. Christ is in us, the hope of glory.

              Oh well, “You say either and I say either,
              You say neither and I say neither.
              Either, either Neither, neither,
              Let’s call the whole thing off.
              You like potato and I like potahto,
              You like tomato and I like tomahto.
              Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto,
              Let’s call the whole thing off…”

              Retiringly Yours,
              Hugh

            • Hugh,

              This might be helpful; I heard it the other day in an old Bahnsen lectures (on of the ones here). He said Van Til would use homely illustrations when he was at his house to illustrate how God’s knowledge is not only quantitatively different than ours but also qualitatively. Van Til’s illustration was as follows: Suppose I want to know how many socks I have in my drawer. I have to go upstairs, open the draw, and count them. God doesn’t have to do that, and it’s not just because God can see through the drawer. The reason is that God’s knowledge is determinative, causal, or creative (not sure if those were the exact words or if he used all of them), ours isn’t. We have a different type of knowledge, which in this way, never intersects with God’s.

  3. Scott,

    Is there any particular chapter in Selderhuis that you’re thinking of? I’m reading it in the next week and just browsing ahead I didn’t find archetype/ectype/categorical distinction in the index. It would be good to know where to look out for it.

    Are you aware of the review of RRC at Reformed Academic? As I recall David DeJong critiques the categorical distinction. In the comments, Freda Oosterhoff speaks of it as being connected with the “neo-Platonic logos doctrine.”

    • Hi Wes,

      Selderhuis invokes the God revealed/hidden distinction. The TA/TE vocabulary didn’t come into existence until the 1590s.

      Odd, it’s the Platonists who’ve tended to deny it! There’s nothing Platonic about it. That’s a facile but false analysis.

  4. Essence/energies distinction, the TA/TE distinction, these are not peculiarly Eastern Orthodox, they are biblical and patristic and as shown on this blog, Reformational and Reformed. By not observing the distinction, we end up as Sabellians, monophysitism, and what not. This is where Gordon H Clark whom I agree on a lot of areas was mistaken. He was a Platonist. But as Luther was wont to point, it’s theology which determines Christian philosophy, not the other way round. The logic of the Chalcedonian Definition compels us to recognise the distinction outlined above.

  5. “By “intersection” I had in mind the sort of view Thomas taught whereby humans are able to know what God knows, the way he knows it.”

    ‘Kay. Another word than “intersection” might be better then, because you’re not saying the propositions differ, just the WAY the knowledge is known. The content of all our thoughts HAS to coincide with some of God’s.

    Is this not universally agreed upon by all Reformed guys?

    Hugh

    • Yes Hugh. GH Clark affirmed that we do not know the way God knows – thus RS Clark is confused or misinformed about your questions – or he mis-spoke.

      No, we have only analogical knowledge. Period. Our intellects do not intersect with God’s…Clark, Hoeksema and others departed from the historic Reformed view on this question. They sided with Thomas Aquinas (and, ironically, Jacob Arminius).

      Dr. Clark, do you interact with GH Clark’s criticism of Aquinas on this very issue in your book where you claim that Clark agreed with Aquinas? Have you read GH Clark’s criticism of Aquinas on this point?

      Also, do you believe that Robert Reymond completely misunderstood Aquinas’ position?

      Aquinas’s dilemma is that he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to affirm the analogous relationship between God and man on the one hand, but he denied all univocal coincidence in predication respecting them on the other.

  6. Nope. I’d like to at some point. Does the article that you are referring to, where you claim that GH Clark agreed with Aquinas, interact with CH Clark’s criticisms of Aquinas on this point?

    Also, on this blog, you said that GH Clark, Hoeksema, and others denied the Reformed tradition and agreed with Aquinas’ view that not all our knowledge is analogical – however, Reymond and Clark say that Aquinas actually believed the exact opposite (that all our knowledge is analogical). Therefore, are you saying that Reymond and Clark completely misunderstood Aquinas?

    These are simple questions of clarification. And yes, I will get to your book.

  7. Many people have misinterpreted Thomas on this point because they take his language re analogy at face value without putting it in it’s broader context.

    Yes, Thomas spoke of analogy but he was not consistent with that. He was, at bottom, a neo-Platonist and not an analogical theologian. He has that in common with G. Clark.

    • Ok, thanks for the clarification. Reymond and Clark recognize(d) that inconsistency in Aquinas (neither of them took it at face value – see the quote from Reymond above). So your argument is that GH Clark followed Aquinas’ inconsistency (that there is some univocal element between our knowledge and God’s) whereas Van Til followed Aquinas’ professed analogical epistemology?

      • (And again, I would ask, do you interact with CH Clark’s critcism of Aquinas on this point? Have you read GH Clark’s criticism of Aquinas on this point?) Thanks.

      • Sorry – I think I’m just confusing things more than anything else at this point – a bit distracted with other things. I look forward reading your article at some point

  8. How could GHC, HH, CVT, or St Tom know – & how can RSC & RR know – whether their knowledge is real or not?

    How could any of them be certain their knowledge was true?

    Then, how could they critique one another, if the rules of logic are mere man-made analogies, and all biblical assertions are mere ectypes, with no corresponding intersection in God’s thinking?

    Seems that a self-awareness that one knows nothing THAT God knows (not merely AS Gods knows) should keep one from dogmatizing…?

    If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then do we have any knowledge of God? If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then how can man truly know anything?

    Should St James have written (@ 3:17), “But the wisdom from above is first analogical, then ectypal, etc.”?

    • Hugh,

      Anything God reveals to us is necessarily accomodated & therefore ectypal.

      The fellows who gave us the TA/TE distinction were aware of James’ teaching. What comes to us from heaven is TE.

      We don’t have to know the way God knows to know truly & analogically. God has graciously revealed himself to us & constituted the world to be known adequately.

  9. My 2 cents worth …

    If I may, GHC was mistaken because he confined our limitation in the quantitative sense. God’s knowledge is infinte; our’s aren’t.

    But this precisely assumes that we do/can know certain things about God IN Himself. The church fathers to whom the Eastern Orthodox appeal much in the same way that we appeal to Augustine and the other western church fathers insisted that *essence* is unknowable, indefinable, i.e. to say essence is beyond categories, thought-forms, etc. It is supra-being, neither being nor not-being.

    The TA/TE inherently protects the distinction between person and essence without which we would end by the force of logic into Sabellians and so on, committing triadological and christological heresies. But we are not always consistent; Augustine wasn’t, the western tradition wasn’t. It got rid of the neo-platonist influences in soteriology but ironically traces of these remained stuck and hard-wired in triadology. OTOH, the eastern tradition got rid of Platonism in its triadology but allowed it to affect its understanding of soteriology.

  10. Thus, EO soteriology is climbing the ladder , progress towards God even without the juridical categories.

  11. Where did Pastor Matthew challenge the use of ET/AT distinction by Dr Clark?

    • In addition to Jason Loh’s query, I would add that it is an overstatement to suggest that “how God knows”/”how we know” is unrelated to “what we know,” as the other Brandon seems to imply.

      The Berkhof quotation is proof of this. Its context is the doctrine of God and Berkhof’s discussion of the “knowability of God.” Notice he does not use the terms archetypal/ectypal “theology,” but rather archetypal/ectypal “knowledge.” Nevertheless, it’s the same discussion even if posed from different angles– whether of a discipline or of an epistemology.

      Brandon Wilkins

    • Winzer believes RS Clark is misusing historical theology to support Van Til’s epistemology:

      Rich, I’m not trying to bring a Van Tillian or anti-VanTillian agenda into the use of these terms. I am only concerned to see that the terms are used in accord with their original intention when the authority of the orthodox reformed is invoked. I have already stated that they did not use terms like qualitative and quantitative, but independent and dependent. Ectypal theology, for reformed dogmaticians, is God’s own conceptualisation of the truth. It is accommodated for the creature, but it comes from the Creator. In knowing this truth, we know Him, Jn. 17:3, Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:9-12. It is everywhere assumed that ectypal truth corresponds with what God knows since it is what God willed. Blessings!

      Yes, Van Til emphasises dependence; and as noted before, he was right to do so. Our apologetic must be a defence of the Independence of God and the dependence of man upon Him for all things, so that there is no thinking outside the theistic box. The only ultimate interpretation of reality is found in God Himself. But it is evident, surely, from the statements provided, that the traditional use of AT and ET did not equate ectypal theology with creaturely knowledge. It is conceptualised by God Himself (sorry to keep saying the same thing, but it seems to be a fundamental point that is not being reckoned with). This *is* God’s knowledge, not in its absolute fulness, but accommodated to the limitation of the creature for the purpose of blessing the creature with this knowledge. The issue with VanTil does not revolve around his insistence that human knowledge is *dependent* upon God’s knowledge, but that human knowledge is *different* from God’s knowledge. But if it can be grasped that God Himself has condescended so as to conceptualise Himself in accord with human limitation, the ontological distinction between the Creator and creature is bridged. We know God ectypically, not archetypically, just as God knows us ectypically, not archetypically. Blessings!

      It has been clearly shown that ectypal theology is God’s conceptualisation, not man’s; it is true theology, that is, it is what God Himself knows about Himself and His actions in relation to His creatures. It is accommodated for the creature, but it comes from the Creator. To borrow Calvin’s image of a father lisping to his child — what the father knows is conceptualised and communicated into a form that the child can understand. To then say that the child’s knowledge is different from the father’s is counterproductive — the father knows what he has conceptualised according to the capacity of the child. The knowledge is the same.

      JohnV, that’s obviously the sticky point for Dr. Clark as well, as it was also for Van Til. Whether it is a sticky point is not really within the purview of what I have been trying to show. My concern is only to show that it was not the sticky point for the orthodox reformed, and therefore the terminology should not be adopted in the interests of introducing dialecticism into theological method, as if it has the countenance of the orthodox reformed. Blessings!

      • Go back and read the sources. You’ve not even read my work for yourself yet, have you? Then go back and read the sources I’ve read, in their original context and show me that I’m abusing them.

        • I’m simply quoting the words of Matthew Winzer, please go complain to him and tell him to go read the primary sources.

  12. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that some here are building a straw man and not taking the TA/TE distinction at face value.

    Aren’t these straw men?
    “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    I don’t hear analogical theologians saying that. They’re saying the truths of Scripture are a faithful copy of God’s actual thoughts.
    “if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s . . .”
    That’s not what they’re saying, either. It’s not a question of content, but of our ability to humanly comprehend and categorize the content that is only divinely comprehensible.
    “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words . . .”
    Absolutely wrong. No analogical Reformed theologian denies that the Bible is God’s Word.
    “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    Analogical theologians don’t say this. If there are truths revealed in Scripture (and we believe there are), God thinks them. But He thinks more than that, and He thinks in a different way (a divine way).
    “if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s . . .”
    A totally false inference. Read the Berkhof quote again.

    These straw men do not reflect the things I hear those who hold to the distinction saying (e.g. Berkhof). They are simply comparing the intellectual apparatus of man with that of our Creator. These men are saying the propositions we receive from Scripture are a faithful, accurate copy of God’s own thoughts (that’s what ectype means). Hence, we can think some of the same propositional content of God’s thoughts after Him, but we cannot think God’s actual thoughts because we don’t have the apparatus to do so. (It’s like trying to pick up a TV signal through a radio. Even when you get tuned in to the right station, you’re still missing something – a picture). One can think of propositional revelation (the ectype) as 2-dimensional, and God’s archetypal thoughts as 3-dimensional. He sees stereoscopically, with infinite depth, while we see with an eye patch called “creaturehood” makin Truth look flat. Since we are so limited, God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand (Calvin’s “lisp”), language that is necessarily limited (but not false or uncertain). Guys like Berkhof are simply saying that God Himself cannot be reduced to a mere set of propositions (contra Gordon Clark). Propositions are containable and controllable. God isn’t.

    Far from devaluing Scripture, these men are exalting God. Some theologians who have a rationalistic bent etch away at the glory of God by reducing Him to a set of humanly explicable propositions. He’s never going to be that small.

    • D.,

      You said, “Guys like Berkhof are simply saying that God Himself cannot be reduced to a mere set of propositions (contra Gordon Clark). Propositions are containable and controllable. God isn’t.”

      Of course God cannot be so “reduced” existentially, nor is he “containable & controllable.” No one says he is.

      But how do we speak of & think about God? We think and speak ectypally/ analogically. And hence, we have no other way to think & speak about God _except_ through propositions. Hence, our creeds & confessions, and endless arguments, books, & blogs!

      As you well put it: “God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand.” He’s not reduced or diminished or contained or controlled, but he is really understood!

      He lisps, as you remind us Calvin said. That’s all the “reduction” we need — if you want to use that word — his lisp.

      Or, as you say: “He [God] sees stereoscopically, with infinite depth, while we see with an eye patch called “creaturehood” making Truth look flat. Since we are so limited, God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand (Calvin’s “lisp”), language that is necessarily limited (but not false or uncertain).

      That “flat-screen look,” or “lisping language” is precisely what our statements (“propositions,” if you like) about God are.

      Hugh

      • Hugh,

        Thanks for those responses. Perhaps there is a tension between emphasizing the comprehensibility of divine revelation and the incomprehensibility of the One revealed. The comprehensible revelation reveals that the Revealer is too incomprehensible to comprehend … and it does so with amazing clarity.

        I think when some Reformed theologians say our knowledge is “different” than God’s, they are referring quantitatively to a reduced content on the one hand (accommodating to our weakness, as in the illustrations above), and qualitatively to a reduced depth of apprehension on the other hand (accommodating to our innate creaturely limitations). I doubt even Van Til would say God knows one thing archetypally and reveals something of a completely different content ectypally. That would make God a liar, or at least a distorter of His own Truth. Ectypal knowledge has to be as true as Archetypal, or else the whole thing falls apart. But I believe there is a Biblical case for the distinction in both aspects, reduced content and reduced depth of apprehension.

        In discussing God’s meticulous sovereignty in Psalm 139, David says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful [Heb. pil’iy, incomprehensible] for me, I cannot attain to it.” (Ps. 139:6, NASB). David “knows” the propositions he has just written, yet in some way he is unable to grasp them. The revealed propositions are just the tip of an incomprehensible iceberg.

        The only other occurrence of the Hebrew word pil’iy is in Judges 13:18, where the angel of the Lord says he has an incomprehensible name. The name of an angel should consist of the simplest possible propositional statement, yet in this case it is obviously much more. So, the Biblical proposition revealed is not “The angel’s name is ___________,” but instead perhaps, “Things that are simple to God and His angels are way beyond your grasp.” These are two isolated texts, but along with others they point us toward the categorical distinction.

        In another comment you mentioned I Cor. 2, which is certainly apropos to this topic. I’m fascinated by a few of Paul’s statements there:
        1. No one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God.
        2. We have received the Spirit who is from God.
        3. We may understand the things freely given to us by God.

        Note that he doesn’t say we know the mind of God directly. He says we have received the Spirit who knows the mind of God. So, the Spirit living in us has exclusive Archetypal knowledge (knows the mind of God), and He shares Ectypal knowledge with us (so that we may understand the things freely given to us by God). He doesn’t say “so that we may understand the mind of God,” but the things freely given to us. Interestingly, unbelievers also have things freely given to them by God, yet they remain willfully ignorant of that fact. Both are recipients of His gifts, but only believers can perceive how greatly they have been “graced.”

        Could all of this be evidence that God Himself has carefully preserved the categorical distinction in His Word?

        Blessings,
        Derek

        PS – you’ve sure got me thinking!

  13. Here’s the Berkhof quote:

    “Alongside of the archetypal knowledge of God, found in himself, there is also an ectypal knowledge of Him, given to man by revelation. The latter is related to the former as a copy to the original, and therefore does not possess the same measure of clearness and perfection. All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself” (Berkhof, ST, 35).

    Derek says,
    Aren’t these straw men?
    “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    I don’t hear analogical theologians saying that. They’re saying the truths of Scripture are a faithful copy of God’s actual thoughts.
    >> Wonderful!

    “if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s . . .”
    That’s not what they’re saying, either. It’s not a question of content, but of our ability to humanly comprehend and categorize the content that is only divinely comprehensible.
    >>But “our ability to humanly comprehend and categorize the content” is salvific by God’s grace, and we can truly say that we know God, love God, etc. in Christ. We have the mind of Christ as he lives in us. “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Cor. 9-12.)

    “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words . . .”
    Absolutely wrong. No analogical Reformed theologian denies that the Bible is God’s Word.
    >>Wonderful!

    “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    Analogical theologians don’t say this. If there are truths revealed in Scripture (and we believe there are), God thinks them. But He thinks more than that, and He thinks in a different way (a divine way).
    >>Wonderful!

    “if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s . . .”
    A totally false inference. Read the Berkhof quote again.
    >>I did, thanks. CVT dide not follow Berkhof here.

    Thanks, Derek.
    Hugh

  14. “Guys like Berkhof are simply saying that God Himself cannot be reduced to a mere set of propositions (contra Gordon Clark). ”

    Precisely! Sory to say this, this was what Clark was SO mistaken! (that is UNORTHODOX). This has triadological, christological and anthropological implications. For Clark, person is reducible to propositions. This is not biblical, Chalcedonian and Reformational. Yes, Hugh has hit the nail!

    • Jason,

      Please see my reply to him above @

      “Hugh McCann, on June 8, 2010 at 11:18 am Said: D., [etc…]”

    • That sounds kind of funny: “This is not biblical, Chalcedonian and Reformational”

      when all these are nothing if not…

      …propositions…

      God to us
      in our creatureliness,
      with our analogical apprehension of him,
      by our ectypal understanding of him,
      is revealed to us in a series of propositions.

      Infallibly in Scripture,
      and more-or-less infallibly (wink) in creeds, confessions, etc.

      Hugh

      • Hugh,

        I don’t think anyone is denying the necessity and reality of propositional revelation. Do you really think that anyone denied that?

        What is in question is whether God is a proposition (as GC suggests by his identification of the Logos with logic).

        • Scott,

          Q1 — I hope not!

          Q2 — To quote a greater sage than I: “God necessarily thinks logically. That is, His mind is structured according to the laws of logic and the content of his mind, or rather, His mind itself is Truth. Truth is only propositional, otherwise it is non-cognitive.” (Our friend Clifton @ God’sHammer.org.)

          I don’t recall anyone saying “God is a proposition.” As I said above to Derek, “we have no other way to think & speak about God _except_ through propositions.” And he has chosen to communicate thus to us in his lisp.

          But is not logic (incl. non-contradiction & all that) the way God thinks and also the way we know him, receive his necessary & real propositions?

          Hugh

          • To say that God’s mind is structured according to logic, without distinguishing between what logic is for God and for us, is virtually a verbatim repetition of Thomas’ rationalism! He called it “ratio” but it’s the same idea.

            That’s one reason why the Protestants articulated the distinctions I’ve been describing — to avoid the very sort of thing you’re saying Hugh.

            • Thanks, Scott,

              Logic is for us the propositions of Scripture, the written word of God.

              To repeat LB: “…our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself.”

              God “cc-ed” us on his logic. His mind is logical, and that mind he reveals to/ shares with his people. I.e., we have his mind (1 Cor 2:16), & he expects us to sharpen it (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:5b).

              Perhaps I would not want to say “that God’s mind is *structured* according to logic,” as that sounds like “Logic” is a god to whom God must conform.

              We cannot know the Archetype beyond His self-disclosure. LB states that while our knowledge (of God, et. al.) is less clear than God’s, (as well as imperfect, derived, ectypal, & analogical), yet it is “also true and accurate.”

              The ectypality of our knowledge does not necessarily mean we cannot think God’s thoughts after him, does it?

              • Hugh,

                God didn’t carbon-copy us exactly. You omit a very important qualifier. He condescended and accommodated himself to us. Thus, what we have from God is an analogy of his knowledge but “cc” doesn’t quite capture it.

                Again, by definition if a thing is “archetypal” we don’t and can’t know it. All we can know is that which is ectypal. When you speak of our knowing the Archetype, that needs to be qualified. We know God as he has accommodated himself to us and made himself known but technically to say we know the Archetype is to say we know God in himself, which is impossible in the nature of the case.

                That’s Berkhof’s point: There true, genuine knowledge of God that is not archetypal but ectypal. Our knowledge of truth is not contingent on an intersection our the human intellect with archtypal truth.

            • Hugh,

              Berkhof would not say our logic and God’s logic are the same.

              “There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories.”
              Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), p. 445

              This axiom shows up in Berkhof’s discussion of Common Grace, where he admonishes us to rely on the explicit statements of Scripture more than we rely on our own logic. He is clearly drawing a line between human logic and divine logic.

              Berkhof was a smart guy! Better yet, a wise one. Wish I could have met him.

              Derek

  15. Dr. Clark,

    Admittedly, I haven’t ready your work on this (yet), but out of curiosity are my observations here in line with your conclusions in the book (in general)?

    Blessings,
    Derek Ashton

    • Hi Derek,

      I’ve not been following the comments closely for the last few days but as far as I’ve seen, yes. Take a look at the essay in the Strimple Festschrift and the chapter in RRC and see what you think.

  16. Hey Derek,

    To replay a couple of our greatest hits:

    #1
    JR: “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    DA: I don’t hear analogical theologians saying that. They’re saying the truths of Scripture are a faithful copy of God’s actual thoughts.
    Me: Wonderful!

    JR:“if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s . . .”
    DA: That’s not what they’re saying, either. It’s not a question of content, but of our ability to humanly comprehend and categorize the content that is only divinely comprehensible.
    Me: But “our ability to humanly comprehend and categorize the content” is salvific by God’s grace, and we can truly say that we know God, love God, etc. in Christ. We have the mind of Christ as he lives in us. “…God has revealed to us through the Spirit. …also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received… the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Cor. 9-12.)

    JR: “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words . . .”
    DA: Absolutely wrong. No analogical Reformed theologian denies that the Bible is God’s Word.
    Me: Wonderful!

    JR: “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks . . .”
    DA: Analogical theologians don’t say this. If there are truths revealed in Scripture (and we believe there are), God thinks them. But He thinks more than that, and He thinks in a different way (a divine way).
    Me: Wonderful!

    #2
    Logic is for us the propositions of Scripture, the written word of God.

    To repeat LB: “…our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself.”

    God “cc-ed” us on his logic. His mind is logical, and that mind he reveals to/ shares with his people. I.e., we have his mind (1 Cor 2:16), & he expects us to sharpen it (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:5b).

    We cannot know the Archetype beyond His self-disclosure. LB states that while our knowledge (of God, et. al.) is less clear than God’s, (as well as imperfect, derived, ectypal, & analogical), yet it is “also true and accurate.”

    So, our logic and God’s logic must be the same. What’s true for him is true for us.

    Hugh

    • Hugh,

      “Greatest Hits” . . . that’s hilarious. I like your sense of humor. I was similarly thinking, “Didn’t we just go through all of this?”

      Somehow we’re missing each other. I’ll have to think more about what you’re saying.

      For now, I’d like to propose this:

      1. Human laws of logic do not contradict God’s logic (otherwise they would be invalid).
      2. But our logic is a rather simplified (shall we say 2-dimensional?) version of God’s logic (because He’s divine and we’re creatures).
      3. So we should be careful not to try to reduce Him to our logic (per LB).

      This preserves the validity of our logic on the one hand, and a necessary difference between our minds and God’s mind on the other hand. Even our logic is ectypal. Thus limited, it cannot do what His can do.

      If we had archetypal logic, this conversation would have been over long ago.

      Anyway, you’re going to have to take it up with LB. He’s the one who said God can’t be reduced to our logical categories. 🙂

      Blessings,
      Derek

      • Thanks, D.

        1. Human laws of logic do not contradict God’s logic (otherwise they would be invalid).
        >AMEN! Here we are!

        2. But our logic is a rather simplified (shall we say 2-dimensional?) version of God’s logic (because He’s divine and we’re creatures).
        >Simplified, yes, and of course we mess it up.

        3. So we should be careful not to try to reduce Him to our logic (per LB).
        >No. But our logic (when thinking his thoughts after him) is a subset of his. We have MANY fewer propositions and we regularly mess it up.

        If we had archetypal logic, this conversation would have been over long ago.
        >Amen! Our ectypality is true and accurate (per LB!), but we often mess it up.

        Thanks, Hugh

  17. Scott,

    >>God didn’t carbon-copy us exactly. You omit a very important qualifier. He condescended and accommodated himself to us. Thus, what we have from God is an analogy of his knowledge but “cc” doesn’t quite capture it.

    Well, I included all LB’s qualifiers (less clear, imperfect, derived, ectypal, & analogical), and also insist on his “also true and accurate” bit!

    So, I’ll condescend to add “condescended and accommodated” (that’s where DA & I agreed with Calvin’s calling it a “lisp”), but you of course wouldn’t say that the received analogy (the archetype informing the ectype) is flawed.

    >>Again, by definition if a thing is “archetypal” we don’t and can’t know it. All we can know is that which is ectypal. When you speak of our knowing the Archetype, that needs to be qualified.

    We know the ectype, a true and accurate analogy of the archetype! Glory! We have a more sure word of prophecy, said St Peter, even better than seeing Christ transfigured before one’s eyes!

    >>We know God as he has accommodated himself to us and made himself known but technically to say we know the Archetype is to say we know God in himself, which is impossible in the nature of the case.

    OK, so we know the accommodated, analogical archetype (AKA ectype). And this = the mind of Christ.

    >>That’s Berkhof’s point: There true, genuine knowledge of God that is not archetypal but ectypal. Our knowledge of truth is not contingent on an intersection [of] our the human intellect with archetypal truth.

    If the Supreme Archetype does not transmit/ reveal ANY of his truth to us, if “our intellects do not intersect with God’s,” then is all that can be said of God & his propositions is that both are completely unknowable, and that we cannot know any of his thoughts after him, except for just things and bits KINDA like his? No, we couldn’t know ANY of his thoughts.

    He being omniscient, by definition, he knows all things (we THINK, unless that concept is archetypal!), and we’d then have to know nothing.

    Brother Derek rightly states: “we can think some of the same propositional content of God’s thoughts after Him.” I agree of course, and would say that THAT content = God’s thoughts.

    So vital are LB’s qualifiers here: “also true and accurate”! There’s nothing false or inaccurate about God’s thoughts/ words/ logic in his book.

    You’re messin’ with the man here (how come I’m the only one quoting him in this thread?!):

    “Alongside of the archetypal knowledge of God, found in himself, there is also an ectypal knowledge of Him, given to man by revelation. The latter is related to the former as a copy to the original, and therefore does not possess the same measure of clearness and perfection. All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself” (Berkhof, ST, 35).

    Get Berkhof’s verbiage:
    revelation,
    as a copy to the original [“cc-ing”!],
    self-revelation,
    true and accurate.

    Sounds like the analogy is a pretty darned good & faithful one! Kinda like the OT temple and the one in heaven (Heb 9:11)?

    Or, God’s law is just & holy; but it’s also unprofitable & weak (cuz of us sinners). In the same way, is not God’s revelation (propositions/ laws/ logic/ mind/ thoughts) perfect, and his disclosure perfect, but our reception is fallen-fuzzy?

    Going back to Derek: “It’s like trying to pick up a TV signal through a radio. Even when you get tuned in to the right station, you’re still missing something – a picture.”

    Hugh

    “Thus it was necessary for the {ectypes}
    of the {archetypes}
    to be purified with these rites,
    but the {archetypes} themselves
    with BETTER sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered,
    not into holy places made with hands, which are {ectypes}
    of the true things {archetypes},
    but into the {archetype} itself,
    now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”
    (Heb 9:23f)

    • Hugh,

      Yes, exactly. In his self-revelation God has given us a true, accurate analogy of what he knows in himself (in se) but, by definition, we cannot know the archetype. You cannot turn the ectype/analogy into the archetype.

      In class I draw two parallel lines. They never intersect. They are always parallel. One represents God’s archetypal knowledge (we know that it is but we can’t say what it is or it wouldn’t archetypal). The other represents ectypal knowledge. We can know what that is because it’s accommodated to our finitude. It is an analogy of the archetype but that analogy remains an analogy. It never becomes anything other than an analogy.

      When you make the analogy into the archetype, you change Berkhof’s point. You make him say the exact opposite of what he and Junius and Turretin and the rest of the orthodox meant to say.

      This is where Thomas stumbled. He had, in effect, two parallel lines which did not remain parallel because he assumed/believed that if we do know what God knows, the way he knows it at some point, we can’t know anything. This is the great assumption of all intellectualists. They must have this sort of intersection between the divine and human intellects. Without it, they say, we have only skepticism. The great difficulty of this view, of course, is that it make divinity the prerequisite of true knowledge. In other words, it destroys the Creator/creature analogy and, at one point at least, makes the creature equal with the Creator. It agrees with the serpent, we must know as God knows or we can know nothing.

      I take it from Gen 2 that the plan to know as God knows was a mistake and that God took a dim view of it.

      • Scott: >In his self-revelation God has given us a true, accurate analogy of what he knows in himself (in se)

        Hugh: + With *NO* correspondence/ intersection/ commonality of facts whatsoever?

        >but, by definition, we cannot know the archetype. You cannot turn the ectype/analogy into the archetype.

        >In class I draw two parallel lines. They never intersect. They are always parallel. One represents God’s archetypal knowledge (we know that it is but we can’t say what it is or it wouldn’t be archetypal). The other represents ectypal knowledge. We can know what that is because it’s accommodated to our finitude. It is an analogy of the archetype but that analogy remains an analogy. It never becomes anything other than an analogy.

        + The lines being his knowledge and ours?
        They never intersect? No commonality?
        God then knows none of our ectypal analogies?
        No facts/ words have the same meaning to him & us?
        No commands or propositions mean the same to us both?
        + How do you know that God’s & our thoughts have no intersection?
        + Doesn’t God know this, too?
        + Could it be they DO intersect, and you just don’t know it?
        + Deut 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
        + Are you saying that the things revealed & belonging to us are utterly foreign, alien, and UNKNOWN to God? That we have info he lacks, in other words? Surely you don’t believe THAT?! If you don’t, then our thoughts and some of his HAVE to coincide at points…
        + Doesn’t God know our thoughts?

        >When you make the analogy into the archetype, you change Berkhof’s point. You make him say the exact opposite of what he and Junius and Turretin and the rest of the orthodox meant to say.

        + Oh. Then let me just quote LB, sans any spin: “Alongside of the archetypal knowledge of God, found in himself, there is also an ectypal knowledge of Him, given to man by revelation. The latter is related to the former as a copy to the original, and therefore does not possess the same measure of clearness and perfection. All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself” (Berkhof, ST, 35).

        + Tell me, please, how LB’s “revelation, as a copy to the original, self-revelation, true and accurate” = not touching any of God’s knowledge? Parse Berkhof’s quote, please, the one we’re referencing in this thread. If he somewhere else said that our thoughts and God’s intersect NOWHERE, please cite that one.

        >This is where Thomas stumbled. He had, in effect, two parallel lines which did not remain parallel because he assumed/believed that if we do know what God knows, the way he knows it at some point, we can’t know anything. This is the great assumption of all intellectualists. They must have this sort of intersection between the divine and human intellects. Without it, they say, we have only skepticism.

        + Dunno Thomas and the Intellectualists (sounds like a ’60’s band), but “if we do know what God knows,” does that necessarily mean that we have to know in “the way he knows”? Isn’t LB’s archetype/ ectype distinction speaking only of the way we know stuff?

        >The great difficulty of this view, of course, is that it make divinity the prerequisite of true knowledge. In other words, it destroys the Creator/creature analogy and, at one point at least, makes the creature equal with the Creator. It agrees with the serpent, we must know as God knows or we can know nothing.

        + Of course none of us is divine, but “divinity” must precede knowledge in that the Divine must truly reveal himself for his creatures to have true knowledge.
        + As Paul said, “what God has prepared for those who love him, these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Cor 2:9f), right?
        + We have “the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Cor 2:12); we have Christ’s very mind, man (2:16)! Do you honestly believe you know nothing he knows?! And he knows nothing you know?

        + I have tried to use Scripture to prove my points. Would you do so, too, please?
        + Can you show me from Scripture (not Turretin, Van Til, Junius, et. al.) where we learn that God’s thoughts and ours have no points of intersection?

        >I take it from Gen 2 that the plan to know as God knows was a mistake and that God took a dim view of it.

        + Yep, he sure did!
        + Does God know that he took a dim of view of it, or is this but ectypal/ analogical knowledge? You see why you’re charged with skepticism, I hope.
        + If every one of your interpretations of Scripture (creeds, confessions) or even the plain reading of the sacred text is nothing but your own thoughts, nowhere intersecting, touching, or connecting with God’s thoughts, then why should your confession/ understanding of Scripture be considered better than the next church’s?

        + Thanks for the food for thought,
        + Hugh

        • Hugh,

          We’re going round in circles. WE, finite creatures, ipso facto, cannot know what Godkniws, the way he knows it.

          God, by contrast, is omniscient. By definition he knows ALL.

          The limit is on what WE can know.

          I made this point about 3 days ago.

          Our true knowledge is true without being ANYTHING but analogical.

          • He has given us his Spirit that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.

            The child can really read his Father’s disk!

            Hugh

            Deut 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

          • RSC: “WE, finite creatures, ipso facto, cannot know what God knows, THE WAY HE KNOWS IT.” (CAP emphasis added, HM.)
            Me: As I said, these are two different points. We agree on the latter, but apparently not on the former.

            RSC: “God, by contrast, is omniscient. By definition he knows ALL.”
            Me: Of course he is & does. We agree on this.

            RSC: “The limit is on what WE can know.”
            Me: Of course.

            RSC: “I made this point about 3 days ago.”
            Me: You said on 6/5: “We know that God is. We know what is he to us (Deus erga nos) but not what he is in himself (in se).”

            Amen. We know that God is and what he is to us (a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, per Heb 11:6, among many other wonderful things!).

            Does God know these things, too? Of course he does. In a different way than we do, but he and we know the same propositions of Scripture, if and when we’ve studied them. This is all I am meaning by intersection/ correspondence of our thoughts.

            On 6/7, you strangely said: “God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.”

            We are in agreement if you mean that
            God knows all you know w/o your knowing all he knows; or that
            God knows what you know w/o your knowing the WAY in which he knows.

            But if you mean that God knows what you know w/o your knowing ANYTHING he knows (e.g. David was king, Christ arose, etc.), when he has clearly revealed his word to believers, then we are at odds.

            Also on 6/7: “We don’t have to know THE WAY GOD KNOWS to know truly & analogically. God has graciously revealed himself to us & constituted the world to be known adequately.” (CAP emphasis added, HM.)

            Also from 6/7 you said: “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s.”

            Later that day you helpfully explained: “By ‘intersection’ I had in mind the sort of view Thomas taught whereby humans are able to know what God knows, THE WAY HE KNOWS IT.” (CAP emphasis added, HM.)

            You’re saying that “intersection = common points of knowledge (what he knows and what we know) as well as common method of knowing (how he knows and how we know).” With that definition, then I also would not want to use the word “intersection.” (But with qualifications, I still like the word.)

            On 6/9: “God has given us a true, accurate analogy of what he knows in himself (in se)…”

            And on 6/10: “Our true knowledge is true without being ANYTHING but analogical.”

            Of course; amen! And God and we know the same analogy! (I’d call the analogy the intersection.)

            Perhaps for the sake of learning & getting at the truth, you will please answer at least one of these:

            Isn’t Berkhof’s archetype/ ectype distinction speaking only of the WAY IN WHICH we know stuff?

            Can you show me from Scripture where we learn that God’s thoughts and ours have no points of commonality?

            I understand that you are under no compulsion to answer me. This is your bat, ball, & blog. Thank you for your time.

            Yours,
            Hugh

            Deut 29:29 ~ “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

            1 Cor 2:9f ~ “what God has prepared for those who love him — these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”

            • Hugh,

              By definition, an analogy is not an intersection. An intersection, at the intersecting point, is identity. That is not analogy.

              I really think that it would help if you would take the time to read the materials to which I’ve pointed you. You may decide that the tradition is right, but maybe those explanations would help you see more clearly how the Reformed have historically spoken abut the incomprehensibility of God.

  18. Hugh,

    Dr. Clark has laid it out plain and simple. Here’s one more little illustration that came to mind.

    Let’s say you download 100 kb of information from your computer onto a CD-ROM and give it to a 5 year old. Then the kid goes around saying he has a disk that “intersects” with your computer, or that he “knows” your computer, or that he has “access” to your computer. You protest, because none of this is true. You insist he doesn’t have your computer, all he has is some information from your computer, and it’s only the small amount of information you want him to have. What he has is not your computer. From the moment you created the disk, it will never again intersect with your computer (i.e., your computer and the disk are parallell lines). You know what’s on the disk, but the kid has no idea what’s on your computer. In other words, your computer is not “networked” with his.

    To take it a step further, let’s say the kid has one of those old CRT monitors with green text on a black background. No graphics. The information you gave him looks quite different on his computer, and whatever he understands is understood with the brain of 5 year old. Nonetheless, everything he can accurately get from the disk is a true and faithful representation of the part of your computer you’ve shared with him. At the same time, it’s different and it is definitely not your computer.

    Your computer represents the Archetype
    The disk represents the Ectype
    The 5 year old with the lame hardware represents you and me. 🙂
    The Holy Spirit is a teacher who comes in and helps 5 year olds understand what’s on the disk.

    Derek

    • Derek,

      But we can read & understand the disk?

      To the analogy’s 5 year old, were the disk’s info utterly inaccessible, then it’d be useless. It’d be like having a book in a foreign tongue, or locked away somewhere. He can carry the disk around and appear pious, but it’s of no use to him.

      But as you say, “…all he has is some information from your computer, and it’s only the small amount of information you want him to have.”

      And, “everything he can accurately get from the disk is a true and faithful representation of the part of your computer you’ve shared with him.”

      The child has a computer, made in the image of yours. His hard drive accurately and truly reads the data (words) you want him to have, so that he understands your thinking and will for him. He can think your thoughts and speak your words after you!

      As you say, “The Holy Spirit is a teacher who comes in and helps 5 year olds understand what’s on the disk.”

      The really “lame hardware” of course applies to unbelievers.

      God has given us the necessary “hardware” (Scripture [the disc] and his Spirit) to receive & understand his word.

      Back to my text of the week:

      1Co 2:6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is NOT a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.
      1Co 2:7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
      1Co 2:8 NONE of the rulers of this age UNDERSTOOD this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
      1Co 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”–
      1Co 2:10 these things God has revealed to US through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
      1Co 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
      1Co 2:12 Now WE have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that WE might understand the things freely given us by God.
      1Co 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
      1Co 2:14 The natural person does NOT accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and HE IS NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THEM because they are spiritually discerned.
      1Co 2:15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
      1Co 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But WE have the mind of Christ. {EMPHASES ADDED}

      Yours,
      Hugh

  19. Hugh,

    I’m saying we’re stuck with the lame hardware, but believers get the Holy Spirit as a personal tutor/teacher (that’s what I Cor. 2 says – no mention of a hardware upgrade there). You’re missing the point of the illustration. The point is that we can validly say everything Dr. Clark said in his most recent comment. You’re deriving numerous false inferences from it, and none of them are actually contained in the distinction as articulated by RSC here or LB in this Systematic Theology (or me in my half-baked illustrations, for that matter!).

    If we were discussing the Trinity, you’d be saying “Is He ONE or is He THREE,” and every times someone said “one” you would say “but I thought He was three,” and vice versa. You’re polarizing and oversimplifying something complex that is meant to be taken in multiple senses. This is how we get into trouble in Reformed theology. Ask any hyper-Calvinist, and he will tell you God cannot both love and hate the non-elect at the same time. But He does, whether we like (or understand) it or not.

    [POP – can of worms bursts open]

    “There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories.”
    ~Louis Berkhof

    Derek

  20. I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with Derek and Dr Clark and others on the free offer and common grace. On this I’m with GHC, which means I believe that there is an intersection but also analogy in TE though not necessarily with respect to the same content-specific proposition, idea, etc. Personally, I’d be try to weed out (for lack of a better term) what I think are ”extreme” (again for lack of a better term) emphases, stress, or accentuation (whatever) … in other words, I don’t see Clark-Van Til on TE/TA as polar opposites or mutually exclusive. I believe the truth lie somewhere in between … ;-D That said, I could be wrong. And that God does love and hate the same object, but I’m not convinced from Scripture and my understanding of Luther and Calvin. And it’s not an issue for me.

    TQ

  21. Derek,

    No, no! Our hard drive has been seriously upgraded from unbelievers’ status. No more lame hardware, we now have the mind of Christ! And we can truly & accurately “read” God’s “disk”!

    TRINITY: One of one thing and three of another is the creedal/ logical way of speaking of God.

    WORMAGE: Sorry to be too simple for you, but God does say he hated vessel-o’-wrath Esau and loved vessel-o’-mercy Jacob, never that he loved & hated Esau, or loved & hated Jacob.

    Please email me if you want, as this is outside the topic.

    But don’t let the hypo-Calvinists overly complicate the Scriptures for ya! 🙂

    Hugh
    hughmc5 hotmail

  22. Hugh,

    I agree, it is a little off topic and I wasn’t trying to open a new controversy. I thought the example would be accepted as a staple of orthodox Reformed doctrine, but apparently I was assuming too much. Should have left it off at the Trinity.

    Don’t let the hypers under-complicate the Scriptures for you. This is a copy of an Archetype we’re dealing with here.

    I can’t agree with you about the hardware upgrade. OTOH, Christ did “open their minds,” so I’ll go as far as a new software package.

    Derek

    • This was meant for Derek:

      He has given us his Spirit that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.

      The child really can read the data from his Father’s disk on his little computer!

      Hugh

      Deut 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

      • Hugh says: He has given us his Spirit that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.

        The child really can read the data from his Father’s disk on his little computer!

        Derek says: Nobody’s disputing that.

  23. By definition, an analogy is not an intersection. An intersection, at the intersecting point, is identity. That is not analogy.

    I’m not sure where you are getting your definition of analogy.

    The Scholastics and Neo-scholastics try to disguise the skepticism of this position by arguing that although the predicates are not univocal, neither are they equivocal, but they are analogical. The five professors also assert that man’s “knowledge must be analogical to the knowledge God possesses” (The Text, 5:3). However, an appeal to analogy–though it may disguise–does not remove the skepticism. Ordinary analogies are legitimate and useful, but they are so only because there is a univocal point of coincident meaning in the two parts. A paddle for a canoe may be said to be analogical to the paddles of a paddle-wheel steamer; the canoe paddle may be said to be analogous even to the screw propeller of an ocean liner; but it is so because of a univocal element. These three things–the canoe paddle, the paddle wheel, and the screw propeller–are univocally devices for applying force to move boats through water. With a univocal element, even a primitive savage, when told that a screw propeller is analogous to his canoe paddle, will have learned something. He may not have learned much about screw propellers and, compared with an engineer, he is almost completely ignorant–almost but not quite. He has some idea about propellers, and his idea may be literally true. The engineer and the savage have one small item of knowledge in common. But without even one item in common, they could not both be said to know. For both persons to know, the proposition must have the same meaning for both. And this holds equally between God and man.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=258

    • analogy

      Main Entry: anal·o·gy
      Pronunciation: ə-ˈna-lə-jē
      Function: noun
      Inflected Form(s): plural anal·o·gies
      Date: 15th century

      1 : inference that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects they will probably agree in others
      2 a : resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike : similarity b : comparison based on such resemblance
      3 : correspondence between the members of pairs or sets of linguistic forms that serves as a basis for the creation of another form
      4 : correspondence in function between anatomical parts of different structure and origin — compare homology
      synonyms see likeness

    • Gordy Clark isn’t exactly an objective voice. I can quote Van Til back, but that doesn’t prove either of them right.

      Clearly, GHC departed from the historic Reformed view on this question.

      As noted previously, it’s not a question of content. By definition, the analogy communicates content from the Archetype. It’s not either/or, but both. The analogy communicates content from the Archetype and>/i> it (the analogy) is different from the Archetype. Why is this difficult?

      • Clearly, GHC departed from the historic Reformed view on this question.

        On properly defining what an analogy is? 😉 come on now

        • I personally would hesitate to follow GH Clark’s definition of anything. Especially after reading his stuff on the Incarnation.

          Not to be a GH Clark basher, but the Reformed world has had better role models. And better Clarks, too. :0

          • You don’t need to be Reformed, or even a Christian, to properly define the word “analogy.” That is my only point. Feel free to dispute his understanding of incomprehensibility, but don’t use a word incorrectly to define your view.

            RS Clark above said that analogy means there is absolutely no commonality/identity. If you can show me that in a non-theological dictionary, I will stand corrected.

      • Derek,

        And of course one can just as easily say,
        >Scotty Clark isn’t exactly an objective voice. One could can quote Hoeksema but that doesn’t prove either of them right.
        >Clearly, CVT departed from the historic Reformed view on this question.[a]
        >As noted previously, it’s not a question of content. By definition, the analogy communicates content from the Archetype. It’s not either/or, but both. The analogy communicates content from the Archetype and>/i> it (the analogy) is different from the Archetype. Why is this difficult?

        The difficulty lies in statements such as these:
        “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s.”[b]
        “God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.”[c]
        “By definition, an analogy is not an intersection. An intersection, at the intersecting point, is identity. That is not analogy.”

        These indicate that the analogical ectype does NOT “communicate content from the archetype.” They indicate that the ectype and archetype are completely separate entities, having no content in common.

        When Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth,” and, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” are they all three ectypal?

        Berkhof’s words “true & accurate,” and your word “content” are great.

        But with no intersection[d] AT ALL between God’s thoughts (archetype) and his words (ectype), then no words in Scripture would mean the same thing for God as they do for us AT ANY POINT.

        “Creation,” “sin,” “Christ,” “resurrection,” “redemption,” et. al., would necessarily mean things completely different for God than they do for us – definitions we necessarily could know nothing of!

        Yet Jesus said, “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me… Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:8 & 17.)

        Yours,
        Hugh

        [a] Of Van Til on the faith, RSC said, “I’ve not hesitated to offer criticisms, even strongly worded criticisms of Van Til — so much so that some Van Tillians have accused me of departing from the true Van Tillian faith.I think CVT’s language about God being “one person” was a monumental mistake. It is utterly incompatible with the catholic faith confessed in the catholic creeds and Reformed confessions. CVT made other pedagogical mistakes. I’ve criticized his historical accounts as unreliable in important ways. See RRC where I criticized him in print for this very thing.” (To me on May 18 under “John Muether Talks” @ this blog.)

        [b] Fine, if RSC’s qualification of “intersection” is used: “the sort of view Thomas taught whereby humans are able to know what God knows, the way he knows it.” But does that definition hold up in his and other traditionalist’s uses of the word?

        All sides seem to agree that God (1) knows all we know, (2) knows more than we know, and (3) knows in a manner differently than we. The conflict is over whether we know anything that he knows. RSC appears to say, “No, we don’t.”

        [c] Patently absurd, if this means that God knows what you know w/o your knowing ANYTHING he knows (e.g. David was king, Christ arose, etc.), when he has clearly revealed his word to believers. God knows all our thoughts, thus he and we know some same things. We think some of God’s thoughts after him. We have the mind of Christ. Christ is in us, the hope of glory.

        [d] Using this definition of RSC: “An intersection, at the intersecting point, is identity.”

        • Hugh,

          I think there are at least two things happening here:

          1. We’re going around in circles over the same ground. I’ve given numerous explanations and illustrations of the way I personally interpret the categorical distinction (in a way that seems to be more or less similar to RSC and the classic Reformed tradition – perhaps leaning toward the Van Tillian side) and why I think it’s worth affirming. You have given your reasons for rejecting some of the language. I could give more illustrations, and you could give more reasons, but the basic ideas will likely be the same and we’ll only be repeating ourselves. I repeat, we’ll only be repeating ourselves. 🙂

          2. More importantly – you and I are going to disagree, plain and simple, on what is an acceptable way to describe man’s knowledge of God through His self-revelation.

          You quoted RSC as follows:

          “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s.”[b]
          “God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.”[c]
          “By definition, an analogy is not an intersection. An intersection, at the intersecting point, is identity. That is not analogy.”

          You said these statements are problematic, but I think they’re accurate. In heaven we may find out who is more correct, but by then I’d think we won’t even care.

          At this juncture, perhaps the best way to avoid a repeated and fruitless disagreement over the same friction points is to unhesitatingly apply the oil of acceptance and the grease of gratefulness. I accept that you see this differently. I am grateful to God for showing you His Truth and and granting you strong convictions about the comprehensibility of that Truth (in all likelihood, this conviction furthers your sanctification). I am grateful for His grace in giving me strong convictions about His incomprehensibility (this definitely furthers my sanctification). And I accept that we haven’t achieved a consensus on the exact way these concepts should be harmonized. If GHC and CVT could see us now, they’d probably be laughing.

          I have enjoyed and profited from the discussion, and wish you all the fullness of blessing in Christ.

          Grace & peace,
          Derek

          • Derek,

            Ditto on the profitability. I enjoy and appreciate your analogies!

            I believe we agree that God
            (1) knows all we know,
            (2) knows more than we know,
            (3) knows in a manner differently than we, and thus,
            (4) we know some of the things he knows.

            Surely we agree that we think some of God’s thoughts after him.

            We have the mind of Christ in us, the hope of glory, indeed.

            Blessings,
            Hugh

Comments are closed.