Thursday, July 14, 2011

Analogical Predication and Stigmatizing the Morals of One's Opponents

1. Chapter One of Michael Horton's The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way is titled "Dissonant Dramas: Paradigms for Knowing God and the World".

Section III of Chapter One is titled "Epistemology: Knowing God". 

Subsection A of Section III is titled "How Can We Know God? Post-Reformation Interpretation". 

This is a miserable subsection and I will start with the worst of it - the ending paragraph (Horton 2011, 57): 

Although not all representatives (certainly not Carl Henry, for instance) would embrace an "overcoming estrangement" paradigm, univocity has been the characteristic ontological and epistemological presupposition of this scheme, just as equivocity is the ground of "the stranger we never meet." If univocity breeds rationalism, equivocity generates epistemological skepticism. Both positions presuppose human autonomy and are, therefore, unwilling to regard reality and access to that reality as a gift that comes to us from outside of ourselves. It is significant that Paul describes this perverse refusal to accept our role as covenant creatures as ingratitude (Ro 1:20-21). This refusal is not, therefore, simply an intellectual problem, but is rooted in an ethical rebellion that is willfully perpetuated. As Paul goes on to relate in that passage, the biblical term for this pursuit of autonomous metaphysics is idolatry. 

2. This paragraph is miserable.

There are three views of predication: univocal, analogical and equivocal. 

Horton subscribes to the analogical view of predication. 

But Horton is not satisfied with appraising the other two views he disagrees with as wrong, incorrect or false. 

Horton has to judge those who hold to the other two views to be "ingratitude" to God, commit "ethical rebellion that is willfully perpetuated", and practice "idolatry".

And Horton called on the Apostle Paul to help him do this dirty work. 


3. In regard to the theories of predication, it has to do with how a predicate apply to its subject(s). 

A theory of predication is about the relation between language and reality.

In particular, a theory of predication is part of a theory of reference and is about how a linguistic object (predicate) refers to objects in the world (the subject of the predicate).

Regarding our language about God, there are three theories about how predicates apply to God: univocally, analogically and equivocally.

Following Gordon H. Clark, I hold to univocal predication: “But if a predicate does not mean the same thing to man as it does to God, then, if God’s meaning is the correct one, it follows that man’s meaning is incorrect and he is therefore ignorant of the truth that is in God’s mind.” (Clark [1957] 1982, 32)

4. Horton believes in the Creator-creation Distinction.

And Horton thinks the Creator-creation Distinction implies analogical predication.

I also believe in the Creator-creation Distinction.

But I do not think the Creator-creation Distinction imply analogical predication.

The Creator-creation Distinction is an ontological distinction.

It implies that I, and other things in this world, am created by God.

But the Creator-creation Distinction is not an epistemological distinction.

The Creator-creation Distinction does not apply to the object of knowledge, which is truth or proposition.

The object of knowledge is truth and all truths are propositional, therefore the object of knowledge is a proposition.

God is omniscient, which means God knows all truths.

Furthermore, God is essentially omniscient, which means that God could not be God and lack omniscient.

God knows all truths by determining the truth-value of propositions.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (3.1a):
God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.

How does God ordained whatsoever comes to pass?

God ordained whatsoever comes to pass by determining the truth-values of propositions.

A proposition is true because God from eternity determines that it be true.

A proposition is false because God from eternity determines that it be false.

Therefore, truths or propositions exist eternally and necessarily as the objects of God’s knowledge.

When a person knows any truths at all, he knows the identical propositions that God knows.

Knowing the identical propositions that God knows imply univocal predication.

Since God knows all truths, and if we do not know *some* of the truths God knows, then we do *not* know any truths at all.

Since both analogical and equivocal predication imply that we do not know any of the truths that God knows, both are reduce to skepticism.


Clark, Gordon H. [1957] 1982. The Bible As Truth. Reprinted in God’s Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics, 24-38. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.

Horton, Michael. 2011. The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.