In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas suggests that our linguistic descriptions of God are always by analogy. His argument goes thusly:
  • A word is used univocally when it means the same thing in all instances (for example, vampire bat and long-eared bat).
  • A word is used equivocally when it means different things (for example, vampire bat and baseball bat).
  • When a descriptive term, like "wise," is applied both to God and to humans, this use is neither univocal (for human wisdom is not divine wisdom) nor equivocal (for human wisdom has its source in divine wisdom).
  • Such a use is by analogy, for the two uses are similar but not equivalent.
  • Therefore, while all creaturely attributes find their source in God, the creaturely presentation of these attributes is not the same as their divine presentation.
  • Our speaking of God is, therefore, a creaturely analogy for a divine reality.

How might certainty/assurance be explained/justified in light of analogous language for God?

In other words, if we cannot speak of God directly, how can we know we are speaking of him at all?


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“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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