Blog Template Theology of the Body: Who's Afraid of the Analogia Entis

Monday, February 25, 2008

Who's Afraid of the Analogia Entis

Millinerd explains a crux of Protestant versus Catholic understanding, here.

This is the notion that the very being (entis) of the created world offers an analogy by which we can (in a very limited way) comprehend God. For example, if you've looked at a sunset and wondered that perhaps God is similarly beautiful, you've intuitively employed what theologians call the analogia entis.

As Bonaventure puts it: "All created things of the sensible world lead the mind of the contemplator and wise man to eternal God... They are the shades, the resonances, the pictures of that efficient, exemplifying, and ordering art; they are the tracks, simulacra, and spectacles; they are divinely given signs set before us for the purpose of seeing God. They are exemplifications set before our still unrefined and sense-oriented minds, so that by the sensible things which they see they might be transferred to the intelligible which they cannot see, as if by signs to the signified" (Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, 2.11).

The analogia entis comes under severe Protestant attack. Why?

The 20th century Protestant theologian Karl Barth, in an overstatement that recalls Luther's remarks on the Mass below, called the analogia entis the "invention of the antichrist"(x). I imagine he did so because of its potential to obscure the mediating role that belongs to Christ alone. Instead Barth proposed the analogia fidei, (the "analogy of faith"), meaning the only link between ourselves and God is one of faith in Christ, recalling of course the Reformation's sola fide. In so doing, Barth burned all bridges but one, remembering that there is "one mediator" and "one foundation."