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Faith Alone: Grace Instead of Being, The Difference Between the Analogy of Faith and Being

The title of my personal chapter in our edited book is: Analogia Fidei or Analogia Entis? Either Through Christ or Through Nature. While a little different from the way I develop this dichotomy for doing theology in my chapter, George Hunsinger helpfully details what the differences are between Karl Barth’s ‘Analogy of Faith’ approach V. a Roman Catholic (and classically Protestant) inspired ‘Analogy of Being’ approach. He writes of Barth:


[A]lthough Barth once wrote that “I regard the analogia entis as the invention of the Antichrist” (I/1, xiii), and although he went on to polemicize against it repeatedly, nowhere in the Church Dogmatics does he pause to directly to define what  he means by it. Indirectly, however; what he means becomes sufficiently clear. The analogia entis is conceived as embracing two matters at once: a constitutive state of affairs and an epistemic procedure based on it. (Where I have said “constitutive” and ‘epistemic,” Barth would tend to say “ontic” and “noetic.”) The state of affairs is one in which human beings are in some sense inherently open to and capable of knowing God. The procedure is then one in which this inherent openness and capacity are exercised such that God becomes known, regardless of how provisionally. As the premise behind natural theology, the analogia entis seems to underwrite almost everything Barth takes to be theologically impossible by virtue of the personalist, objectivist, actualist, and particularist motifs (See pp. 96-99, 255-56.)

Barth’s epistemic alternative to the analogia entis is the analogia fidei: The analogia entis, as Barth understands it, posits an analogy between the human being and the divine being by virtue of their sharing a commonality in “being” (even though the two may not be conceived as related to this commonality in the same way). (This commonality is the condition for the possibility of the human being’s inherent openness to and capability of knowing God.) The analogia fidei, on the other hand, posits an analogy between human action (faith) and a divine action (grace) in just a situation where no ontological commonality is conceived to exist. Grace elicits faith, and faith corresponds analogically to grace, but no ontological of any kind mediates between them. Since no inherent human openness or capability exists to be exercised, grace is the sole condition for the possibility of faith. Faith is conceived as grounded in grace alone, and the mediating term with respect to the analogy is conceived not as “being” but as “miracle.” [George Hunsinger, How To Read Karl Barth: The Shape of His Theology, fn. 2, pp. 266-67 Nook edition.]

The theology and thought done on this blog, The Evangelical Calvinist, is decidedly done from the analogia fidei the ‘analogy of faith’ as given expression by Barthian formation. There is no common ground, I would argue, between the being of God and the being of humanity; there is no hierarchical and thus necessary interrelation between all being; as if God is the unmoved mover from which all being owes it like being in a graded kind of succession (starting with God’s as the Creator). Instead the succession of being is proper to God’s inner life alone, as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interpenetratingly coinhere and inter-relate one with the other; it is in this kind of being, a being that is shaped by Divine persons in relation, wherein a Self-givenenss is realized, one for the other—we might call this Self-giveness, Love. And it is out of this Self-sustaining (A-seity) freedom of giveness for the other (in the Subject-Object distinction between the persons of the Divine Monarxia), this eternal choice of life for the other (in God’s inner-life), that He has freely and graciously chosen to create the other (i.e. humanity), in order to serve as a counterpoint (thank you, Habets) wherein He could share this life of Love with the other. The other being created in order to participate in this kind of freedom of life that is sustained by none other than Godself for the other. And in this God-world relation, the nexus between God and humanity finds its ground for being. Not in a necessary relationship between God as brute Creator, and the rest of creation as a necessary relation to this kind of Creator God; but in a dynamic relation, wherein the connection is grounded in God’s freedom to create out of pure unadulterated love for the other, the kind of love that has defined God’s choice to create and then relate to His creation through gracious action inclusive of inviting His creation to participate in His free life of Love on the basis of His gracious action of creation. So the relationship between humanity and God is based upon a relational dynamic of trust (faith) wherein knowledge of God and self is realized through the same Word which upholds all things, and in a continuous state of Event, gives human being its life by graciously sustaining it by His life of Love (so defined). In this relationship, the primacy is not given to humanity’s inherent capacity to possess a knowledge of God upon an extrapolation abstract by the active intellect upon humanity’s being; but instead primacy is given to Christ, and the relation to God therein rests in His very person mediated to us through the humanity of Christ. It is through this relation to God, one that is shaped by the person of God in Christ, wherein the analogy of faith finds its repose; as any conception of necessary being in ourselves, is contradicted by the faith of the Son for us for the Father, wherein the Son receives His being as Son by His Free relation to the Father by His shared nature. So the analogy is one of faith, because there is no other basis upon which creation finds resonance except through the act of God’s grace to create out of Free love for the other, which is first realized antecedently in His inner life which has freely become for us.


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