Knowledge of God, in my mind, remains the obvious cornerstone for all theological endeavor. If theology is the study of God, as an idios of Christian reflection and Christian existence, then how one presumes, or theorizes a knowledge of God (how that obtains) becomes the very fundamentum, the pre-dogmatic grundaxiom (a denotative non-Rahnerian sense) of all subsequent theological discourse. For our Volume 1 Evangelical Calvinism book my personal chapter was on this very locus: viz. analogia entis V analogia fidei/relationis. That was back in 2012. I still cannot get over the gravity of this issue, one that most Christians, theologians included, glide right past. Whether it be Calvin’s duplex cognitio Dei (twofold knowledge of God), Luther’s theologia crucis (theology of the cross), Barth’s analogia fidei/relationis (analogy of faith/relation), TF Torrance’s kataphysin (according to the nature of) stratified knowledge of God, or Aquinas’ and Przywara’s analogia entis (analogy of being), respectively, among other theories of knowledge of God, all of these illustrate the significance, and even disparity, of how various theologians, and theological traditions have attempted to, and continue to think God.
Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον: οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό, οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην, ἀλλὰ δι’ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Galatians 1:11-12
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
The way the Apostle Paul received knowledge of God, the Gospel, was not by a discursive route of reasoning towards an actus purus (pure being) God, which is what we get in the so-called analogia entis. For Paul, knowledge of God came to him ‘apocalyptically,’ that is, it came to him as in-breaking/imposing unilateral revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This way of knowledge of God is not unique to Paul’s experience, it is the ‘way’ that shapes all of canonical Scripture. The God of the Bible just shows up without explanation. He doesn’t show up in the philosopher’s mind as a result of logico-deductive postulation, on the philosopher’s part. He doesn’t show up as a philosophical monad, or an Unmoved Mover who is actually infinite. He shows up as a personal God, who Self-reveals and explicates on His terms.
The classical theistic theologians, who I take to be philosophers of religion rather than Christian theologians, would attempt to characterize the ‘way’ of God’s in-breaking into the world, and the knowledge of God that obtains therefrom in Jesus Christ, as a quaint type of what they identify as theistic personalism. They would, petitio principii, presume that the burden is on anyone who would attempt to think God along the lines of the narrative of canonical Scripture, rather than think God from their self-asserted notion of God as that has taken shape in the antique of the Church’s tradition. Interestingly, I am referring not to Catholic theologians, in the main, but to self-professing Protestant theologians; theologians who claim to be adherent to the ‘Scripture Principle.’ But when it comes to the very ground and grammar for thinking God, they don’t follow the contours of Holy Scripture’s attestation to the way of God, in a God-world relation, vis-à-vis a knowledge of God, instead they think along with Thomas Aquinas and the so-called Great Tradition of the Church. There is nothing meaningfully Protestant about the way most so-called Reformed, and anyone recovering the scholastic methodology of theologizing (whether they be Lutheran or whomever), go about thinking God; it is simply a brute appeal to the Great Trad. In my view, this makes the current “Protestant” recovery movement of “classical theism” (after Aquinas, so a neo-Thomism) what we might call a Gnesio-Catholicism. In other words, I don’t see so-called Reformed Catholics as Protestant, I see them, in theological mode, particularly in regard to its theory of a knowledge of God, as what they seemingly would take to be an ‘authentic Catholic.’ This seems to be built into the Reformed Catholic mode; that is, as a logical conclusion to the Protestant Reformation. A return to the scholasticism of late mediaeval Catholicism, methodologically, while presuming to have achieved reformational status in regard to working and thinking from a self-asserted “biblicism” (‘Scripture Principle’), and its attendant Federal theological themes.
My approach, contrariwise to the aforementioned Gnesio-Catholics, that is to thinking God, might be characterized as a nuda Scriptura or solo Scriptura rather than Reformed sola Scriptura commitment. But of course, again, this is all relative. Since my approach, in regard to a knowledge of God, as that is focused on some form of an analogia fidei/relationis, remains a constructively Dogmatic ensemble. So, I’m not a Reformed Baptist, or non-Calvinist, as that flutters around in the popular domain, in regard to their type of quasi-Socinian solo Scriptura mode as that is funded by post-Enlightenment rationalist categories. My approach, I take it, is genuinely Protestant, insofar that I think from within the ‘mind of the Church,’ as long as that is understood as oriented by the reality of canonical Scripture as that attests to its gravitas, its res ‘reality’ in Jesus Christ. I take this to be Protestant in the sense that my theory of authority is no longer based on ecclesiastical pronouncements, but instead it is grounded in the Holy of Scripture, it is grounded in the fact of Deus dixit, ‘God has spoken,’ and continues to speak. This is the Protestant way, and the spirit of the ‘Scripture Principle.’ It is the notion that the viva vox Dei (living voice of God) is present in the context of His life and history for the world as that is given afresh anew in His continuous Self-revelation for the world, with particular focus on the Church, through the Christian’s encounter of Him as the communio sanctorum fellowships with Him around and within the confines of Holy Scripture. This is how the Apostle Paul, not to mention Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, the Prophets so on and so forth came to know God. It was as He established and brought them into His Covenant Life of Grace, as mediated afresh anew through the lightning bolt of the immediate mediation of Jesus Christ. This is the Protestant Scripture Principle in action, and actualism (I’m not shy).
Just some more of my running thoughts, and where I currently stand as a genuinely Protestant Christian.