Monday, February 28, 2011

Johnson on Söhngen and Barth on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Analogy

When we arrive at the below quote, Johnson has just finished sketching Söhngen’s proposal for establishing an analogy of being that is integrated with and in many ways subsumed under an analogy of faith. As Johnson establishes, Söhngen’s work convinced Barth that Przywara’s analogy of being did not necessarily represent Roman Catholic theology (read: Thomas Aquinas), and that therefore the analogy of being is not necessarily the invention of the Anti-christ. But, it is also not the case that Barth can simply jump on board with Söhngen’s position. Thus, Johnson gives us the below.

Keith L. Johnson, Karl Barth and the Analogia entis, T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology (London; T&T Clark, 2010).
[W]hile Söhngen may be correct that Barth does have to talk about a participation entis - and, by implication, an analogia entis - if he talks about an analogia fidei, he is incorrect to think that Barth’s definition of either term stands in line with his own. The key difference is that the analogia entis implied within Barth’s analogia fidei is one that cannot be understood as part of the larger ‘nexus of being’ in which all other things exist, while Söhngen’s version can. The reason this is the case is found in Söhngen’s explicit rejection of the analogia attributionis extrenseca. Söhngen rejects this type of analogy because he believes that it sets ‘faith against being, or the reality of faith against the being of the world and human reality’. The analogy must be an intrinsic one, he argues, because otherwise the human’s being in Christ stands in opposition to human being as such. Söhngen, in short, wants to retain an account in which the grace available through Jesus Christ does not stand in contradiction to, but in line with, the grace found in nature by virtue of God’s act of creation. As we have seen, however, Barth simply cannot accept such an account. (181)
Johnson goes on to examine Barth’s support for extrinsic analogy and rejection of intrinsic analogy in CD 2.1. Here is the payoff:
Barth is not saying that concepts or characteristics that apply to God do not apply in any way to human creatures, such that there is no continuity between them...Barth does, in fact, hold that, in an analogy between God and the human, the concepts and characteristics used in that analogy apply to both parties so that there is continuity between their application to God and their application to the human. The key distinction, however, is that this continuity is the results of God's grace in Jesus Christ alone. In other words, Barth denies that an analogy can be drawn between God and the human as a function of those characteristics that are understood to belong to the human by virtue of his or her creation by God, because the human in analogy with God is the human in Christ, and the being of this human is objectively distinct from the being of the human as such. (187)
Johnson concludes by allowing Barth to once again give voice to his suspicion that the Roman Catholics were only able to see / rediscover that the analogy of being is inextricably linked with the analogy of faith because of his stark rejection of Przywara’s position. As always, italics were original to the text.

4 comments:

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X-Cathedra said...

Thanks for this, Travis. Again, Johnson's clarity and knowledge of the Catholic interlocutors is exceedingly helpful. It seems he lays out precisely where the major difference lies (and, naturally, why I think Barth doesn't quite get it;)). I hope to post more on him shortly.

And it looks as though I will get a chance to read his book in tandem with Przywara.

Pax Christi,

Pat

Nathaniel Maddox said...

Just read Barth's small print section in II.1 a couple of days ago where he takes on the differences in use of the analogy of faith between himself and the Reformed Scholastics per Quenstedt (pp.237-43). Probably the best (by way of detail) demonstration of the parameters Barth sets on the analogia entis in II.1, imho.

Bobby Grow said...

That second quote from Johnson is excellent!