Flashcards in Religious language: negative, analogical or symbolic Deck (36)
The view that there is insufficient evidence for God or the view that God cannot be known
A statement that asserts that something is factually true
Define 'apophatic way'
(via negativa) a way of speaking about God and theological ideas using only terms of what God is not
Define 'cataphatic way'
(via positiva) a way of speaking about God and theological ideas using only terms of what God is
Define 'univocal language'
Words that have the same meaning despite being used in a variety of contexts
Define 'equivocal language'
Words that have differing meanings in when used in different contexts
A comparison made between one thing and another to aid understanding
A word or representation used to stand for something else and to shed light on its meaning
What is religious language?
Any kind of language used in the context of religious discussion, behaviour and worship which could be specialist vocabulary or archaic liturgy
What do some say is the weakness of cataphatic language?
If people speak of God as a concept which we understand to be finite e.g. 'judge' or 'father' then we are constricting his infinite being and limiting his realm to be something we can associate with
Why do people believe even using compliments to describe God is wrong in the view of apophatic language?
Because even by saying God is love or good, we are relating them to our own concepts and understanding but if we say 'infinite' or 'immortal' then this distinguishes his superiority
Give an example of the application of apophatic language
Someone given 10m of fencing is told to make the largest area possible but the best answer is to make the smallest area possible and declare the rest of the world enclosed by the fence
Who was Psuedo-Dionysius?
A mystic Christian from the sixth century whose writing was influence by medieval Christianity
What did Psuedo-Dionysius believe?
- Via Negativa is the only way to speak truthfully about God because he is beyond all comprehension
- The soul needs to be unified with God by going beyond all sense perception and reality, this can be restricted by the mind's need for complete understanding
Why did Psuedo-Dionysius believe it was counterproductive to speak of God as though he can be perceived by the senses?
It is only by recognising human limitations that spiritual progress can be made, people seeking God should dismiss logic and arguments and allow God to reach them in stillness
Describe the beliefs of Moses Maimonides
The best way to understand the nature of God is to explain what he is not through process of elimination to discover what he is without limiting his abilities and supreme
How do buddhists use via negativa?
To convey the essence of the ultimate reality which cannot be described except as the negation of things we know from the physical world
How did Aquinas describe God?
'Via Eminentiae' which means by way of eminence to show we only partially know what God is, our own love is partial and flawed but God's love is the prime example of love
How did Aquinas use language to describe God in Summa Theologica?
There could be a way of making positive claims about God but words we use are analogical and not literal e.g. God is not listening to prayers by means of physical ears it is analogical
Why does Aquinas reject univocal language?
It makes God too small and does not convey his greatness and mystery, he also rejected equivocal language as this is useless
Name the two analogies within Aquinas' doctrine of analogical language
Analogy of attribution
Analogy of proportionality
Describe the analogy of attribution
Where a casual relationship between two things is being described e.g. a bull's urine is called healthy because it is caused by and can be attributed to the health of the bull
How does Aquinas use the analogy of attribution to describe God?
God is not loving but instead is the cause of all love
Describe the analogy of proportionality
Where words relate to objects that are different in proportion e.g. a clever toddler and a clever scientist are both smart within their respective age group/ field of study
How does Aquinas use analogy of proportionality to describe God?
We can describe God as loving and just as long as we understand the depth of his love and justice are infinitely vaster than our own
What was Ian Ramsey's aim in his book 'Religious Language' 1957?
Explain the way religious language could describe God by using terms 'models' and 'qualifiers'. Models are God's description e.g. 'righteous' and qualifiers are to ensure his description is infinitely vaster than those applied to ourselves e.g. 'everlasting'
Give an example of symbolic religious language
God 'listened' to my prayers
What was Tillich's main aim in his life's work?
To rediscover meaning in life post war believing Christian faith was a vital part of the rebuilding of society
What was Tillich's theology of correlation?
The correlation shown between questions asked in philosophy, the arts, the range of world religions, psychology and history answered by theology