The Incarnation is a Metaphor

The central doctrine under discussion at Nicaea and for the next century was the “Incarnation.” The Church declared that the man Jesus was “God.”  It was this doctrine that grounded Christian claims to superiority over all other traditions.  Not only did it function to suppress dissent in Christian lands, but beginning in the 15th century it was used to justify the systematic conquest, brutal subjugation and shameless exploitation of non-European people across the globe.  It was “God’s will” that all become Christian, and it was only “just” that they pay for the privilege.  It continues to function today to prevent serious participation by Catholics in dialog with other traditions. 

I was preparing a piece with the title “The Incarnation is a Metaphor” when I realized that I had already introduced the topic.  The following is section 5 of the essay “Reflections on Catholic Revisionism: Garry Wills’ Why Priests’”? posted on this blog March 31, 2013.   References are to Wills’ book “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition,” Penguin, 2013.

Wills wants to tinker with doctrine and still remain “Catholic.”  That’s the way with revisionists.  I can understand the temptation.  We Catholics cling to our Catholicism with an intensity that reveals the ethnic energies that feed all religious phenomena.  We believed that to abandon it would mean to abandon who we were.  On top of that, we were subjected to a formation that elevated Catholicism to divine status.  For us, the Catholic Church was the very place on earth where “God” himself exclusively resided and infallibly taught eternal truths to his people.

It’s time all this foolishness ended.  The Catholic Church is one organization among many that brokers relationship to the sacred.  It is no more divine than any other religious club and just as prone to superstition, venality and abuse of power.  We are learning from scripture scholars and historians that the ultimate source of the absolutism that has characterized our Church was not Jesus of Nazareth who eschewed being called “God,” but the ancient Roman Theocracy — the belief that the Empire was diva Roma, divine — chosen by the gods to rule the earth.  Rome was the Empire; the sole ruler of the known world.  When Rome chose its “church,” it automatically became “the Church,” the religion of “everyone” — kat’olica.

Wills insists that he is Catholic and takes pains to list the doctrines to which he holds fast; they are adduced to prove his orthodoxy and guarantee his membership.  Here they are, copied directly from page 256.  Wills says:

But if I do not believe in popes and priests and sacraments, how can I call myself a Catholic? What do I believe? I get that question all the time. Well, I will tell you what I believe. The things I believe are not incidental or peripheral, but central and essential. They are:


The Creation (which does not preclude evolution).

The Trinity.

Divine Providence.


The Incarnation.

The Resurrection.

The Gospels.

The Creed.


The Mystical Body of Christ (which is the real meaning of the Eucharist).

The Eucharist.

The Second Coming.

The Afterlife.

The Communion of Saints.

I notice there is no mention of “Original Sin,” and “Redemption” — a conspicuous omission given the focus on “sacrifice” in his book, and no clue as to why.  The “doctrines” that remain on the list are some of the metaphors our western culture has generated to express the mystery of existence.  Other cultures with different histories and different poetry have generated other metaphors that are directed to the same existential issues, sometimes in ways that are recognizable to us, sometimes not.  Religion is a universal phenomenon because the insecurity of existence — an existence that our flesh is programmed to cling to but which is inexorably moving toward death — is absolutely universal.  Religion will always be with us because of that inherent contradiction: it affects us all, we can’t help it. 

Christianity has never acknowledged that its doctrines and practices are metaphor.  Born in Greece at a time when science in the form of rational philosophy had swept away the pantheon of the gods, Christianity was embraced by the Greeks as the ritual expression of a “scientific” Platonism, and its narratives objective history.  That is still true today.  Garry Wills is a Christian literalist whose critique of the Catholic doctrines of “sacrifice” and “priesthood” is based squarely on challenging their factual authenticity.  He meets literal claims with literal refutations.

Catholic doctrine is, however, pure metaphor, and its practices, structures and rituals — all of them — are poetry.

Wills does not agree.  For him, it is literal.  When Wills provides us with this list of “what he believes,” he is not saying that this is a list of acceptable metaphors … and that “sacrifice” and “priesthood” are not acceptable metaphors.  Not at all.  He is saying this is a list of “realities,” things that are really, literally “true,” and that “sacrifice” and “priesthood” are not among them,

but the Incarnation is …

Let’s take the Incarnation.  If Wills accepts the Incarnation as real in the sense that the Church has traditionally proclaimed it, then he is also saying that Jesus is literally “God” exactly as the “Father” is “God” — homoousios, defined at Nicaea and therefore it was “God” himself who founded the Christian Religion.

How can Catholics be faulted, then, for drawing the inescapably logical literalist conclusion, a century before Augustine’s time, that “outside the Church there is no salvation”?  You can’t blame logic, it is only an obedient tool that validates conclusions.  If the conclusion is invalid — and we know that it is — it must mean the premise was wrong … incorrect as stated or as understood … not true.  Where does that leave the “Incarnation” … and Wills’ “Catholicism”?

Belief in the literal Incarnation has entailed the “exclusivism” and “infallibilism” of Catholicism that Wills surely rejects.  Catholics are on the horns of a dilemma: if they want to avoid saying that the Catholic Church was founded by “God”-in-person, and to that end declare that the Incarnation is only a metaphor, they stop being Catholic.  On the other hand, if they want to remain Catholic, they have to live with “exclusivism” and “infallibilism” as acceptable conclusions from the premises they support … and just hope and pray that the “Holy Spirit” will deter the authorities from acting on its implications.   But think what that means: it implies that we are praying that the Incarnation not be taken literally — that it be treated as if it were a metaphor!

The contrary to exclusivism, whether as applied to sectarian Catholicism or to all of Christianity, is universalism, i.e.,  a recognition that all religions provide similar metaphorical vehicles for their people.

Doesn’t the realization that even if Christian doctrine like the Incarnation were literally true, that it can only avoid contradictions like “exclusivism” when treated as metaphor, … doesn’t that very fact compel acceptance of the poetic nature of religion and therefore, paradoxically, argue for religion’s universal validity?

However you ask it, the question highlights the metaphoric, esthetic, non-literal character of the religious phenomenon.  Religion is a work of the imagination, and Wills’ entire study in Why Priests?, by pursuing the question of sacrifice and priesthood in the same literalist terms that philosophical theology has used since the days of Augustine, does a disservice to the evolution of religious thought in our time.  We are learning that religion — all religion — is symbolic, part of the virtual world we create with our heads to override the indeterminacy of life.  Priesthood and sacrifice are historically and regionally conditioned metaphorical expressions of the religious relationship.  But so is Incarnation.  If for some reason I no longer wish to embrace the first two doctrines and still accept the third, I have a perfect right to do so, but not on the claim that one is a “fact” and the others are not.  None of them are “facts.”  They are all metaphors; they are all poetry.  And, yes, we have the right to choose the poetry that inspires us, to listen to the music that expresses our feelings and to surround ourselves with the art and buildings that represent our relationship to that “in which we live and move and have our being.”  But once you admit that, you have entered the universalist dimension because that’s what every religion does.

In our time we are thankfully beyond “state religion,” by which I mean some obligatory imposition of “objectively true” propositions from and about another world, administered by a social / political elite which controls our destiny here and hereafter.  We have finally discovered what religion really is — ancient poetry — and we have made it ours.  We have entered an era where the power of the religious poetry of multiple traditions has been made available for the enrichment of us all.   In our time the universal respect for all religions is our celebration of the profound insights and luxuriant expression here­­to­fore denied us by the erstwhile pre-emptions of our “only true” religions.  Religion is human poetic insight functioning at some of its deepest levels.  We are now learning that religion does not come from “God,” it was a human creation from the very beginning; and we are now declaring our rights of ownershipThese are depths that our ancestors pioneered and we will not be disinherited.

We are not going back where we came from.  We have entered a universalist age and any religion that earns our loyalty will have to acknowledge it, perhaps even in the form of “official” declarations.  Such a universalist proclamation on the part of a seriously reformed Catholicism would have to insist not only on the repudiation of its own traditional religious arrogance and claims to superiority, but also actively encourage its members to taste and share the poetry, ritual and relational attitudes of other traditions even as we offer to share ours with them.  For Wills to attempt to breathe life back into the moribund corpse of an unrepentant exclusivist sectarian Catholicism by separating “orthodox” from “heterodox” literalisms and bypassing entirely the metaphoric nature of all religious expression, is myopic and atavistic.  It is revisionism at its worst.  Derogating the priesthood and challenging the validity of the doctrine of “sacrifice” on which it rests, however valid, is to my mind, too little, too late and too narrow.  Wills’ proposals are hardly different from the reforms sought by the Protestants in the sixteenth century.  If those reforms had been embraced by the Church at Trent in 1545, it may have averted the bloody European nationalism and brutal, dehumanizing colonialism that characterized the last 500 years of “Christian” history.

It’s too late for that.  Now is not the time to “revise” Catholicism or even Christianity; it has had its day for good or bad — now is the time to transcend it all and a Catholicism that would remain relevant has to embrace it and proclaim it publicly.

A Catholic universalism will demand many changes in the formulation of doctrine, but the first and most basic is the acknowledgement that the “Incarnation” is a metaphor.

17 comments on “The Incarnation is a Metaphor

  1. Betty Lou Kishler says:

    I don’t believe either God or Jesus established or founded any religion.

  2. tonyequale says:

    It’s hard to argue with you.

  3. Brian Coyne says:

    Another insightful reflection, Tony. I’m going to take it up on Catholica in some way.

    I wrote earlier on Catholica in response to something Peter Todd had written:

    I think the Catholic institution basically needs to work out if its prime role in the world is…

    (i) keeping the ‘little ones’ in their trees with assurances that it has all the answers to their anxieties; or
    (ii) if it’s prime role in the world is encouraging this human-wide search for ultimate meaning?

    I think the choice is a long, long way from being resolved!

    To that I would add here: if institutional Catholicism wants to continue placing the emphasis on (i) above I believe it will go the way of the ancient religions of the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Incas, the Mayans and all the other extinct religions of the world. We are privileged to live at a time in history of major change in the way we think of this entire dimension of our being we label as “the spiritual”. Who can yet predict what might eventually evolve out of the change we’re beginning to witness. Personally I think the most useful role any of us can play at the moment is to encourage the conversation from which the new metanarrative of spirituality will eventually emerge. It is an exciting time in which to be alive.

    Cheers, Brian

  4. saluman73 says:

    Tony and Brian, Thank you for the tremendous work you put into your essays and comments. It’s just too bad that people like Gary Wills get so much publicity and profit for their very unhelpful works on revisionism. But we have to keep chugging along, as Brian says, as individual Catholics , but united together , trying to make some scientific sense out of this magnificent religion we inherited, but which has been so tainted and abused by power, greed, arrogance, intimidation, superstition,,,,,,,,,,But we have one thing going for us that maybe makes Christianity special: Jesus. As you said Tony in a recent comment, we have to go back to the Cross where Jesus let it all hang out. Little scary, but definitely not boring, which so much of modern religion and culture has become. BOOORRRING! Especially the politicans. “Libera nos Domine.
    sAL uMANA

    • tonyequale says:

      Thank you Sal.
      Isn’t today the day your IV finishes? What’s the next step? You are lucky to be in Florida and not in our bitter cold. We are expecting -2F tomorrow night here in the mountains of Virginia.

      Good luck on the health front … life on the off-ramp is not easy.


  5. Graham English says:

    Jesus was a Second Temple Jew. He could not have claimed to be Yahweh either literally or metaphorically.

    Last week on television here in Australia we were watching Stephen Fry doing a program on homophobia and as I was listening to a fundamentalist Christian ‘proving’ homosexuality is unnatural. For some reason it became clear to me in a way I hadn’t seen before how ‘natural law’ is a human construct. a sometimes helpful way of explaining some things but not a thing in itself. And like all other human constructs (which is all we humans have) it is faulty at best. I have long since concluded that we are dealing with metaphors when we make doctrinal statements and especially all the time we are reading the Bible. Northrop Fry’s (no relation to Stephen I presume) claim that if there is history in the Bible (in the modern sense of history) then it is there by accident, not intention makes a lot of sense to me.

    • tonyequale says:

      Graham, hi!

      Thanks for your insightful comments. As you indicate, the issue is far bigger than just religion, though religion is where it is most obvious. We cling to the “place-holders” we create to stabilize an indeterminate reality. We do it in all areas, in our politics, in our relationships and even, God help us, in our science and other “hard” disciplines, though buried much deeper beneath mounds of metaphoric terminology. Natural law is certainly another example.

      Thanks. I look forward to more of your comments.


  6. Frank Lawlor says:

    Some years ago, when I thought that, like Garry Wills, I could dwell comfortably in the Catholic fold by modifying my own “Credo” here and there, I wondered why “Natural Law” was so widely rejected outside of the Catholic intellectual elite. Its rejection even among the lay graduates of Catholic Higher education became obvious in the universal rejection of the sinfulness of artificial contraception. It took a seminar at Columbia at which a flip comment I made was snatched up by a faculty member whom I greatly respected pointing out that my comment was clearly an example of “teleological thinking” with the sly implication of “very Catholic thinking” . I suppose that I might have added, “very Aristotelian thinking”. This incident got me thinking seriously about my own immersion in science and the incompatibility of teleology within all of the empirical sciences. There has been, in my experience, very little specific treatment of this incompatibility in the scientific literature and certainly not at all within the Catholic literature. It has for millennia been an unstated core underlying moral teaching and a basic no-no within the sciences. At this point in time this new way of looking at the world permeates our culture and makes much of Catholic morality incomprehensible to both Catholics and to our science-based culture in general. The serious compromise of Evolutionary Theory even by Biologists is a major theme in a recent book on Evolution by Gee, ” The Accidental Species” which attacks the myths that have grown up around Darwin’s ideas. Is any reader aware of any attempt by Catholic scholars to deal with this?
    Frank Lawlor

    • tonyequale says:

      Frank, hi!

      I am surprised at the way you asked that question. “Catholic scholars”? What do you mean by “Catholic”? Those in “good standing”? It all ended with Curran’s derogation as far as I am concerned. Until it is publicly acknowledged that what they did to him was a travesty in every respect, I will not accept that there is anything really validly “Catholic” being said. But Curran is quite moderate and hardly qualifies as a challenger of “natural law.” For a 2010 update see this article from NCR:

      For this reason I do not follow developments in Roman Catholic moral theology. My guess is that if someone is pushing the envelope in that area s/he is doing it well under the radar, because the “official” position is so hidebound that it will not even tolerate moderating “probable opinions” like Curran’s within its own acceptable framework, much less allow people to explore new ground. So my question is, why do you want to know what “Catholics” are thinking … they are forbidden to think! Anything written that is acceptably “Catholic” has got to be well within “natural law” parameters. You cannot get blood from a stone.

      My question to you is, what do YOU think? That’s where we need to go.


  7. John Bunyan says:

    The conciliar doctrines do not equate Jesus and Yahweh, nor do they say Jesus is God in the same way the Father is God but I leave it to such scholars as Fr Haight SJ to try to justify what they do say (not that he has escaped the condemnation of Rome for his fine work). However,
    the idea of a metaphorical incarnation was widely discussed among Anglicans and Protestants over thirty years ago (before the CHurch of England and some other Anglican Churches tended to turn in a doctrinally more conservative direction). It would be worthwhile looking at books of that period such as “The Myth of God Incarnate” (edited by John Hick in 1977), “Incarnation and Myth : The Debate Continued” (edited by Michael Goulder in 1979), and “The Metaphor of God Incarnate : Christology in a Pluralistic Age” (by John Hick, 2nd edition, revised, 2005). The idea of the incarnation as mythological, of course, goes back long before the 70s.

    • tonyequale says:

      John, hi!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Which Council does your word “conciliar” refer to? If you are speaking of Nicaea, Jesus was most definitely declared homoousios which means “of the same nature” as the Father, i.e., “God” exactly in the same way as the Father is “God” but not the same way as “God” is Father. But you may be speaking of Vatican II. While that Council did not make a point of repeating well defined doctrine, it also made it quite clear that it was changing nothing.

      I have read Haight and Hick and Knitter, each in their own way was trying to say simply that Jesus was not “God” as the term is traditionally understood, and therefore did not justify the role the Church gave him vis-à-vis other traditions. Haight called him the “symbol” of God,” Hick called his divinity a “metaphor,” Knitter explored various ways of allowing other traditions’ founders to be taken on an equal footing with the Catholic Christ.

      I hope the readers of this blog pick up on your suggestion and read these theologians who pioneered the effort to undo what I consider centuries of distortion in this regard.

      But I would also like to know what YOU think. This Jesus, what was he?


      • John Bunyan says:

        Thank you for asking. I am just a retired, ordinary, pastorally active in hospital and ex-service ministry but intellectually rather agnostic, Australian C.of E. parson, a priest in “good standing” but also a long-time member also of the historic, gently unitarian, these days ecumenical King’s Chapel, Boston. (We see but “through a glass darkly”.)

        Jesus I should call a Jewish prophet, to me the greatest of prophets, incomparable. because of his life and death and influence. Of the many diverse studies of the historic Jesus, that I have read, for me the most important have been those by the late Geza Vermes, from his earlier works on Jesus the Jew to the more recent “The Changing Faces of Jesus”, “The Authentic Gospel of Jesus” and, not long before he died, “Christian Beginnings from Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325” (the last of these on a subject about which many scholars such as James D.G.Dunn have written ), and Maurice Casey’s magisterial account of the life and teaching of Jesus, “Jesus of Nazareth”, (together with his earlier “From Jewish Rabbi to Gentile God” – not read by many because it was so expensive !) and E.P.Sanders “The Historical Figure of Jesus”.
        G.W.H.Lampe’s “God as Spirit” and a very carefully argued work unfortunately little known, “God in One Person” by A.Richard Kingston.. My view are probably closest to those Dr Kingston (a former Methodist minister and a member, elderly now, of the (free Christian or unitarian) Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland).

        The patristic Conciliar doctrines (and the rather less “orthodox” christologies that preceded them, and the later early 16th century Arian and unitarian christologies) were based on an understanding of the Gospels, and especially of the Fourth Gospel which many New Testament scholars now would not share – e.g. on an acceptance of the words attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel as historically his own. I do not think that the orthodox doctrines of the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and of the Trinity can be defended, in any literal sense especially when we take into account what we know or could ever know about the person of Jesus (though I think we can know much more than the Jesus Seminar concluded), and when we take into account our lack of knowledge of his earlier life, our inability to envision what perfect, sinless humanity could mean, or what “physical resurrection” could mean in the light of modern understanding of the cells of which our ever-changing bodies are composed,

        Casey ends his book “From Jewish Rabbi to Gentile God” with these words – “If churches as organizations must insist of false belief we can always leave them and follow from outside their orbit those aspects of the teaching of Jesus which we judge relevant to our lives, 2000 years later”. I myself would want to follow such aspects of the teaching – and of the life and ministry – of Jesus” but certainly from within the broad Church to which I belong – the breadth of which I should want always to encourage, but alongside others of more “Catholic” or “Protestant” outlook with whom I want to worship and from whom I am sure there is so much, while my wits remain, I can ever continue to learn – with plenty in my old mind no doubt needing to be corrected, with a vision ever needing to be widened, with understanding ever needing to be deepened, and above with compassion ever, by God’s grace, to be extended.

  8. Bill Marrin says:

    Tony, how does your understanding of metaphor differ from analogy, as used by people like David Tracy?

    • tonyequale says:

      Bill, hi! Nice to hear from you. I hope you are well.

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been waiting 15 years for someone to show some interest in that question. The following snippet is taken from pp.35-37 of my booklet To Whom Shall We Go? written in 1999 and found on the “pages” column of my blog on the right sidebar. The booklet was reproduced, significantly modified in expression but substantially the same, as Chapter VI of Religion in a Material Universe titled, “Religious Truth in an Age of Dialog.”

      I am not directly familiar with David Tracy’s concept of “analogy;” the little I have read about it from others (e.g. Sanks) leaves me with the impression of a “resonance” that is activated when focusing on “classics” like the Christ event allowing one to understand, empathize and engage. It also functions when one is trying to dialog with other traditions. If that is correct then Tracy’s “analogical imagination” has an undeniably subjective significance, entirely unlike the scholastic analogy which was quite insistently objective and scientific. I personally do not use “analogy” the way Tracy does, and I would say in that form it means something very much like what I mean by metaphor. Metaphor is critically different from the classic scholastic concept of analogy, however, and if this was what you had in mind with your question the following discussion may be relevant:

      Apropos of these epistemological questions, I’d like to summarize here a relevant but potentially distracting technical discussion of the Thomistic position on analogy vs. metaphor.

      Scholastic “analogy” is, I believe, a function of Plato’s World of Ideas, which for Thomas was the Mind of God. With such a world-view, the imitative participation of creatures in God’s reality necessarily supported ana¬logical knowledge of God. Aristotle himself, however, rejected platonic “participation” as “empty words and poetic metaphors,” because he considered his teacher’s “world of ideas” an imaginary construct. But Christian theology reintroduced it under the rubric of the Creative Logos. In positing a known finite characteristic in a “supereminent” manner to God, the scholastics were, in their mind, appropriately moving from creature (whom they knew a priori to bear a “like¬ness” to God), to Creator, thus making such a statement valid. Its validity, however, is entirely dependent on the world-view that justifies it, thus making it something of a tautology. Analogical statements about God made without the support of the Platonic/Neo-Platonic world-view are metaphors.

      Analogy claims to speak scientif¬ically about God using words and concepts drawn from known reali¬ties which them¬selves really share in the elements attributed to the unknown reality: God. So, for example, when it is said that “God is a Person,” it is understood to mean that we know humans are persons and therefore we can legitimately conclude that God is also Person, but to a “supereminent” degree. The latter half of this statement is not a matter of direct knowledge but, ac¬cording to the pro¬ponents of this position, is appropriately attributed, albeit in a “super¬eminent” degree, to God because of the logical validity of “the analogy of being.” Thus the human concept “Person” objectively denotes a real aspect of the divine being, only analogously, i.e., proportionately, as finite to infinite.

      Metaphor on the other hand proposes to speak poetically about God. It does not claim to function scientifically as does analogy, but rath¬er in the realm of meaning and human signifi-cance. Meta¬phor neither proposes to speak about “scientif¬ic” realities, nor at¬tempts to deny them. It rather interprets the import of things from the point of view of the human being, placing the priority on the way humans relate to these things. So when the poet says “God is a person”, he refers to the way we relate to God, he is not referring to God’s ontological status. We relate to God the way we relate to persons.

      For the scholastics analogy is scientific knowledge and metaphor is not. Metaphor is a word “carried over” (meta-phero, to transfer) — from where it belongs to where it doesn’t belong — while analogy (ana-logía, proportion) stretches the comprehension of the term by elongating it from finite to infinite, without “changing” its meaning. Analogy, if you will, is a change in degree, not in kind; while metaphor is a change in kind.

      “[The] express purpose [of the Thomistic Doctrine of Analogy] is to establish theological discourse at the level of science and thereby to free it completely from the poetical forms of religious discourse, even at the price of severing the science of God from biblical hermeneutics.” (Ricoeur The Rule of Analogy)

      The West has never considered metaphor sufficient to ground theological “truth.” What I’m trying to say is that there is no “analogy of being” — which permits us to say “something scientifically true” about God — there is only metaphor which can only use the so-to-speak “silly” words (metaphors) that may come to mind when we experience “him” (like the Song of Solomon). So I’m denying the validity of any conceptual determination of God; I say we cannot know God as we know other things and in that sense no speech about God is scientifically valid, even by extension, which is what analogy claims to be in the scholastic view.

      Philosophers since Parmenides have puzzled over the logical implications of the concept of being. In itself “being” admits of no variation. Being as existence has only one meaning. For, insofar as they exist, all things are doing exactly the same thing. “To be” is the same for a person as for a paramecium. But a person is not a paramecium. Nor is a human being God, and yet all “do” the same thing: they exist.

      It’s from the awareness of this anomaly that Thomas, following Plato, elaborated the idea of participatory existence, and connected it with Aristotle’s notion of analogical knowledge. By this he is saying that since things are different from one another in what they are, their existence itself as existence (that they are) must also be proportional. This means that for Thomas there are modulations in the intellectualized concept that are not derived from the concrete experience of existence, which is invariable. (This is due to the primacy of “essence” in Thomas’ “concept of being”) We have to be clear about the import of this thinking for the Christian theologians who developed it. Given the conceptual framework, it seemed to be the only philosophical barrier against pantheism.

      Some have claimed, however, that the entire western metaphysical edifice is nothing but smoke and mirrors, built on a simple but catastrophic error. The Platonists confused their abstract concepts with reality — and the concept “reality” can be the most easily confused of them all. The properties of a reality seen through the lens of “essence” are not necessarily the properties of reality-as-existence. So the unicity of “being” in the concept was considered a transcendental attribute that in no way supported the “univocal” character of existence as experienced. The doctrine of analogy then, was developed to support an intellectually elaborated “concept of being.” Such a project is gratuitous and unnecessary.
      Without “analogy,” there is only metaphor.

    • John Bunyan says:

      Thanks for your blog comments (of which for some reason I received three copies!). I am only sorry I did not read my response just now to eliminate errors of punctuation and expression before sending ! John Bunyan

      • tonyequale says:


        Thanks. The three copies resulted from WordPress not processing certain editing attempts and forcing Outlook to close down … while sending on the unposted comment. Go figure!

        Thanks for your “take” on Jesus. I agree. And that list of books was great. I hope other readers will take advantage of the information for some exciting reading.

        Yes, I agree. Beautifully stated. As Eliot says, “… humility is endless.”


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