Exploring Ectypal vs. Archetypal Theology

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So just a quick question: does that mean that man can only know propositionally, since ET is the "copy" (I assume) and the copy is propositional? If so, what exactly does that mean? If not, what other ways does man know besides propositionally? For example, can he know immediately?

I believe there is a personal element to all of knowledge, so that it is not ever to be restricted to propositions. Hence revelation always addresses us as standing in some relation to God, whether as sinner or as son. The relationship is personal and so it adds emotional and moral obligations to the propositional content. Consider the way this is conveyed in Eph. 5:1, and Col 3:12 as examples. However, the reformed have denied the mystical idea of knowing God immediately. In heaven faith is turned to sight so the mode of communication is one of vision rather than absorption.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What about illumination by the Spirit? Does He illumine mediately or immediately?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What about illumination by the Spirit? Does He illumine mediately or immediately?

According to Rom. 1, the Spirit bears witness naturally to men "by the things which are made." And according to 1 Cor. 2:13, he teaches by means of the words of inspiration. When the Scriptures speak of a direct work of God upon the heart it is still "in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. 4:6, and as the context clearly shows, that is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the gospel; for we must contrast this illumination with the gospel being hid to them that are lost, vv. 3, 4.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
According to Rom. 1, the Spirit bears witness naturally to men "by the things which are made." And according to 1 Cor. 2:13, he teaches by means of the words of inspiration. When the Scriptures speak of a direct work of God upon the heart it is still "in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. 4:6, and as the context clearly shows, that is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the gospel; for we must contrast this illumination with the gospel being hid to them that are lost, vv. 3, 4.

I don't know if this answers my question as well.

I was musing on this discussion as I was driving to work this AM. I realized that much of the discussion in the Apologetics or Philosophy forums has to do with epistimology in terms of heated debate.

It is established that ectypal theology is the ideal. It tells us that it is God's theology accomodated to us but it doesn't seem like it explains how we completely understand it.

Allow me to qualify. I understand that we understand TE in the sense that "...My sheep hear My voice..." and so all those regenerate can "hear" and understand ET. Those things perspicuous are clearly revealed to all the redeemed. But what about the more obscure stuff? Why do some redeemed men understand ET more fully when others do not?

Is it also fair to say that the intent of the AT/ET model is not to present an entire philsophical system of epistimology and shouldn't be pressed too hard to answer all questions?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Is it also fair to say that the intent of the AT/ET model is not to present an entire philsophical system of epistimology and shouldn't be pressed too hard to answer all questions?

I would look at it another way -- the questions themselves are specious and undermine the possibility of true theology. The ideas of qualitative and quantitative knowledge fall outside of biblical parameters. Most of these questions arise for the simple reason that our knowledge is being seen in relation to AT instead of ET. Paradox is established on the basis of incomprehensibility at the expense of the equally important teaching of God's knowability. Eph. 3:19 speaks of knowing what surpasses knowledge and being filled with infinite fulness. Paradox? Rhetorically, yes. Rationally, no. The orthodox reformed, by their useful classification of AT and ET have resolved the tension; whereas if dialecticism were permitted as a part of theological method, the tension must remain unresolved, and the AT/ET distinction regarded as null and void.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Ruben (and for JohnV and Civbert if listening in),



ET can't exclude AT for God. The knowledge is the same so far as the Subject knowing is concerned. AT is God's infinite essence, whereby He knows Himself infinitely. ET is God's knowledge of Himself in relation and action to His creatures accommodated for the benefit of the creature. It is God's knowledge in both instances. Just as when I accommodate something as simply as possible so one of my little ones can understand it, I know the thing in both its models.

To ask if ET excludes AT for the creature is counter-intuitive. We can't know AT. 1 Cor. 2:11, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." It is because we can't know AT that God gives us ET. Ver. 12, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." ET is AT accommodated and communicated to us. However, we always have to keep in mind that we do not know God archetypically, just as God does not know us archetypically. He knows us by means of His decree and covenant, as before noted, both of which are to be distinguished from His essence.



Revelation is one mode of communicating ectypal theology. For Christ, the mode of communication is the hypostatical union. For elect angels and glorified saints the mode is vision. For the redeemed on earth who are still "on the way," the mode is revelation.

Hope that helps rather than hinders. Blessings!

Very much so (helping), thank you.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I would look at it another way -- the questions themselves are specious and undermine the possibility of true theology. The ideas of qualitative and quantitative knowledge fall outside of biblical parameters. Most of these questions arise for the simple reason that our knowledge is being seen in relation to AT instead of ET. Paradox is established on the basis of incomprehensibility at the expense of the equally important teaching of God's knowability. Eph. 3:19 speaks of knowing what surpasses knowledge and being filled with infinite fulness. Paradox? Rhetorically, yes. Rationally, no. The orthodox reformed, by their useful classification of AT and ET have resolved the tension; whereas if dialecticism were permitted as a part of theological method, the tension must remain unresolved, and the AT/ET distinction regarded as null and void.
Great point. In other words, instead of approaching God from the direction of His incomprehensibility as a philisophical brute fact, the Scriptures reveal God as knowable because He comes to us accomodated to our capability.

I was also wondering more broadly whether there is a theory of epistimology outside of TE? Does TE include how we know what trees, cars, plants, etc are as well? I'm sorry if I ask questions poorly. I'm trying to get my arms around it.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I was also wondering more broadly whether there is a theory of epistimology outside of TE? Does TE include how we know what trees, cars, plants, etc are as well? I'm sorry if I ask questions poorly. I'm trying to get my arms around it.

Yes, its the nominalist tradition. We know things by their attributes; only God knows them according to essence. General revelation makes attribution possible. I'm swamped in research today; sorry for the brevity.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Are miracles possible in the area of knowledge? (E.g.: Joseph's and Daniel's knowledge of and interpretation of dreams.)
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
But the sapientia aspect of ectypal theology can't be true theology if sin has caused us to inaccurately discern the actual meaning that God intended to communicate in a portion of Scripture.

It seems to me that if ectypal theology includes all manner of understanding by a creature then pentecostalism and reformed theology are both ectypal theology (two different sapentia). That seems to be an awfully broad definition so I think I'm missing something.

If a doctrine is false, e.g., the claims of the neo-Pentecostalists re ongoing revelation and apostolic phenomena, then it isn't "ectypal theology."

Only that is ectypal that is derived from the revealed Word of God.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
John,

TA is only the Reformed way of talking about what God knows.

Why is this speculative?

God's Word says:

"In the beginning God..." That cannot be said of humans.

How about the end of Job? "Where were you when?..." (Job 38).

Deut 29:29 distinguishes between the revealed things and the hidden things.

Is. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If there is a Creator/creature distinction, then there is a distinction between the way God knows things and the way we know things.

That difference has been described for centuries as the difference between TA and TE.

The technical terminology doesn't make it speculative.

rsc

Dr. Clark:

I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not saying at all, by a long shot, that CVT says that we can have TA, as you put it.

I'm depending on my study of the differences between the '32 Van Til and the late '60's -70's Van Til, the framework I use to try to understand these concepts. I well know that the "some VanTillians" that I had a bad time with are hardly VanTillians. I'm more VanTillian than they are, and I knew it back then already. I'm not confusing the two at all.

What I am saying, although obviously not well, is that TA is philosophically part of TE, because the comparison is from a human point of view. We don't know that God's concept of knowledge is TA; that's our own speculative assumption. It isn't just pure Word of God, but man's deduction from the Word of God added to it. The only deduction that is allowed is that which is of necessity. Because there is man's own speculation involved in this approach to the differences, it is not of necessity. That means that, in actuality, we speculate that God's knowledge is TA, which means that this idea springs from TE.

Why can't I just say that this TA/TE paradigm is speculative, and everyone immediately know what I'm talking about? It's like Matthew says, we have to keep it in perspective, being careful to mark the difference between what we confess and what we speculate, not confusing the two.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dr. Clark:

I just don't agree. I can answer why I consider it speculative, but don't think that this is the intent of this thread. In this thread I merely assert that I consider it speculative, not authoritative; and I question some of the ways that the terms are used. I believe that questioning the your concluding remark is sufficient for this: is it indeed true that introducing philosphical or technical terminology does not necessarily make it speculative?

But I have a question instead: would you consider the Archtype to be in any way opposite to the Echtype? That is, is the way God knows in some way (at least one way) opposite to the way man knows?

John,

TA is only the Reformed way of talking about what God knows.

Why is this speculative?

God's Word says:

"In the beginning God..." That cannot be said of humans.

How about the end of Job? "Where were you when?..." (Job 38).

Deut 29:29 distinguishes between the revealed things and the hidden things.

Is. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If there is a Creator/creature distinction, then there is a distinction between the way God knows things and the way we know things.

That difference has been described for centuries as the difference between TA and TE.

The technical terminology doesn't make it speculative.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
John,

I realize that the language is unfamiliar, but that unfamiliarity is due to historical reasons that I hope to try to explain in a forthcoming work. That unfamiliarity doesn't make them speculative.

Is the Creator/creature distinction speculative?

As to philosophical language, it isn't philosophical. It is theological language. Theologians must be able to use technical terms or there will be no such thing as theology! If we were doing botany, no one would question the validity of technical terms. Why are they invalid for theology? Are we restricted only to biblical language? That was the Socinian argument and, of course, we know where that got us! (they denied the Trinity, among other things, all the while claiming only to be following the Bible).

I highly recommend this essay:

Willem J. van Asselt, "The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and Ectypal Theology in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Thought," Westminster Theological Journal 64 (2003): 319-35.

It is available via inter-library loan from most public libraries.

As to archetypal and ectypal theology being opposites, I'm not sure what you mean. Can you explain?

If opposites mean "contradictory," I would say "no." They are analogues. Think of two parallel lines that never intersect. Are the lines opposites? No. Is the bottom line identical to the top? No. The bottom line is a reflection of the top. The bottom line is not the top and it is true as far as it goes, but given that the bottom line is not the top, it is an imperfect reflection of the top.

Consider the divine attributes. We speak of "attributes" but because we are capable only of ectypal theology we must do so. The finite is not capable of the infinite. We know from Scripture that, in God, there are not "attributes." God is holy, just, merciful, infinite, immense etc. All his mercy is immense and all his justice is merciful. We must speak of "attributes" in order to speak of him at all and yet, in so doing, we've said something that we know isn't true absolutely, but there's no other way (at least we haven't found it yet) to speak about God.

The same is true of the biblical anthropomorphisms. We know that God does not have an ear, yet he is revealed as having an ear because it is a way of helping us to think about and understand that God is cognizant of us and "hears" us, as it were. Strictly speaking, there is a certain degree of falsehood in the words: "God's ear," yet revelation gives us warrant for speaking thus, so long as we recognize the sort of speech we are using.

The truth is we cannot comprehend what it means for God "to hear." He hears, as it were, in a way that utterly transcends our ability to understand.

So, when Junius and Polanus et al spoke of theologia archetypa et ectypa, they were speaking of infinite theology and accommodated theology. God understands our theology completely, better than we do or ever shall, but God being who and what he is, we can never know his theology.

The Scripture pictures the moral and ontological transcendence of God by describing him as a "consuming fire" (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29). If God revealed himself to us as he is, he would consume us. We're not able to see his face and live (Exod 33:20). These sorts of places in Scripture witness to the very distinguish at stake in the archetypal/ectypal distinction.

rsc

Dr. Clark:

I just don't agree. I can answer why I consider it speculative, but don't think that this is the intent of this thread. In this thread I merely assert that I consider it speculative, not authoritative; and I question some of the ways that the terms are used. I believe that questioning the your concluding remark is sufficient for this: is it indeed true that introducing philosphical or technical terminology does not necessarily make it speculative?

But I have a question instead: would you consider the Archtype to be in any way opposite to the Echtype? That is, is the way God knows in some way (at least one way) opposite to the way man knows?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Are miracles possible in the area of knowledge? (E.g.: Joseph's and Daniel's knowledge of and interpretation of dreams.)

Yes, certainly, but we're still speaking about revelation.

Anything that is revealed is, by definition, not archetypal.

There is an infinite set of things (known by God) that exists. The only thing we know about that set is that it is. We don't and cannot know anything in particular from that set.

Anything that is revealed is necessarily not archetypal.

Anything that is revealed, however done, is ectypal.

rsc
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
If a doctrine is false, e.g., the claims of the neo-Pentecostalists re ongoing revelation and apostolic phenomena, then it isn't "ectypal theology."

Only that is ectypal that is derived from the revealed Word of God.

rsc

OK, Thanks. I've got it now. In other words, Baptist sacramentology and ecclesiology are not ectypal theology. ;)
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
I highly recommend this essay:

Willem J. van Asselt, "The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and Ectypal Theology in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Thought," Westminster Theological Journal 64 (2003): 319-35.

It is available via inter-library loan from most public libraries.
rsc

Dr. Clark,

I have this essay as well as the one mentioned in the Karl Barth thread regarding Machen in the Logos/Libronix format. Would it go against copyright or scholarly secret handshakes to offer to email them to anyone who wanted it here on the board? I wouldn't post it here for general consumption. Thoughts?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Chris,

I don't know copyright law in detail, but I think that the usage is restricted by "fair use." This means that one can copy an article in a book (or a journal).

I don't see the difference between you copying it and sending it to others.

The point, I think, (Fred can correct me), is that the Journal or publisher should not lose revenue that it would ordinarily have through unfair copying of it's publications. If one wants to read more than one essay of a copyright publication then one should purchase it (assuming it's available for purchase).

If anyone can order the same article by ILL I don't see the difference morally between getting it from you and getting it from a library via ILL.

rsc
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
The truth is we cannot comprehend what it means for God "to hear." He hears, as it were, in a way that utterly transcends our ability to understand.

No - a strong protest. What it means for "God to hear" is simply that God understands what we are saying. This does not "utterly transcend our ability to understand". We can understand what this means or God would not have put these words in the bible.

... God understands our theology completely, better than we do or ever shall, but God being who and what he is, we can never know his theology.

ET is also God's theology - that which He reveals to us. We know God's theology by knowing ET. If we can not know the knowledge God reveals to us, then Christianity is meaningless. As far as knowing AT is concerned, the only certain reason we can not know AT is because God has not revealed it to us. The idea that AT is in inherently unknowable makes God unknowable - which is about as anti-Christian a sentiment I can think of.

The Scripture pictures the moral and ontological transcendence of God by describing him as a "consuming fire" (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29). If God revealed himself to us as he is, he would consume us. We're not able to see his face and live (Exod 33:20). These sorts of places in Scripture witness to the very distinguish at stake in the archetypal/ectypal distinction.

rsc

This consuming fire burns away sin - not us.
For us it simply means that the "man of flesh" would be burned away. We would know that we must first die physically before we can stand in his presence. But in the mean time, God burns away our sinfulness (sanctification). He does not destroy us by revealing himself to us, he cleanses us with purifying fire.

2Co 3:16-18 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (17) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We see the face of God reflected in the Lord Jesus as in a mirror. We still do not have knowledge of God immediately from God, but we do have knowledge from and of God through the Word. And so what was hidden in the Old Testament, and from the Jews of that age, is revealed to us in Scripture, to those who believe the Word.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks, Dr. Clark. But if I may take a reply from Mr. Samuel Goldwyn, you improved it worse. However, that does not necessarily mean that your explanation is at fault. It could be me. I think there is enough in this thread for me to chew on for a while. I think I need to toss these things around in my own head for some time, and see what comes of it. I have a very structured way of thinking about these matters, and I need to do some sorting out. Thank you for your time and effort for my sake.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Anyone who wants said article, PM me and I'll send you a link to download the article.

Willem J. van Asselt, "The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and Ectypal Theology in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Thought," Westminster Theological Journal 64 (2003): 319-35.
 
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