The longstanding debate over how God-talk is intelligible gravitates around how we should understand the putative answer, “by analogy.” For some contemporary Christian theologians, analogy involves an ontological claim about creaturely and divine being (i.e., an analogy of being). For others, it involves a semantic or syntactical structure that legitimates the linguistic performances associated with analogy (i.e., a grammatical analogy). Still others appeal to faith in God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ (i.e., an analogy of faith).
Rory Misiewicz argues that all of these approaches fall flat in their explanatory efforts. He draws upon the work of American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce to rethink the relation between God and human beings. He argues that Christian theologians may view that relation as being established by an “analogy of signs”: both God and human beings are univocally involved in semiosis, or sign-process, and the confirmation of God’s semiotic identity is found in the revelation of God in the person of Jesus, the incarnate Son of God. Therefore, ordinary analogical language is intelligible, for divine signs are commensurate with human signs.
Rory Misiewicz (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) teaches humane letters at Philadelphia Classical School (PA).
Chapter 1 Introduction
Part 1 Requirements for a Successful Analogy
Chapter 2 How Analogy Works: Intelligibility, Modeling, and Guidelines
Part 2 Influential Positions on Theological Analogy and their Inadequacies
Chapter 3 Analogia Entis
Chapter 4 Grammatical Thomism and Analogy
Chapter 5 Analogia Fidei
Part 3 The Peircean Alternative for Theological Analogy
Chapter 6 Peirce’s Philosophy and Intelligibility
Chapter 7 Analogia Signorum
Rory Misiewicz has produced a fine comparison of traditional models of theological analogy and his Peirce-inspired analogy of signs. This is first-rate Peirce scholarship and adds to our growing knowledge of Peirce’s later work. It takes a worthy place among scholarship sponsored by Short’s Peirce’s Theory of Signs. It is especially good in explicating Peirce’s strange, conservative, view of God.
The goal of this important new book is to explain how talk about God can be defended as intelligible. Misiewicz supplies an extraordinarily detailed critique of various theological attempts to articulate a theory of analogy, followed by his own constructive proposal rooted in insights borrowed from Charles Peirce’s philosophy. Readers unfamiliar with Peirce will discover in the book’s sixth chapter a remarkably clear summary of his thought. The final chapter displays great creativity, employing Peirce’s semiotic in the process of developing a fresh approach to Christology. This is an impressive book by a young scholar with mature insights.
Why do recent students of theology shy away from philosophic discipline and formal logic? Is it because matters of faith and tradition no longer appear intelligible? Or because conventional modern logic fails to measure the intelligibility of God talk? Here is a bold and effective cure: analogia signorum! Rory Misiewicz teaches his readers how to enlist the semiotic logic of Charles Sanders Peirce as a powerful instrument for diagramming and evaluating the intelligibility of religious discourse. His teaching offers students of theology strong reasons to trust philosophic rigor, once again, and in a more than modern way.