Is it an orthodox view to hold that some things can be said of God in the same way as we say them of ourselves?

Aquinas believed that we could not say anything of God in the same way (univocally) as we say it of his creatures, but only analogously. But Bl. Duns Scotus, on the other hand, believed that some things could be said of God and his creatures in the same way. Are we bound to accept the former position, which seems to be more common with Catholic thinkers, or is it acceptable for there to be differences of opinion on this matter?


This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about this subject:

#40 Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists.

#43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that “between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying a greater dissimilitude (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Anaphora)”; and that “concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him. (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles I. 30)”

Basically, the Church acknowledges St. Thomas’ reasoning here. To do otherwise is to limit God.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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