Letters to a Diminished Church Part 4


letterstoadiminishedchurch Letters to a Diminished Church by Dorothy Sayers

The Image of God (Chapter 4)

“It is observable that in the passage leading up to the statement about man, he has given no detailed information about God. Looking at man, he sees in him something essentially divine, but when we turn back to see what he says about the original upon which the ‘image’ of God was modeled, we find only the single assertion, ‘God created.’ The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and ability to make things.” (24)

“All language about God must, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out, necessarily be analogical…The fact is that all language about everything is analogical; we think in a series of metaphors. We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things. Even mathematics can express itself in terms of itself only so long as it deals with an ideal system of pure numbers; the moment it begins to deal with numbers of things it is forced back into the language of analogy.” (25)

“To complain that man measures God by his own experience is a waste of time; man measures everything by his own experience; he has no other yardstick.” (26)

Examples of analogy
God as king
God as Father

“When we use these expressions, we know perfectly well that they are metaphors and analogies; what is more, we know perfectly well where the metaphor begins and ends…Ou r own common sense assures us that the metaphor is intended to be drawn from the best kind of father acting within a certain limited sphere of behavior, and is to be applied only to a well-defined number of the divine attributes.”

“The analogical statements of experience that I want to examine are those used by the Christian creeds about God the Creator.” (28)

“It is the artist who, more than other men, is able to create something out of nothing. A whole artistic work is immeasurably more than the sum of its parts.” (30)

“Outside our own experience of procreation and creation, we can form no notion of how anything comes into being.” (32)

“Poets have, indeed, often communicated in their own mode of expression truths identical with the theologian’s truths; but just because of the difference in the modes of expression, we often fail to see the identity of the statements.The artist does not recognize that the phrases of the creeds purport to be observations of fact about the creative mind as such, including his own; while the theologian, limiting the application of the phrases to the divine Maker, neglects to inquire of the artists what light he can throw upon them from his own immediate apprehension of truth. The confusion is as though two men were to argue fiercely whether there was a river in a certain district or whether, on the contrary, there was a measurable volume of H2O moving in a particular direction with an ascertainable velocity, neither having any suspicion that they were describing the same phenomenon.” (32)

“Our minds are not infinite; and as the volume of the world’s knowledge increases, we tend more and more to confine ourselves, each to his special sphere of interest and to the specialized metaphor belonging to it. The analytic bias of the last three centuries has immensely encouraged this tendency, and it is now very difficult for the artist to speak the language of the theologican or the scientist the language of either. But the attempt must be made; and there are signs everywhere that the human mind is once more beginning to move toward a synthesis of experience.” (33)

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