Dogmatic Theology 1.20: How the Spirit Comes from Father and Son

This is the second of two treatments of the so-called “psychological analogy” for the Trinity. The term is of course ridiculous. It may have been invented by critics. At any rate, the analogy itself is amazing. It is a true theological achievement of the highest order. It is grounded esp. in Augustine and Aquinas, and furthered by Lonergan in the 20th century. (Lonergan is good on many things, and also of doubtful judgment on other matters, esp. after 1965.)

We have two ways of understanding a theological matter by analogy. One kind of analogy is metaphorical. This is good and beautiful, immediately accessible and easier to understand. It also has less explanatory power and also implies falsehoods. In short, you have to keep hemming in the metaphor so it does not lead you astray. To do this, you need other metaphors. Thus, counterbalancing metaphors help you get a bigger picture, each being somewhat true and somewhat false.

By contrast, there is a “proper analogy.” A proper analogy is simply true. It has no falsehood about it (of course, when rightly understood). Thus, everything implied in the analogy is also true. It is an achievement of theology as a science.

Aquinas presents this Augustinian analogy for the Trinity as a proper analogy. I believe he is correct.

This is very rewarding, although it is quite a journey.