There is nothing wrong with analogical language. The problem with Van Tillians is that what they refer to as “analogical” is not really analogical at all. The same was true of Aquinas. Truly analogical language entails some sort of univocity of being, insofar as an object is used as an illustration or *analogy* to point to something else. The analogical object therefore has common ground with the object with which it is being compared.
For example, if I say that my eyes are green like the grass, I am using the grass as an analogy. When I am using the word “green” I mean the same thing for both my eyes and the grass. Aquinas and Van Til, however, insist that when we predicate “goodness” of God and “goodness” of elect angels, for example, what we mean when we are referring to God is something qualitatively different from that predicated o angels. Thus, there is no common point of reference between the two objects. Therefore, the language is equivocal, rather than either analogical or univocal.
The reasons for thus among Aquinas and Van Til are different but the consequences are the same. Aquinas’ opponent was Dun Scotus, who used his univocal theory of being to bolster his univocal theory of language. For God to be good and for unfallen humans to be good meant the same thing. Aquinas reasoned, however, that since God is “simple” and therefore lacking parts, all of God’s attributes must be the same, since God would otherwise have parts. This is incomprehensible, since God’s love and his hatred must obviously be distinct according to our human reasons (and indeed, opposite).
Aquinas therefore reasoned that, given this incomprehensibility, for us to say that God is good must mean something fundamentally different, and beyond human comprehension, when applied to God, relative to unfallen humans or angels. He called this theory of language analogical, but it is not analogical at all. It is equivocal. To use the same word for two different things is, by definition, to equivocate, which is a logical fallacy in this context.
Likewise, Van Til argued that since the Trinity is incomprehensible, God is incomprehensible. For God to know everything means knowing everything in relation to everything else, including his own divine nature. Therefore, to know everything in relation to everything else in relation to his divine nature must mean that God knows things in a way qualitatively distinct from how we know things. Therefore, when we say that God has such and such an attribute, what it means for God is something totally different from what it means for us. Therefore, our language is merely “analogical.” Once again, however, this is not true analogy at all. It is equivocation. “God is good,” for Aquinas and Van Til, means something fundamentally unintelligible to us, and, in fact, God is fundamentally unknowable. This is totally incomprehensible with a Scotian or Clarkian view of the relation of language to being. The two are irreconcilable.