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By Humphrey Palmer (auth.)

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Extra resources for Analogy: A Study of Qualification and Argument in Theology

Example text

So they are, to begin with. More people take them on, and they win a place in history and in the lexicon, and then it's no good disliking them. These constant little changes and developments are why we say some languages are 'living'. There is no hope of tidying everything up into dictionaries until the language is quite dead. 13 If poets and journalists can stretch the language to their purposes, why should not preachers do the same? The mystic, stumbling to describe his visionary God, will say the most unusual things and his hearers must make what sense they can of it, just as a poet may make his readers labour and puzzle over his intent.

This does not tell us how much of the good would be the right amount, in any given case. For example, it does not say how much courage, and on what occasions, would add up to bravery. It only says that while one can have too little (cowardice) one could also have too much (foolhardiness). Whatever the virtue in question, this theory says that we can either overshoot or undershoot the mark. * Now this statement is formal and theoretical: we cannot use it to work out our duty in any given case. But it is not quite empty, all the same; for there might have been good of which it was impossible to have too much, and the theory says that this is not the case.

Theological predication, it was admitted, is really different from the ordinary sort. Terms just do not mean the same when they are applied to God. But there are degrees and sorts of diJIerence. It was only denied that terms acquire an entirely new sense when brought into theology. Their meaning is not wholly different. It is related to their ordinary sense; and if we start from the ordinary sense (as we must) we can gain some understanding of what is being said. 6 Can we state the relationship?

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