God’s self-consciousness is archetypal; our knowledge of God, drawn from his Word, is ectypal.
God, not the creature, is primary. He is the archetype [the original]; the creature is the ectype [the likeness]. In him everything is original, absolute, and perfect; in creatures everything is derived, relative, and limited.
Bavinck formuliert die Beziehung zwischen diesen beiden Arten von Wissen so aus:
- All our knowledge of God is from and through God, grounded in his revelation, that is, in objective reason.
- In order to convey the knowledge of him to his creatures, God has to come down to the level of his creatures and accommodate himself to their powers of comprehension.
- The possibility of this condescension cannot be denied since it is given with creation, that is, with the existence of finite being.
- Our knowledge of God is always only analogical in character, that is, shaped by analogy to what can be discerned of God in his creatures, having as its object not God himself in his knowable essence, but God in his revelation, his relation to us, in the things that pertain to his nature, in his habitual disposition to his creatures. Accordingly, this knowledge is only a finite image, a faint likeness and creaturely impression of the perfect knowledge that God has of himself.
- Finally, our knowledge of God is nevertheless true, pure, and trustworthy because it has for its foundation God’s self-consciousness, its archetype, and his self-revelation in the cosmos.
Herman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics, 2:107+129+110