Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.


  1. Matt13weedhacker
    November 27, 2015 @ 11:14 am

    Eusebius is an interesting case. He’s an example of someone who we can see retrospectively, (because of leaving a full life’s legacy in his writings), that his theology was in a state of flux, (it changed), throughout his life. His theology morphed, (sometimes subtly and sometimes in great leaps), according to external influences and the pressures of the momentous times that he lived in.

    You may, or may not, find this link interesting: http://chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/5880

    Going back earlier though.

    Tertullian, Justin Martyr, (in particular), Theophilus of Antioch, Athenagoras of Athens, Tatian of Syria, Shepherd of Hermas, and even Ignatius of Antioch all, (by modern standards), confounded the “Son” with the “spirit”.

    They taught that the Logos resided within the Father as an un-differentiated part of, (or concept within), the Father’s mind, (and/or figurative “heart”). Meaning, originally they taught that the Logos was NOT always a real, different, distinct, and/or separate PERSON to the Father, (thus un-differentiated). They taught that the Logos only existed potentially, (but NOT in the later sense that Nicene so-called “Orthodoxy” understood it), but as all creation did before they were actually created, that they existed within the Father’s mind as, or in the sense of an IM-PERSON-AL concept.

    The other interesting thing was they, (Tertullian in particular), also taught that the Logos did NOT become: “the Son,” (as a real separate and different person to the Father), UNTIL his
    instantaneous temporal: “generation,” (“creation” in my opinion), and subsequent, (in some cases simultaneous): “procession” “from out of” the Father’s intelligence, mind, and power, by an act of, and as: “a work” of His, (i.e. the Father’s), singular and/or simple will.

    Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Tertullian sometimes even blurred the identity of “the spirit” with: “the Logos,” (again undifferentiated), in his post-generational existence. Thus, in some cases they appeared to identify the “the holy spirit,” and: “the Logos,” AS ONE IN THE SAME PERSON, (this can also be seen earlier in Ignatius of Antioch and the Shepherd of Hermas). Thus a distinctive Bi{2}nitarian doctrine existed in the second century.

    Some have commented that this [1.] prehuman existence “Logos” un-differentiation, and [2.] post-generational “Logos/Jesus” confounding, (same person identification), in large measure contributed to the rise of late second/third century 3-in-1 Modalism. I think there’s some substance in that claim. That it added to confusion, (thus 3-in-1 confusion teachings), that began to exist in the absence, and vacuum created by the death of the Apostles.

    In the late second, early third, the distinctive, and competing forms of 3-in-1 doctrines, (Modalism, Tri{3}thiesm, T/tri{3}nity), begin to proliferate, and really take off.

    • Dale Tuggy
      November 29, 2015 @ 7:53 am

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the comments. I’m agnostic about alleged shifts in Eusebius’s theology; I’d have to see more evidence. Thanks for that link.

      But I think it is a mistake to look at an early theologians only mentioning Father and Son in some context and declaring him “binitarian.” If it were up to me, I would just ban that term as having no good use. Those guys don’t believe in a two-person god, which is what the term should properly mean, if it had any good application.

      I would also point out the Trinity-trinity difference to those who like to talk about early catholics like Origen or Justin or Tertullian as “trinitarian.” If that means just having a theology on which the Father, Son, and Spirit are in some sense(s) divine, then many famous unitarians will count as “trinitarians.” But, that’s an abuse of terms. People who identify the one God with the Father alone are simply unitarians, whatever their views about God’s Son and spirit.

      Yes, I agree that the “two-stage” logos theory came first, and that on it, properly speaking, the Son comes into existence a finite time ago. And yes, I think that the “monarchian” views arose only in reaction to the spread of logos theories. What has long been forgotten now is what those were so controversial for so many decades.

      • Matt13weedhacker
        November 30, 2015 @ 4:36 am

        Hi Dale.

        Believe me sincerely, when I say that I CAN see your viewpoint, (in regard to the “Bi{2}nitarian” label). However, (to me), “Bi{2}nitarian” is as vague a term as “T/tri{3}nitarian”, (or even “Uni{1}tarian” for that matter). They are all retrospective labels capable of a strict dictionary interpretations, (which are in themselves subjective and vary from denomination to denomination), and also capable of loose, (relative or defacto), interpretations.

        Bi{2}nitarian can strictly mean belief in two persons as two separate gods.
        Bi{2}nitarian can loosely mean belief in one person wearing two masks pretending to be two gods.
        Bi{2}nitarian can loosely mean belief in two persons as one god.

        To my knowledge, the subcategories of “Bi{2}nitarian” belief in the first, second and third centuries, aren’t as well documented or defined as “Tri{3}nity”, “Modalism” and Tri{3}theism are today. Yet I am open to correction, and increased knowledge on the subject. I’m not afraid of being wrong.

        To me “Bi{2}nitarian is a kind of scatter gun term, (or label), used to approximate, or loosely describe the two gods concept, (or “that the Father and the Son are in sense(s) divine”).

        Back in the second century there were many, (and no doubt many more private/personal/individual interpretations that existed which haven’t survived the centuries), there were many personal attempts by men struggling to articulate, or explain coherently how Jesus could be called: “a god” even: “a mighty god” and how the Father can also be called: “God” at the same time without voiding, nullifying, or breaking the teaching of “One God” in the Bible. But the fact remained, (and remains), that in God’s Word we do find:

        [1.] “God the Father”
        [2.] “and the Word was a god”

        Two numerically.

        So the attempts at explaining the two numerical god(s) undoubtedly varied from individual to individual. Yet there were many attempts at explaining the two numerical god(s) that were very similar, though not exactly the same. Establishing exactly, (now – centuries later), which was the original Apostolic explanation, (considering the tens of thousands of sects and denominations of professed Christianity that exist today), is a very very difficult thing to do indeed. They all have their own interpretation, which is different. You no doubt agree on one thing though, that the Bible is the only sure guide in the midst of this chaos. But, you know as well as I know, that — INTERPRETATION — of the Bible, IS THEE problem, (both then and now).

        I’ll leave it there.