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. Dale
    January 5, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

    Another discussion of Jesus’s faith from a recent book – a trinitarian takes the positive view (that he did have faith).

    And here, a Catholic writer embraces the negative view, like Mr. Gilson: http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=51435

  2. Rivers
    January 5, 2015 @ 3:13 pm


    You may not have noticed, but your recent podcast on John 20:28 ended up inspiring a discussion that lasted for several hundred comments. 🙂

  3. Dale
    January 5, 2015 @ 3:07 pm

    Greetings Mr. Zarley – thanks for the comment.

    Interesting! So, on traditional views, the “complete human nature” of Jesus isn’t a self, and so can’t possibly have faith (given that it’s been “assumed” by the Logos). Only then the eternal Logos is left – this is a self, but since it is divine, than Logos is divine, so all-knowing, and if faith requires some degree of ignorance, then the Logos (=Jesus) couldn’t have faith. It’s easy, then to see how catholic orthodoxy forces one to deny that Jesus had faith.

    Here’s the link for your reference: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4007.htm#article3

  4. Dale
    January 5, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

    Excellent comments, Sarah!

  5. Kermit Zarley
    January 4, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

    Hi Dale. Somehow I happened onto this. The following paragraph about Thomas Aquinas is in my RJC book:
    Aquinas’ doctrine of the beatific vision unveils one of the absurdities to which traditional, identity Christology can lead. Aquinas states, “When the divine reality is not hidden from sight, there is no point in faith. From the first moment of his conception Christ had the full vision of God in his essence … Therefore he could not have had faith.” In accordance with traditional Christology, this reasoning is quite logical. But it is wrong because it is based on a wrong premise—that Jesus Christ is God. Instead, the NT gospels make it quite obvious that Jesus was a man of faith, i.e., faith in God His Father.

  6. Sarah
    January 1, 2015 @ 5:21 pm

    Great logical and scriptural points made throughout this series, Dale. I think we should also consider the body of OT Messianic prophecy, much of which is spoken from the perspective of the Messiah and clearly predicts his faith in God. For example, Peter applied Psalm 16 to Christ. The Messiah’s faith is clearly expressed in this Psalm with phrases like “Preserve me O God, for in you I take refuge” (Ps 16:1) and “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot” (Ps 16:5).

    Another example would be Isaiah 49:4, from one of the famous suffering servant passages: “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.'”

    I was surprised by this unusual attempt to prove the deity of Christ by claiming he did not have faith. Points for creativity, but I suspect Mr. Gilson will have a difficult time convincing even his own fellow Trinitarians of a faithless Messiah.

  7. Rivers
    January 1, 2015 @ 9:57 am


    You bring up some good points. Dale’s purpose for this blog is not to discuss or debate issues related to eschatology, so I’ll just make a brief comment here.

    Jesus made a number of explicit statements about the fact that some of his contemporaries would remain alive until to witness his “coming” and the final resurrection and judgement (e.g. Matthew 10:23; Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:1-3; Matthew 24:34; John 11:25-26).

    The apostles also later spoke as if they had the same expectation (e.g. John 21:22; Romans 13:11; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 4:7; James 5:7; Revelation 1:1-3; Revelation 2:25). There is no indication that they ever spoke of these things as if it pertained to a subsequent generation of people.

    Thus, I think we have to accept that this is what Jesus and the apostles were teaching their disciples. Unfortunately, the testimony in the canonical scriptures seems to abruptly end without any further explanation. So, I think we just need to be careful to interpret the NT scriptures with the understanding that the appearing of Jesus Christ signified for the apostles that “the consummation of the ages” had come (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:26).

  8. Mario
    January 1, 2015 @ 8:54 am


    back at Part 1 of this series, I have argued in detail that the example that Dale proposed and now re-proposes (“Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith” – Hebrews 12:2), is more than dubious, even if, instead of replying to my argument, Dale chose to foreclose any further discussion, claiming that “nothing hangs on the translation ‘pioneer'”, supporting this claim by the quotation of Hebrews 12:2-3, where we can find Jesus’ endurance of the cross, forbearance of those who opposed him, and disregard of the shame of the cross, but not (necessarily) faith.

    So, once again, I believe that we are left only with Dale’s first example (Jesus’ prayer in particular at Gethsemane), and with this general statement: “all prayer requires faith in God”.

    There is only one objection to the above general statement: some (among them many Catholics) claim that Jesus never prayed for himself, but only so as to teach the apostles.

    Personally, I reject the above objection: if Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane is not genuine and genuinely reported, Christianity would be worse than a hoax. It would be a diabolical contraption.

  9. Jonathan Jensen
    December 31, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

    Concerning John 5:
    Isn’t it possible that the “time that now is” is referring to how now the Son of Man can be heard, being that He is there, speaking in the flesh; and that them living (from being resurrected) does not necessarily have to occur at that moment or even in that generation?

    Regarding Mark 13:30:
    Notice that in the very next verse, He demonstrates that He really doesn’t know anyway when that time is; rather, Jesus says that to watch out for the signs that it is just at the door.

    Certainly, Jesus and the others seemed to convey the idea that, since the Son of Man had appeared, that obviously judgment was imminent. As time goes on, or perhaps as a safety mechanism, they DO remind us that certain things must happen first before the end comes, and those are the things that we should be aware of. In 2 Peter 3:11,12, Peter feels that living godly lives should hasten the coming of the Lord. I would say that this is based on two things:
    1) as he said elsewhere, that the Lord desires all to come to repentance
    2) as the scriptures say, that the reason the Lord comes and destroys God’s enemies is because they have all but destroyed His people and He is coming to save them. In other words, if they are laying down their lives and being persecuted, then obviously the worst persecution since the beginning of the world must happen immediately before the end, since, “when the power of the holy people is finally broken, then the end will come”.

    Here in Mark, as you seem to have shown, Jesus was either basing this information on what is written in the scriptures, or he is speaking about the generation of wickedness, rather than that lifetime of men.

    In either case, we see Jesus delineate what will happen from the Scriptures, but plainly states that He doesn’t know when exactly this will occur.

    To anyone at the time seeing the Christ having come, it would seem obvious however that it was very close indeed — the last days!

  10. Rivers
    December 31, 2014 @ 3:53 pm


    With regard to Jesus admitting that he “did not know the day or the hour” of his Parousia (Mark 13:32), it’s important to take into account Jesus believed it was certainly going to occur during his own “generation” (Mark 13:30) and he did say that “the hour now is” when the resurrection of the dead was going to take place (John 5:25, 28).

  11. Rivers
    December 31, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

    Dale / Mario,

    The problem I have with Gilson’s theory is that he acknowledges that Jesus Christ taught things like “faith, love, forgiveness, kindness, endurance”, but seems to think that Jesus exemplified everything except the “faith.”

    However, part of the reason we know that Jesus Christ “exemplified” those other virtues is on account of his actions. Thus, why wouldn’t we conclude that Jesus had “faith” as well since we know that some of his actions were characteristic of a man of faith?

    For example, Jesus taught that “faith” must be associated with effective prayer (Mark 11:24; James 5:11). Thus, when we read that Jesus was praying (Luke 5:16), isn’t it reasonable to think that his prayers were an example of his faith (like when he prayed to effect his own salvation from death, Hebrews 5:7-9)?

  12. Dale
    December 31, 2014 @ 3:02 pm


    Thanks for the comment. Excellent points. Yes, Jesus explicitly says that he doesn’t know the day or hour of his return. So, it would seem that he had faith in God, trusting what God had told him about that.

    Jesus’s faith, I think, is all over the gospels, but not an explicit topic. You put your finger on one such place.

    Another is when he upbraids his disciples for having little faith (he’s got more, we’re to think), and when he explains that mountains can be moved with faith (this is how he’s doing his miracles). Again, in John 11,

    Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”

    Why would God do this? Because of Jesus’s great faith. As Jesus says in Matthew 21,

    Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive…

  13. Jonathan Jensen
    December 31, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

    Personal comment:
    I think it’s obvious that, since “faith” in general in the Bible is believing what you hear (and haven’t necessarily as-of-yet seen), that Jesus had that essence of faith in that He spoke all that the Father told Him to say. Seeing as how Jesus did not know the day nor the hour, for instance, He certainly had not seen the Day of the LORD. As such, He certainly must have believed based on what He heard. After all, He is not the one initiating it, since it was by the Father’s timing and authority. I think that much of the talk of faith in the NT is the faith in what Jesus preached, so it’s not particularly voiced to be Jesus’ faith in that He had to believe something He said that He heard from Himself; rather, Jesus heard what He spoke from God, and so therefore He is in this case the speaker, and we “hear [Jesus’] word and believe Him Who sent [Jesus]”. (John 5:24) It seems kind of like how Paul speaks about the faith of the people he talks to, when he’s talking to people who believed the Gospel that Paul preached, rather than his own faith, unless he’s making an example. Not as a rule of thumb, but just to give an idea.