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
    February 20, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

    Agreed. But note the practice in the NT of “calling on the name of the Lord”, meaning, Jesus.

  2. John
    February 17, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    Hi !
    We have to bear in mind that Christ –
    -Prayed to The Father
    -Instructed us to pray to the Father.



  3. Dale
    February 17, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

    Hi Arne,

    Excellent comment. Yes, I too see this is an ongoing issue for unitarian Christians. I think that influential English unitarians like Priestley and Lindsey denouncing worship of Jesus as “Christian idolatry” was a huge mistake. There were many other forces at play too, which converged to kill off English and American unitarianism. This excellent biography shows you some key turning points of the demise in detail: http://www.amazon.com/American-Heretic-Theodore-Parker-Transcendentalism/dp/080782710X

    Some day I want to write about what we should learn from the historical demise of various unitarian movements. As to the Polish Socinians, they were scattered to the winds by a Catholic king.

    “one gets the idea that Jesus is now standing in the place of God the father as a hearer of prayer and is our object of adoration and prayers, and we do not have to address the father per se”

    No, I don’t think that follows at all. Both can be objects of prayer and worship. In the NT I think we see the Father as both ultimate and primary object of both. They are not in competition, so either is fine. You just don’t want to see Jesus eclipse God – which is in fact what we often see, not only with Oneness, but with evangelicals who insist that “Jesus is God” and who actually identify the two (some of the time!).

    Thanks for the tip on the recent trans. of Socinus. I will check that out, and compare it to some other things I have by him…

    God bless,

  4. Arne Ragnar
    February 17, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    Hi agian,
    I’m not sure I agree that everything that needs to be said about this is said. If it didn’t come out by my previous questions, I am in sympathy with Biblical Unitarianism and have done some research on the study. One of the questions I have askes is: if the early unitarians such as the Socinians and Unitarians of Transylvania were right, why did the movement not survive? History shows us that the Socinians died out, Unitarians in Transylvania were reformed backwards by Biandrata, and the English Unitarians gradually transformed to a non-Christian religion.

    One answer may be that the unitarians never agreed among themselves, as is highlighted in the debate on whom one should pray to and worship. The fronts between Socinians and “Davidians” was so hostile that Budny of Lithauania was excommunicated by the otherwise tolerant Socinians for not adoring Christ. If Biblical Unitarianism gains more momentum I am sure the same debates will surface again. Therefore maybe we need to take a close look at the disagreement between Francis David and Sozzini to see where there was error.

    I just finished reading “A Brief Instruction in Christian Religion, by Fausto Sozzini” translated by William Fontana Sr, and I was surprised to find to what extent Sozzini was commited to the worship and prayer of Jesus. Commenting on John 14:14 “Jesus wanted his disciple to understand they were to address him directly while acknowledging his power was God-given”. “He (Jesus) was assuring the disciples that in the future, they could seek him, as they had sought his father in the past; i.e. he would have sufficient power from the Father to answer theri prayers.”

    If the translation is an accurate representation of Sozzinis message, one gets the idea that Jesus is now standing in the place of God the father as a hearer of prayer and is our object of adoration and prayers, and we do not have to address the father per se. If one were to follow Sozzinis directions as I understand them, our prayer life should be like the one of a Oneness Pentecostal.

    Francis David on the other hand, would not address Jesus, but only God the Father.

    Which of these two strands of thought fit best with modern day Biblical Unitarianism?

  5. John
    January 26, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

    I think that Jaco has just said everything that need be said.

    Christ is the intercessor between God and man – and as such may be prayed to.

    The Father alone is God – so we may pray to the Father through the Son.



  6. Jaco
    January 26, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    Hi Dale,
    What I’ve found to be very interesting in my dealings with some churchgoers who do pray to Jesus, is that their spontaneous responses do not testify to an awareness of his being God. In other words, they have it firm in their minds that the Father is God. He has been identified as Almighty, so nothing changes that. However Jesus is treated, there is no disruption of the explicitly stated and undeniable fact that the Father is God. Period. I realise that it’s a different community at a different time period that that of the First Century; but it still made me wonder about how applicable our epistemology and our methods are of determining “on which side of the divinity/mundane line” Jesus should be placed. Where there is explicit identification (the Father is God alone) and explicit exclusion from that identity (Jesus is the mediator between the identified God and the rest of humankind) then such an exercise in determining where Jesus belongs is actually futile. Moreover, and this has been very adequately demonstrated by scholars such as Margaret Barker, Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Maurice Casey and others, Judaism at the time of Jesus had an implicit understanding that worship given to highly exalted figures such as angels, Enoch, the high priest, etc., was ultimately directed to the One “behind” them, the Origin of their glory. If we therefore consider Jesus’ exalted role in God’s arrangement, the intimate relationship between Jesus and his followers, as well as his promise that he’d be present with them in spirit, is it at all surprising that ancient Christians had no issue addressing Jesus in prayer? Needless to say, none of this disrupted or posed a challenge to the undisputed reality, which is that the Father is God alone and nothing can change that identity.

  7. Ragnar
    January 26, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

    Christ prayed to God, and also told us to pray to God. Yet we see that his followers prayed to Jesus.

    A couple of examples:
    Paul: To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who dare 1sanctified in Christ Jesus, ecalled to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ four Lord, gboth theirs and ours:(1 Cor 1:1-2)

    Stephen: “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit” (Acts 7:59)

    My question is not whether this is authorized or not, as Marc Taylor points out there are several Biblical Unitarians who endors prayer to Jesus – even the Socinians of the reformations did.

    Unlike Jesus who had only one option of whom to pray to, Biblical Unitarians have two options. I think this is what botherd Francis David and some other Unitarians.
    I just wonder how this works in the prayer life of Biblical Unitarians today.

  8. Marc Taylor
    January 26, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  9. john
    January 26, 2014 @ 8:50 am

    I am a Biblical Unitarian and whould ask you-

    Who did Christ pray to?

    Who did Christ say we should pray to?



  10. Ragnar
    January 26, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    Hi Dale,
    I think Francis David was trying to resolve an issue of practical monotheism. (Some of his works are now available in English btw, check your kindle store.

    For most people in the World their relationship to the living God in their own lives, and not deep theological study, is the catalyst of their spiritual life. Prayer And worship are probably the most fundamental activities in religion, And therefore the question of whom to Direct prayer to is essential.

    For a Jew, Muslem or Oneness Pentecostal direction of prayer is easy: there is only one God, no distinction of persons. For a Biblical Unitarian (Socinian) the matter is more complex, Although there is only one God there are still two options of whom to pray to:
    A: God the Father
    B: Jesus Christ

    To many people who are uneducated in scripture, it will seen like Biblical Unitarians for all intenst and purposes relaterte to two gods. Especially for pagans who are used to gods having sons who also are gods, it would appear that Jesus was a new god.

    How do you decide when to pray to God And when to pray to Jesus Christ?

  11. Marc Taylor
    January 2, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

    No need to be sorry Dale because it is about meaning of words and the guesses one chooses to impose on them when they prove a certain doctrine to be in error.

  12. Dale
    January 2, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    Marc, sorry, but this is not really a matter of definitions, but of inferences – of what does and doesn’t follow from what. Not every point can be proven just by focusing on meanings of words.

    About logic and critical thinking, here are some excellent free resources from Christian philosopher Paul Herrick: http://www.manyworldsoflogic.com/

    God bless,

  13. Marc Taylor
    January 1, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

    Can you please give me a summary of the book that would validate your point(s) rather than me going out and buying the book (low on funds) that would somehow negate the definitions I supplied.

  14. Michael
    January 1, 2014 @ 7:28 pm


    You really should listen to what Dale said, read the book he linked, and watch the video he linked.

  15. Marc Taylor
    January 1, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

    I would encourage you to stay with how the words of the Bible are properly defined. I have cited several sources that affirm my position. It is illogical to choose to make up ones own meaning(s) concerning the words of the New Testament.

  16. Dale
    January 1, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    Marc, I’m sorry, but there is a pattern a poor reasoning here, which is common among apologists. I have know idea what your age or background is, but I encourage you to study with or read Christian philosophers, to get more sure-footed in this sort of thing. This is one place to start: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Your-Mind-anniversary-repack/dp/1617479004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388621210&sr=8-1&keywords=love+god+with+all+your+mind

    You asserted that only an all-knowing being could answer everyone’s prayers adequately. I replied by pointing out this gap:

    1. x is able to adequately answer everyone’s prayers
    2. x is omniscient.

    2 doesn’t follow from 1. That is, it is conceivable that 2 be false even though 1 is true. Sorry, but quoting reference sources on relevant topics does nothing to close the logical gap between 1 and 2. You’ll need an extra premise to get from 1 to 2.

    You then add this:

    1. God is truly described as a “heart-knower”.
    2. Jesus is truly described as a “heart-knower”.
    3. Therefore, Jesus is God. (or fully divine, as as divine as God, etc)

    or maybe

    1. Any omniscient being is truly called a “heart-knower”.
    2. Jesus is truly called a “heart-knower”.
    3. Therefore, Jesus is an omniscient being.

    Either way, 3 doesn’t follow from 1 & 2.
    I refer you to this, re: validity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPRfNdLxSoQ

    “And since the Bible declares in several passages that the Lord Jesus knows the totality of all hearts this proves He is Omniscient/God”

    Nope. It doesn’t follow that he’s omnsicient, or that he’s God, from the fact (granting that it is a fact), that Jesus knows (even durning his earthly ministry) the contents of all people’s minds.

    Mind you, this is all just logic. This is theology-neutral, though it is theology-relevant.

    Myself, I agree that the risen Jesus hears and answers prayers. I pray to Jesus regularly. I think we have no way to know the upper limits of a transformed, immortalized human being who is uniquely united to Almighty God.

  17. Marc Taylor
    December 31, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

    I would disagree.
    The citations above demonstrate that it takes being the Almighty to hear all the prayers and to faithfully act upon them.
    Furthermore, the Greek word kardiognwstes (literally “heart-knower”) is used to refer to the omniscience of God
    a. NIDNTT: kardiognwstes is unknown to secular Gk. and to the LXX, and occurs in the NT only in Acts 1:24 and 15:8 and later in patristic writings. It describes God
    as the knower of hearts. The fact that God sees, tests and searches the hidden depths of the human heart is commonly stated in both the OT and the NT (1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 11:20; 17:9f.; Lk. 16:15; Rom. 8:27; 1 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 2:23, cf. above OT, 3). This belief in the omniscience of God is expressed succinctly by the adj. kardiognwstees (2:183, Heart, T. Sorg).
    b. TDNT: The designation of God as ho kardiognwstes, “the One who knows the heart,” expresses in a single term (Ac. 1:24; 15:8) something which is familiar to both the NT and OT piety (Lk. 16:15; R. 8:27; 1 Th. 2:4; Rev. 2:23 of Christ, cf. 1 Bas. 16:7; 3 Bas. 8:39; 1 Par. 28:9; Psalm 7:9; Ier. 11:20; 17:10; Sir. 42:18ff.), namely that the omniscient God knows the innermost being of every man where the decision is made either for Him or against Him (3:613, kardiognwstees, Behm).
    c. Danker: knower of hearts, one who knows the hearts, of God Ac 1:24; 15:8 (on these pass. s. JBauer, BZ 32, 88, 114-117); Hm 4, 3, 4. – M-M. DELG s.v. gignwskw. TW (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, kardiognwstes, page 509).
    —> TW stands for the TDNT – Theologisches Worterbuch zum NT, ed. GKittel (d. 1948),

    And since the Bible declares in several passages that the Lord Jesus knows the totality of all hearts this proves He is Omniscient/God and thus perfectly able to both hear and act on all the prayers/worship He receives.

  18. Dale
    December 31, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

    Let us reason carefully. It is clear, is it not, that a being could be less than omniscient, and yet know enough to best answer all human prayers since c. 33 AD.

    e.g. of irrelevant truths – how many dinosaurs occupied Iowa 10 million years ago, or how many atoms currently comprise Alpha Centauri

    Do you agree?

  19. Marc Taylor
    December 31, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    a. NIDNTT: It is significant that, wherever the NT speaks of requests made to God, it emphasizes that such requests are heard (cf. Matt. 6:8; 7:7-11; 18:19; 21:22; Jn. 14:13f.; 15:7, 16; 16:23f., 26; 1 Jn. 3:22; 5:14f.; Jas. 1:5). It is as if the NT witnesses wished particularly to encourage men to pray, by assuring the suppliant that his requests are heard by God. The NT is aware that this certainty keeps all prayer alive; let such certainty become weakened or diminished through doubt, and prayer dies…In prayer we are never to forget whom we are addressing: the living God, the almighty One with whom nothing is impossible, and from whom therefore all things may be expected (2:857, Prayer, H. Schonweiss).
    b. NIDOTTE: Prayer is, indeed a serious matter. It is regarded in the Bible as the most fundamental of all expressions of religion. It concerns the deepest feelings and most central motivation of the persons who are offering their prayer to their God, and it concerns the covenant relationship, with its blessings and sanctions, as the inevitable fabric of the living communion between the people and their God. To pray is an act of faith in the almighty and gracious God, who responds to the prayers of his people (4:1062, Prayer, P.A. Verhoef).

    By being prayed to/worshiped proves that the Lord Jesus is God. If He were not Omniscient/God He may not always be able to hear or fully understand all the intents and purposes of all the hearts behind such prayers and if He were not Omnipotent/God He would be unable to always act on such requests.

  20. Marc Taylor
    December 31, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    To know the totality of all the hearts (kardiognwstes) expresses the omniscience of God and it is the basis for receiving prayer/worship. That the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of worship on several occasions proves the first Christians did indeed believe He was Omniscient/God.

  21. Dale
    March 17, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    All this abstract talk of the man Jesus “being added to the Shema” (cheif offenders, I think: Bauckham, Wright) I think is just a way of unclearly saying that the NT somehow includes him within God, or at least within the sphere of deity, or anyhow, in some sort of trinitarian way. I’ve read quite a lot of Hurtado and Dunn too, and highly respect both. But it is remarkable how little clear theology they ever commit to. There’s a vague hope that somehow this all supports the 4th c. creeds, or at least some sort of “high” (non- or anti-liberal??) christology. And in Hurtado’s case, I think there is at least of hope that this meshes well with some sort of “social” theory. I plan on reading his 2010 book on God in NT theology to see just what the theological payoff of all this historical work is, in his view. I’ve been suprised and disappointed that none of these seem to have engaged with unitarian theology; but I guess this is a function of its having few defenders in the academic realm in recent times. Slap me and call me old-fashioned, but I think one has to read the old guys in order to break free, to some extent, of the prejudices and blind spots of one’s own time. Reading people like Clarke or Lindsey or Belsham or Lardner, I realize that they are in many ways the peers of our best biblical and theological scholars now, though each too is limited by his own time.

  22. Xavier
    March 17, 2012 @ 8:43 am


    I’m sure that both agree that 1st. c. believers didn’t worship Jesus “as God” in the sense that they thought he was God himself, confusing him with the Father. I want to see how they define “worship” and if they make any precise distinctions as to kinds of worship.

    I have read most of their books and most of the other ones involved in these Christological debates and I must say that they would say Jesus was worshipped “as God” but obviously not the Father [since thay would break with their own creed not to “confound the Persons”]. But what is interesting is that most of these people, except Dunn now, would agree that Jesus is somehow “included but not added to the Shema”. In other words, in the earliest worship of the “one God” Jesus is somehow included as well. That is, Jesus is IDENTIFIED as YHWH as is the Father and the Spirit. Basically it seems that as with the meaning of the word “God”, the Divine Name of YHWH has now also been changed to mean “triune”.

    Anthony and I made a series of videos countering this very fundamental point made more publicly by “Dr” James White:


  23. Xavier
    March 17, 2012 @ 8:33 am


    I remember that they were disagreeing, but I think I wasn’t too clear about the exact nature of their disagreement.

    Recently they had an interesting “dialogue” where they again discussed “the splitting the Shema” and “Christian Monotheism” coinage used by many scholars like Wright, Bauckham and Hurtado himself. Here’s Hurtado’s take of the events:

    It seems Dunn has had a running “dialogue” with them objecting to the phraseology. And if you read his last book Dunn actually offers a sound “alternative” to the traditional view that Paul splits the Shema at 1Cor 8.4-6:

    …Paul took up the Shema, already quoted in [8.4-6] and to that ADDED the further confession, ‘and one Lord Jesus Christ’…[this] could be said to be a more natural outworking of the primary conviction of [Ps 110.1]…A distinction remains between the one God and the one Lord. p. 109

    This apparently is being reported as a “major issue” that sprang up in their “dialogue”. And in private conversation with Dunn himself he verified that “Larry did not agree. Not as lively as I had expected.” 😛

  24. Xavier
    March 15, 2012 @ 7:09 pm


    I call humanitarian unitarians

    Something you came up with or..? I prefer Biblical unitarians.

    Just to add to this topic here are some emphatic comments FOR prayer to Jesus:

    “‘Falling down’ can be an act of obeisance to human beings (e.g. Ps 72.10-11); it need not imply worship. But ‘pleading’ (pll hit[palal, ‘to pray/prayer’]) has a human object only here…The verb’s legal background suggests that it would naturally have a non-religious usage parallel to that of ‘falling down’, even if this does not occur in the Bible.” A critical and exegetical commentary on Isaiah 40-55; John Goldingay, David Payne, David Frank Payne, pg. 45.

    This is from James Dunn’s latest book, Did the First Christians Worship?:

    In Acts and the Epistles [parakalein] regularly appears in the everyday sense of ‘urge, exhort [2Cor 1.3-7; 7.4-7, 13]…The only obvious case [of it] being used in a prayer context is 2Cor 12…parakalein here is used in the sense of an appeal in prayer…to the Lord Jesus Christ. This can safely be concluded not only because ‘the Lord’ in Paul is almost always the Lord Jesus (apart from its occurrence in scriptural quotations)# but also because the grace and power that the one appealed to promises Paul in answer to his appeal is specifically identified as ‘the power of Christ’…Paul understood the exalted Christ as one who could be appealed to for help, a request or petition that can readily be understood as prayer.
    [‘Paul’s easy recounting of his actions suggests that he expects his readers to be familiar with prayer-appeals to Jesus as a communally accepted feature of Christian devotional practice [1Cor 1.2] (Hurtado, Origins 75).]

    To call upon Jesus (in prayer) was evidently a defining and distinguishing feature of earliest Christian worship.
    [Cf. “call upon”, Acts 7.59; 9.14, 21; 22.16; Rom 10.12,14; 1Cor 1.2; 2Tim 2.22. This defining feature of these early Christians…marked them out from others who ‘called upon (the name of)’ some other deity or heavenly being…’Jesus’ cultic presence and power clearly operate here in the manner we otherwise associate with a god’ (Hurtado, Origins 80).]

    • Dale
      March 16, 2012 @ 11:37 am

      Good references – thanks. I’ve read that short book by Dunn and an interesting critical book review by Hurtado (it’s on his website). I need to review them – I remember that they were disagreeing, but I think I wasn’t too clear about the exact nature of their disagreement. I’m sure that both agree that 1st. c. believers didn’t worship Jesus “as God” in the sense that they thought he was God himself, confusing him with the Father. I want to see how they define “worship” and if they make any precise distinctions as to kinds of worship.

      About “humanitarian unitarian” – no, I didn’t coin this. I don’t know who did, but I find it used, e.g. in late 18thc – early 19th c. unitarian writings. It is used in opposition to subordinationist unitarians, who believe in pre-existence, and are more likely to describe Jesus has having a sort of divinity. “Biblical unitarian” is useful insofar as we’re anxious to distinguish ourselves from Unitarian Universalists, and I have no real objection to it, though it may annoy others. (Every Christian sect thinks it is biblical.)

  25. Dale
    March 15, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

    Hello Matt,

    No, I wrote this post days ago.

    No, not offering a straw man. If David makes a weak case that doesn’t show a strong case can’t be made.

    About worship being commanded in the Bible, a command need not be explicit. What is clear from numerous parts of the new testament is that Jesus has been exalted to a position of leadership over us, and that implies that we owe him honor. For example, consider Hebrews 1-2. If someone clarified that “commanded” in this argument means explicitly commanded, then I would say: why should we believe premise one. We can of course challenge both premises, if the case calls for it.

    One should bear in mind that when Jesus is worshiped this also honors God – honoring Jesus is a means of honoring God, the God sent and raised him.

    When you say they are dead, I take it you assume this implies that either they don’t exist or they are not conscious. If that’s right, that would make it pointless to worship them because they could not be aware of it. But suppose they now exist as conscious, disembodied souls. Even if that were so, it seems they should not be worshiped, because god has not authorized this.

    It is worth remarking again that David’s arguments are unusual. Usually, the assumption is that either the first or the second commandment rules out any one ever worshiping anyone but Yahweh.

  26. Matt
    March 14, 2012 @ 8:17 pm


    You are pleasingly prolific at the moment!

    Happily, to imagine that this post is a response to my query the other day would be a fanciful conceit on my part. Hence I need not assume that you’re putting up Rees’ representation of David as a straw man representing objections on the worship of Christ issue 😉

    I agree the arguments could be better (particularly the second!) but on the other hand I was surprised at your reasons for suggesting the arguments are weak!

    First argument: you knock out (2) on the basis of Rev 4-5. This surprised me as you’re usually so precise – and there is no such commandment in Rev 4-5. I had expected you to call out (1) for needing proof.

    Second argument: you knock out (1) which I agree is false, and I agree with your reason. A more obvious reason to me though: Mary and the others are dead, unlike the risen Jesus.