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.

32 Comments

  1. William
    September 5, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    When I share the story of my experience at seminary many people respond by stating their theory to the effect that my seminary professors were lying in order to buy more time. I of course know that they spoke the truth but later on reverted to their lies in order to protect themselves from the consequences of their good confession. Still it is important that everyone recognize the underlying agreement between these two interpretations. Everyone agrees that at some point in time my professors were lying. Apparently in Protestant lands Luther’s justification of the use of a strong lie for the sake of the gospel has won full and unquestioned approval. My point has always been that God the Father declares that habitual liars will not inherit the Kingdom.

    By the way the story of Rahab and the spies is totally irrelevant. After all my professors were telling the truth when they confessed their knowledge behind closed doors. What they are doing now is repeating a known lie over and over again in opposition to that confession!

  2. William
    September 5, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    The pronounced judgement of the tradition is that Unitarianism amounts to atheism. Touche.

  3. William
    September 5, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    Dale,

    This is a very serious post which I hope you will consider with apostolic sobriety. In Revelation 22:18-19 we are warned against the danger of “taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy.”

    The fact is that verses like Revelation 1:8 and even more significantly Revelation 21:5-8 contain two of the very few New Testament instances in which God the Father Almighty himself speaks. I hope that you are very aware of what we find written there and of its correct application to our discussion. Things will not be well for those who build their lives upon lies (cf Jesus’ teaching in John 8:31-47 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us. Amen.

    Will

  4. William
    September 5, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    From they lyrics of many of his songs I would conclude that Josh Garrels believes himself to be a Trinitarian. That being said, the fact that the Spirit of Christ and of God is in him is undeniable. I suppose that someday he will have to face and answer the question of whether or not his faith is in the unique Son of the one living and true God, the Father Almighty, or in “nothing less” than “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.” Where he to chose to vehemently oppose the former in defense of the latter this would call his confessions into question. We are meant to grow up into Christ (Eph. 4:15). This is a continuing process of accepting the good and rejecting the bad, we need to persevere.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QipEVu05l1o

  5. William
    September 5, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    Dale,

    I am in agreement with your concerns. I believe that people shall be judged in accordance with the light subjectively entrusted to them. My concern is with those whom I believe positively know the truth but who willfully suppress it. I am especially concerned with the means which they have justified with impunity (twisting of the Scripture, lies, threats, murder).

    I have often said that I have never really met what I would deem to be a real living and breathing Trinitarian. That is a person who will truly bear witness to their Trinitarian convictions. A witness is willing to perish for their God. So far no Trinitarian I have challenged has been willing to own their professed conviction to the point of accepting damnation in the event they their convictions have no existence in reality. This demonstrates to me that they are not sincere. However, the fact that they refuse to confess their doubts and agree to unite on those things which are certain remains exceedingly disconcerting.

    Grace and peace,
    Will

  6. Dale
    September 5, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    ““Are you willing to be judged in accordance with the judgement you have pronounced?”

    A great question to ask.

    Will, you make many good points. We’ve been to an extent talking past one another because by “trinitarians” you have mainly in mind theologians and such, like the ones who acted so dishonestly in your case. They indeed are more responsible, in proportion as they know more.

    But when I say “trinitarians” I have in mind the sum total of people who either accept that label, or who are members of Christian groups which are officially committed to creedal Trinity language. Most of those, in my view, are not hypocrites in this respect, or subject to harsh judgement. Indeed much of the time, they think of the one God as the Father, and not as the Trinity, in line with the Bible. Of course, then they’ll think of Jesus as God himself. This is what confusion looks like; there is nowhere for the mind to rest.

    Do I excuse them all? No. But, Jesus will judge them. I agree that he will demand of many, particularly, teachers, why they did not pay more attention to things he and his apostles very plainly taught. Leaving that task to him, I think it is most constructive for me to do whatever I can to bright light to the many confusions afoot.

    I urge you not to acquire the sectarian, damning spirit which has so dogged the catholic tradition. Think of Jesus with the Samaritan woman or Paul in Athens; loving correction via respectful argument is the order of the day. It is a severe danger to your soul (or mine, or anyone’s) to mount a high horse of self-righteousness and hurl thunderbolts of damnation all around. (It sure feels good though!) I’m not saying you’re doing this now, but if you do, it will just cause most people you want to convince to withdraw from interacting with you.

    Finally, consider this. Probably, the people you have in mind, the pros, will never be convinced by anything; their theory is just too precious – or, maybe their job is! The people you may be able to convince are, mostly, pew-dwellers. But with much less historical, biblical, and philosophical knowledge, *surely* they are much less to blame, if at all. How, then, can you best serve them?

  7. William
    September 4, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    Dale,

    The difference in our convictions appears to me to stem from the fact that I am convinced that our Theological opponents already know the truth but refuse to confess it (God has made it plain to them) whereas you appear to me to work under the assumption that they have some legitimate excuse for not knowing and confessing the truth.

    The questions that I ask of our opponents would not be threatening to them were it not for the fact that they already know that Jesus is “merely” the unique Son of the one true God, the Father Almighty. The problem is rebellion not ignorance.

    Thank you for interacting with me, it was beneficial. If in the future I have a change of mind concerning my conviction that our opponents will themselves be judged in accordance with the judgement they have pronounced I will let you know.

    Grace and peace,
    Will

  8. William
    September 3, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    “He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.” (Eccl. 10:8).

    Of the Pharisees Jesus says “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind both will fall into a pit.” (Matt 15:14)

    Two questions for the Incarnationalist.

    ??1. Do you believe that the substitutionary death of the “mere” unique Son of God can atone for sin and reconcile us to God? ??

    2. If not, and if in reality Jesus is merely the unique Son of God, not God the Son, do you admit that you have openly confessed your unbelief in the gospel?

    The Pharisee has dug a pit and fallen into it. It is the Christian’s duty to bury the Pharisee in this pit in the hope that God will grant them repentance and the Pharisee will seek resurrection by means of a change of mind. ??

    This is the imitation of Jesus Christ and the apostles. This is “speaking the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15)

  9. William
    September 2, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    It was the Trinitarians themselves who taught me to believe that Trinitarianism and Unitarianism were completely different and competing religions. I simply turned around and told them that they were right. In the process I did not deem it necessary to move the thin red line which they teach separates glorification from damnation. In this sense I remain in agreement with them.

  10. William
    September 2, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    Dale,
    A Pharisee rejects the commandment of God, setting a tradition of man above it. A Pharisee remains silent when asked a difficult question which is threatening to their position. A Pharisee compromises truth to retain power and influence….Again it appears that you and I may hold to a different definition of a Pharisee, although I maintain that Trinitarians remain Pharisees even if we use your narrow definition.

    If my Theological position proves untrue then I am a Pharisee. As it stands I am a Christian.

  11. William
    September 2, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    Dale,

    Here is Paul concerning Pharisees.

    “Brothers my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (cf. 1 Cor. 8:6-7, John 17:3). For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” -Romans 10:1-4

    Trinitarians do not submit to Jesus Christ and the word of God he spoke. For starters they reject his revelation of God the Father and substitute their own standard of righteousness. Namely unquestioning submission to their Theological and Christological errors. They then threaten damnation to all who accept Jesus and the apostles’ surpassing authority.

    The only question which the Unitarian needs to ask of the Trinitarian is this. “Are you willing to be judged in accordance with the judgement you have pronounced? You have said that Unitarians shall certainly be damned for believing and teaching heretical anti-christian convictions of God and of Christ, if then you are in error shall you be damned for your unrepentant errors?”

    I have yet to have any Trinitarian offer any hint of a response to this question (and I have asked). In the process they display their hypocrisy. Jesus says that hypocrisy is a chief identifying mark of the Pharisee. I openly grant that if I am in error I shall be damned. After all I have called Trinitarianism (Incarnationalism) heresy! Whoa to me if I have taught the the faith once for all entrusted to the saints is damnable heresy.

    “in fact do approach the Father, through the Son, and quite correctly worship both”

    Dale you let the Trinitarian off the hook far too easily. They claim to approach a triune being through God the Son, this is not at all the same as approaching God the Father through the Son. They have a different God and a different Jesus than the apostles. This results in a host of other critical errors in soteriology, ecclessiology etc. etc.. The point being that God has so ordered things so that one cannot make an error in their Theology and somehow recapture authentic Christianity somewhere further down the confessional line.

    Do you still attend worship services with Incarnationalists? Do you believe in the clarity of the Scripture and of the responsibility thereby entrusted? It appears to me that the Biblical Unitarians have rightly sought to form their own churches.

    “You who love God, hate evil!” The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us.

  12. Dale
    September 1, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

    “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”

    When I hear the contempt that some apologists and others habitually throw out onto their theological opponents, I think of this.

    “Therefore It is impossible for me to say that I believe they have already been converted to Christianity. They do not know him who sent Jesus. Therefore they know neither the Father nor the Son in truth”

    I don’t think the second or third claims here follow from the fact that they either (1) hold to a well-defined Trinity theory, or (2) have a conventional and vague committment to trinitarianism. They can in fact personally know both Father and Son, even while sometimes confusing them, or holding some speculation about their relation which isn’t right. And because they in fact do approach the Father, through the Son, and quite correctly worship both. they are not at all in the position of the Pharisees (I mean, the ones who rejected Jesus). To misunderstand a part of his message based on tradition, is not the same as rejecting.

    Yes, I am a unitarian Christian, and I have argued for this is print, and will more. I think it is an important truth, which really opens up certain aspects of NT teaching, and I think it is assumed in all the NT, and asserted outright a few times in it. BUT, I deny that salvation hinges on believing this, or on rejecting trinitarianism. God is not the mean doctrinal stickler that too many in the catholic mainstream have imagined him to be!

    About White vs. Buzzard – I saw the debate, and thought it was not a good debate, for many reasons. I may do a podcast on their recent interactions via youtube. White takes as harsh a view as probably anyone does about unitarians. Buzzard worries out loud about trinitarians, but stops short of asserting them to be damned because of that.

  13. William
    September 1, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    Behind closed doors my professor of systematic theology told me that my “beliefs were a little ahead of the Church” and instructed me to “learn how to play the game.”

    When I watch James White debate Anthony Buzzard I sometimes have the impression that a game is being played. Externally James White is saying “repent or perish”, but I have good reason to believe that this isn’t a firmly held internal conviction. I am often times uncertain as to what Anthony Buzzard is saying to James White. Can it be that he is saying “this is important, but not essential”?

    Dr. Lane is saying “repent or perish.” I am saying that in response the Unitarian needs to say “repent or perish” and that we need to say this “in spirit and in truth.” If not then I fear we will morph into an unchristian movement.

  14. William
    September 1, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    Dale,

    Sorry for the multiple posts.

    I just wanted to add that in most all of your work you appear to me to be a Unitarian rather than a theologically agnostic or apathetic liberal. As opposed to merely seeking a place in the broad tent, you appear to me to be laboring for the conversion of all Christians to explicit Unitarianism. To me this implies agreement with my exclusive convictions.

  15. William
    September 1, 2013 @ 10:50 am

    Dale,

    I am all for the adoption of minimal standards, namely the twelve articles confessed in the so-called Apostles Creed (articles one and two are explicitly Unitarian and Subordinationist).

    As I feared it unfortunately appears that you and I are separated by our definition of “Christian.” For me a Christian is an individual who holds the same essential religious convictions as Jesus Christ and the apostles. You appear to me to have a more inclusive definition. That being said I suppose that in reality you also hold “essential” doctrines at some point down the line.

    I confess that I am not yet perfectly conformed to Jesus Christ. However I certainly believe that I am already at one with the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles in my essential belief concerning the one living and true God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. There is an order to the Christian faith. Obviously I hold that true knowledge of the one true God is the essential foundation and beginning of Christian recognition.

    Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11

    The Trinitiarian does not know where he is going. It is our responsibility to tell him of his response-ability to know and confess the truth. This is especially true for those who privately know the truth but refuse to confess it out of fear of the Pharisees. The Trinitarian of our day is in precisely the same position as the Pharisee of Jesus’ day. Therefore It is impossible for me to say that I believe they have already been converted to Christianity. They do not know him who sent Jesus. Therefore they know neither the Father nor the Son in truth (cf. John 15:18-16:4).

    Grace and peace to you. I look forward to hopefully discussing Christology with you in the future. I thank God for the work he is doing through and in you.

  16. Dale
    August 31, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    William, that story is sad, but not surprising. I’m inclined to think that Christian institutions should adopt doctrinally minimal standards to require. If they don’t, the system naturally and reliably produces hypocrisy. I was once personally acquainted with an organization which required swearing on to a detailed creed including inerrancy. But by my personal interactions with people, I learned that some people there simply didn’t agree with inerrancy, but they too had sworn – I assume, on paper, but publicly.

    There are a number of vicious and misinformed slanders out there about (biblical) unitarian Christians – that they’re “rationalists”, that they’re arrogant, that they refuse to believe what they can’t fully understand, that they insult or assault or rob Jesus, that they consider Jesus merely a prophet or wise man, that they simply ignore parts of the Bible, that they’re essentially “Arians” or “Socinians” (i.e. disciples of those bad men), that they’re mindless cultists or nearly so, that they’re mere “deniers”, and so on. This is evil stuff.

    Roger Olson has written about this sort of vicious foolishness and hypocrisy in connection with the fortunes of open theism in American evangelicalism: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2010/08/open-theism-a-test-case-for-evangelicals/

    If Christians can consider Arminians, Calvinists, and Open Theists to be real Christians (obviously, at least two of those are mistaken!), and can consider Orthodox, Baptists, and Catholics and Pentecostals Christians, despite their many doctrinal and practical disagreements, why can’t they consider both trinitarians and (biblical) unitarians to be Christians?

    A theory (really, a family of them) has been asserted to be central to, or even the central message of the Bible. This is a serious distortion, and in extreme forms could be called “another gospel” than the one the apostles preached. But that does not make trinitarians cultists on non-Christians. It may make some authors and preachers what the apostles would call false teachers. Of course, as Trinity theory promoters constantly lament, Trinity theories tend to be left off to one side in much Christian thinking, preaching, and living, becoming a merely theoretical committment or something which one merely assumes all Christians to believe (whatever it is). Such teachers constantly complain about this and vow to redouble their efforts to make Christians *really* trinitarian. But thinking of a God as a single, perfect self… that’s just the Bible!

  17. William
    August 31, 2013 @ 12:28 am

    Dale,

    I am certain that you are familiar with this passage from “Against Heresies.” Section 2 fairly well summarizes the Christian attitude towards false doctrines of God and of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. With Irenaeus I believe in the unity of the apostolic witness and the clarity of Scripture concerning the essentials of the Christian faith.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103301.htm

  18. William
    August 30, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    Dale,
    Thank you for your response and the book suggestion.

    I apologize for the general nature of my last inquiry. I am not concerned so much with the Biblical Unitarian view of those who are uninformed, rather I am interested in their views concerning those who are well informed regarding these matters. I was functionally excommunicated from an evangelical seminary by a group of Doctors of Theology who externally professed to be Trinitarian but who behind closed doors were unwilling to condemn my Unitarian convictions. These men knew the truth but were unwilling to confess it openly. Externally they continued to propagated the view that Unitarianism is damnable antichristian heresy. Although they know their teaching to be false these men continue to teach that the faith once for all entrusted to the saints is heresy! Is not the definition of a cult a group who takes a false doctrine and elevates it to the level of an “essential” doctrine?

    “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and understanding.”

  19. Dale
    August 11, 2013 @ 7:13 am

    Hi William,

    “Do “Biblical Unitarians” believe that non-unitarian implies non-Christian?”

    Most, I think, would say no. I would argue strenuously for no. Someone who is confused about the issue is neither really a unitarian nor a trinitarian. Yet, such a person may well be a Christian. Some biblical unitarians, at least in some moods, take a harsher view, on the idea that a trinitarian by definition denies monotheism. I deny that. I think that some theories in the trintarian camp are monotheistic. Whether they best fit the Bible is another matter.

    “the tendency for unitarianism to morph into a “non-Christian movement.””
    In my view, these are very interesting issues, and I hope to write on this some day. In brief, the main examples are late 1700s and early 1800s English unitarianism and mid to late 1800s American unitarianism. In both cases, there was a tendency to reduce the gospel to ethics and politics. In the former case there was also a wrongheaded disavowal of the worship of Jesus (as “Christian idolatry”), and in the latter case a lot of junk philosophy. Uncritically critical views of Scripture too. Also, both became populated with cultural elites, and so took on all the fad emphases. In any case, a good and detailed snapshot of Amecan unitarian Christianity c. 1790-1840 is this book, which I recommend.

  20. William
    August 5, 2013 @ 10:19 am

    Dale, I have a question related to your comment that for Craig “non-trinitarian implies non-Christian.”

    Do “Biblical Unitarians” believe that non-unitarian implies non-Christian?

    I ask this as a unitarian subordinationist who is concerned with the tendency for unitarianism to morph into a “non-Christian movement.”

  21. Craig’s a priori argument for a three-self Trinity » trinities
    July 20, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

    […] note how Craig loves to associate unitarian understandings of God with Islam. A good rhetorical move, to be sure. But […]

  22. Dale
    October 1, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    Those two things will bridge us over senility and out of the grave, Dale.

    Yes!

  23. Phil Down Under
    October 1, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    I very much appreciate your reply Dale. Thank you.

    It’s a small point but I should clarify that I didn’t mean that you thought of Michael as ““a disingenuous poseur, positing simple-minded objections under the guise of pretend questions”. I meant that’s how Craig dealt with him. My opening sentence is clumsy. You just called Michael a smarty-pants objector which, having read your response, I now take as a term of endearment.

    Your point about rhetorical questions not being regarded as good, respectful dialogue is well taken, although Michael’s would have been intended more as leading questions perhaps.

    May God bless us all, labourer and PhD alike, in our pursuit of truth and righteousness. And may we all “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Those two things will bridge us over senility and out of the grave, Dale.

  24. Dale
    October 1, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    “a disingenuous poseur, positing simple-minded objections”

    Not exactly – look at what I said. I believe his “questions” were sincere objections – it’s just that he put them in the form of rhetorical questions. Craig was reacting, understandably if all-too-humanly, to that assault.

    Example:

    You believe that Jesus was God, so what does the Bible tell us as to the reason why God himself died on the cross?

    Better:

    Dr. Craig, you think that Jesus was God, right? But the Bible says that God’s *Son* died on the cross, not that God died on the cross. How can you reconcile your view with this?

    Whereupon Craig would explain that he doesn’t hold that Jesus=God. He only thinks the Son was crucified, not the triune God or the Father.

    I understand that thrusting rhetorical questions at people is what is often considered “dialogue” on the Internet. And I know that some unitarian Christians by example put this sort of thing forward as if it were a serious refutation of Trinity theories. Perhaps Michael picked up this procedure from his fellow unitarians. But it’s not good, respectful dialogue.

    I don’t really think the objections were simple minded. I do think they were uninformed. I don’t say he’s at fault for this, but still, it would be better to do a bit of googling first, before trying to start a debate.

    I agree that Craig should have responded more gently. Sadly, he’s not able to imagine that the questioner could be a young follower of Jesus, deserving of, at worst, gentle correction, and not of contemptuous dismissal. To him non-trinitarian implies non-Christian.

    Thanks for this comment, Phil. Though I’ve defended the strict letter of what I said, I think you’re correct that I did not properly consider the asymmetry between the two; I was sort of holding both Craig and Michael to a scholar’s standard, whereas this was unfairly strict to Michael, and too little for Craig, who should be held, as a senior and very public scholar, to the absolute highest standards.

    Michael: I apologize if I rubbed salt in your wounds.

    I am reminded of this statement from James 1:

    Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

    We PhDs are all heading towards senility and/or death. We should spend our days serving fearfully and humbly, knowing that whatever we’ve achieved, we will shortly share the grave with our brethren. There’s no PhD only section in a graveyard, or indeed, in the Kingdom. Nor is our King a college graduate, much less a PhD.

  25. Phil Down Under
    October 1, 2012 @ 9:16 am

    Dale, I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood the poor guy that William Lane Craig laid in to as a disingenuous poseur, positing simple-minded objections under the guise of pretend questions. His name is Michael, which is how he identified himself in his post to Craig’s “Reasonable Faith” website.

    I’m afraid you’ve done Michael an injustice by illustrating your piece with a silly Mr Yuck face. The person you portray as just a smarty-pants objector had asked sincere — believe me, sincere — questions of the famous and gifted Christian apologist, questions that he believed to be relevant on the basis of his own understanding of the Scriptures.

    Michael is not what you say he is (and certainly not what Craig takes him for) Dale. As it happens, I know the story of how Michael connected to Bill Craig. He’d never heard of the man before he went, together with his dad, to a debate Craig took part in, opposing an atheist, during his UK tour last year. Michael was deeply impressed by William Lane Craig: both by his demeanour in the debate and also by the force of his arguments. He’d never been to a debate before, nor had he ever heard this level of compelling philosophic argument from an apologist who seemed clearly to be deeply committed to the same Scriptures that underpin Michael’s own faith and understanding. Michael was blown away by what he heard from Dr Craig during that debate.

    You see, he’s just an ordinary working bloke, not deeply educated or particularly well read. He does know his Bible though. You’re right, Michael wasn’t well prepared when he felt motivated to write to a man he saw as an impressive Christian who somehow, inexplicably believed in the trinity. Michael certainly had no idea that Craig’s brand of trinitarianism isn’t mainstream, and that his questions would not therefore quite register as he thought they might. He just asked straight, logical questions of Dr Craig in the vain hope that he might just spark the glimmer perhaps of some sort of reassessment about the nature of God in the learned and eminent theologian. Fat chance, as we’ve seen. Michael was deeply disappointed, even disillusioned by Bill Craig’s rather contemptuous reply. He just took aim and blasted off a scattergun response, never mind that a sensitive young Christian was on the receiving end.

    You’re a clever man, Dale, very highly educated and extremely well informed about all manner of things to do with trinities of every kind. Dr Craig has a keen intellect and he’s devastatingly sharp. I can’t help feeling that for all his Christian good will and efforts to promote reasonable or should I say reasoned faith, sometimes he doesn’t manage to climb down from the edifice of exalted academia he inhabits for much of his time. By way of contrast, Michael represents one of the many meek ones in the faith. He’s one of those of whom it is written: “…be clothed with humility: for God… giveth grace to the humble.” We might all bear in mind what follows: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

    What you said for Bill Craig (and I wonder if he’ll ever see it) is spot-on: “…you should treat unitarians with at least the respect you give to your atheist opponents, not with contempt. Don’t underestimate how much they’ve looked into the exegetical basis of the creeds…”

    But you did poor Michael a something disservice, I’m sorry to say Dale.

  26. Jimspace
    April 3, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

    I too found this Q&A to be interesting. While Michael’s questions appear to be naïve, that is, not anticipating the typical Trinitarian response, I also found that some of Dr. Craig’s responses unwittingly refuted his position. The entire exchange left much to be desired. I find when Dr. Craig defends theism that his presentation is robust and convincing. But that is not the case when he defends Trinitarianism.

  27. reality checker
    March 28, 2012 @ 3:50 am

    Thanks SMW, I did follow your link. I had perused it years ago but never sat down to read it in its entirety before this evening. I had expected a novel, since it’s called a ‘tome’, but it’s of reasonable length. now I can see how they could attach or make reference to it in the appendices (my word) of Chalcedon’s Creed. It is always interesting to trace the route of the development of doctrine through historical documents.

  28. SMW
    March 27, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

    @Reality Checker: Are you familiar with the Tome of Leo regarding the “two natures” doctrine? I’d suggest reading it–it’s really important for understanding catholic theology of the incarnation. And it is, after all, endorsed by the Council of Chalcedon. You can find a translation here:
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3604028.htm

  29. Dale
    March 27, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

    Yes, this is an excellent point. The official catholic view is that his whole human nature died, body and soul. This idea that the Logos is the soul of the man Jesus (i.e. is what he has instead of a normal human soul) – well, I think Athanasius held that, but the mainstream catholic movement post-Chalcedon denies it. Of course, if you think any soul that inhabits a human body (in the right way) is thereby human, this wouldn’t obviously compromise his genuine humanity. I think this is what, e.g. Clarke thought.

    I wouldn’t push your last point too hard – there are and have been plenty of unitarian dualists, who think that Jesus really died, really gave himself, yet understand that (as with all human death) as separation of body and soul. Death is still a bad a terrifying thing and a real loss, even if dualism is true; it needn’t be an annihilation or total de-activation or something to be bad… or so I would argue.

  30. reality checker
    March 27, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Craig’s lead off I would consider a poor representation of orthodoxy

    “1. Crucial to an understanding of the Christian doctrine of Christ is that the incarnate Christ had two natures, one human and one divine. When Christ died he did so, not in his divine nature but in his human nature, i.e., his soul was separated from his human body. He gave his human life as a sacrifice for sin to redeem us from sins.”

    Here it appears to me as though he equates the divine nature with Jesus’ soul, ” i.e., his soul was separated from his human body”, however orthodox Trinitarian doctrine equates both body and soul as parts of Jesus reified human nature. It was the Apollinarian heresy that equated the divine son as the replacement of Jesus rational soul. Usually Trinitarian apologists describe Jesus as a Divine person who allowed his assumed human nature to die in sacrifice, not his person. Even though Craigs response may require finer nuancing, we see this same type of dichotomy in Craigs hasty response.

    If Craig only knew with what great sadness we watch our trinitarian brethren missing the enormity of Christs sacrifice, that He gave up his entire being when he allowed himself to be put to death. He didn’t withhold the important part, HIMSELF, although they must believe he did to cling to their Trinitarian doctrine. If Jesus did not offer his self in sacrifice are our “selves” redeemed.

  31. Dale
    March 25, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    Hi Matthew – I wonder if by “Unitarian” he meant “Unitarian Universalist”? I assume not.

    This phenomenon is not easy to explain. One central fact though would be the catholic tradition of over the top rhetoric against any non-catholic theology or christology – they’re deniers, Judases, betrayers, closet Jews, they’re assaulting Christ, or robbing him, they’re arrogant rationalists, etc. There is a load of embarrassing bombast in both church fathers and in some reformers. Worse, there are non-embarrassing but obviously wrong slurs like this, which are a part of mainstream theological lore. The “rationalist” line is just demonstrably wrong, but it’s endlessly repeated.

    Another factor I think is anti-cult apologetics. To the younger me, unitarianism was synonymous with JWs or Mormons – these people insanely, against obvious evidence, denying the divinity of Christ.

    Another factor, I think, is the liberalism vs. fundamentalism divide, and the pluralism vs. non-pluralism divide. The former (in each case), so the lore goes, want to make Jesus “just a man” – important, perhaps, but no more so that any decent leader, e.g. the Buddha. And isn’t that what any unitarian is saying? (For the record, absolutely not!)

    Very important, I think, is the social marginalization of unitarians; so long as they’re beyond the pale, one needn’t argue with them, or even expend any energy to understand what they think and why. So you just keep slandering them. This has not always been so! There have been eras, brief perhaps, in which catholics would stoop to argue at length with unitarians. Let’s just say that the unitarians, as a rule, more than held their own.

    One final factor – there’s a kind of lazy historical determinism out there: Y happened, then X happened – therefore X was inevitable given Y. Y = a good number 18th & 19th c. Christians become various sorts of unitarians, X = 19th c. denominational Unitarianism morphed into a non-Christian movement. So *surely* anyone who comes to hold unitarian theology is well on his way to atheism or an anti-Christian pluralism.

    But no, and don’t call me Shirley.

    😉

  32. Matthew
    March 24, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    I find Bill’s attitude towards Unitarianism to be typical of evangelicals both in and out of academia. For a long time I was puzzled by the fact that these individuals would be more hostile to views that at least share some common history and common cause, than to views that come out of radically different traditions. For example, I once had a close friend and colleague who admitted that it would be easier to accept me as Buddhist than as a Unitarian. I don’t have a good explanation for this phenomena, but I suspect it has something to do with Unitarianism being a more of a live threat to these individuals.