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. Radz Matthew Co Brown
    December 18, 2015 @ 4:36 am

    Merry Christmas, Dale.

    Premise 1: God is greater than any man [Job 33:12]
    Premise 2: The Father is greater than the Son [John 14:28]
    Conclusion: The Son is a man

    1 Timothy 2:5 supports the conclusion.

    Premise 1: The Son is equal to the Father [John 5:18;Phil. 2:6]
    Premise 2: God is greater than any man [Job 33:12]
    Premise 3: The Son is a man [1 Tim. 2:5]
    Conclusion: The Son isn’t a ‘mere’ man.In some sense, He is equal to God.

    A plethora of scripture supports the conclusion (John 1:1,18;10:33;20:28;1 Cor.1:2, 8:6, 16:22;Phil. 2:6-7;Hebrews 1:3,8).

    Jesus is not a mere man because he is not only man but also God. His nature isn’t numerically one but two. Christ’s dual nature is supported by John 1:1-14, Philippians 2:6-7 and Colossians 2:9.

    Having two natures in one person is not illogical. The human spirit is united to the human body (James 2:26). Body and spirit are opposed to each other yet they can be in unity.

    Likewise, in the Incarnate Deity, the human body is united not only with the human spirit but also with the divine nature which is spirit or immaterial as well (John 4:24).


    • Roman
      December 18, 2015 @ 6:17 am

      The son is not Equal to the father, Philippians 2 doesn’t say he is, only that he didn’t “grasp” for it, John 5 is answered in John 10, over the argument between Jesus and the Jewish opposers where he defends his sonship claim, that’s what they were accusing him of, but they were wrong.
      We know Jesus cannot be Equal to God because he is Prototokos Pasys (Genitive form) Ktiseows The first born OF creation. Also because of the scirptures most citited in Reference to Jesus being Pslams 110:1 and Daneil 7:13,14, where the figure presented as Jesus is subservient to and under God the Father.
      Here’s the problem With what you (and many trinitarian apologists do), you cite a scripture, claiming it says something, without doing any actual exegesis, when you actually look at the scripture in context it says nothing of the sort.
      I mean take John 10:33 … to show that it isn’t supporting Your claim, all one has to do is keep Reading to read Jesus response ….
      Don’t do that, exegete the scriptures IN context, and then argue from them fairly, don’t just cite scriptures and claim they say something they dont.


      • Radz Matthew Co Brown
        December 18, 2015 @ 7:48 am

        The Son is equal to the Father and he does not want to benefit from that equality (Philippians 2:6). The reason is that He identified with us and that includes the limitations of being a man (Philippians 2:7).

        The problem with Unitarians is that they interpret a verse in isolation. It is really tantamount to cherry picking. Unitarian falsehoods are Unitarian eisegesis.

        You do not need to go to John 10. John 5’s context suffices.
        John 5:18 is explained by John 5:19. The Son can only do what the Father can do. This shows equality in ability. The Son is only able to do what the Father is able to do. John 5:17 provides an example of this equality (Father and Son equally working on a sabbath day).


        • Roman
          December 18, 2015 @ 7:57 am

          That isn’t what Philippians 2 says, he says he did not regard it as something to be grasped for … it doesn’t say he was Equal With the father at all, what Your doing is eisegesis, Reading something INTO the text that isn’t there.
          No we do need to go to John 10 if we want to understand John 5, because, as you said, we have to look at the Whole thing, not just the verse in isolation. John 19 says it exactly right, the son is dependant on the father, NOT the other way around. If you keep Reading the rest of the Chapter Jesus clarifies his subordinatino to God as the Son of man in Daniel 7, which is not Equal to, but rather subordinated and exaulted by God. But the reason you go to John 10, is because that is when the conflict about who Jesus is is actually addressed by Jesus.
          The Whole of John is subordinationist, the Father is Jesus’ God, and Our God, everything Jesus does is because he is commanded to do so by the father, since the father is greater than him, and so on.
          The only way you get equality is if you eisegete the text, inserting what you want the text to say.


          • Radz Matthew Co Brown
            December 18, 2015 @ 10:17 am

            You are right. John 10 supports John 5.

            But it does not support Unitarian eisegesis.

            John 10:28 Jesus said that He gives eternal life.

            The O.T. scriptures attest that only God is the giver of life (Deut. 32:39).

            John 10:29 Jesus said that His hand and his Father’s hand have the ability to secure the sheepfold. In other words, under their protection and care, the sheepfold will never be led astray.

            The O.T. scriptures attest that only God has a powerful hand (Deut. 32:39).

            John 10:30 Jesus said that He and his Father are one [hen ‘oneness/unity’ not eis ‘numerical one’].

            Jesus is alluding Deuteronomy 32:9 in John 10:28 and John 10:29. He reveals that what God can do, He can do also. This alludes to John 5:17-19. Hence, the oneness he has with the Father is a oneness of nature (=set of traits/attributes).

            John 10:31 The Jews want to kill Jesus.

            John 10:32 Jesus asked the Jews why they want him dead. He asked if it is because of the good deeds he has done from the Father (alludes to John 5:17-19)

            John 10:33 The Jews reasoned out that they wanted Jesus dead because of blasphemy. They said that He is a man who makes himself God.

            John 10:34 Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6.

            John 10:35 Jesus reasoned out that God infallibly called mortals by the name ‘god.’

            John 10:36 Jesus argued that he is set apart by God to be sent on earth [appointed for a mission].Why,then, is it blasphemous to be named ‘God’s Son’? (In Ps. 82, the human rulers do not deserve the names ‘god’ and ‘son of God’ due to their demeanor and deeds but here in Jn. 10:36, Jesus was arguing that God himself sanctioned his task. Thus, Jesus was saying that he deserves the names ‘God’ and ‘Son of God’ far more than they. )

            John 10:37 Jesus said that the Jews should not believe if he is not doing the works of his Father (alluding to John 5:17-19)

            John 10:38 Jesus said further that if the Jews do not want to believe in him, let them just believe the works because by believing the works, they will know that unity he has with His Father.

            John 10:39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.


            Jesus’ selfless attitude is underscored in the Carmen Cristi. Not trying to become equal with God is not an act of humility. It is an act of faith (Genesis 2-3).

            Jesus is equal with God but he did not exploited that equality. He lived among us as a real man.

            There is nothing wrong for God to exercise humility. Even in the O.T., the LORD God of Israel had humility. Psalm 78:61 is very clear on this.

            and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe (Psalm 78:61)

            Philippians 2:6 (TNIV) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

            Philippians 2:6 (CSB) who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

            Philippians 2:6 (GNT) He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.

            Philippians 2:6 (GW) Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.

            Philippians 2:6 (NCV) Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.


            • Roman
              December 18, 2015 @ 10:36 am

              Jesus gives eternal life and he can protect his sheep and so on BECAUSE God has given him that authority, that’s all throughout John, you can’t ignore that, the giver of authority is by definition superiour to the reciever.

              Jesus and GOd are one, but then again in John 17 he says the apostles will be one With him and the father … now you don’t have a Trinity but rather a 15ity, that is if you Accept the rediculous proposition that Jesus was talking about “oneness” in metaphysical terms, which he clearly wasn’t.

              Here’s what he said in John 10, it’s very simple, no need to read inbetween the lines.

              The scriptures (in Psalm 82:6) Call human beings, judges, gods, and that is NOT blasphemy (obviously), I Call my self Gods son so how could that be blasphemy, and actually why not look at the Works I do.

              Now let’s say he actually was Yahweh in the flesh? How missleading With that reply be? The argument he was making was not that they were “wrongly” called gods, it’s that they were called gods in the scriptures, but he Calls himself Gods son and that is manifest in his Works …

              That blows the trinitarian thesis out of the water (lest Jesus be dishonest).

              I appreciate you Cherry picking Philippians 2:6 translations that fit Your trinitarian theology, but let’s look at the actual greek.

              ?? ?? ????? ???? ???????
              ??? ???????? ???????

              ?? ????? ??? ???,
              First of all Morphe does not mean nature, it means “form,” Phusis means nature. Unless you’re saying that it can be translated nature, but then also “slave” in verse 7 is a “nature” as well, which is misleading because you’re using the Word in a way that convays metaphysical nature, when the greek work convays no such thing.
              Now then, so although being in that Divine form, he did not think equality “harpagmon” something to be grasped, not used anywhere else in the NT, but it is used elsewhere when talking about thievery, it’s something which is stolen taken, “snatched.”
              In otherwords the implicatino is you’re taking somethinc which doesn’t belong to you.


        • Rivers
          December 20, 2015 @ 9:47 pm


          Although I would be considered a biblical unitarian (like Dale Tuggy), I have to agree with you that John 5:18 is certainly a comment by the writer of the 4th Gospel indicating that Jesus Christ was “making HIMSELF equal with God.” I don’t agree with some biblical unitarians who dismiss John 5:18 as “a mistaken accusation of the Jews.”

          I also agree that John 10:30-36 supports what the writer said about equality of the Father and the son in John 5:18. Comparing John 19:7 and John 10:33 also provides further evidence that “making himself to be son of God” and “making himself to be God” were understood to be the same blasphemous claim.

          With that said, however, I think it’s also important to consider that the terms “father” and “son” used to distinguish between “God” and “Jesus” in the context of John 5:18-19 and John 10:30-36 are just as important when considering the sense in which they had “equality.”

          I would also agree with you that the “equality with God” in Philippians 2:6 is referring to “the form of God” mentioned in the same verse (and thus it was certainly something that Jesus Christ attained).


    • Dale Tuggy
      December 19, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

      “Christ’s dual nature is supported by John 1:1-14, Philippians 2:6-7 and Colossians 2:9.”

      I don’t agree, but this is a big issue. For now, I would just point out that no NT author teaches that Jesus had two natures, or divines up the actions or predicates ascribed to him between the two.

      “Having two natures in one person is not illogical.”

      Actually, it is, if (1) by “nature ” we mean “essence” (i.e. features a thing can’t lack, and which define what sort of being it is) and (2) the two essences are contrary. e.g. Something can be a tiger and a mammal, but nothing can be a tiger and an apricot. Arguably, divinity and humanity are contrary. e.g. essential omniscience, as in the post above.

      There’s quite a lot of confusion about this, due to the obscurity of nature-talk. It’s not at all clear that Jesus’s two natures, on the old catholic theory, are analogous to a normal human’s body and soul. Those are, according to dualists, not essences at all, but something like parts, or else, I just am my soul, and the body is just something else (and not a part of me) to which I bear an intimate relation.


      • Radz Matthew Co Brown
        December 29, 2015 @ 9:35 am


        “I don’t agree, but this is a big issue. For now, I would just point out that no NT author teaches that Jesus had two natures, or divines up the actions or predicates ascribed to him between the two.”

        Philippians 2:6-7 shows that one can be in God’s form and in slave’s form at the same time.

        John 1:1 and John 1:14 show that the Word who was in the state of being God has come into a new existence in a fleshy human body.

        Colossians 2:9 shows that Jesus Christ is God in bodily form.

        “Actually, it is, if (1) by “nature ” we mean “essence” (i.e. features a thing can’t lack, and which define what sort of being it is) and (2) the two essences are contrary. e.g. Something can be a tiger and a mammal, but nothing can be a tiger and an apricot. Arguably, divinity and humanity are contrary. e.g. essential omniscience, as in the post above.”

        Divine nature and human nature are not entirely incompatible.

        Man is bearer of God’s image, having been fashioned from it (Gen. 1:27). Somehow we humans reflect God’s being. Indeed, James could say that we are “like God” ( ???????? ???? James 3:9).

        God can see, think, love, create etc. those are human qualities as well. The only difference between us and God is that He is spirit and not flesh (John 4:24) and we are both spirit and flesh (James 2:26).

        For God to come into our fleshy existence does not necessitate that He needs to lose His godhood. I think that the discrimination between “authority” and “ability” needs to be addressed in this issue.

        Authority is what one has to grant someone a permission to act, to use his/her abilities.

        Ability is the reality that you can do something based on your aptitude, intelligence and capability. It is always there even when it is not used.

        The carmen cristi explains how Jesus could be both God and man without functioning as God but only as man.

        In Phil. 2:6-7, Jesus voluntarily chose to temporarily gave up the use (He is able to use it but he chose not to) of all his divine attributes in order for him to live not only as human by nature but also as human by experience. When he was on earth, He temporarily relinquished his divine authority to live as a slave under God’s lorship. Phil. 2:8-9 shows that Jesus did what he had to do and after that God gave back to Him his divine authority.

        God himself humbled himself. Psalm 78:61 explicitly shows God’s self-exinanition. Hence, self-emptying was not unique to God the Son because God the Father had it first!

        And (((gave up His strength))) to captivity And His glory into the hand of the adversary.

        Psalm 78:61 (NASB)


        • Dale Tuggy
          December 29, 2015 @ 11:23 am

          “form” in Phil 2 is not an essential nature, but rather a condition. On that famous and important passage, I explain my reading of it here: http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-49-2-interpretations-of-philippians-2-part-2/ In brief, Jesus is being compared and contrasted with Adam here, and the passage doesn’t imply or assume that Jesus pre-existed or as you speculate gave up the exercise of certain divine attributes.

          About John 1, I think you’re only assuming the personal identity of the man Jesus and the eternal, divine Word of v. 1. There’s a better way to read John 1, in light of a text which John assumes his readers will know: http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-71-proverbs-8-jesus-part-1/

          “Colossians 2:9 shows that Jesus Christ is God in bodily form.”

          Sorry, but this is a misreading. Paul everywhere distinguishes between Jesus and his God, as do the other NT authors – refs here: http://trinities.org/blog/in-the-new-testament-jesus-has-a-god-same-as-ours/

          “Divine nature and human nature are not entirely incompatible.”

          Well, all it takes is one pair of contrary properties, to imply that nothing can have both. Divine nature implies aseity, and human nature implies dependence, and nothing can be both, right?

          [Jesus is] “under God’s lordship”



  2. John Thomas
    December 17, 2015 @ 11:33 pm

    Totally unrelated, but your posts encouraged me to read Pre-Nicene Church fathers. I am currently reading Athenogorus of Athens’ Plea for Christians. I am just into Chapter 6, by this time two quotes stood out.

    “But, since our doctrine acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated but has made all things by the Logos which is from Him.”

    “If, therefore, Plato is not an atheist for conceiving of one uncreated God, the Framer of the universe, neither are we atheists who acknowledge and firmly hold that He is God who has framed all things by the Logos, and holds them in being by His Spirit.”


    • Matt13weedhacker
      December 18, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

      Note the: “He” and: “Him-Self”. He (Athenagoras) is talking about the Father. The Son is “His” (the Fathers) instrument.

      Note: “who is Himself” and: “is from Him” and: “He is God who has” and: “by His Spirit.”

      A translator could easily add another third person: “He” in: “but [He] has made all things” and another: “He” in: “and [He] holds them in being by His Spirit.” The Greek will most likely be third person in these places.


      • John Thomas
        December 18, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

        How is it any different than the following verses from Hebrew Bible:

        “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath (spirit) of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)

        “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13)

        “Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his.” (Daniel 2:20)

        Word or Wisdom or Spirit or Power are all understood as attributes of God. One should have a Platonic understanding to view these attributes as having individual existence apart from God. For example, my knowledge is my attribute, I don’t see it as existing independently apart from me. It is okay to think these attributes to exist independently for poetic purposes. That is what Proverbs 8 does. It personifies wisdom, what wisdom would say if she could speak in first person. The poet who wrote it is making wisdom as a person say about herself whatever his opinions are about wisdom.

        This is what Philo of Alexandria does. He is an out and out Platonist. He thinks God created Logos as the first creation, as a separate principle. Just like Neoplatonists thought Nous was the first creation of the One. But you don’t have to think Logos existing as a separate existence as an entity apart from God unless you already subscribe to Platonic understanding of reality. Logos just can be viewed as attribute of God.


        • Matt13weedhacker
          December 19, 2015 @ 3:48 am

          Hi John.

          In short, I was only trying to point out that in the passage you cited from Athenagoras, the: “He”, “Him”, “His,” and: “Him-Self” is simply the Father, and not the Logos, or the spirit, or all three collectively, in a Tri{3}nitarian sense. And also, that, (from a translators perspective), a couple more of the third person, (grammatical not Tri{3}nitarian), “He[‘s]” could be added for clarity, (perhaps).

          I hope I didn’t come across, or that you thought I was promoting the Tri{3}nitarian “third person”, i.e. the holy spirit, (a person to them), as the: “He” here? Because I wasn’t.

          Nothing else, but what was stated above, is what I intended. I have an interest in Athenagoras, and just wanted to make a comment. That’s all. Enjoy your day.


    • Dale Tuggy
      December 19, 2015 @ 11:58 am

      Actually Plato was an atheist! While he believed in lots of lower deities, his ultimate reality was not a god, and so not at all the sort of ultimate being monotheists believe in. Not unlike Shankara in this respect. He denounces “atheism” (godlessness) and advocates severe penalties for it, but by this he means people who refuse to take part in the civic religion that was part of any pagan Greek’s life. They thought one really had to honor those non-ultimate deities, otherwise bad things would happen.


  3. Aaron King
    December 17, 2015 @ 4:38 pm


    I don’t want to say that you are “against” anyone who self-identifies as a Christian but would you say you are more sympathetic to any and all Unitarians more so than any kind of Binitarian/Trinitarian view there is? I myself think that even if Trinitarianism (depending on which Trinitarian view I guess) were untrue it would still be more accurate than some forms of Unitarianism (say, successive modalism, for example).

    Do you attend a Biblical Unitarian Church and would you be willing to send me information about it so that I could find a similar one in my area?


    • Dale Tuggy
      December 19, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

      Hi Aaron,

      Yes, my own views are biblical unitarian, or as I say humanitarian unitarian. Others call it Christian monotheism or being a one God believer. I attend a small house church.

      Yes, I absolutely do consider trinitarians to be Christians (most of them). All it takes to be born again is to believe the simple message like the one preached in Acts. Happily, God accepts us even with our mistaken theories; no one exempt! Right now I also meet weekly with two dear friends who are at least nominally trinitarian for prayer and study.

      Modalism as in oneness pentecostal I think is a very confused view, yes. Arguably more confused that some trinitarian views. Trinitarian views are legion, of course, despite the somewhat standardized language.

      It is tough for non-trinitarian Christians to find fellowship with like-minded believers. The best place I know to look is here: http://www.scatteredbrethren.org/


      • Aaron King
        December 19, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

        Thank you so much for your time. I am checking out the link now!


  4. Miguel de Servet
    December 17, 2015 @ 4:09 pm


    2. God is greater than any man.

    First, that little word, “any”, has been surreptitiously added by you.

    Second, the LXX translation of that part of Job 33:12 says aiônios gar estin ho epanô brotôn, literally “for eternal is the One above mortals”. The speaker, Elihu, is reproaching Job, saying that God is far above Job’s petty problems. The sense is perfectly clear, in its context. To use it absolutely, out of context (and for good measure, artfully modified, BTW) as part of an “inconsistent triad”, is a vain exercise.


    • Andrew M. Bailey
      December 18, 2015 @ 12:25 am

      Piper himself immediately adds “Every man. All men”; and these two additions certainly seem equivalent to adding “any” to Piper’s first sentence. Do you see a difference in truth conditions between “God is greater than any man” and “God is greater than every man”?


      • Roman
        December 18, 2015 @ 4:02 am

        In the LXX there is no “any” or “every” it just says Mortals, I believe this is the case also in the Hebrew, that there isn’t any quantifying “any” or “every” (Can’t read Hebrew, so I might be wrong).
        Given what the text in Job is actually about I kind of agree With Miguel, it’s not really a good text to use to oppose the Trinity, since given the context it’s Clear what the point being made is.


      • Miguel de Servet
        December 19, 2015 @ 6:48 am

        Whether it is “any”, or “every”, or “all”, they are all additions by Piper and Tuggy, not found in the text of Job 33:12

        My substantial objection is the second, as Roman has already remarked.


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