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.

26 Comments

  1. Dave
    December 8, 2015 @ 3:09 pm

    Jesus temporarily laid aside the independent use of some of His attributes(Kenosis theory). That doesn’t mean He ceased to be God. Jesus was/is/always will be God simply because He is YHWH. The Kenosis was necessary so that He could become a perfect sacrifice for us, but He never ceased to be YHWH/God. I don’t think you can ‘lay aside’ the kenosis doctrine since the Bible itself teaches it.

  2. Michael
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Canadian,

    An individual using his/her own mind or reason to, for example determine whether a text is specially from God, is not “entirely subjective.” No new truth would ever be discovered if that were true. Philosophy would be an absurdity if that were true. Etc.

    Furthermore, an individual interpreting a text is not entirely subjective either. You prove that you believe this too by writing me and expecting I can objectively interpret what you wrote.

    So much for the slippery slope into subjectivity, then.

    The Scriptures are authoritative, as they are revelations from God. Those gifted by God in teaching are not authoritative in those terms. They are guides. Individuals come together into little groups (churches) and leaders emerge that the individuals look to for guidance, not “binding” and “normative” teaching.

    Heresy relates to only the clear, pillar doctrines of the Scriptures. To deny the actual resurrection of Jesus, for example, is heresy.

    Blessings,
    Michael

  3. Canadian
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

    Thanks Michael,
    I understand you do not hold any traditional canon. Yet you said ” I do not believe the church has authority to give binding and normative teaching. God’s holy prophets (including Jesus) and the apostles had such authority and they have given their normative teaching in the Holy Scriptures.” Yet if only the scriptures and not persons have normative teaching, and you decide what the inspired scriptural texts are and how to interpret them, then how does this not reduce all authority to the individual? “Heresy” and “schism” become nonsensical, and every appeal to scripture becomes entirely subjective.

  4. Dale
    November 20, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    “To clarify what bothers me about your logic: In order to place the Bible and Tradition in opposition to each other, it is necessary to dismiss social trinitarianism as seemingly irrelevant. Yet no reasons are provided for doing so”

    No reasons? Please see the following published papers of mine, available also here: http://trinities.org/dale

    Hasker’s Quests…

    Divine Deception…

    Unfinished Business…

    and on the now popular a priori arguments for God being a three-self being, see On the Possibility…

    Quite a few posts here would be relevant too – too many to mention. But you could start here: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/3948

    I too used to hold a “social” view – it seemed the only coherent option. I found, though, that the Bible rules it out. Controversial? Yes – but hear out all the arguments, and revisit the relevant texts for yourself.

    God bless,
    Dale

  5. Michael
    November 20, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    Canadian,

    I thought I had made it clear that you are incorrect to assume that all who appeal to the Scriptures as authoritative, as over against later tradition, do so on the basis of tradition. It is simply false to state, as you stated to John and stated to me before, “You only have a canon by Tradition and not via the scripture itself.”

    As I stated before,

    ” . . . I do not think the canon of Scripture is in anyway binding or normative (and so I don’t depend on tradition for that, since I don’t believe it). The external and internal evidence must be weighed on any document that is a candidate for being from God in a special way (specially inspired). And what I regard as Holy Scripture from God, based on internal and external evidence, does not coincide with any of the “official” “traditional” canons.”

    Furthermore, even if one agrees (I do not as I said before) that one of the “traditional” canons (e.g. the canon delineated in Athanasius’ Easter Letter) is correct, that does not mean one agrees simply because that canon is the “traditional” one. One could agree because they have critically evaluated the “traditional” canon and find that, in this case, the tradition got it right.

    So in every way your “gotcha” comeback to those who question tradition fails. I was surprised to see you using it with John after my prior post on the issue.

    Michael

  6. John
    November 20, 2013 @ 3:54 am

    Hi Canadian,
    Sorry if I appear disingenuous.
    I’m just one of those who see ‘tradition’ as the main stumbling block to the truth!
    At the risk of boring you I would like to briefly comment on the scriptures you mentioned.
    (i) John 1 v 1
    You will note that in John 1 v1(3) we have “…. kai theos en ho logos”
    Note the lack of the definite article with regards to ‘theos’
    Note the syntax – the subject of this phrase in ‘logos’.

    Many, including the NAB Bible suggest that ‘theos’ is therefore a ‘quality’ of ‘logos’.
    The NAB Bible suggests that it was God’s “word-wisdom’ which is being referred to- the way God exercises
    His will in His creation… perhaps His Holy Spirit.

    John 20 v 28
    ” ho Kyrrios mou kai ho theos mou”
    The Lord of me and the God of me
    Here you have two nouns – not being proper names – each preceded by the definite article (ho) and joined
    by a personal pronoun.
    The Granville Sharp rules would say ‘two persons in view’

    (iii) Romans 9 v 5
    Most scholars believe that part two of the verse is a sort of ‘eulogy’ or ‘doxology’ which is quite common in
    Pauls writings… these terms and ‘ who is God over all” are never expressed of Christ.
    There are textual variations of this verse as footnotes to scholarly Bibles attest.

    (iv) Titus 2 v 13.
    ” awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of ou great God and our savior Jesus Christ”
    Who is our savior ? Titus declared this to be our great God.
    Who is the glory of our great God ? Numerous scriptures say that this is Jesus Christ.
    So the scripture should be read ” … the appearing of THE GLORY OFour great God and Savior-
    (who is) Jesus Christ.
    Trinitarians say that Unitarians break the Granville Shapr rule – but in terms of the above inerpretation
    there is ONLY ONE PERSON being referred to . One definite article, one conjunction, one person in view.
    Christ IS the glory of our great God and Savior.!!
    (v) Hebrews 1 v 8
    This takes a bit of explaining – will do if required.
    The author of Hebrews has ‘cut and pasted’ the appropriate words from Psalm 102.
    Words which were originally addressed to YHWH have been readdressed to ‘the Son’.
    The footnotes to the NAB Bible observe that the writer of Hebrews took the words from the Septuagint Bible – which differs from the original Tanakh.
    There is a lot which can be said about Hebrews 1!

    So sorry to ramble on.! I would just ask one to consider… do the verses which have translational and or textual or contextual difficulties over-ride the import of Christs own words .?
    Every Blessing
    John

    conjunction (kai)

    Some scholarly bibles (e.g. Moffat) suggest ‘ … and the word was divine’

  7. John
    November 20, 2013 @ 3:10 am

    Hi Tony,
    Sorry if I seemed unduly harsh!
    We are in perfect unity insofar as the views expressed in your final paragraph are concerned!

    Blessings
    John

  8. Tony DiRienzo
    November 20, 2013 @ 2:08 am

    John,

    You seem rather bold, so I doubt you’ll mind my boldness in response:

    You have stated that I am “juggling,” “obscuring the very simple truth,” “make no sense at all,” and that if I disagree with your reading of the listed passages, I “live in [a] ‘make-believe’ world” and do “not believe [Christ]” even when “[he] makes it clear.”

    These statements come across seeming harsh and discourteous. While I have given this topic a great deal of thought, and while I do enjoy discussing it with others in friendly debate, I do not feel that I am welcome to express my views in response to you. Instead, it would seem that any point I might make which disgrees with your view will be dismissed off-hand and earn me further ridicule. I don’t hold that against you. I simply want you to understand why I won’t be spending much time answering your arguments.

    For the record, I believe in one God, I pray to the Father, I worship the Father, and I seek to glorify the Father. From a practical living point, I endeavor to imitate the Father, and I hold Jesus Christ as the example of how to do this. I hope that we can find unity in these issues. Distinctions beyond this seem trivial to me.

    Shalom

  9. Tony DiRienzo
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    Dale,

    First, I’ll be honest and admit that I carelessly skipped past your treatment of “social trinitarianism” on my first read through. Since I happen to favor something similar to this view, it should come as no surprise that I find your conclusions above unnecessary. Second, I apologize for muddling my original response with misapplied terminology. I don’t imagine myself to be an orthodox trinitarian in the strict sense (though I doubt I would be classed a heretic), so it was foolish of me to speak so inclusively.

    To clarify what bothers me about your logic: In order to place the Bible and Tradition in opposition to each other, it is necessary to dismiss social trinitarianism as seemingly irrelevant. Yet no reasons are provided for doing so, other than mentioning that it is a controversial position and not particularly convenient to the argument. I suppose I’m just wondering why you appear to be brushing aside a possibility here for the sake of forcing a diametric opposition. My brain can’t process the need to chose between the two when I see an obvious third option.

  10. Canadian
    November 19, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

    John
    To place the bible and the Tradition in opposition seems disingenuous as you only have a canon by Tradition and not via the scripture itself.
    Considering such texts as Jn 1:1, 20:28, ROM 9:5, Titus 2:13, Heb 1:8 etc, the scripture and the Tradition hold Christ to be a divine Person but not the Father or a part of “God”. All of your quoted texts affirm the monarchy of the Father. All of the weakness of the Son pertains to his humanity.

  11. John
    November 19, 2013 @ 2:20 am

    Hi Tony,
    Why do keep ‘juggling’ to try and obscure the very simple truth that GOD IS THE FATHER.

    Your point (5) above makes no sense at all unless you live in the ‘make-believe’ world of the trinitarian!

    -Corinthians 8v6 ” there is but one God, the Father

    -John 20v17 ” I am going to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God’

    -John 17v3 ” Father, the ONLY TRUE God”

    – who did Christ pray to? – The Father

    – Who did Christ say we should pray to – “Our Father”

    Christ makes it clear on many occasions that there are things he cannot do, and things he does not know.

    Why should we not believe him?

    In the end it’s either – the Bible OR
    Catholic tradition!!!!!!!!

    Every Blessing
    John
    .

  12. Dale
    November 18, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    Hi Tony,

    Where’s the unitarian-only premise in my argument?

    You want to replace my premise 1. Is this because you think the Father is eternally omniscient, but the Son is not? If so, you are not an orthodox trinitarian, which requires a Son who is equally divine.

    Both arguments seem sound to me. You want to say something is wrong with the first (my) argument, but you haven’t said which premise you would deny. Offering a second, similar argument, is not to the point.

    Best,
    Dale

  13. Tony DiRienzo
    November 18, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    Dale, your argument only holds true given a unitarian view of the godhead. If one does not require a unitarian view, then point #1 as you have phrased it is unnecessarily broad. You might consider rephrasing as follows:

    1. God the Father is eternally omniscient
    2. Necessarily, a omniscient being knows all truths; there is at no time a truth that an omniscient being (who exists at that time) does not know.
    3. Jesus, at times, did not know certain truths.
    4. Therefore, Jesus is not eternally omniscient. (2, 3)
    5. Therefore, Jesus is not God the Father. (1, 4)

    What you have proven here is not that Jesus is not God, but simply that Jesus and God the Father are not the same person. As I mentioned, this only disturbs unitarian theology. Point #5 would be expected in most other views of the godhead.

  14. A Couple Blogs Worth Reading | Till He Comes
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  16. Dale
    November 14, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

    Hey Jeremy, thanks for the comment.

    “What about denying #2? There are some who say that omniscience only means fully knowing what can be known. Obviously, God cannot know counterfactuals, that is, what is not true. So God does know know that 1+1=3, because 1+1=2.”

    (You don’t want to say counterfactuals here – most think some of those are true, e.g. if I were to be Chinese, my first language would be Chinese.) Yes, an omniscient being, it seems, knows all truths to be true, and of course doesn’t know any falsehood, but knows of any falsehood that it is false. So he can’t know 1+1 = 3.

    “Based on this, some have argued that some future events are inherently “unknowable.” So although God knows all possible future events, He does not perfectly know which future event will actually happen.”

    Yes, some open theists have argued that. In my “Three Roads” paper, I argue that this is an arbitrary definition of “omniscient.” But you can be an open theist, and not think this is a full set of events right such as to constitute the actual future. If that’s so, then not even on omnipotent being knows every detail of “the future” (because there now is no wholly determinate future).

    Does this help us to deny 2? I don’t think so. 2 says that an omniscient being must know whatever is true *at that time*. But in Jesus’ example, since the Father knows the future time of Jesus’ return, that implies that there is now a truth about that – it’s been pre-settled by God’s decree or determination.

    Based on this, some have argued that some future events are inherently “unknowable.” So although God knows all possible future events, He does not perfectly know which future event will actually happen.

  17. Michael
    November 14, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

    Canadian,

    Here’s the bottom line as I see it: we are all dependent upon our God-given minds to determine the truth about anything, including God. We can learn a lot about God from his creation, including ourselves. That’s what natural theology is all about. But is there evidence God has revealed himself beyond his creation, in a more direct way? If so, that would be of the highest significance and value for determining better the truth about God. (Plato is reported to have said something to the effect that revelation from the god(s) would be infinitely more valuable than the speculations of unaided reason–maybe Dale can help me out with the quote.) I do believe there is such evidence. I believe God has made it clear that he revealed himself through the Hebrew prophets, Jesus most of all, and then the Apostles of Jesus. Like I said before, he made this clear by working signs and miracles through these prophets (see Acts 2.22 in the case of Jesus). There’s a reason God went through all the trouble of those miracles! That’s the chief external evidence vouchsafing the speech and writings of his prophets. But God has also given us internal evidence (fulfilled prophecy, transcendent doctrine, etc.) in the writings specially inspired by him to show us that these writings are thus “Holy Scripture.” So, again, to know the truth about God, we look to what is revealed about him in creation but especially what he has specially revealed through his holy prophets. What other human beings say, including the church fathers, is only as valuable as their insight into God based on God’s revelation in creation and his prophets.

    And by the way, this means that it’s not either “the church [has] authority to give binding and normative teaching, or every individual [is] left to his own conscience with his bible.” Every individual is left to his own mind, or reason, to determine what is true about God from creation and any special revelation God has clearly given (i.e. that the evidence indicates God has given). But, yet, how much we can all learn from one another and from those who have gone before! I learn from you. You learn from me (hopefully!). We both learn from the church fathers. And so on. Even if God has not willed to give us new prophets beyond Jesus and the apostles (again, despite false claims to such inspiration by, e.g. popes), still he does, it seems to me, continue to give gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and teaching. Yet these gifts are precisely for determining the truth about God from creation and his prophets!

    With respect, then, to the issue at hand, namely, the identity of God, it is my contention and the contention of many others (e.g. Dale) that later Christian thinkers really mucked up the clear teaching of the Scriptures on this question. Is it easy for me to accept that? No, it is not. I wish very much this wasn’t true. But extensive research into the question has made it clear to me that it is true. That the Scriptures reveal that Jesus learned (as Jeremy rightly preached to the annoyance of some in his trinitarian church) and that Jesus himself even declared he did not know things that the Father knows is one piece of evidence, but by no means the only piece of evidence, that Jesus is not God. I think Dale’s analysis makes that clear.

    By the way, I briefly set forth understanding of Jesus here: http://mindingthetruth.com/2013/11/07/am-i-a-unitarian/

    Michael

  18. Michael
    November 14, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

    Canadian,

    I have no idea what you mean by “that burning in the bosom thing.” At any rate, no, I do not think the canon of Scripture is in anyway binding or normative (and so I don’t depend on tradition for that, since I don’t believe it). The external and internal evidence must be weighed on any document that is a candidate for being from God in a special way (specially inspired). And what I regard as Holy Scripture from God, based on internal and external evidence, does not coincide with any of the “official” “traditional” canons.

    Incidentally, I believe the best traditional canon in terms of the New Testament is the original Peshitta canon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_biblical_canons#Peshitta

  19. Canadian
    November 14, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    Michael, you said: “And, no, I do not believe the church has authority to give binding and normative teaching. God’s holy prophets (including Jesus) and the apostles had such authority and they have given their normative teaching in the Holy Scriptures”

    Do you think the canon of scripture is in any way binding and normative? You depend on Tradition and not scripture for that, unless you have that burning in the bosom thing going 😉

  20. Michael
    November 13, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    Canadian,

    What select bishops have done/do in ecumenical councils hardly constitutes what “the church” has done. And even those councils were hardly carried out appropriately, as all would agree. And, no, I do not believe the church has authority to give binding and normative teaching. God’s holy prophets (including Jesus) and the apostles had such authority and they have given their normative teaching in the Holy Scriptures (Eph 2.20). But God has not so authorized others, despite claims of apostolic succession. When God wanted to authorize people to speak for him, to give binding and normative teaching, he made that clear to all by working miracles and signs through the person (Acts 2.22). What makes you think others after the apostles–“the church”–do have such authority? Has God revealed that? Does reason?

    You wrote, “The need arises to give a reason for the testimony of the scriptures against heresies that are proposed.” I agree. But, even then, no teaching of the Scriptures requires recourse to terms not used in the Scriptures, much less very complicated terms like “communicatio idiomatum,” or even the simpler “essence and energies” you endorsed. It is only because the testimony of the scriptures is misunderstood that it is thought such terms are needed. And, in fact, that one thinks such terms are needed to make plain one’s interpretation of the Scriptures should alert one that perhaps he/she has misunderstood the Scriptures.

  21. Canadian
    November 13, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    Michael,
    Terms only describe concepts.
    I would not hold to western communicatio anyway. The eastern distinction between essence and energies (activities of a Nature) seems much more helpful. The need arises to give a reason for the testimony of the scriptures against heresies that are proposed. The church has done this most prominantly in an Ecumenical council. When challenges are brought forth as to why Christ is one with the Father and also the Father is greater, and other scriptural objections, an articulation of the truth is needed. These articulations are nearly always defensive in nature. Does the church have authority to give binding and normative teaching, or is every individual left to his own conscience with his bible?

  22. Canadian
    November 13, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

    Dale,
    In your example, you have an agent with two components of only one Nature (legs), of which one is wounded. Only one Nature is wounded because he only has one Nature, so in no way can he say he is not wounded. You seem to permit thirsting in the human Nature Christ without the necessity of the transfer of this attribute to his divine nature, yet when you speak of knowlege you demand a transfer of divine omniscience to the humanity. This seems selective. It does seem that in respect to knowlege, you suddenly move the divine attribute from Nature to Person to negate the possibility of Christ having a limited human capacity while having an unlimited divine capacity.

  23. Jeremy Myers
    November 13, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    Thanks for interacting with this. I appreciate it.

    What about denying #2? There are some who say that omniscience only means fully knowing what can be known. Obviously, God cannot know counterfactuals, that is, what is not true. So God does know know that 1+1=3, because 1+1=2.

    Based on this, some have argued that some future events are inherently “unknowable.” So although God knows all possible future events, He does not perfectly know which future event will actually happen.

    I am not saying this solves the dilemma which you have carefully laid out, but it is another option.

  24. Michael
    November 13, 2013 @ 11:48 am

    Exceptional post, Dale. It is so helpful and important to examine these things philosophically and not just biblically.

    You mentioned kenotic theories as a way out of the dilemma for the trinitarian. Of course then the trinitarian has to explain how a being can empty itself of an essential, necessary attribute!

    Canadian, when your doctrine of God forces you to say Jesus has two natures and he sometimes only speaks from one nature but not the other, surely something has gone awry. Just because such an idea has a fancy Latin term (communicatio idiomatum) doesn’t make it reasonable. How many truths have been obscured and explained with such fancy terms like communicatio idiomatum, anthropomorphism, etc!

  25. Dale
    November 13, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    Hi Canadian, thanks for the comment.

    Your two cases are different. If I have an injury in my right leg only, it is true that I am injured, and false that I am un-injured. If I say I’m not injured (full stop – but making a mental reservation, that I mean in my left leg) that is clearly a lie – because I know it will cause others to believe that I have no injury at all.

    So the “I thirst” case – that he thirsts in or because of his human nature – that would not be a lie. But saying he doesn’t know something – when he knows all, in his divine nature, is clearly a lie – just as with the leg case above.

    I don’t see that I’m confusing nature and person here.

  26. Canadian
    November 13, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    To say from his humanity that he did not know all things is not a lie. When Christ says “I thirst”, he did not lie just because he did not thirst in his divine nature. The Person is said to thirst but only in his humanity. His human mind has limited capacity, his divine mind does not. The temptation is to confuse Person and Nature and make the mind and will to be Hypostatic (single) when they are in fact faculties of Nature, of which he has two. The natures of Christ are not blended into one as if every activity, whether human or divine is employing both natures. One Person employs each Nature to it’s full capacity. That his divinity is all knowing cannot be just transfered accross to the humanity.