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. Bilbo
    September 3, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

    Dr. Tuggy,

    I’m curious if you have dealt with a couple of puzzling passages:

    Romans 8:9,

    “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”

    So do we have two spirits – the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ?

    And then if you add in Romans 5:5,

    “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us,”

    We now have three spirits – the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Must get kinda crowded in there.

    • Rivers
      September 4, 2017 @ 4:21 pm


      Why would three different descriptions of “spirit” require that there are three different spirits? Paul was simply describing the “spirit” that was “holy” and belonged to both God the Father and Jesus Christ.

      Rivers 🙂

      • Aaron
        September 4, 2017 @ 7:06 pm


        I think the plea here is one for consistency (although I won’t presume to speak on behalf of Bilbo). The way I read it is that if the Father and Jesus are 2 completely separate beings then this would imply that as separate beings they each have a separate spirit within themselves….and if the Holy Spirit (whatever or whoever that is) happens to also be a “someone” then he is a *third* being and thus also has a spirit as well.

        • Bilbo
          September 4, 2017 @ 9:15 pm

          Yes, Aaron, that is pretty much my point. If it is the same spirit, but three different beings, why three different designations?

        • Rivers
          September 5, 2017 @ 8:22 am


          What about the sense in which the apostles spoke of all believers having “the spirit of God” (Romans 8:14) or “the spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9) or “holy spirit” (Romans 5:5)? This suggests that the terms were variations of the same thing that the same “spirit” could be shared.

          • Aaron
            September 5, 2017 @ 3:20 pm


            Yes, I agree it does seem that way. And if it is the case that the Spirit is but One then can’t this be seen as fitting in very consistently with Trinitarian viewpoint? The Spirit is One Spirit of the Triune God instead of referring to 3 spirits of 3 separate beings…This seems to be Bilbo’s point. I’m not saying it’s a knockdown argument and all discussion about the topic is over, but I do see what he’s saying.

            • Rivers
              September 6, 2017 @ 9:59 am


              I don’t think Bilbo is taking into account that “spirit” is a term that is often used to speak of individuals, as well as something shared by individuals. The way it is used in scripture seems to suggest both personal and impersonal functions and characteristics.

              This might give some flexibility with regard to relating holy spirit to the Trinity doctrine, but the same range of usage would be applicable to a biblical unitarian Christology as well. Thus, I don’t think it poses a problem, or a “knockdown” implication for either perspective.


              • Aaron
                September 6, 2017 @ 6:32 pm


                Yeah, sure. I can be fair. That’s a good point as well.

                The word “spirit” can refer to the inner being/self/soul of a man, the direct presence of God, even an attitude or way we carry ourselves (such as when Paul says not in a spirit of fear or timidity…)

                I see Bilbo to be saying that if the Trinity is incorrect that we must apply this to how we read the phrases “Spirit of God” and “Spirit of Christ,” respectively. He seems to be saying, “Wait a minute! You have 2 individuals here, and a Spirit on record for both of them. That’s TWO different Spirits for two different individual!”

                And I see you and Dale to be saying that this simply is not necessarily the case. Certainly, all of us here agree with Paul when he states in Ephesians that there is “one baptism, *one Spirit,* one Lord,” etc. so we actually agree that there is but one Spirit (in the sense of one divine Spirit of God anyways) but Bilbo is stating that it is inconsistent of the NT writers to say that there is 1 Spirit but then turn around and talk about 2-3 Spirits while you all aren’t seeing the references to the “Spirit” to necessarily be designations or names of the Spirits of separate beings (i.e. God and Jesus), which I also understand. Given that the Spirit is called by a few names and spoken of as both a “person” and a “thing/it” in the NT only adds to confusion and division between Trinitarians and Unitarians.

                • Rivers
                  September 7, 2017 @ 8:36 am


                  Good points. Some of this is just due to the wide semantic range of the biblical words for “spirit”. You mentioned some of the applications of the term.

                  I try to be careful not to go to the either extreme of referring to spirit as an “it” (impersonal) or a “he” (person) becuase it seems to have characteristics and functions suitable for both. This is probably because “spirit” is usually associated with individual persons, but is also something that God shares of Himself with his creatures (Genesis 2:7). There are also figuartive references to “spirit” such as when Paul spoke of his “spirit” being in Corinth while his “body” was “absent” (1 Corinthians 5:3).

    • Dale
      September 5, 2017 @ 5:01 pm

      Not sure what you’re driving at, Bilbo. Given my view that talk of “the spirit” typically refers to God’s power, given to believers, there is not a problem here. As has been said, there are just multiple descriptions of the same phenomenon.

      The Trinity does not seem to come down to just three descriptions of one god, if that is your point. For one thing, the Father is the Son’s god in the NT.

  2. Giles
    September 1, 2017 @ 2:45 pm

    Dale, you don’t mention that in First Principles Origen sees all souls as eternally generated. I think it was only when other fathers embraced the eternal generation of Christ whilst rejecting the eternal generation of other souls that this idea was taken to imply deity.

  3. Mario Stratta
    August 25, 2017 @ 7:47 pm

    @ Dale

    [Fr Aidan Kimel] But perhaps we should look earlier than the fourth century for the decisive departure from the allegedly unitarian Deity of the New Testament—namely, to the mid-second century when Christians began to interpret their triadic faith in light of Hellenistic philosophy.

    This seems to me a good identikit for Justin Martyr, duly inspired by Philo (De Somniis, On Dreams, that they are God-sent, Book 1, XXXIX, 1.229-230). Some scholars have also mentioned Numenius of Apamea, but he seems too late to have influenced Justin Martyr.

    Logos … is supposed to be a being, not a mere property. I’m not sure than what he means by saying that on this theology [Lewis Ayres; John Behr] the Logos is “essential to” the Father.

    Supposed … by whom? Even you, Dale, in your post podcast 175 – Marcellus of Ancyra, wrote, without questioning the terminology, that for Marcellus, “[God’s] ‘word’ and ‘spirit’ are his eternal attributes …” [why the ‘scare quotes’, BTW?]. So, while “God extends himself it two ways”, extending, as it were, His Word and Spirit in view of Creation, it is perfectly appropriate to says that His Word and Spirit are intrinsic to Him, more that they are essential attributes.

    The problem with Subordinationism is precisely that for ALL Subordinationists (Origen included, of course), the Word and Spirit are not God’s eternal, essential attributes, BUT subordinated divine, personal beings. It is precisely so as to remedy this Hellenistic spin on Biblical Monotheism, that the Trinity (co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal), HAD to be ultimately invented. That was the job of the Cappadocian scoundrels. Sadly for Christianity, they succeeded. 🙁

    In his post, Ante-Nicene Subordinationism and the Unitarian Narrative (6 August 2017), Fr Aidan Kimel (he likes to be addressed with his full name and title …) has apparently not resorted to his mysterianism (or apophaticism, as he prefers to say). If he feels cornered by your “rationalism”, he will.

    Just wait and see 😉