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. Aaron King
    December 10, 2015 @ 6:16 pm


    From what I can tell, Unitarian Subordinationism is really really close to the Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity. It seems like the explanation and roles of the Father, Son and Spirit are described very similarly in both views but then the conclusions reached are different when it comes down to the metaphysical declarations made. Both draw heavily on early Christian writings (Origen, et al) to defend their conclusions. Just another way in which defining our terms and drawing implications are key?

  2. Roman
    November 19, 2015 @ 4:00 am

    That’s a strange statement by Larry Hurtado, “Christianity began as a trinitarian religion with a unitarian theology. ” If a religion has a Unitarian theology, then it’s a Unitarian religion …
    Another thing, when People say that the early Christians worshiped Jesus, it needs to be clarified what exactly “worship” means. The earlierst direct record we have of this is by Pliny the younger, but I doubt he would have made a distinction between honor toward a messiah figure and sacred service to God.

    • Dale Tuggy
      November 19, 2015 @ 9:08 am

      I think perhaps he means that it was “trinitarian” in the sense of believing in the trinity, but not in the sense of believing in the Trinity.

      Yes, we do need to realize that the words translated at “worship” had a wider sense than many now suppose. Of course, the earliest evidence of worship of Jesus would be Paul, e.g. Phil 2, and then other NT writings.

      • Roman
        November 19, 2015 @ 10:06 am

        Yeah, but the “term” trinity is meaningless unless it has some theological content right? in that sense it’s almost impossible to NOT be a trinitarian if you’re a Christian right?
        I agree With the NT wrightings, I was using Pliny the Younger as the first (as far as I know of) Direct statement of Christians worship Jesus, in the NT, you have praise and the such, but it’s generally quite vague as to what is being done.

        • Matt13weedhacker
          November 20, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

          Pliny’s: “…carmenque Christo quasi deo…” Quasi = “as if”. Thus: “…sing antiphonal hymns to this Christ, as if he were some sort of god…”

          “Some sort of” would bring out the sense of “quasi” better, in the context of a non-Christian Roman official who is ignorant of what Christian’s really believe about Jesus “Christ”.

          Others translate: “…to chant verses antiphonally amongst themselves to Christ as if to a god…”.

          Secondly, most Tri{3}nitarian translations use capitalization: “(G)od” here. Whereas, the Latin language didn’t introduce minuscule, or lower case lettering into the language until the 9th century C.E. So this is both bias, and anachronistic, (in my opinion – others are free to disagree).

          Thirdly, and most importantly. The original MSS of Tertullian’s Apology Book 1, Chapter 2, (who quotes this very passage of Pliny ), have a very different reading, with a very different sense:

          Latin: “…canendum Christo et deo…” “…to sing to Christ ( and ) to God…”.

          Note: “et” = “and”.

          Thus, this put’s it in a whole different light.

          One last note. The modern, (in a relative sense), or newer versions, of the printed texts of Tertullian’s Apology, (plus translations), change: “et” into: “ut”, against the almost unanimous MSS reading. So, caveat emptor. The older the printed texts generally retain the proper, (i.e. actual), MSS reading.

          • Dale Tuggy
            November 21, 2015 @ 8:07 am

            “the Latin language didn’t introduce minuscule, or lower case”

            Yes, and worse, it doesn’t have the definite article “the”! So it lacks the theos vs. ho theos (a god vs. God, literally “the god”) distinction. AND it lacks quotation marks too, like all ancient languages.

            So when, in Latin, someone writes about Jesus that “Deus est”, this might mean that

            he’s God (i.e. God himself)
            he’s a god (i.e. divine in some sense)
            is described or addressed as “God” or as “a god”

            This is really a problem when translating and interpreting authors c. 150-380.

  3. Christian Thinker
    March 8, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Hello MdS,

    I am Christian who in his view of Godhead would identify to a large degree with the views of Samuel Clarke (thanks Dale, I hope and wish the Clarkian view will gain a traction in the years ahead). From time to time I visit this blog and other humanitarian Unitarian (hereafter HU) webs to better understand this position. Now here are several friendly questions that I am asking in order to better understand your position:

    Is Holy Spirit numerically identical to God the Father or not?

    Before Word became flesh, was God’s Word/Logos/Davar numerically identical with God YHWH or not?

    Who ate lunch with Abraham in Genesis 18:1 – 8?

    Who stood in front of Abraham in Genesis 18:22?

    Who is the Angel of the Lord in Exodus 23:20 – 21?

    Who is standing there next to laying Samuel in 1. Samuel 3:10?

    In Isaiah 63:9 – 10, who or what are the angel of Lord’s presence and His Spirit? Are they simply literary devices along line of “hands” to describe the activity of one personal God so that no personal agents are in view in any form what so ever?

    I wish nice weekend to everyone who is following this thread.

    Christian Thinker

  4. villanovanus
    March 6, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    @ Dale

    I can’t come up with any decent sense in which early Christianity was “trinitarian.” The most one could possibly say, is what more careful trinitarian scholars say, which is that the early theologies “contained the seeds” of trinitarianism – whatever that means!

    Of course early Christianity was neither “trinitarian” nor Trinitarian in any sense whatsoever. So, the real question to ask is: what, eventually, from those beginnings, led to the full fledged doctrine of the Trinity (co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal)?

    There are no passages in the NT whose “trinitarian” interpretation cannot be debunked, except for one (the Comma Johanneum at 1John 5:7-8 doesn’t count, because it is manifestly spurious and apocryphal), this:

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, … (Matt 28:19, with Trinitarian Baptismal Formula)

    Although ALL extant NT mss have it, I believe (with the commentators of the Bible de Jérusalem) that it was an insertion in the text of Matthew’s Gospel (rather early, as the parallel in the Didache suggests). BTW, it is rather amusing that the (literalist inerrantist) JW don’t find it problematic, whereas, obviously the formula “in the name of … the Holy Spirit”, with that reference to the “name” (=authority) clearly suggests that the Holy Spirit would be a person.

    You speak of the early worship of Jesus as a possible “seed” of later of trinitarianism. BUT the worship was NOT applied to Jesus in general, it was applied to the resurrected Jesus inasmuch as he had been made Lord by the One God and Father (see Acts 2:32-36; Rom 10:9; Phil 2:9-11; etc.).

    OTOH, as you rightly remark, Christians “simply did not, historians agree, worship the Holy Spirit in the early years”.

    So, perhaps, rather than dubious “seeds” of later trinitarianism, we have to look for the real root. For the umpteenth time, for those who read the history of Christianity until Nicea 325 and right to Constantinople 381 without indulging in “hindsight trinitarian apologism”, it is quite transparent that there is a specific root: the filching of the theo-philosophical Philonian understanding of the Logos/Dabar as deuteros theos (“second god”), which is radically different from the Johannine Logos, as is evident especially now that we can make comparisons with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    From this “original sin”, from here on, it is all a gradual worsening towards a heathen-philosophical pollution of the Scriptural source: even the struggle against Gnosticism becomes an occasion for assimilating the Gnostic notion of hypostases and the Hermetic homoousios. Paradoxically, it is Arius, with his rationalism, that precipitates the situation, until one of its two possible outcomes is reached: the “co-eternal, co-equal, tri-personal” trinity. What Anthony Buzzard calls “Christianity’s self-inflicted wound”.

    The other outcome (the ONLY scripturally legitimate outcome) would have been a return to the original Strict Monotheism, whereby God’s Word/Logos/Dabar and Spirit/Pneuma/Ruwach are NOT distinct hypostases, BUT God’s eternal “hands”.

    And Jesus is the true Son of God (NOT an imaginary “god-the-son”), the Incarnation of God’s Eternal Word/Logos/Dabar, His Messiah, and, after his Resurrection and Ascension, proclaimed Lord and exalted to His right by God Himself.

    And the Holy Spirit is God’s power and gift (NOT an imaginary “god-the-spirit”), in which and by which all God’s elect will be deified, “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).