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.

17 Comments

  1. Mario
    December 31, 2014 @ 11:49 am

    P.S. I seriously doubt that you can call it the “majority view” of Eastern Christianity …

  2. Mario
    December 31, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    Yeah, now I call this sort of view “one self trinitarianism.” I think it is probably the majority view, with more understanding the Trinity in this way, than opt for three self or heavily mysterian positions. We could equally well call it non-heretical modalism, non-Sabellian modalism, or eternally concurrent essential modalism, etc.

    Dale,

    let me understand: do you only CALL it “eternally concurrent essential modalism, etc.”, or do you also SUBSCRIBE to this (allegedly) “non-heretical modalism”?

    (Or, perhaps, like all “good” scholars, you prefer to remain vague on your ACTUAL beliefs … 😉 )

  3. Dale
    December 31, 2014 @ 10:20 am

    Thanks, Aaron.

    Yeah, now I call this sort of view “one self trinitarianism.” I think it is probably the majority view, with more understanding the Trinity in this way, than opt for three self or heavily mysterian positions. We could equally well call it non-heretical modalism, non-Sabellian modalism, or eternally concurrent essential modalism, etc.

    I probably should have written an article about all of this; one philosopher friend has encouraged me to… but I’ve got too many other unfinished writing projects now.

  4. Rivers
    December 31, 2014 @ 10:17 am

    Mario,

    I was wondering the same thing. 🙂

  5. Dale
    December 31, 2014 @ 10:17 am

    No, Mario. I’ve changed my mind about that since 2006.

    Yes, this issue has come up in a number of ways.

  6. Mario
    December 31, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    [Dale – July 29, 2006 at 1:15 pm]
    “I think you [Patrick] are right that the NT teaches the pre-existence of the Son before his human conception or birth.”

    [Matthew – August 3, 2006 at 3:02 pm]
    “I’ll look forward to your posts on the NT teaching of Christ’s pre-existence.”

    Me too. Has the post on “the NT teaches the pre-existence of the Son” been posted since 2006?

  7. Aaron
    December 31, 2014 @ 2:16 am

    @Dale,

    Glad I went back and found all your posts on modalism! These posts are really good. Anyways, I think the problem is simply that so many “Trinitarians” are actually just eternally concurrent modalists and they think modalism is only sequential. They have not even realized that they believe that the F, S, and HS are modes…it’s like asking a fish what water is!

    “We need to learn the “law of polarity” (p. 20) and become “bipolar” (his term!) thinkers..” Did he mean “tripolar” ? 😛

  8. Arguing in Favor of the Holy Trinity « Tafacory Ideas
    March 18, 2012 @ 3:31 am

    […] […]

  9. Dale
    August 3, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

    Yeah, you’re right about the philosophical wierdness of that kind of move. But I never understood why theologians never (as far as I know) went the second route: that the Son became human, which assumes that something can be human without being essentially human. Think about it: how do I know that I’m essentially human? I think I must have an essence, but I don’t know that it is or includes being human. But then, for all we know, then, something not essentially human can become human, and stay that way. Was it just a sort of Aristotelian assumption that anything is human is essentially human?

  10. Matthew
    August 3, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    There is a point at which the Morris’esque moves you suggest in the first paragraph begin to look ad hoc. Taken individually they aren’t obviously contradictory, even if they stretch our credulity, but jointly they begin to look implausible. It strikes me as a price to high for an explanation.

    I’ll look forward to your posts on the NT teaching of Christ’s pre-existence.

  11. Dale
    August 3, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

    A man cannot exist before he exists. The term is self-contradictory.

    Well, sure. But mainstream theology can take one of two ways out. First, they can hold that it is possible for the divine nature to be united to a human nature at a certain point in time. Alternately, they can just deny that everything that’s a human is essentially a human. No obvious contradictions here – nothing existing and not existing at the same time. They can even just deny that it is essential to every human that it come into existence at a time, I suppose, though that one’s a harder sell.

    I have to agree with you both that many of the texts sometimes offered as “proof” of Christ’s pre-existence don’t really support that claim. I agree that some do have to do with divine foreknowledge and foreordination. Still, I think that parts of the NT teach Christ’s pre-existence.

    Traditional Socinian ways to get around passages like John 1 – that “the beginning” there means the beginning of the gospel or the “new creation” – are sometimes hard to swallow. But I agree that it’s debatable. Maybe some future posting(s) will be devoted to this, and some of the “biblical Unitarian” arguments that are relevant.

  12. JohnO
    August 2, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

    Vynette,

    Exactly my point! “Notionally pre-existent” is the term for it. Not that Jesus literally existed (in some non-human form) before he existed as a human.

  13. vynette
    August 1, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

    The gospel of John gives the spiritual presentation of Jesus that the other gospels lack. Unfortunately, it is from a banal interpretation of these spiritual words, that the theory of ‘pre-existence’ draws it major support.

    From John’s gospel:

    “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad” (8:56)

    “These things said Isaiah because he saw his glory and he spoke of him.” (12:41)

    “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me for he wrote of me.” (5:46)

    The clear meaning of these texts, when taken together, is that Jesus was ‘foreknown’. This is made apparent when other NT texts are considered:

    “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4)

    “Whom he foreknew he also foreordained to be the image…” (Rom. 8:29)

    “For that God chose you from the beginning.” (2 Thess. 2:13)

    “Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Heb. 4:3)

    “When it testified beforehand the sufferings of the Christ and the glories that should follow them.” (1 Pet. 1:11)

    “The Christ indeed who was foreknown before the foundation of the world.” (1 Pet. 1:20)

    “Come ye enter the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34)

    If being “foreknown’ is the essential qualification, then witnesses, brethren, God’s rest, the Kingdom, the redeemed, and many others, would have a claim to be ‘pre-existent’.

  14. JohnO
    August 1, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

    I don’t think that the NT teaches any pre-existence concerning Jesus. A man cannot exist before he exists. The term is self-contradictory. The NT speaks of God’s foreknowledge concerning Christ, for sure. But it does the same of Christians, in exactly the same manner. Therefore we also have existed before we existed. Do you remember that? Didn’t think so. The spoken foreknowledge of God is his expression concerning his desires for Jesus, and for us. This can be termed “Notional Pre-existence” – that we all (Jesus too) only existed in the mind of God, before we literally existed.

  15. Dale
    July 29, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    Patrick – thanks for your input!

    I think you’re right that the NT teaches the pre-existence of the Son before his human conception or birth. Thus, a kind of modalism that has the Son-mode coming into existence back in 6 BCE or whenever, would be inconsistent with the NT. This is indeed a problem for UPC theology. My point was just that modes, per se, *could in principle* be a vehicle for genuine revelation of how God really is.

    I’m not sure I agree that being a NT Christian – being saved – helps one to understand the essence of God. I think that the better understanding would be had by our closely studying the NT. Only a person filled with and guided by God’s Spirit may discern his workings, his ways, but that is different (e.g. Paul saying it takes a spiritual person to understand “spiritual things”.)

    If there’s a time when we’ll understand God’s nature much better, I’d think it be after the resurrection, when we’ll know as we’re known – what changes there, I think, is our experience of God, but maybe our very epistemic faculties will be different as well.

  16. Mike
    July 29, 2006 @ 1:35 am

    Thank you for this post. As missionary, I am sometimes appalled by the theological width that my colleagues communicate with, and all sincerity aside, they frequently make evangelistic appeals that are unitarian or write songs that are unitarian, and I find myself biting my tongue to keep from screaming!

    So, when it comes to texts like Schwarz, I cannot declare that I’m surprised. Perhaps what is so disappointing, is that a patient read of even (and only?) the Athanasian Creed might grant some vision and joy for communicating the nature of God and his reign: and that would stand in distinct opposition to folks like Schwarz and his followers/readers.

  17. Patrick Lacaire
    July 27, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful blog. You wrote:
    “Suppose that the Son is a new mode of God. So long as the Son accurately represents God’s character by his life and teaching, then that Son can be the revelation of how God really is; that is, God can reveal how he really is by acting in this new Son-mode”

    I believe that would be accurate if we assume the premise that God can be represented by interpersonal relationships that have not eternally existed. However, scripture surely argues otherwise, to wit, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist as three eternally distinct persons.

    I have not fully thought this next thought through entirely, and perhaps you may offer some foil against which I may further develop it. And that is this. I agree that Trinitarianism is more clear (if it is true) in the NT than the OT. But if God is relational in his essense ( as I believe God is) then the relationship of the three persons of the trinity (as God) would be more readily grasped when man’s reconcilliation to God had been accomplished (via the atonement). For only then would man more fully know God as God is without the distraction of shadows and archetypes.

    What do you think?