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. John
    May 3, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    I think that you are ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water” in your brief comments. to T.A..

    He may ‘use many words’ but surely he is making a good point about ‘Word, Wisdom, Spirit” as God’s creative spirit.(creative, redemptive acts)

    I am increasingly convinced that the ‘Word ‘ that became flesh is this creative spirit – and why John 1:18 tells us that ‘no one has seen God’ ,to ensure that no one mistakes this creative with the Father Himself.

    Every Blessing

  2. Abel
    May 3, 2013 @ 5:00 am

    T. A.

    Why don’t you let Christ tell us who he is!

    -Matthew 16:15-17
    -John 20:17

    You seem to be trying to tell Christ who he is!! And not faring too well!

    You have proved to me that the human mind IS capable of intinite rationalisation!

    Yours Sincerely

  3. T A
    May 2, 2013 @ 9:03 am

    Using your categories Dale (in your modalism post), do acts of God fit either noumenal or phenomenal? I meant above in the last part, “Not noumenal and not phenomenal but both noumenal (God in his acts must be noumenal, how can they not be?) and phenomenal (observed/experienced by mankind). So, how do we make more room in our defnition of the tirnity to include the economic trinity more seriously, as this is how the biblical language, taken as a whole, seems to portray the one God.

  4. T A
    May 2, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    We have in Dunn’s definition an economic trinity, but not necessarily an inferred immanent/ontological trinity. Can we guess what God is like in his Godself? If we try to be “orthodox” and describe God’s “modes” (esp. Spirit, Son) as eternally concurrent, aren’t we a bit presumptuous? Isn’t it enough to recognize the biblical limits set for the discussion, that are framed in economic terms? If word/wisdom/spirit are terms essentially expressing transcendent God in action in his outreach toward mankind, action rather than ontology, via vigorous Hebraic poetic personification, then is there room for applying “eternally concurent” to spirit and son? Isn’t it, may I say without ‘throwing in the towel’, beyond our reach? If so, how does the trinity read if Word/Wisdom/Spirit refer to acts of God rather than strictly ontology? Not noumenal and not phenomenal but both noumenal (God experienced in his acts must be noumenal) and phenomenal (observed by mankind). Does this move the conversation?

  5. T A
    May 2, 2013 @ 8:47 am

    While I find helpful the descriptions in your blog of the varieties of “modalism”, the term itself just doesn’t do in dialogue, esp. with social trinitarians, they’re led off the path (due to cognitive relevance theory) into conceptual categories such as orthodoxy/heresy, no matter how it is re-defined. So, yeah, let’s put a new term on the table, One Self theory, sure…and let’s try to be honest with the text and Hebreaic world-view, that God is indeed one. At the same time, there’s the seemingly intractable problem of Jesus being human (or at least his human nature if you will). So in trying to smash/squeeze all that is written of Jesus into a definition of God inevitably leaves key biblical language and concepts spilling out of one’s defintion, and usually ends up with a non-human, docetic Jesus–you cut him and he simply bleeds light. Language hits its limits here if we’re trying to be “orthodox”. One possible answer? Must nuance this and stretch orthodoxy or move beyond it. As the Word/ God’s utterance, was he/it a person as Jesus of Nazareth was person? I side with James Dunn, the giant among NT scholars, who takes seriously the 1st century in context and the Jewish conceptions of God, as well as Hebrew “poetic personification” in the OT conceptions of the one God. As he writes in Christology in the Making, “Word, wisdom, spirit refer to the creative, revelatory, redemptive acts of God” and “Jesus of Nazareth is he whom the word of God became.”

  6. villanovanus
    March 25, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Apparently I am again “under probation”, and my comment at the latest thread, “trinitarian or unitarian? 8 – Origen on ‘God’ vs. ‘a god’” is “awaiting moderation” …


  7. villanovanus
    March 24, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    Mine is a challenge. Everybody can judge your “performance” by what you prefer to ignore, what you are selective about, and how you reply to the rest … 😉


  8. Dale
    March 24, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    When I post on trinities, I do not thereby obligate myself to answer all your questions – sorry.

  9. villanovanus
    March 24, 2013 @ 3:18 am


    you have quoted 2 questions out of seven, and you have quoted them selectively and you have answered them poorly

    … sorry, that won’t do …


    P.S. It is definitely you who said, “there’s a huge problem with all of this”, viz. “orthodox modalism” vs “the Son of God is clearly a self too”. Your difficulty IS manifest …

  10. Dale
    March 23, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

    On orthodox (creedally kosher) modalism, please see: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/4177

  11. Dale
    March 23, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

    “Have you considered at all the possibility (which is implicit in “standard” trinitarianism) that in the OT, while the three persons are always there, they are not explicitly (or clearly) revealed?”

    I don’t take these arguments seriously, because God in the OT is plainly revealed as a self (not as at least one self). There’s really no hint of multiple “persons” or selves in him there. (No – not the word “elohim” or the angel of the LORD, etc.) And just as importantly, the NT is clear that Yahweh just is (is numerically identical to) the one Jesus calls Father. That is inconsistent with the one God also being the three of them.

    ” Why is Jesus of Nazareth being the Son of God a problem to you? You find it so easy to “demote the persons of the Trinity””

    That claim is not a problem to me at all; I affirm that as a central teaching of the NT. In this post I am not endorsing a one-self Trinity theory, but only discussing them. I think the way I’ve explained them is more helpful than the usual description of “Latin” trinitarianism.

  12. villanovanus
    March 23, 2013 @ 6:40 am

    Quick questions from the Devil’s Advocate:

    According to your personal lexicon, what is the difference between “person” and “self”?

    Have you considered at all the possibility (which is implicit in “standard” trinitarianism) that in the OT, while the three persons are always there, they are not explicitly (or clearly) revealed? Another way to look at this is that there are different opinions, among theologians, whether YHWH refers to the Father + Son + Holy Spirit (full-trinitarian POV), OR to Father ONLY, OR to Son ONLY (this is implicit in OT theophanies = christophanies). (AFAIK, nobody has ever suggested that YHWH refers to the Holy Spirit ONLY.)

    Can the “modes” coexist? For instance, there are passages in the OT when YHWH and the “angel of YHWH” are co-present. How would one deal with them within a “modalistic” understanding?

    Why shouldn’t the three whatsits presented by Phil Gons (or by Moreland & Craig, for that matter) be considered proper persons (= distinct, self-conscious entities –NOT “substances”–, endowed with reason, freedom and will)?

    Who are the “mainstream theologians” that you have in mind, and what would be the difference between “orthodox” and “heretical” modalism?

    Why is Jesus of Nazareth being the Son of God a problem to you? You find it so easy to “demote the persons of the Trinity”. Why can’t you “demote” the distinctness of the “one mediator”, assuming that Jesus is “mediator” inasmuch as he is a human “inhabited” by God? (Just like Oneness Pentecostals do, BTW …)

    Why, instead of turning in desperation to “social trinity” theories, should not one take seriously (= NOT metaphorically) the Incarnation of God’s Eternal Logos, crystal-clearly affirmed at John 1:14, coupled with the idea that God’s Word/Logos/Dabar and Spirit/Pneuma/Ruwach are His eternal “arms” (or “hands”)? After all it is supported by the Scripture (Deut 33:27, Job 40:9, Psalm 33:6, Isaiah 53:1, John 12:38) and certainly Irenaeus espoused it, both in is Against the Heresies and in his Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching.