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. GilT
    January 19, 2016 @ 9:01 pm

    I make the comment concerning unbelief when I hear the saints talk about the human Jesus and the God Jesus. It is shared in common by those who deny the deity of Jesus and those who affirm the deity of Jesus. It is the subtle, but looming presence of the fear of death. How you ask?

    I have often seen the smirk and then heard the mocking question after I have asserted the deity of Jesus; namely, that Jesus is God. The question is: So you believe that God died? Answer: Yes. I am glad that you understand that even if you do not accept it or believe it.

    This point blank truth is more than what a some saints have been able to grasp. They attempt to compensate for it by creating a delineation between Jesus as a human and Jesus as God. They will make statements such as, it was the human part of Jesus which cried out to the Father and who died on the cross. There is no such delineation. (Yes, I am mindful of I Timothy, Acts and other references to Jesus as a man. A discussion for some other time.) It was, they explain, the human part of Jesus who died. Really?

    What greater demonstration could the creator, giver and sustainer of live use to show his power over the enemy of death which has paralyzed his people than to come into the world, not just to do some really great miracles including raising some dead people, _ than by laying down his own life to take it up again?

    The lie of unbelief is the subtle message that death has the final word a mistaken notion at which Jesus scoffed. God came into his world creation and demonstrated: Death is nothing to me. It has nothing on me. It is in the palm of my hand. I lay down my life and I am able to take it up again. Amen.

    • Rivers
      January 21, 2016 @ 8:50 am

      Gil,

      I don’t think it follows that God himself must “lay down his own life and take it up again” in order to prove that He has power over death. It makes perfectly good sense to think that God could demonstrate His power over death simply by raising someone else who was dead.

      • GilT
        January 21, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

        Rivers,
        A couple of things to note concerning the optimum word *think* in your comment, Rivers.

        You don’t think it follows, but . . . it did.
        You think that God could demonstrate and . . . he did.

        What is especially significant is your second comment. It is the classic Muslim rebuttal for their rejection of the deity of Jesus. They reason thus; other prophets (their word, not mine) raised people from the dead. That does not make them God.

        Quite true. It is equally true that raising Lazarus from the dead does not make Jesus God, but this raising of others from the dead is your focus too. Yet the distinct uniqueness of the otherwise similar claims between Jesus and Horus, Cybele and others is that he made his claims known to friend and foe alike while he was living. Then, unlike Horus and Cybele he fulfilled those claims a fact which not even his adversaries, although they attempted to suppress it, never denied it.

        Even more, this the resurrection of Jesus from the dead through the power of the spirit did not result in an angel or Jesus himself declaring loudly “JESUS IS GOD” or “I AM GOD.” Such loud and definitive declarations have often been reserved for those who after conversing with a burning bush still do not indicate that they have a clue as to whom, not what, might be speaking to them. Otherwise, the realization as to God or his presence is a joyous realization and discovery which greatly pleases God and which result in an outbreak of life transforming joy in the one who has discerned, ponder and unabashedly concluded that this could be none other than God.

        • Rivers
          January 22, 2016 @ 8:29 am

          Gil,

          I’m not sure I understand most of your comment.

          However, with regard to the “burning bush” story, we know that the apostles understood that Moses was simply speaking with an “angel” (Acts 7:35), just as he did on Mount Sinai (Acts 7:38) and as Abraham did in Mamre (Genesis 18-19) and Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 32).

          Sometimes the terms YHWH and ALHYM were used of the angelic visitors because they were understood to be part of “the host of heaven” who
          stood beside the Lord” (1 Kings 22:19-21) and spoke the “word” (LOGOS) on God’s behalf as mediators (Hebrews 2:2; Galatians 3:19).

          • GilT
            January 22, 2016 @ 4:32 pm

            Yes, I am quite familiar with the extraction and isolation of names and terms, such as, YHWH and ALHYM. What I have also become familiar with through my observations is that this ability to note these terms as being in reference to angelic visitors also seems to effectively overlook or blur the reality fact that these terms refer to God himself too. If indeed we are to note that it was nothing more than an angel (Acts 7:35) who appeared to Moses in the burning bush then it is also to be noted that the angel identified himself to Moses by name as I AM THAT I AM in Exodus 3:15, right? I do notice that although you cite various passages that you do not cite the Exodus passage, which is the one alluded to in Acts 7. Just as the term “angel” is noted in the Acts passage it is to be similarly noted of the Exodus passage states that it was God who spoke to Moses and it was God himself who identified himself to Moses by name. What? Does the mere reference to angel in Acts preclude God himself from being the messenger of his own message himself?

            • Rivers
              January 23, 2016 @ 8:30 am

              Gil,

              I don’t think there is any difficulty with the Exodus story because sometimes the angels and prophets spoke on God’s behalf (repeating His words in the First Person, cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). I think this is the most plausible way to to account for the information in both Exodus and Acts 7:35-38.

              The early accounts in Genesis 16-18 and Genesis 32 help us understand that the terms YHWH and ALHYM could be applied directly to the angelic visitors who were called “men” and “angels” (on account of their human appearance and functions).

              I would also argue that this is why it was said that ALHYM “made Adam in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26). This is physical appearance language in Hebrew, and the only visible and tangible manifestation of “God” known to the ancient Israelites was the presence of the angelic visitors who looked like “men” (Genesis 18-19).

              • GilT
                January 23, 2016 @ 11:14 am

                I did not say there was any difficulty with the Exodus passage. I merely pointed out that you did not cite it.

                Is it really “the most plausible way to account for the information in both Exodus and Acts 7:35-38?” Is there not at the very least as much room as there is for an angel as there is for God himself?

                The quickest and clearest indication to me of the serious flaw in your explanation as to the value of early Genesis account to help in our understanding of the terms YHWH and ALHYM is found in your last paragraph.

                You have aligned what you attribute as “physical language” to ALHYM with the making of “. . . Adam in the image of and likeness of God?” I know this is a common mistaken notion which I have heard from the saints over the years. It is the that the image of God means He has two hands, two eyes, etc. The problem with such physical attributes to God becomes evident when we see the clear difference between the male and female anatomy. Clearly, any understanding concerning the image of God in such physical terms falls short. Rather, is it not what is not stated (the first mention in the scriptures being Genesis 22:2) in the text but which permeates the Bible, namely, that God is love? This is the image of God that we bear in us.

                • Rivers
                  January 25, 2016 @ 8:43 am

                  Gil,

                  If you look at the uses of the Hebrew word that is translated “image” you’ll discover that they all refer to the physical shape or appearance of something. There’s no reason to make an exception in Genesis 1:26 (especially when the same language is used to compare Adam to the male child, Seth, in Genesis 5:1-3). Paul also interpreted “the image of God” as a matter of the male appearance and gender (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).

                  I think you’ve misconstrued the implications of what I meant by “the image of God.” There is no indication that YHWH himself has a mouth, or hands or eyes. Rather, the angelic visitors who met with the Patriarchs, and spoke on behalf of YHWH, had those human characteristics. That is what “the image of God (ALHYM) ” is referring to. That is why God speaks “through” mediators like angels and prophets (Hebrews 1:1-2).

                  I don’t see any exegesis to support the idea that Genesis 22:2 (offering of Isaac) or “God is love” has anything to do with the concept of “the image of God.” Thus, I don’t see any reason to pursue that idea. It would require dismissing all of exegetical evidence.

                  • GilT
                    January 26, 2016 @ 4:01 pm

                    I do marvel, brother. I have often noted to atheists (not that you are one) how they argue and reason very much like, those to whom they mockingly refer to as, fundamentalists. I have noted the same similarity between theologians and evolutionists (not that you are one) that the former argues and reasons from the intricacies of word definitions to present a conclusion; the latter from the infinitely small and incredibly distant to present their conclusion.

                    Yes, I am aware of the definition and meaning of the word translated “image.” Clearly, it appears that you seem to see evidence in my words (let alone the short history of our interactions here) to suggest that not only did I misconstrue your words, but that I actually think that God has hands or eyes? It might have been better to leave well enough alone your instruction to me on the word image in the first paragraph, because the latter reference to I Corinthians casts your own use of Paul’s words “image of God” in serious doubt. The reason is that his own reference to that expression is a reminder, with emphasis on the man and with respect to authority, but certainly not a dismissal or contradiction of Genesis 1:27 that God created, both the man and woman in his image.

                    I am familiar with this conclusion: “There’s no reason to make an exception . . .” as the end product of exegesis. This is the similar conclusion and reasoning of the Jews. They saw and judged according to outward appearance what seemed to them to be a man; an arrogant man, in Jesus. There was to reason to conclude that maybe just quite possibly this might only be Messiah or even a prophet, but that he was in fact ever so much more than the Jews could have ever imagined; that this was God incarnate.

                    You are correct that there is no exegetical support between the sacrifice of Isaac and the image of God. Exegesis as a exercise in word isolation and definition can never lead one to such a conclusion. However, there if one sees but misses the resonance between Genesis 22:2 and John 3:16 one will likely miss the implications that not only is God love and that he publicly displayed his image of love when that He poured out his own love for us through Jesus his son.

                    • Rivers
                      January 27, 2016 @ 9:56 am

                      Gil,

                      It’s a simple matter of sound exegesis that we define words based upon their usage. This is why, when you have 30 other uses of “image” in the Hebrew scriptures that all simply refer to the physical shape of something, there is no reason to look for a different meaning of the term in Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 5:1-3.

                      It doesn’t matter what Atheists, Evolutionists, or Jews think either. All that matters is how the biblical writers used their own language. We have to be very careful to determine this without imposing our own thoughts or feelings into the ancient text. Sometimes we “see” things that may “resonate” with us but may have had absolutely nothing to do with what the original writer intended to communicate.

                    • GilT
                      January 29, 2016 @ 7:16 am

                      Rivers,

                      Your instruction to me concerning both, “usage” and “meaning” in sound exegesis makes me wonder. I am aware of this common explanation as well as that “there is no reason” for anything more.

                      Think about it. The 30 instances of the word “image,” such as in Genesis refer to “the physical shape”_ of God? Really? The same God of whom I attested is love and with which you differed, but whom the scriptures also attest is spirit?

                      According to your understanding (and I realize you are not alone in this understanding) there would be no reason for a seeker to look for a different meaning involving the two different usages of the prodigal son who was dead and Lazarus, who was asleep, but whom Jesus declared plainly to the disciples that he was dead.

                      Yes, the words are different and their usage is different, but the meaning; without life or about to die, predicated by two different circumstances are essentially the same for the English reader. Yes, so he may see, hear and learn the Greek language of those words, but his understanding is not limited to a lexical study. It is just as much buildup by the reality of his own human life experience as well as the lives of those around him. The former (prodigal son) involves a living being; the former (Lazarus) a lifeless corpse. As such, would you say the word “death/dead,” like the word “image,” all simply refer either to physical death or to spiritual death?

                      How we decide whether the death of one man or another is physical or spiritual is more than to merely note the usage of a word. It is to discern and interpret what we have inferred for our understanding, and then, what we subsequently teach to the saints in Christ. I understand. Interpretation is something saints and scholars prefer to avoid and opt instead to discuss the multitude of possible meanings, hence, the doubt, uncertainty and lack of confidence of the saints, and scholars alike.

                    • Rivers
                      January 29, 2016 @ 10:12 am

                      Gil,

                      You seem to be confusing the “definition” of a word with “meaning” that is conveyed by groups of words used in a figure of speech.

                      For example, the words “died” and “fell asleep” have different definitions, but “fell asleep” was used as a metaphor (euphemism) for “death.” However, this doesn’t mean that the primary definition of “sleep” changes. The “meaning” conveyed by the use of the word “sleep” as a euphemism for dying is derived from the context.

                      If you claim that “image” has a different “meaning” in Genesis 1:26 (other than it’s simple definition of physical shape or appearance that occurs in all other uses in scripture), then you must be able to prove from the context that an unusual “meaning” was intended by the writer. We can’t just look for “another meaning” because we don’t like the implications of the normal definition of a term.

                      The reason it’s usually a bad approach to seek “another meaning” when doing exegesis is because it becomes your burden not only to substantiate the unusual “meaning” you propose for a particular term, but also to demonstrate why the ordinary definition of the term cannot be plausible in that particular context. The writer is always more likely to use a word it its usual sense.

                      Thus, it’s much simpler to work with the primary definition of a particular word (based upon its usage everywhere else) and then ask critical questions about why the writer chose that particular word in a particular context (assuming that he had other related or unrelated terms that he could have also used instead).

  2. Aaron King
    January 18, 2016 @ 12:10 pm

    Dale,

    How do you interpret passages like John 6:62? (It’s posted below) Do you have any posts from the past which talk about these kinds of statements and verses?

    “Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?”

    • Dale Tuggy
      January 18, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

      • Roman
        January 19, 2016 @ 7:45 am

        I’d like to Challenge that.

        1. Anabainow, or any of it’s forms, is never used in the NT in Reference to ressurection, so if one is going to claim that it should be understood as meaning ressurection in John 6:62 you’d need really really good reasons for understanding it that way, and also a reason why John woudln’t just use the regular term for ressurection anastasis. Anabianow doesn’t means raise up, it means go up.

        2. Notice the context though, he compares himself With the bread that descended from heaven, so he’s talking about going up, ascending, to where he was before? There is no mention of his Death, his Death wasn’t “before” since it hadn’t happened yet, the context is that he has descended to give life, and witll then ascend. Otherwise it makes no sense saying he is the bread which came Down from heaven, and then talk about ascending to where he was before.

        What was shocking was not the ressurection, a Whole bunch of Jews believed in the ressurection, what was shocking was his claim to be directly sent by God from heaven to be the eucharist.

  3. Vexing Links (12/27/2015) | vexing questions
    December 27, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

    […] Lee Irons does a great job defending the Trinitarian perspective in a new book.  Here is an interview about his defense, hosted by Dale […]

  4. Raymond NAVARRO
    December 19, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

    Dr. Irons seems to have missed the point (force) of the last question. Natures don’t know-persons know. It appears that the only way a person who advocates the two natures view of Christ, can truly answer the last question posed by Dale, is to assume that along with the two natures, Christ must have two minds – either 2 distinct minds, or conscious and a subconscious mind. However, this gets us awfully close to saying that Jesus was 2 distinct persons.

    • Dale
      December 19, 2015 @ 11:39 pm

      Yes, good points. Minds do not know either, unless by the word mind we just mean a self. Often a mind is a self’s power of thinking.

    • Aaron King
      December 22, 2015 @ 10:36 pm

      It would seem this was part of Nestorius’ thinking.

    • David Kemball-Cook
      December 25, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

      Absolutely right. I have tried asking trinitarians how many minds Jesus had. This is a question they find difficult to answer!
      1. One (divine) mind, and Jesus is not really human
      2. One (human) mind, and Jesus is not really divine
      3. Two minds is Nestorianism, unless you want to go down the Swinburne route of human conscious mind and divine unconscious mind (which has problems of its own)

  5. David Kemball-Cook
    December 16, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

    Dr Irons makes ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ the basis of his trinitarian doctrine. Have I missed something, or does he not realise that he has to read in ‘God the Father’ for ‘God’ every time this phrase occurs in the NT?
    If so, how does he justify such apparently blatant eisegesis?
    If not, has he got some other way of understanding ‘Son of God’, different from being the son of the God whom Jesus called ‘Father’
    For instance he might say ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ means ‘Jesus has a divine nature and that divine nature is the divine substance which is God’. But that interpretation takes him a long way from the Bible, which, as a Protestant he would want to stay close to IMO.

  6. Roman
    December 16, 2015 @ 2:56 am

    It’s so Nice to hear a Trinitarian be careful in his dealing With the issue. So often I’ll come across a trinitarian who does the sloppiest apologetics or theology, and it’s so frusturating. Perhaps it’s becuase most trinitarians only have to deal With Unitarian Muslims, or Jews, or whatever, and not Unitarian Christians, but either way, it was a pleasure to Listen to Dr. Iron deal With the issue in a very careful way.

    • Rivers
      December 23, 2015 @ 7:04 am

      Roman,

      I agree. I enjoyed Irons presentation (even though I’m not a Trinitarian). I think he gave a very scholarly presentation in the book as well as the interview.

  7. John Thomas
    December 15, 2015 @ 12:15 am

    I don’t understand why as a Protestant Christian one should give weight to

    • Jaco van Zyl
      December 17, 2015 @ 2:21 am

      So if Lee Irons may ignore the original meaning of Jesus in its Jewish context, may I reinterpret it in terms of African superstition and then declare it orthodoxy? Pretty please?

    • Roman
      December 17, 2015 @ 4:04 am

      Historical weight I think is perfectly valid. So if we wanted to understand how the scriptures were read and interpreted and the ideas were understood by the intended audience, we would want to read the People who were closest to the intended audience wrote about the scriptures and ideas.