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.

5 Comments

  1. Benjamin Scott
    February 22, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

    I think that the definition of evangelical given was not meant to be a total definition over against all other perspectives but rather one which operates over against what evangelicals would see as being a broader category of Christianity which they would define to include mainline Protestants and possibly Roman Catholics and Orthodox, all of whom are trinitarian. Evangelicals tend to see themselves at the “good guys” of the larger Christian crowd and I think their emphasis in those several points of self definition reflect that.

    I think that particularly the emphasis on conversion and being born again leads to a culture and belief system which is self perpetuated on the back of what evangelicals call “testimony”. This forms a very experiential epistemology for them and thus they are not very prone to questioning their core doctrines, such as the trinity, or their unique understanding of salvation. The group self perpetuates and loyalty to the group and the group beliefs seem to be strong amongst evangelicals. Their faith is based on experience, not the Scriptures, and they have years invested in their testimony. Their own perspective on their journey is sadly often mistaken for God’s voice.

    For those of us who are former evangelicals, it’s understandable to look back and relate to those from our past and try to reach out to them. Our experiences and story define us in unique ways based on where we came from. I think the Apostle Paul in Rom. 9 is experiencing that same thing in his deep love for his brothers the Jews. Yet Paul was called to be an Apostle to the Gentiles and those of us who are rejecting evangelical doctrines should not be afraid to examine other doctrines besides the one or two we have yet discovered they are mistaken about.

    For rejecting any major belief of a religious group such as evangelicalism forms a slipper slope, and evangelicals realize this. Once one admits that the group is wrong about something major, pandora’s box has been opened. In my own case I have no interest in identifying with evangelicalism because my journey of faith and study of the Scripture has lead me away from many of their major doctrines until I am now feeling that they make themselves enemies of much of what the Scriptures do teach and emphasize.

    In my case I am a heretic by evangelical standards 5 times over. I am Biblical Unitarian and that the Father is God, Jesus being His Son. I believe that final judgment/resurrection/eternal destiny is based on deeds. I believe that righteousness is a real moral quality reflected inwardly and outwardly in a person’s life. I believe the cross saves us only as we identify ourselves with it in taking up our crosses to follow the Messiah as our example in living a life of righteousness, empowered by God’s Spirit. I believe the gospel is largely about the coming kingdom of God to earth, and our preparation to live in it and call people into it. I believe in conditional immortality. I have an extremely weak/nonexistent view of original sin, and I also completely reject the concept of imputed righteousness as being an oxymoron. For all the reasons and more, from an evangelical perspective, I am a heretic, and could in no sense be considered by them to be a Christian. The slope is slippery and I understand where they are coming from because in being formerly one of them, I was taught to think in this way. But if you ask the Bible to provide your theology for you, you will go in a different direction than evangelicals have.

    Yet on the positive side, I believe in God the Father, that Jesus is the Messiah, that He was born of a virgin and that He lived among us in the flesh, was crucified for our sins and rose on the 3rd day, that He ascended to heaven and will return for His people. So I call myself a “Primitive Christian” so that people will understand that I keep to the basics and don’t agree with the developments.

    It’s natural to look back but I think it’s also profitable to look forward. Rome never admitted that Luther was right and evangelicals would never admit that Biblical Unitarians are right. Powerful cultures never let go of their control.

  2. GregLogan25
    February 21, 2016 @ 1:45 pm

    I am not an evangelical – and despise the term – and the leadership for the most part.

  3. kierkegaard71
    February 19, 2016 @ 11:01 am

    Much is made of the lack of reference to the Trinity in the Bebbington description of evangelicalism. At the same time, I don’t see a reference to the resurrection of Christ in his definition either. Indeed, I would think it rather difficult to find someone who today accepts the moniker of “evangelical”, as currently understood, while denying the literality of the resurrection. On the other hand, I think mainstream evangelical folks would argue that, while admitting that unitarians may fit within the bounds of the Bebbington construction in a narrow sense, evangelicalism as a movement arose predominantly out of a Protestant confessional orthodoxy that was trinitarian.

  4. Rivers
    February 15, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

    Dale & Kermit,

    Good discussion. I’ve also attended and served in ministry at Evangelical churches (even though I don’t believe in the Trinity doctrine). The pastors respect my academic credentials and I’ve learned not to challenge them (publically) or cause any trouble.

  5. Rivers
    February 15, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

    I just finished reading Zarley’s “Samaritan Riddle” book.