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.

22 Comments

  1. Sean Holbrook
    May 21, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

    Just got to listen to this today. Good remarks… trintarians don’t seem to see how much they assume from texts and create non-sequiturs. They’re filling gaps in left and right with their mind that those of us who’ve come out of the trinity see clearly. I was going to post a short rebuttal to White’s mis-use of Hebrews 1:10 but someone already did so above so I won’t bother in full. Simply put, that verse is NOT addressing Jesus. He’s assuming that based on the construction and assumption of the normal translations with the added words. His interpretation has the writer of Hebrews double “butting”—contradicting himself. The same type of language is used in Hebrews 2:6-8 from the quotation of Psalm 8. It’s clearly referring to the Father.

    It really IS what trinitarians ignore that makes them so heavily assume their position. I’m glad you mentioned the end of Isaiah 52 declaring the “glory” of the Messiah from the Septuagint. I showed my debate opponent that in my Septuagint copy AFTER our debate(since it didn’t come up in debate) and he didn’t have much to say back. If White has ACTUALLY studied the phrases said to YHWH from the Isaiah 6 he’d be able to cross-reference the same picture and phrase “Holy Holy Holy” in Revelation 4:8 onwards. If you read onto Revelation 5:1-7 it becomes clear this “YHWH God Almighty” is the Father sitting on the throne. White is calling Jesus the Father …sigh.

    Look forward to more, hope he accepts debate but I doubt he will. I had a run in a while back and when I told him I wasn’t part of any “cult” or major affiliation and also a whistleblower he didn’t reply back. I haven’t been blocked though…yet.

  2. Ben Ream
    May 15, 2017 @ 10:29 pm

    I would absolutely LOVE to see a debate between James White and Dale Tuggy. Been a long time fan of Dr. White and listen to most of his stuff. New listener to this podcast and am very intrigued by the ideas that Dr. Tuggy presents. A lively exchange between these two would be amazing.

  3. Kevin George
    May 12, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

    Thank you for doing these podcasts and for answering Dr. White’s claims. You saved me the time I was going to take to write some response. Since you did it for me, I sent you a donation (which you deserve anyway). Keep up your great work.

  4. Sarah
    May 11, 2017 @ 10:16 am

    Excellent podcast and extra points for finding that “Trinity Schminity” song. Your analysis of White’s case was spot on, and I for one would pay money to see a Tuggy-White debate. It would certainly remedy his apparent boredom in trotting out the same (weak and often misleading) arguments ad infinitum. I’d especially love to see a debate in which terms like “person,” “being,” and “deity” are defined up front by each interlocutor. Thanks so much for all the effort you have invested into your podcast and website. It is paying dividends for the kingdom!

    • Rivers
      May 11, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

      Sarah,

      I agree. I think Dale Tuggy is currently the most competent Biblical Unitarian apologist available.

      I hope that he gets the opportunity to be involved in some spirited debates and in-depth discussions. I think his capability with logic and philosophical perspective needs to be tested and documented by the best available critics representing opposing viewpoints.

      Rivers 🙂

  5. Brian
    May 10, 2017 @ 4:35 am

    These past two podcasts were well done Dale. As so many have mentioned already, I’m glad you’ve reached out and invited Dr. White to a debate. My desire, hope and prayer is that he will receive and accept this invitation from you. As I’ve expressed on my social media page, a debate between you and Dr. White would be fantastic. It would be more exciting than watching the subsequent Star Wars films. ( That only applies to nerds like me.) I believe you’re more than qualified to debate Dr. White and that such a debate will benefit all who watch or listen to it. Blessings to you!

  6. Bálint
    May 9, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

    Hi Dale,

    It seems to me that throughout your critique you took all Dr. White’s allegedly Trinitarianism-implying arguments to rather imply modalism or polytheism. That is, when he argued that Jesus is not the Father, you concluded that since the two differ, they are two beings–and that is polytheism. When, on the other hand, he argued that there is exactly one god and Jesus is divine in the same sense that Yahweh is divine, you concluded that since there is one who is fully divine, and God and the Son are both divine, then the Son just is numerically identical to God, who is, supposedly, identical to the Father.

    So it seems to me that, for you, neither arguments for the distinction between the Father and the Son, nor arguments for their being “homoousios” can work towards supporting the Trinity doctrine. From what you said I suspect that this is because you do not see the various Trinity theories as coherent and consistently monotheistic at the same time. (You of course don’t see them as biblical in other respects either, but arguing from that against White would be begging the question–responding to his biblical arguments on exegetical grounds is, of course, entirely fair play.)

    I have two questions on this:
    1) Do you agree with my analysis?
    2) Doesn’t this–let’s call it “logical”–rebuttal to Trinitarian prooftexts beg the question against mysterianism?

    I join the others in hoping that Dr. White will take you up on your debate challenge.

    P. S.: Disclosure: just to make it clear, I’m a Trinitarian in the sense that I affirm all the orthodox Trinitarian sentences, but I’m not sure which Trinity theory I subscribe to.

  7. Xavier
    May 9, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

    Happy to host this:
    http://theologicalconference.org/

  8. Robert Bjerk
    May 9, 2017 @ 12:47 pm

    (This is an edited repeat of a post I made early this morning, but I’ve included the links to the presentations I mentioned)
    Dale,

    I’ve sent my request to Dr. white to accept your challenge to debate by means of the link you provided to his website. I would strongly urge that the format of the debate include ample time for personal questions posed directly by one debater to the other. Questions posed in presentation and rebuttal debates can be ignored, merely restated with more emphasis, twisted, misunderstood, inadequately answered, or answered with factual errors. You will need one-on-one interaction to actually get the clarity and definition (or to point out the the lack of it) that is needed to have a meaningful and productive interchange with Dr. White. Actually, a focused, lengthy discussion on a defined subject with you two freely conversing might even be better than a debate. But ample personal interaction is a must, I believe, especially with someone like Dr. White.

    Also, I hope at some point you will have time to watch the presentations I posted on the Trinities Facebook page (and included here) regarding four of Dr. White’s major arguments.

    1. On Heb. 1:10-12, Dr. Buzzard has some pertinent thoughts, but the links I posted (First watch this:  https://youtu.be/ytgWiK0HVro and for more watch this:  https://youtu.be/s8hmILz1hPg ) go far beyond the use of the LXX. Dr. White, and many others, have misconstrued the very structure of this whole section of scripture due to preconceptions of its meaning. In actuality, the Son is not addressed as LORD or Lord, even in the Hebrew text. Dr. White actually posted an erroneous understanding of the structure of Hebrews 1 in a recent debate with a minister from the non-trinitarian Iglesia ni Christo denomination (See here: https://youtu.be/ZnElgAnN414?t=1h32m37s).

    2. Next, Dr. White makes much of the Creator/creature chasm. He believes Christ to be on the Creator side due to Col. 1:16 and other similar verses. But again, the link (Here:  https://youtu.be/5SGzbjvLji8 ) that I posted to that argument of Dr. White shows that the context, as well as the Greek words chosen, do not refer to the Genesis creation, but the new creation in Christ. JW’s, Trinitarians, and some Unitarians see the Genesis creation being in view, but I think a careful reading without preconceptions points strongly the other way. And can Jesus really be a true man if, rather than being preexistent God, he is instead a preexistent subordinate or created god, angel, or member of the the heavenly court? Isn’t his “self” still that preexistent being, whether he existed eternally or as the first of the Almighty God’s creations? Hasn’t this preexistent self somehow assumed human “nature”without actually being a man born like the rest of us? Is such a second Adam truly a human self made in all things like his brethren (Hebrews 2:17)?

    3. Dr. White makes much of the armed band falling back in the garden when Jesus says “I am” ( John 18:5-6), as though this demonstrated his deity. However there is a very satisfying explanation of this event based mainly on the New Testament context of the expected Jewish Messiah that shatters Dr. White’s explanation even beyond the fact that “I am” has no demonstrable connection with the divine name. Here is the link to that cogent explanation:  https://youtu.be/uBI3l_7vjYE

    4. Finally, John 20:28, which Dr. White sees as the climax of the gospel (contra John 20:31) is actually an example of the very type of Greek grammatical structures (Sharp’s rules) that Dr. White finds so conclusive in texts he believes call Jesus our God and Savior, etc. However, in John 20:28 we are often told that we are dealing with exceptions, but in the verses that Trinitarians like, which actually do lend themselves to other interpretations, Trinitarians will sometimes, like Dr. White, claim the grammar definitely proves that Jesus is called God. Here then, are two versions of his presentation on John 20:28, a shorter version https://youtu.be/zA9T3dER8G4 and a more detailed version going through relevant scriptures in extensive but clear detail: https://youtu.be/U-B7U0kIy8Q  .

    So please check out these posts at some point. I only posted these four because I think you have dealt well with all other issues at some point in your podcast. But (especially Hebrews 1:10-12) these four issues seemed to make a big part of Dr. White’s appeal, and he needs to be clearly answered. You will be able to deal with him logically and philosophically, but if the Trinitarian audience with Trinitarian preconceptions doesn’t see a clear answer to the “Jesus is God” verses, they will still hold to that interpretation despite logic, because “God is an eternal Being beyond our comprehension, and it would be foolish to box him in to our human understanding if the Scriptures call Jesus God or YHWH.”

    The links referring to these four points that Dr. White made are taken from one man. I chose him because I first found these explanations from him, and although sometimes wordy and repetitive, he is very thorough and takes every issue point by point. At times he will call Trinitarian positions lies or deception, but as a former Trinitarian himself I do not think he means Trinitarians are consciously deceiving others, but by preconceptions passed on by tradition they are inadvertently advocating false interpretations. In questions of who God is, I understand the seriousness of these issues. Just as Dr. White ended his presentation warning Unitarians they must accept Jesus as YHWH to be forgiven, Unitarians do not want to wrongly give the glory of the only true God to another– except to the extent that God Himself does so. I say all this so that those who watch these presentations will not be deterred from the excellent content of the videos because they take offense at some of the author’s expressions regarding his view of the dangers of Trinitarianism. Don’t miss his interpretative insights due to a disagreement with the implications of those insights.

    Here are all four links for the expositions mentioned above for easy access:

    Hebrews 1:10-12: First, watch this https://youtu.be/ytgWiK0HVro and for more watch this https://youtu.be/s8hmILz1hPg

    Colossians 1:15-16:  https://youtu.be/5SGzbjvLji8

    John 18:5-6: https://youtu.be/uBI3l_7vjYE

    John 20:28: Here is a shorter version:  https://youtu.be/zA9T3dER8G4 and a more detailed version going through relevant scriptures in extensive and clear detail: https://youtu.be/U-B7U0kIy8Q

  9. David Kemball-Cook
    May 9, 2017 @ 7:59 am

    Hi Dale. Interesting symmetry. White has a standing invitation to debate Molinism with WL Craig, but it seems that Craig will not debate White (I infer from Paul Helm doing the job last time, and Justin’s little aside on the show about open theism last year).
    All we need is for Craig to offer to debate open theism with you, and you to ignore it, for the circle to be complete! (But you WOULD debate with Craig, wouldn’t you?!)

    As you know (and thanks for your help and encouragement), I had a little time (just 10 minutes phone in) with James White on Unbelievable just about a year ago. As you said to me beforehand, he only has a limited number of moves to make, and so it proved. He could not really reply to any of my points, he just went off elsewhere in scripture (eg Phil 2) when I was asking him about why the apostles do not preach the deity of Christ in Acts.

    I would be really surprised if he accepted your invitation. But it will be interesting to see if he mentions your criticisms on his Dividing Line show, how he spins it. Maybe he will just ignore and hope it goes away?

    I wish you every success on the trips and talks, and I hope your health holds up.

  10. Cody
    May 9, 2017 @ 7:12 am

    I would be very interested to see some kind of debate or dialogue between you and Dr. White.

  11. RobBjerk
    May 9, 2017 @ 2:06 am

    Dale,
    I’ve sent my request to Dr. white to accept your challenge to debate by means of the link you provided to his website. I would strongly urge that the format of the debate include ample time for personal questions posed by one debater to the other. Questions posed in presentation and rebuttal debates can be ignored, merely restated with more emphasis, twisted, misunderstood, inadequately answered, or factually incorrect. You will need one-on-one interaction actually get the clarity and definition, or the lack of it, that is needed to have a meaningful and productive interchange with Dr. White. Actually, a focused, lengthy discussion on a defined subject with you two freely conversing might even be better than a debate. But ample personal interaction is a must, I believe, especially with someone like Dr. White.

    Secondly, I hope at some point you will have time to watch the presentations I posted on the Trinities Facebook page regarding four of Dr. White’s major arguments. On Heb. 1:10-12, Dr. Buzzard has some good thoughts, but the link I posted goes far beyond the use of the LXX. Dr. White, and many others, have misconstrued the very structure of the whole section of scripture due to preconceptions of its meaning. In actuality, the Son is not addressed as LORD or Lord, even in the Hebrew text. Dr. White actually posted an erroneous understanding of the whole structure of the last half of Hebrews 1.

    Next, Dr. White makes much of the Creator/creature chasm. He believes Christ to be on the Creator side due to Col. 1:16 and others. But again, the link I posted to that argument of Dr. White shows that the context, as well as the Greek words chosen, do not refer to the Genesis creation, but the new creation in Christ. JW’s, Trinitarians, and some Unitarians see the Genesis creation being in view, but I think a careful reading without preconceptions points strongly the other way. And is Jesus really a man if, rather than being preexistent God, he is instead a preexistent subordinate or created god, angel, or member of the the heavenly court? Isn’t his “self” still that preexistent being, whether he existed eternally or as the first of the Almighty God’s creations?

    Dr. White makes much of the armed band falling back in the garden when Jesus says “I am” ( John 18:5-6), as though this demonstrated his deity. However there is a very satisfying explanation of this event based mainly on the New Testament context of the expected Jewish Messiah which shatters Dr. White’s explanation even beyond the fact that “I am” has no demonstrable connection with the divine name.

    Finally, John 20:28, which Dr. White sees as the climax of the gospel ( contra John 20:31 ) is actually an example of the very type of Greek grammatical structures ( Sharp’s rules) Dr. White finds so conclusive in texts he believes call Jesus our God and Savior, etc. However, in John 20:28 we are supposed to be dealing to be dealing with exceptions, but in the verses he likes, which actually do lend themselves to exceptions, there can be no discussion.

    So please check out these posts at some point. I only posted these four because I think you have dealt well with all other issues at some point in your podcast, But, especially the Hebrews 1:10-12, these four issues seemed to make a big part of Dr. White’s appeal, and he needs to be clearly answered. You will be able to deal with him logically and philosophically, but if the Trinitarian audience with Trinitarian preconceptions doesn’t see a clear answer to the “Jesus is God” verses, they will still go with it despite logic, because “God is an eternal Being beyond our comprehension, and it would be foolish to box him in to our human understanding if the Scriptures call Jesus God or YHWH.”

    The links refine to these four points that Dr. White made all are taken from one man. I chose him because, although sometimes wordy and repetitive, he is very thorough and takes every issue point by point. At times he will call Trinitarian positions lies, but as a former Trinitarian himself I do not think he means Trinitarians are consciously deceiving others, but by preconceptions passed on by tradition they are inadvertently advocating false interpretations. In questions of who God is, I understand the seriousness of these issues, so just as Dr. White ended his presentation warning Unitarians they must accept Jesus as YHWH to be forgiven, Unitarians do not want to wrongly give the glory of the only true God to another– except to the extent that God Himself does so. I say all this so that those who watch these presentations will not be deterred from the excellent content of the videos because they take offense at some of the author’s expressions how he sees the dangers of Trinitarianism. Don’t miss his insights.

    • Robert Bjerk
      May 9, 2017 @ 12:49 pm

      Here are links to all four of the expositions mentioned above for easy access:

      Hebrews 1:10-12: First, watch this https://youtu.be/ytgWiK0HVro and for more watch this https://youtu.be/s8hmILz1hPg

      Colossians 1:15-16:  https://youtu.be/5SGzbjvLji8

      John 18:5-6: https://youtu.be/uBI3l_7vjYE

      John 20:28: Here is a shorter version:  https://youtu.be/zA9T3dER8G4 and a more detailed version going through relevant scriptures in extensive and clear detail: https://youtu.be/U-B7U0kIy8Q

  12. RonH
    May 9, 2017 @ 12:58 am

    In the spirit of Prov. 18:17, I too would love to see this debate happen. @Mark’s suggestion of doing it on “Unbelievable” is a good one, as it’s a great show and Justin Brierley has experience moderating discussions with James White. However, it might leave enough time to treat the material thoroughly enough. Also, I think Dale’s right that since he’s not in White’s usual target space, he’s not likely to grab White’s attention. Then again, an invite from “Unbelievable” on the subject might sway White…

  13. John Bainbridge
    May 8, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

    I think such a debate would be a productive idea, although I might want to establish some ground rules about shouting!

    As Dale knows, I think this whole debate makes a mistake of collapsing two distinct stages. Since I certainly do not have the qualifications to partake in any such a debate, I’m taking the liberty of laying out here where I see both sides coming up short.

    Trinitarianism has two distinct components or phases: a first century Judeo-Christian “mutation” and a late fourth-century Hellenistic preservation of the first-century mutation. Both are hermeneutic effects, but work differently.

    In the New Testament, Father, Son and Spirit dominate. Never before in Jewish thought had focussed religious reflection ever been expressed in such a way, but that is the plane and evidential reality that we find in these first Christian texts (including early non-canonical texts, like the Didache).

    What I am about to grossly over-simplify is a Jewish threefold centre of their religious worldview and discourse. It is not a Hellenistic product (even if Tuggy is correct to assert an influence of divine triads over the development of Christian Trinitarianism, I would argue that this influence would be underscoring a pattern that we see already evidenced in the texts that we both agree are authoritative). However, it is also false to affirm that the second Hellenistic phase has also occurred, namely that God is triune. First, the faith mutates into having a trinitarian structure. Secondly, the God concept mutates into having a trinitarian internal structure.

    What is going on in the first phase? The religious space typically accorded by the Jews to Yahweh alone, that hub, centre, core or whatever other synonyms you might prefer, had come to be shared with those other Two (my favoured term is “hub” because, in addition to centricity, it also carries the idea of movement of dependent elements around that hub).

    The first-century mutation, the Triune Hub, is making sense of:

    * the unforeseeable early occurrence of an eschatological resurrection event, the resurrection of God’s Messiah and Son.
    * the absence of the raised Messiah can only mean that he is exalted, reigning at God’s right hand – cosmic rule.
    * the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit empowering God’s people to advance the inevitable victorious kingdom foreshadowed by Christ’s victory over death and evil during the Easter-Passover weekend.

    Between the two trinitarian mutations, there was a lot of heated debate within the church, particularly over Christ’s exalted status as the movement rapidly outgrows its Jewish roots and moves wholesale into the Roman empire. This too is unwittingly hermeneutical, because while debating subordinationism, for example, and trying to understand quite what Christ meant when he said “the Father is greater than I”, another threat was lurking in the shadows. By asserting an unnuanced interpretation of that statement, the Jewish root idea of tri-centric religious discourse was under threat, along with the movement hosting the discussion. If the church were to admit that one really was greater than another, then that lesser one would also begin a potentially slippery slide further and further from the divine centre space. This would throw the whole delicately balanced mutation out of whack. At some point, the words trias and later trinitas were introduced to help establish the hub with a referring term, even though God himself remained graciously one of those three.

    When eventually events required some sort of resolution to this fourth-century crisis, it is the response to the subordinationists that wins the day. Orthodoxy – if we may personify it – subconsciously realised the inherent paradox of the Sirmium Council, which both affirmed the central task of forever preserving the Trinity and that one of those three really was lesser. Those two views are not compatible. Since it was indeed essential that the Trinity be forever preserved (or perhaps practiced would have been more faithful still to the New Testament texts), it could not be that one Trinity member was greater than another, where “greatness” carried symbolism of not just greatness or glory per se, but **centricity**.

    So it is an over-simplification from the Unitarian minority report to insist that God is one, God is one, God is one, until suddenly a great theological switch is thrown to now insist that God is three in the late 300s. It’s an impossible picture. No, you have to start earlier than the New Testament and affirm that God was identical to the space he occupied at the hub of the Jewish faith. Secondly, the faith unpredictably evolves to feature three somethings at the hub of the faith – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thirdly, the space is again reconciled with the being of God, comprising now three “hypostases”. So while the Unitarian will seek to show the drastic error of saying God was simply one and became three much later on, that person misses the organic nature of the development I am arguing for and the threefold centre of the faith they cherish early on and for the reasons listed above. The number “three” can be seen as a threat to Unitarians, so they do not tend to focus on the possibility of such an early threefold hub. Perhaps they too, like Trinitarians, confuse trinitarian *faith* with trinitarian *God*. What both camps thus ignore is that the first and fourth-century churches share a triune hub.

    The fourth and fifth-century creeds, as ontological in focus as they might appear, should be seen to carry purpose, and that purpose is to guard – fiercely – the triune Hub rooted in the Jewish first-century church, by means of the philosophical tools available at the time. Those tools happen to be metaphysical and appear to give straight up fact claims, but they are loaded with the deeper purpose given at Sirmium.

    • John Bainbridge
      May 12, 2017 @ 3:11 am

      Did any of this make any sense to anyone?!

      Just one more thought I’d like to mention to Dale in friendship: Dale, if your offer is accepted and you were confronted with the following challenge how would you anticipate your response to be?

      White: “Dale, you seem to be implying that I am equivocating because I don’t always imply God to directly equate to the Trinity. Why do you raise such a high bar for my usage of the word when you yourself openly concede that there are multiple usages to allow for “theos” to refer to Jesus as well as to the Father and to the Spirit?”

      Thanks!

  14. Andrew
    May 8, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

    A debate on the deity of Jesus between you and Dr. White would be good.

  15. Aaron Shelenberger
    May 8, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

    Dale, your challenge to the twofold contention presented by James White – – (1) The God of the Bible is the Trinity (2) According to the Bible, Jesus is God himself – – does not require you to present any form of Unitarianism. Your only task is to demonstrate that both (1) and (2) fail through the use of common sense and the Bible.

  16. Rivers
    May 8, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

    Glad you challenged him to a debate. But, I’m not holding my breath …

  17. SHERYL
    May 8, 2017 @ 3:19 pm

    My faith is greatly increased by hearing common sense debates, as is others I have no doubt. Let us hope and pray that Dr. White will shake off a little of his tiredness and boredom and be reinvigorated by a hearty debate between you two.

  18. Eliyahu
    May 8, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

    I would love to see this (potential) debate happen. As you have said before Dale, Dr. White is arguably the foremost “deity of christ/Trinity” apologist out there; while he has debated JW’s, Oneness & Muslim apologists before, it’s remarkable that he always seems to struggle with John 17.3 and with the distinction between person [persona/hypostasis] and being [substantia/ousia]. It would be extremely interesting to see Dr. White interact with wholy biblical arguments and not just with the exegesis of a particular proof text. God bless you and thanks for your hard work bro.

  19. Mark Thomas
    May 8, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

    Thanks for your patience in interacting with these speakers, Dale! I doubt White will have the courage to debate you. However, I sent him an email letting him know of this podcast and opportunity. I could see it happening on Unbelievable. I bet Justin would love to host you two but I can’t speak for any barriers there. Thanks for all you do, and the entertainment, and the never-ending great music, and for changing my view on “The Trinity”.