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.

16 Comments

  1. Mario Stratta
    June 5, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

    @ Paul (June 5, 2017 @ 6:11 am)

    In other words [the logos] [i]s just God’s mind. The same could be said of any human being.

    Not only that, but God’s spirit/pneuma/ruach finds its equivalent, on a drastically smaller scale, in human will. That is why it says, “Let us make man to our image and likeness …” (Gen 1:26). The difference is that the mind of Jesus is not just simply “modelled” on God’s mind: it IS the same as God’s mind, in a mysterious way that I am not even trying to inquire about. John 1:1-18 never suggests that the logos is a distinct hypostasis. That is Greek heathen-philosophical baloney, pure and simple. Read the Prologue to John’s Gospel. Read it again, read it better. Nowhere does it suggest that God’s logos is a hypostasis, or a person.

    According to the bible the Logos was made human flesh with a human nature and identity.

    The Greek expression that we find at John 1:14 (ho logos sarx egeneto, “the Word became flesh”) is a Hebraicism. As ancient Hebrew (and also Greek – unlike Latin, but only since Boethius) did not have an expression for person, in the sense of “self-conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will”, the Hebrew resorted to the word basar (“flesh”). The Evangelist John simply rendered the Hebrew basar (“flesh”) with the literal Greek translation sarx (“flesh”), which is just as misleading in Greek, as the English “flesh”. So much so, that, so as to make it acceptable, even you had to transform the mere “flesh” that you find in John 1:14 into the wordy “human flesh with a human nature and identity”. Which ALL normal English speakers would refer to with the normal expression “human person”.

    If the Logos of God becomes flesh does God lose his mind for a time and get it back again when Jesus returns to heaven?

    It is not a joke. I wonder if you are at all aware that the Fathers of the Church strenuously debated this point. You can think of it this way (unless you are afraid of becoming “party to [my] blasphemy” …): the logos that became “incarnated” in Jesus is the perfect replica of the God’s inner logos.

    So this [“authority on earth to forgive sins” – Mark 2:10] was an internal transfer of authority within God, extending his authority to forgive sins to include his earthly ministry as the Son of Man.

    Your laborious explanation of how God-the-Son would have “transferred internally” (between his “eternal heavenly self” and his “temporary earthly flesh”, that is) his authority to forgive sins, is very interesting, as a show of the contortions “trinitarians” have to resort to, to compensate for the total absence of explanations in the Scripture.

    However, in case you failed to notice it, you still haven’t answered my question: “Why forgiveness is not something that God can delegate?”

    Hey?

    • Keefa
      June 6, 2017 @ 8:12 pm

      Greetings Mr. Mario Stratta

      So in your reading/s of Gen 1.26 is it your understanding that the RUACH HA KODESH/PNEUMA was the impersonal intermediate agent in creation? Would you understand God’s spirit as shaping and forming the inner man during creation? In my study of the Patristic writings, it seems they have confused and conflated the LOGOI, that is reducing the two-stage LOGOS theory to one-stage and extracting features from both! If one affirms the literal pre-existence of our lord Jesus, then by default they almost would have to confess a two-stage LOGOS theory. (i.e Arius, Secundas, Theonas, Eusebius, etc)..or one could make the argument that the LOGOS is God’s spoken word, in which we find 10 occurrences of VA-YOMER, such as God spoke the creation into existence. They would streamline this thought into the New Testament documents as God’s LOGOS(impersonal) becoming SARX in the man Jesus. ( i.e. Photinus of Sirmium and Paul of Samosata). However, one interprets and explicates the LOGOS in Jn 1.1, it is clear that (so-called) Orthodoxy saw both Arianism and Monarchianism as heretical. I beg to differ, I feel that the creeds failed to handle the word of truth alright. The other side of the story must be told.

  2. Paul Anchor
    June 3, 2017 @ 8:45 am

    Interesting discussion.

    I admit I do not have time to listen to a lengthy podcast. However, having said that perhaps I may be allowed to comment nevertheless.

    Word is a spontaneous act of communication therefore it cannot be an attribute of God. It is also an effect, not a cause. Attributes of God are purely causal as nothing can act upon God except his own will.

    The act of forgiveness involves the act of God’s will removing his own wrath from the object that is forgiven. This is not something that God can delegate.

    If Jesus did this he must be God.

    • Mario Stratta
      June 3, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

      @ Paul

      The English “Word” (like the Latin Verbum, BTW) is only a poor and limited attempt to translate the Greek logos, whose semantic scope is much closer to the Hebrew dabar. So, to understand it merely as a “spontaneous act of communication” is a gross simplification. Think of it as a mental structure, essential to God’s being, that can express itself in creative acts, communications, commands, without being reduced to any of them.

      Perhaps it would help understand what you have in mind as God’s attributes, if you clarified the expression “[a]ttributes of God are purely causal”.

      You say that “forgiveness … is not something that God can delegate”. So, presumably, for you, either Jesus was God is an unrestricted, unqualified way, or his claim to have “authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10) was just emply boasting. Yes?

      • Paul Anchor
        June 4, 2017 @ 10:25 am

        @Mario,

        Yes, I believe Jesus is God in an unrestricted, unqualified way.

        Podcast says? “His “word” and “spirit” are his eternal attributes …”

        But an attribute is just a human concept of God defined by what humans are.

        This is a conveniently vague and hazy way of defining the Word in relation to God with the advantage of denying his numerical identity with God.

        Does it border on deception? Perhaps.

        • Mario Stratta
          June 4, 2017 @ 11:10 am

          @ Paul

          You haven’t answered my question: what do you mean by the expression, “[a]ttributes of God are purely causal”?

          As we are at it, can you explain why, IYO, “forgiveness … is not something that God can delegate”, even with restrictions (“authority on earth to forgive sins” – Mark 2:10)?

        • Paul Anchor
          June 4, 2017 @ 11:50 am

          “Podcast says? “His “word” and “spirit” are his eternal attributes …””

          Is the Word a separate spirit or the same spirit as God?

          Every human being and angel is a spirit, so what is the big deal to say the Word is spirit?

          Unless you mean that the Word is the same spirit as God’s spirit in which case you can hardly deny his numerical identity with God.

          • Mario Stratta
            June 4, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

            @ Paul

            You obviously can’t/won’t answer my questions.

            • Paul Anchor
              June 5, 2017 @ 6:11 am

              @Mario

              “Think of it as a mental structure, essential to God’s being, that can express itself in creative acts, communications, commands, without being reduced to any of them.”

              In other words it’s just God’s mind. The same could be said of any human being.

              Once the Unitarian denies the plain and simple statements of the bible he wanders off in to endless philosophical speculation as to what the Logos actually is in relation to God. The Logos has lost it’s biblical bearings and is doomed to drift aimlessly in a philosophical sea of man’s making.

              According to the bible the Logos was made human flesh with a human nature and identity. That’s incompatible with your concept as I see it. I don’t see the point anyway in getting involved in Unitarian philosophical speculation. You’ll never agree among yourselves anyway so why should I join in the speculation based on a denial of the plain statements of scripture. I would be party to your blasphemy, as I see it.

              If the Logos of God becomes flesh does God lose his mind for a time and get it back again when Jesus returns to heaven?

              Only joking.

              “As we are at it, can you explain why, IYO, “forgiveness … is not something that God can delegate”, even with restrictions (“authority on earth to forgive sins” – Mark 2:10)?”

              I would reply that the Son was continually forgiving sin in heaven, as it were, during the time that he was on earth. The point is does he have the authority to also forgive sin as part of his ministry on earth, parallel to his ongoing forgiveness of sin in heaven? The answer he gave was, yes he does. So this was an internal transfer of authority within God, extending his authority to forgive sins to include his earthly ministry as the Son of Man.

              • Mario Stratta
                June 5, 2017 @ 10:46 am

                The width for comments is shrinking, here. I am going to start a new comment (at the top).

  3. Mario Stratta
    June 2, 2017 @ 3:54 pm

    Dale,

    I agree with the logic of your objections to Dr. Wood’s arguments, as far as they go. This, though, is not an argument that cannot be solved with simple assiomatic (Aristotelian) logic. In the presentation of your podcast 175 – Marcellus of Ancyra, you say, at some point:

    His “word” and “spirit” are his eternal attributes …

    But we read in John’s Gospel:

    1 In the beginning was the Word [ho logos], and the Word was with God [pros ton theon], and the Word was God [tehos]. 14 Now the Word became flesh [ho logos sarx egeneto] and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. (John 1:1,14)

    The logos that was “incarnated” in Jesus was God, in a qualified sense.

  4. John Bainbridge
    May 23, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

    Hi Dale and other listeners. Thanks for another insightful challenge to Jesus-is-God apologists! A couple of thoughts and questions, if I may.
    Do you think it is possible, that while Trinitarian or Jesus-is-God apologists overplay the New Testament statements (like divine judgement, leaving out that the authority is explicitly given), that the alternative view could underplay them? I do feel like you are doing a great job in highlighting for Unitarians that Jesus is indeed worthy of divine worship and extraordinary privileges. Where I feel more needs to be done, without stooping to crazy logic, is to develop Hurtado’s main point, whom you reference: that this is completely unprecedented. No other divine agent of the post-exilic period gets to be worshipped, etc. The point of the “binitarian worship patterns” (which to my view need clarification, especially with regard to what Hurtado describes as the validating experience during Christ devotion and the centrality of the Holy Spirit in the NT canon), is that this is carried out by highly monotheistic Jews in precisely the context where others refuse worship (including angelic Yahweh-name-bearers). Hurtado has various words for this, and although “mutation” is not his most favoured (innovation and variant rank higher), it is the common parlance for this sort of phenomenon used to describe such Judeo-Christian evolutions (e.g. see Wright and Crossan).

    The point of me saying this is that although the host of instances where logic is abused to say: “only God can do X”, “Jesus does X” therefore Jesus is God, that the congruence of such hitherto divinely reserved capacities is so striking that it required the first century church to place Christ (God’s Christ, as you so accurately point out – Rev 11:15 and 12:10 could not be any clearer) right at the religious centre of the faith along with God. My Triune Hub model suggests that the New Testament shift of centricity to include the Son and even the Spirit is a sort of extraordinary mutation within that Jewish worldview.

    In Judaism before Christ, religious centricity and divinity were indiscernible. Yahweh occupied that “space” entirely. You reminded listeners in this week’s episode that if two things even can differ then are two. Hence could you agree that Jewish religious centricity was shown to potentially differ from God?

    I await your answers before developing further. Blessings and thanks,
    John

    • Mario Stratta
      June 2, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

      Hi John,

      I must confess I had never encountered the word “centricity” before. If you put in parentheses the “dogma” whereby “God is simple”, and consider that God has two eternal, esssential attributes, His Word and His Spirit (Ireneus has amply shown that the Bible refers to them as His “arms”, or “hands”), then the conundrum of the “trinity”, and also of the Incarnation, and even of the “spiration” dissolve like snow on water.

  5. Rivers
    May 23, 2017 @ 12:15 pm

    Dale,

    Another fantastic podcast. Your astute philosophical and logical perspective on Christological argumentation is a much need contribution. Keep up the good work!

    Rivers 🙂

  6. Paul Williams
    May 22, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

    An excellent article. Reblogged on Blogging Theology as ‘David Wood is effortlessly refuted by unitarian Christian Professor of philosophy’

    https://bloggingtheology.net/2017/05/22/david-wood-is-effortlessly-refuted-by-unitarian-christian-professor-of-philosophy/