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.

44 Comments

  1. Mario Stratta
    July 24, 2017 @ 11:49 am

    By Jove! I think I’ve got it. The real reason why Dale Tuggy has only evasively replied to my first comment of July 18, and has simply ignored the first of my questions (“… if the “trinity” is so poorly represented in the NT (if at all), why did Protestants defend it, tooth and claw?”) is that, contrary to what it would be normal to expect from the title and – even more – the contents of his podcast 189 (“The unfinished business of the Reformation”), Tuggy has never entirely abandoned hope that some day someone will “finish the business”, that is come up with a “theory of the trinity” that is satisfactory, in terms of “consistency”, “intelligibility”, and “fit with the Bible”. A confirmation of what I am saying may be found in a journal article by Tuggy of 2003. Here are the abstract and title:

    Abstract: In recent years, many resourceful thinkers have brought a new clarity to the issues surrounding the doctrine of the Trinity. Two incompatible families of Trinitarian doctrine have been clearly distinguished: Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism. I argue here that no theory in either camp has yet evaded the triune pitfalls of inconsistency, unintelligibility, and poor fit with the Bible. These two main approaches appear to be hopeless, and I argue that appeals to ‘mystery’ are no way to avoid the difficulties at hand. Thus, the Trinitarian project is as yet unfinished [emphasis added]. (The Unfinished Business of Trinitarian Theorizing, Dale Tuggy, Religious Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 165-183, Cambridge University Press )

    What if his “Strict Unitarianism” (while his “core business” continues to be examining ad comparing “trinities, theories about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”) is just a stage on the way to “finishing the business”?

    Reply

  2. Mario Stratta
    July 18, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

    @Dale

    Congratulations on your speech, well articulated in its 15 Observations.

    Which, when compared with the more famous 95 Theses, makes immediately for an obvious question: if the “trinity” is so poorly represented in the NT (if at all), why did Protestants defend it, tooth and claw? Just as a reminder, the Socinis (uncle and nephew) had to find a safe haven first in Poland, then in Transilvania. Miguel Serveto was even burnt at the stake in Geneva, in 1553, under the auspices of John Calvin. Why?

    In 1Cor 8:6, Paul refers to Jesus Christ as “one Lord”, in the same verse in which he refers to the Father as “one God”. How do you explain this? Isn’t the Father Lord, nay, the One Lord? What if (from the POV of the orthodox Jews) this was considered Paul’s peculiar heresy?

    You consider “pre-existence”, or even the “pre-existent Son” as “second god” (as Justin Martyr was probably the first to do) as compatible with Unitarianism. Won’t you admit that this is INCOMPATIBLE (at least) with the shema and with the Unitarian notion of Jesus as just man, however exalted?

    You affirm that Augustine suspected that John 17:3 was altered by the Arians. Can you provide a reference for that?

    Reply

    • Dale
      July 18, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

      Thanks.

      “In 1Cor 8:6, Paul refers to Jesus Christ as “one Lord”, in the same verse in which he refers to the Father as “one God”. How do you explain this?”

      The one Lord is here *contrasted with* and *named in addition to* the one God. This is a new usage of “Lord” based on Ps 110:1. http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-16-how-is-jesus-the-one-lord/ What makes it confusing is that the old usage of “the Lord” (from the LXX) continues too in the NT. But this new sort of speculation that somehow he’s reconfiguring the identity of God is just pure confusion and eisegesis.

      “Won’t you admit that this is INCOMPATIBLE (at least) with the shema and with the Unitarian notion of Jesus as just man, however exalted?”
      No, and yes.

      About John 17 and Augustine, you have those refs on your own blog.

      Reply

      • Mario Stratta
        July 18, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

        @ Dale

        1. You have simply ignored my first paragraph/question. Which ignorance, especially in a speech (and podcast) that practically affirms that there is no excuse for properly thinking Protestants (not tied to the doctrinal authority of the Catholic Church, but – in theory – to “Scripture only”) to subscribe to the “trinity”, sticks out like a sore thumb. You should at least (try to) give some explanation for the sake of poor David Kemball-Cook (“Great talk, thanks Dale. One ends up wondering how on earth any (Protestant) Christian could be a trinitarian after hearing this.”)

        2. In Ps 110:1, in Hebrew, the One and Only YHWH is with contrasted ?adôni (“my lord”). In the LXX translation, we find ho kyrios contrasted with ho kyrios mou. So this is perfectly in line with the usual LXX translation of YHWH with ho kyrios. The key word, for both versions, is “contrasted”. However, and unlike Ps 110:1, Paul, in 1Cor 8:6, refers to Jesus as eis kyrios (“one lord”). Exactly as Deut 6:4 refers to the One and Only God, not only in the LXX translation (kyrios eis), but also in the original Hebrew YHWH ?echad). Check … unless you are ready to resort to the desperate gambit of affirming that there is a (great) difference between eis kyrios (1Cor 8:6) and kyrios eis (Deut 6:4 – LXX). Once again: what if affirming that (the resurrected, ascended and exalted) Jesus Christ was (had become?) eis kyrios was (rightly) considered by the orthodox Jews Paul’s peculiar heresy?

        BTW, affirming that Paul is “reconfiguring the identity of God” is just another way of saying that, Paul’s claim that (the resurrected, ascended and exalted) Jesus Christ was (had become?) eis kyrios is precisely what I called “Paul’s peculiar heresy”, from the POV of the orthodox Jews.

        3. As for my question about the incompatibility of considering a (presumed) “pre-existent Son” as “second god” with the sh?ma? and with the Unitarian notion of Jesus as just man, however exalted, your “reply” was “No, and yes.” (sic and sigh!) Can you please unpack this, at lest for the sake of the other readers/commenters? Thanks.

        4. It is true that in my (rather lazy) blog (Strict Monotheism) there is a post titled John 17:3 and that little squirmy thing, Augustine but I never claim (there or elsewhere) that Augustine suspected that John 17:3 was altered by the Arians. Otherwise I wouldn’t call him a “little squirmy thing”, would I?

        This is what I have written: “That little squirmy thing, Augustine, dares to change the order of the words of the Gospel of John [in John 17:3], for the simple reason that, otherwise they wouldn’t jibe with his “trinitarianism”. Check …

        Reply

        • Mario Stratta
          July 21, 2017 @ 4:42 am

          Check … check … check … mate …

          Reply

  3. Paul Anchor
    July 18, 2017 @ 9:12 am

    Interesting podcast. Good arguments but I am still a convinced Trinitarian myself though after listening to it.

    From the point of view of the incarnation we would expect Jesus to call the Father his God, even the one true God. It may be paradoxical if he is God himself but that does not disprove the possibility in my view.

    I think perhaps the most convincing evidence that Jesus is God are simply the miracles that he did, which of course were never mentioned in your talk, if I am not mistaken. These are not abstract theological statements. They are just things he did in his own power. Not the Father pulling the strings behind the scenes.

    Why did Jesus appeal to his miracles to convince the Jews to believe in him as such and not just to believe that he was a prophet?

    If Unitarians can prove that these miracles were not done by the power of Jesus I think they would have a much stronger case. As a Trinitarian I believe that is impossible for Unitarians to convincingly make a case in this regard.

    Reply

    • Paul Anchor
      July 18, 2017 @ 10:27 am

      You’re asking us to adopt a counter-intuitive view of the miracles of Jesus based solely on the Unitarian axiom that the Father alone is God.

      Reply

      • Mario Stratta
        July 18, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

        Your insistence on the miracles of Jesus is moot (read: very weak). Certainly Moses worked quite spectacular ones. But he never claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus, OTOH, openly affirmed to be the Son of God, but never claimed to be God.

        Reply

        • Paul Anchor
          July 18, 2017 @ 4:48 pm

          @ Mario,

          But Jehovah asserted that he was doing the miracles, not Moses.

          “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.”

          Reply

          • Mario Stratta
            July 18, 2017 @ 5:06 pm

            @ Paul

            The only difference is that in Ex 7:3 (see also Ex 14:4) YHWH’s action is made manifest.

            BTW, what do you make of this: “This man [Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)?

            Isn’t the Evangelist manifestly contrasting Jesus and God?

            Reply

            • Paul Anchor
              July 18, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

              @ Mario,
              Nicodemus is, not the evangelist. Is it a statement from which you can disprove the trinity? I wouldn’t think so. Just as little as Peter’s statement when he says that Jesus is a man in Acts.

              Reply

              • Jon
                July 18, 2017 @ 6:13 pm

                Paul Anchor, you do realize that Jesus claimed that he was not the one doing the miracles, right?

                Reply

                • paul anchor
                  July 21, 2017 @ 4:24 pm

                  @ Jon,

                  OK, what’s your evidence then that Jesus was the passive middleman? I assume that’s what you believe. My own evidence to the contrary, apart from the fact that the text itself obviously shows that his words and actions are causative of the miracle, is that Jesus does not invoke or do any miracle in the name of the Father. Perhaps someone can prove me wrong.

                  Reply

                  • paul anchor
                    July 21, 2017 @ 5:12 pm

                    @ Jon,

                    How do you interpret these verses, for example?
                    John 5:36

                    But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

                    John 6:28

                    Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

                    John 10:37

                    If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

                    John 10:38

                    But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

                    Reply

                    • Jon
                      July 21, 2017 @ 7:11 pm

                      Paul, hi!

                      Sorry for the long delay, but I must’ve missed the e-mail which notified about the blog post.

                      John 5:36 – it’s weightier because John didn’t do miracles (John 10:41), but Jesus did. This proves that God was with him. (John 9:29-33; Acts 10:38)

                      John 6:28 – they wanted to know how to do what God wanted so that they could always have food to eat. Earlier in the passage, Jesus said that they only looked for him because he fed them, and in the very previous verse, 27, he said, “labor” for food which does not perish. The whole passage is kind of funny, actually, because they shamelessly try to convince him to make more bread and cite Moses in order to have a reason for them to “believe” him.

                      John 10:37, 38 – him doing miracles is evidence that God has approved of him. The way he refers to this is the Father being in him and him being in the Father. He speaks about us that way when we are also approved of God. (John 14:20) This is them being “in the Spirit”, as the Spirit is in them. The Spirit was in Jesus, and so Jesus was in the Spirit and the Father was in Jesus and Jesus in the Father. Jesus said he would return, and for those who believe, both he and the Father would make their home in him. This is by the Spirit, and this is by the words of Jesus which they keep. I could go a lot into this, but realize that’s too much for this point; though I’ll leave what I already typed in case it’s of interest.

                      In any case, it’s what Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 6:17 — and it is because we are one Spirit, or we have the same Spirit. The Spirit here is the “flesh” that we are partaking of and being joined in, like Paul speaks about in Ephesians 5. It’s a spiritual mystery that you understand by the Spirit, the Spirit having spoken mysteries, with words taught by the Spirit, which Jesus promised to give.

                      All-in-all, the reason behind why Jesus would say these sorts of things isn’t compelling me to think anything other than what I proposed with the initial statement. Do you see why?

                  • Jon
                    July 21, 2017 @ 7:20 pm

                    Paul,

                    About the miracles that Jesus did. Yes, he did miracles. Yes, he relied on God. I’ll give you the example which I think sums up how I feel about it:

                    In John 12:1,9, it says that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This is how we would all say it, but the part of Jesus in this is where we differ, I think, unless you just misunderstood my point. However, I said what I did based on what you were discussing with someone else.

                    In any case, in John 11:11, Jesus also said that he was going to wake Lazarus up. Again, we’d both say this and accept it. What happens when Jesus does this?

                    In John 11:41,42, Jesus thanked the Father for always hearing him, and said it out loud so that everyone would know that the Father did send him. In other words, for Jesus to do it by his own power would negate his efforts in saying this, and if Jesus did it by his own power, he would have nothing to thank God for in hearing him as He always does. If the Father heard him, then Jesus must have asked; and if Jesus asked, then he relied on God to raise Lazarus from the dead.

                    There’s no reason for me to believe that Jesus was doing things by his own power, what when he says things like in John 14:10.

                    Reply

              • Mario Stratta
                July 18, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

                @ Paul

                I am happy to leave it to you to explain how the Evangelist attributed those words to Nicodemus … 😉

                Reply

      • Dale
        July 18, 2017 @ 2:59 pm

        “axiom”
        Don’t fall for the James White slander that unitarians are constantly just closed-mindedly “assuming” their theology. Quite the contrary. Most of us have thought quite hard about the options. And many, like me, desperately wanted to be convinced that some Trinity theory best made sense of the Bible.

        And as argued in yesterday’s podcast, it is just a plain NT teaching, an explicit teaching, that the Father is the one true God. No speculation in that.

        But there is speculation here: the idea that if Jesus did a miracle, this must’ve been something he did on his own power, without assistance from any other being.

        Reply

        • Mario Stratta
          July 18, 2017 @ 4:44 pm

          Sure! The same applies (with a vengeance) to Jesus raising himself from the dead (usually John 10:17-18 and John 2:19 are brought forth), as opposed to being risen by God, the father Almighty (Romans 10:9)

          Reply

        • Paul Anchor
          July 18, 2017 @ 5:04 pm

          Thanks Dale,

          OK, I accept that you are a fellow seeker of the truth and I respect that. You have your beliefs, I have mine. No “axioms” to grind!

          Just to clarify I am not saying that Jesus did any miracle exclusively in his own power. I believe, as a Trinitarian, that the power of God exerts itself as one single force whenever it acts, which would be continuously, at least since creation.

          Perhaps the weakness appears to me to be the strange, or surprising, situation that Jesus does not invoke the name of the Father or do any miracles in the name of the Father to my knowledge. If Unitarians are correct surely we would expect this occurring with each individual miracle.

          Always an interesting and friendly discussion here.

          Thanks.

          Reply

    • Dale
      July 18, 2017 @ 2:55 pm

      Thanks, Paul.

      “but I am still a convinced Trinitarian”
      Good! No one should switch on such a big subject after one presentation.

      As I thought about this over many years, all the pillars of trinitarian belief just crumbled, one after the other. Just so many bad arguments, bad in various ways. But I resisted quite hard, holding on to the remaining ones, as each fell. And I think that is a conservative, reasonable thing to do.

      “does not disprove the possibility”
      Ah, but I was talking about improbability – big difference. To retreat to mere possibility is to miss the point, and to set the bar for your own theories way too low.

      “They are just things he did in his own power. Not the Father pulling the strings behind the scenes.”
      Wow. My friend, you’re in the teeth of explicit scriptural statements here. Jesus is portrayed as being filled, indeed empowered by God’s spirit (Luke 4), and he always, he says in John, follows God’s lead. And also in John, he says that it’s the Father in him, doing his works. And he credits God’s spirit with his message. And he explains that someday, his disciples will do even greater works. And… they do!

      What’s surprising to me, is how people ever started thinking this was a valid inference, rather than a wild non sequitur:
      X does miracles,
      Therefore X has a divine nature.

      Elijah? Moses? Peter?

      Goodness. The reader of the NT should have some familiarity with the OT.

      There is, in such cases a divine nature (i.e. divine being) in such cases – but that’s God.

      “Why did Jesus appeal to his miracles to convince”
      Because those are strong evidence that God is with him, so that he really is God’s Messiah! This is most clear in John.

      If this is the weakest part of the unitarian case… we’re in good shape! 😉

      Reply

      • Mario Stratta
        July 18, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

        … those [miracles] are strong evidence that God is with him, so that he really is God’s Messiah! This is most clear in John.

        In John is also most clear that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) an that the very same Word was incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth (“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …” – John 1:14).

        The manifest incapacity to deal with this is “the weakest part of the unitarian case” …

        Reply

        • Paul Anchor
          July 18, 2017 @ 6:51 pm

          @ Mario,

          “The manifest incapacity to deal with this is “the weakest part of the unitarian case” …”

          I couldn’t agree more.

          Reply

          • Mario Stratta
            July 18, 2017 @ 9:12 pm

            @ Paul

            Perhaps you would agree somewhat less if you realized that this is NOT an argument in favor of the “trinity” … 🙂

            Reply

      • Paul Anchor
        July 18, 2017 @ 5:13 pm

        Dale,

        When Jesus said in Matthew 8:7 “I will come and heal him.”

        Was he lying according to the Unitarians?

        Reply

        • Paul Anchor
          July 24, 2017 @ 11:53 am

          @ Jon,

          Tried to find some space so start here.

          Your theory is that Jesus confirms his dependence on the power of the Father because he openly states that the Father has heard him. Is this conclusive? There could be other reasons why Jesus thanks the Father for hearing him. He doesn’t tell us directly from the words themselves. You make your choice for the obvious reason that it supports your viewpoint.

          John 11 v 3 Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

          Why is the Son of God glorified by something that he didn’t do? Surely the Son of God can only be glorified in this case if he is the author of the miracle?

          Why does Jesus say, in connection with the resurrection of Lazarus that he is the resurrection and the life when, according to Unitarians, he is neither of those things by nature because his power plays no part in making either of them a reality?

          Reply

          • Mario Stratta
            July 24, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

            @ Paul

            Forgive me for intruding, but you have simply ignored Jon’s citation of John 14:10, where Jesus explicitly says that “… the Father abiding in me does His works”.

            When Jesus says, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4), it is NOT because he will be glorified by the great event of the raising of Lazarus, but because by this events he hints to his own imminent death, that the raising of Lazarus contributes to precipitate. Jesus death and raising by God, the Father Almighty, will be his own glorification by God.

            Jesus is NOT the author, by his own power, of the raising of Lazarus, and even less he will be the author, by his own power, of his own resurrection. You may find useful this blog post of mine: Did Jesus “rise” or did God, the Father “raise him from the dead”?

            Reply

  4. Sean Holbrook
    July 10, 2017 @ 6:51 pm

    Great fair speech with good points in a simple manner. Hopefully the simple points will go far into bringing many of these individuals who heard back from the brink of so-called “mystery.” It was the simple that originally got me out of the trinity. Heck, I’ve even had a trinitarian tell me my views were “too simple,” implying too simple to be right.

    Wish you could have had the Q&A posted though. That would have been good.

    Reply

  5. John Bainbridge
    July 6, 2017 @ 11:59 am

    Good clear talk, as usual and now expected of Dale. I have my usual quibbles, however, about some of the logical approach used here, particularly with respect to “the New Testament writers were Unitarian”. Let’s ask a different question: were the New Testament writers Unitarian in the same way that, say, Zedekiah was a Unitarian? The keyword to unpack the development toward Triune God advocacy of late fourth century Christianity, is “hitherto”. From a Jewish pre-Christian perspective, the core of the faith was Yahweh – all of his major qualities are included in that space and presumed unassignable, including creation, salvation, judgement, cosmic rule, etc. The “central religious space” in the Jewish mind would have been filled with this being along with his presumed non-attributable qualities. So the religious core, or “hub”, appears identical to Yahweh.
    However, as it turns out, it isn’t. Some of those qualities can be shared and even be given to the Messiah and executed through an individuated Spirit. Extraordinarily, and in the wake of three important mutations:

    – Early resurrection and cosmic rule of Messiah by God
    – Worship of Jesus alongside God
    – Participative/collaborative eschatological kingdom age

    … a fourth mutation has occurred in the Jewish Christian sect: the triune Hub, filling up the same space Yahweh used to fill, now comprising God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Hitherto, that was not the case. Henceforth, it is understood to be so (including the historical prosopological reinterpretation).
    Further factors fuelling this first-century emergence of a Triune Hub can also be identified, including the need to demarcate Jesus’ baptism of Spirit from John’s, a prior acceptance of the Jewish community of the divine Logos category, and some ambiguity around the LXX translation for Yahweh. I really like also Hurtado’s simple claim that no longer is possible to speak of God for more than a verse or three in the New Testament before returning to Jesus and vice versa.

    Given the likelihood of a first-century trinity of this order, I believe it is misleading to presume no reconfiguration of the divine ordering, which later centuries will interpret via substance with a view to its defense in that setting. This was certainly not without its flaws, as Richard Winfield states in “From Concept to Objectivity: Thinking through Hengel’s Subjective Logic”, p. 36: “The appeal to substance not only begs the question, but undermines itself through the vitiating circularity of allowing what makes something determinate to be already determinate”. I can list along with any Unitarian who cares to join me a fair few more problems. HOWEVER, if fourth-century Triune God advocacy is rather an expression of a mutated Hub of the Jewish faith, then writing off first-century trinitarianism might actually be as guilty of importing fourth-century ideas as the Jesus is God apologists.

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • Dale
      July 9, 2017 @ 9:31 am

      Hey John,
      You’ll have to say more about this “triune Hub” – I don’t know what you mean by that. About “mutations” – I would caution that we should be clear about what it is that is supposedly changing. For Hurtado, it is just religious practice that’s mutating. I think that can’t be denied – Jesus is worshiped in the NT, on the basis that God has exalted him to such a position. But they did not set out to rethink monotheism on that basis, as best I can tell.

      To my eye, the NT authors, just as much as the OT ones, think of Yahweh, as a great Self. He’s “the God of our ancestors” https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NRSV&quicksearch=god+ancestors&begin=51&end=51 I don’t see that some new “Hub” has replaced God in their minds. If God shares his authority and functions with another, e.g. authorizing Jesus to forgive sins, heal, and eventually to judge – that doesn’t incorporate that other being somehow within the one God, right? In Daniel 7 and Rev 4-5, we still see God anthropomorphically portrayed as a figure on a throne, a transcendent King. No “Hub” apparent, right? But just, the exalted Jesus alongside him.

      About the “spirit” – big topic. But in the OT, this is not a self in addition to God, right? I suggest the burden should be on the one who thinks this is an additional self in the NT. You suggest that there is a first-century “trinity”… how do you mean that? Is this a being, or a triad where God is one member of it?

      Reply

      • Dale
        July 9, 2017 @ 9:31 am

        John – one last thought. Your “hub” thesis – how does it differ from U, C, and T in my talk? Or is it basically just one of those?

        Reply

  6. David Kemball-Cook
    July 5, 2017 @ 6:57 am

    Thanks Dale for your summary of the Q&A. I remember when I was a trinitarian, and how difficult I found it to deal with objections to the Trinity. Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I cannot now understand how any sane rational Christian could believe in it.
    That is, unless he is a Catholic and has to believe whatever the Church says, or he is a professional philosopher with a PhD thesis to defend, or he is a minister whose livelihood depends on being orthodox.
    NB Your correspondent Daniel Vecchio falls into the first two of those three. I have had lengthy discussions with him on the FB Unbelievable forum. He posted a proof that Jesus is God, to acclamation from the Catholics there. But he blocked me when I pointed out that his ‘proof’ rests upon an obvious equivocation in the meaning of ‘Lord’ (‘Lord’ in the sense of ‘YHWH’ vs ‘Lord’ in ordinary use).
    For such people, who are presumably sane and obviously rational, objections like yours will have no effect, because they have vested interest in defending, and indeed defining, the orthodox belief system.

    Reply

  7. James Goetz
    July 4, 2017 @ 10:59 pm

    Hi Dale, I appreciate both oral communication and the written communication. When is comes to analyzing 15 points, I do much better analyzing written communication because I am a snail slow note taker. Pax, Jim

    Reply

    • James Goetz
      July 4, 2017 @ 11:38 pm

      Oops, I was dizzy and forgot to add my question to my previous response. Could could you please also give the 15 points in a written outline?

      Reply

      • Dale
        July 9, 2017 @ 9:32 am

        Hey Jim – there is no written version yet. God willing, it’ll become part of a book chapter. But you can see the slides in the YouTube version.

        Reply

  8. Question The Trinity
    July 4, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

    Dale,

    I agree.

    A NT writer would have answered the question “Who is your God” with he personal proper name YHWH or Father (because the names were synonymous to them).

    Today, a Christian cannot even answer the question “Who is your God?” See my brief video explanation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGdlpNtKjoI

    QTT

    Reply

  9. David Kemball-Cook
    July 4, 2017 @ 6:59 am

    Dale, I would also like to add to your list the following two observations
    A: Lack of explicit teaching (as opposed to ‘mentions’) in Paul on the Trinity or ‘deity of Christ’ (he would need several chapters in eg Romans / 1 Corinthians)
    B: Lack of any mention of the so-called ‘deity of Christ’ in the preaching in Acts (especially surprising if belief in the ‘deity of Christ’ is essential for NT salvation, as many evangelicals suppose)

    Reply

    • Dale
      July 4, 2017 @ 10:35 am

      Thanks for this feedback, David. I can’t decide whether on not this fits under a couple of my 15 points. True, they never turn their guns towards these topics – that is right. One *would* expect them to. Some of the favorite Trinity and deity of Christ proof-texts occur in narratives or in teaching discourses where the real topic is something else. Phil 2 is a shining example. However, some do occur in what even we would call christological contexts – e.g. Col 1, John 1. They might think a few of triadic passages are “trinitarian” in that (they think) the Trinity is the subject at hand. But this claim is undercut by the observable fact that they have no word or phrase which was understood to refer to the Trinity!

      I’m not sure such points should be added to my argument. They already grant that the Trinity is not *explicitly* taught there. The more they can convince themselves that Jesus is called “God” in a handful of passages, the more they think that “the deity of Christ” is taught there, though. I think maybe I’ve addressed the “deity of Christ” point enough in this context, in pointing out the overwhelming usage of “God” and in the lack of interest in the eternality or omniscience etc. of the Son.

      Just sticking to the Trinity – yes, I guess it is surprising that they don’t discuss it explicitly. But I think I’ve covered this under my no disagreement with core Jewish theology point. And I think I’ve made clear that my argument is not this old straw man – no word “Trinity” in the Bible, ergo no Trinity doctrine taught by the Bible. I agree that this is a non sequitur. And I don’t want to say anything that’ll make people reach for that tired old script.

      Reply

      • David Kemball-Cook
        July 5, 2017 @ 6:24 am

        thanks Dale. My first point was about actual teaching, as opposed to ‘mentioning’. Where does Paul, over the course of several chapters, actually argue for the Trinity / deity of Christ? Where does he deal with Jewish objections to either doctrine, perhaps by citing the OT (‘and so you see that the prophets foretold that the Messiah must also be YHWH’)? Where does he draw explicit conclusion that YHWH is three / the Messiah must be YHWH?

        Reply

      • David Kemball-Cook
        July 5, 2017 @ 6:25 am

        Dale. My second point on Acts is standalone, because it relates to the requirements for NT salvation. If it is essential to believe that Jesus is God to be saved, then Jesus’ deity should have been proclaimed in EVERY preaching. But it is not proclaimed in ANY preaching … I asked Rob Bowman on this (on your FB forum), and he said that the deity of Christ would have been explained to converts after conversion, and anyone who did not agree with it would have been expelled. I then asked him what was the evidence for these astounding claims, and he did not reply.

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        • Dale
          July 9, 2017 @ 9:35 am

          There’s something bizarre about that idea. The deal is: you can join up if you confess A, B, C. You make the deal, so you’re in. Now, we tell you, oh, you’re kicked out unless you also confess D, E, F. You can’t change the terms of the deal, after the deal is made! None of A, B, and C was or entailed “I’ll accept everything else (some of) you guys tell me.”

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  10. David Kemball-Cook
    July 4, 2017 @ 6:57 am

    Great talk, thanks Dale. One ends up wondering how on earth any (Protestant) Christian could be a trinitarian after hearing this. When one raises these sort of things in dialogue with trinitarians, it goes quiet at the other end. It would be interesting to know how the Q&A went.

    Reply

    • Dale
      July 4, 2017 @ 10:22 am

      Quick recap: Some of it was “what about this text”? One theologian suggested that Jesus could not be the self-revelation of God unless he is God himself. Another conceded my main point, but wondered on what grounds we should prefer Jesus to Muhammad if we think Jesus is “just a man.” A philosopher suggested that (what I would call) a Clarke or Origen type of view might be trinitarian enough. Basically, no one directly attacked or rebutted the main argument. And no one, somewhat to my surprise, attacked the premise that the NT should trump laters traditions when they conflict. One suggested that I was somehow in general rejecting surprising readings, a misunderstanding – but he was just trying to find a way to get back to his chosen proof texts. Another quoted “the Father and I are one” to me, and made the easily rebutted argument that surely his Jewish opponents (in GJohn) understood what he was *really* saying. A theologian reacted with surprise to my claim that Origen’s theology is not trinitarian. A reporter present suggested that it was disastrous to reject the teaching authority of the Church, because on what other basis could I accept the NT. One fellow asked what I thought of Jesus’s statement that “the Father is greater than I.” I said: “I agree with it.” And everyone laughed. Those are the main bits I remember.

      Reply

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