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.


  1. Silas Z
    September 18, 2016 @ 4:01 pm

    Great Presentation!

    God’s mercy as proclaimed through the Prophet Isaiah:

    Isa 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

    Isa 1:18, 19 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, …

    I.e. the remedy for sin and receiving forgiveness was based on the spirit of being ‘willing and obedient’. God is seen willing to reason and negotiate forgiveness. Offering animals to God was not the solution but a change of heart and action.

    Isa 1:11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.

    As Jesus once explained concerning the Sabbath:

    Mar 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

    So also, God’s mercy can prevail anytime to offer forgiveness. David could easily see God’s great compassion when he wrote:

    Psa 103:10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

    God’s merciful attributes are spoken of as beyond comprehension even before the blood of Jesus was shed:

    Psa 103:11,12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

    A Father may threaten his son, but he may not execute his threats because of his great mercy. Consider how David likened YHWH as a Father the very title Jesus would use repeatedly.

    Psa 103:13-17 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;

    for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

    The sacrifices in the old testament were a teaching aid and ritual to perform. Paul explains the true meaning of sacrifices:

    Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as aliving sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    So, if God is abundantly merciful, then what did Jesus accomplish?
    {I think this is the primary error of Trinity – They make out their “OT” God to be Angry, cruel and reckless and therefore Jesus who preached hell fire is a better image of the Father}

    Considering David’s sin, while David was forgiven, he still died. The way to the tree of life was blocked since Adam’s time and needed unlocking for David to be eternally saved. Jesus the Christ, achieved that for mankind through resurrection by his righteous way of life that he was called to live. As Paul put it:

    For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:17-18 ESV)

    I.e. One man’s disobedience brings death and another man’s righteous act was able to reverse the process. One man dis-obeyed, while the other obeyed. If one man’s trespass caused mankind to be subject to death, so also one man’s righteousness could also reverse death and produce eternal life.

    I’m not talking about original sin (Transmission of sin). God locked the way to the tree of life that was just a hand’s reach away from Adam and Eve, but now opened by Jesus. God in his displeasure with Adam had sealed up the path for eternal life, but because of Jesus opened that path.

    “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 ESV)


    Christ is the FIRST fruits of those who have fallen asleep * Adam brought death v/s Jesus brought Eternal life {victory over death} * At Jesus’ return his followers will also be resurrected as he was resurrected. * Men who sleep in the dust of the earth can be re-constructed and brought back to life as Jesus was resurrected!

    “… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-57 ESV)

    So, while God can easily forgive, he chose Jesus as the role model to open salvation for mankind, because Jesus did the good pleasure of God through his holy life while on earth.

    The Greatest Appeal from a merciful God:
    {Did the literal blood of a virgin man appease the anger of God?}

    Jesus and John the Baptist

    God sent Jesus to change people from their evil ways, like he had done earlier through prophets. John the Baptist, the great prophet of God at the same time was preaching:

    Mat 3:1, 2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    Jesus also preached a similar message:

    Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    But, Jesus and John were rejected by the leaders and were murdered. I.e. their appeal to people to change cost them their lives i.e. their blood was shed. As much as God did not chop of John’s head, neither did he crucify Jesus. But, God did not intervene to stop the beheading of John or the nailing of Jesus. Jesus told a parable of the story of great appeal and mercy of God thus:

    “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. (Mat 21:33-45)

    This parable is an excellent summary of God’s mercy exercised over time towards his family of Israel. The consequence of God’s appeal resulted in the death of not only Jesus but other faithful and just men too. Even after Jesus’ resurrection we find Stephen stoned for his testimony. So we see a merciful God hoping to turn people away from their wicked deeds at the cost of righteous men. So, the mechanics of salvation and the result of Jesus’ blood was not that God needed the physical blood, but that was the deadly consequence of a loving appeal before the judgment to come.

    Here is another example of extreme appeal – Innocent Zechariah stoned while doing the will of his God:

    Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’” But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” (2 Chronicles 24:20-22 ESV)

    God’s mercy has been demonstrated through appeals in spite of unjust deaths. If one heeded to the appeal it would result in a realisation of one’s fault and that would lead to repentance and forgiveness of sins. Greater sacrifice or commitment no one can show beyond sacrificing their own life.

    God demonstrated through Jesus, that he has made the greatest appeal to the Jews. Consider how great the Father’s mercy – He sacrificed his own son, in spite of the earlier rejection of his holy prophets, to save the Jews (and later non-Jews). Jesus bore witness of God’s great mercy and appeal thus:

    Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

    Jesus’ sacrifice

    Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

    Examining the original quote regarding God’s will: It had to do with delighting in the commands of the law:

    Psa 40:7,8 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

    The life of Jesus included his upbringing, his teaching, his compassion, his miracles, his truthfulness, his faithfulness and his love. All these were pleasing to God. The Father bore witness thus of his life:

    Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

    Mat 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

    In the end, Jesus surrendered to a torturous death that came about because of jealously. We see Jesus submitted to God who judges faithfully:

    1Pe 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

    The emphasis is on ‘entrusting himself to him who judges justly’. So God vindicated Jesus by exalting him higher than everything under heaven or earth.

    The prophet Zachariah also entrusted to God in faith when he exclaimed: ‘And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!”’ (Lord Jesus requested forgiveness. But in AD70 the Romans destroyed the temple and the city)

    Isaiah 53:6 – “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

    Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

    Literal sins were not transferred to Jesus. Every sins man has ever committed or to be committed were not transmitted to our Lord. The language of the prophet is allegorical. Jesus was not a man of incredible Sin. Let us consider the allegory of transfer of sins as imposed on Ezekiel:

    Eze 4:4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. Eze 4:5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. Eze 4:6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.

    Did God literally transfer sins of Israel and Judah to Ezekiel? While the prophet suffered, people could be liberated if they heeded to the symbol of punishment inflicted on Ezekiel – the language of appeal. It is important to note that God was not angry with Ezekiel but used him to warn the people. As much as Ezekiel was innocent of the sins of the people so also was the Messiah. But, Jesus would accomplish more than Ezekiel, he would open the way to eternal life. When a leper touched Jesus the leper was cleansed i.e. Jesus was not defiled by the touch of healing. Let us for a moment consider verse 4:

    Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

    Is the above verse talking about the death on the cross? No! Does the verse imply that all the past and future sorrows were dumped on Jesus? No! Mathew points to the fulfilment of the above words in the context of the healing that Jesus provided to the distressed. Jesus fulfilled the above verses by sharing in the distresses of the people and brought about a solution i.e. healing.

    That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17 ESV)

    So also we ought to interpret ‘the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ i.e. Jesus worked with sinners to pardon and teach them the way to the kingdom of God. God laid on the shoulders of Jesus the burden to bring a solution to the sins of people. Sins kept people away from gaining access eternal life. Jesus was resurrected because of his innocence and sinless state, as the grave could not keep him dead. Here we see JUSTICE displayed.

    Act 2:24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

    Was Jesus a Human Sacrifice for sins: “Behold the Lamb of God” & “He is the propitiation for our sins,”

    Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

    1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,who takes away the sin of the world!

    In the light of the above verses was Jesus a human sacrifice? Under the law, human sacrifice was explicitly forbidden. Human sacrifice offered to the false God, Molech, involved a Father burning his child as a sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice is not a parallel to that. Jesus was murdered by evil men:

    Act 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    While Jesus’ murder was by the ‘definite plan and foreknowledge of God‘, yet it was executed by evil men. God allowed it to happen. John the Baptist was beheaded, but God’s spirit of allowing it to happen and the spirit of Herodius to have him executed are very different motivations. The story of such human sacrifices (John, Jesus, etc) is an ancient one. God does not intervene, starting with the blood of righteous Abel who served as an example for wicked Cain:

    Act 7:52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,

    While Jesus was a sacrifice, his offering was not like a literal blood poured for the appeasement of the Father nor to uphold a justice system of God. In fact, we have already seen at the beginning that God is way too merciful to need blood to be appeased. Jesus’ sacrifice had to do with the full submission to the Father’s will in-spite of all odds.

    Jesus was not a propitiation in a pagan way (to appease a wrathful and blood thirsty God), but that his way of life produced an opposite effect on God compared to Adam. Jesus as ‘son of man’ reversed the displeasure (wrath) of God that was on mankind. Jesus, by his act of obedience brings eternal redemption and this process was achieved at the cost of shedding his blood.

    Since the way to eternal life was opened by Jesus, belief in Jesus’ way is essential to obtain eternal life. God accepted Jesus’ life as a propitiation or an ‘accepted’ way of life. The actual act of crucifixion, while it was a significant part of the propitiation yet was not the whole story. For instance, if Jesus in the flesh had heeded to the temptation in the wilderness, then that would have had a different effect. Again, If Jesus had taken the following course of action, things would be different:

    Mat 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

    The goal of propitiation from God’s perspective was that: ‘His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven’ even at the cost of one’s life, but from a human perspective Jesus serves as an example and way of obtaining forgiveness and redemption, i.e.

    “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25 ESV)

    Interestingly, the Greek word translated as ‘propitiation’ in Romans is translated differently by different bible versions: ANT version: “Reconciliation”

    YLT version: “mercy seat”

    The point of this section is this: The propitiation, is God’s APPEAL (Gospel’s message) for mankind to change:

    Joh 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

  2. John
    April 22, 2014 @ 9:54 am


    An excellent presentation !
    The Bach was beautiful!
    Wish I had been there!

    It prompted me to discuss the subject with a Jewish theologian .
    “How do you Jews view atonement for sin”?
    “Have the Christians not got ‘one up’ on you”?

    I was quite surprised by his response.

    “Have you not read Psalms ? Can you not see that forgiveness of sins is
    by God’s grace – and requires a contrite heart”?

    The Rabbi was critical of early Christian attempts to ‘merge’ Jewish atonement syatems with Christian beliefs.

    The Yom Kippur Lamb was sacrificed for a very limited array of pre-meditated sin – and ‘minor’ ones at that.

    I personally subscribe to James s verse 17 sentiments
    “” Faith of itself,if it does not have good works, is dead’.

    The Moral Influence Theory which, as I understand it, postulates that a ‘change of heart’ will
    make the believer abandon his old ways and behave in a way that is pleasing to God., has great appeal to me.
    And where does Christ ‘fit in’ to this thinking?

    In a sense Christ acts as an ‘intercessor’ between man and God -probably someone akin to the way that an advocate represents a man in a court trial

    I’d be interested to hear others thoughts!