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. Eliseo
    January 29, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

    • Rivers
      January 31, 2015 @ 10:12 am


      I listened to the fourth installment in your rebuttal of Dale. I would just like to make one comment here.

      When you insist that Jesus “had a beginning before Mary”, I think you are overlooking that the passages you are citing about Jesus being “the beginning” were are all written AFTER the resurrection.

      The most significant one is found in Colossians 1:16-18 where Paul associated “the beginning” with the fact that Jesus Christ became “THE BEGINNING, the firstborn FROM AMONG THE DEAD.” This language seems to put “the beginning” in the historical context of the resurrection (which did not take place before the time of Mary).

      There are other texts where the writers of the Gospels also used “beginning” (Grk. GENESIS) to refer to the time of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:1, 18; Luke 1:14). GENESIS is not the usual word for giving “birth”, but is a term that connotes that something has it’s “origin” at that particular time.

      I think it would be helpful if you could address some of these objections that can be offered against your understanding that “the beginning” must be referring to a time before Mary.

      • Eliseo
        January 31, 2015 @ 11:53 am

        Was Micah 5:2 before Mary?

        • Rivers
          January 31, 2015 @ 5:26 pm


          Micah 5:2 cannot be referring to anyone who existed before the time of Mary for the following reasons. Please give them some consideration:

          1. The writer of the 1st Gospel has the Jews applying Micah 5:2 to the birth of the Messiah. There is no indication that they thought it suggested anything about preexistence (Matthew 2:4-6).

          2. The writer of the 4th Gospel indicated that the Jews understood that Micah 5:2 was interpreted to mean that the Christ would be “of the descendants of David” and “from Bethlehem.” This suggests that they understood “his goings forth are from long ago” to be referring to his geneaology (and not preexistence).

          3. In the text of Micah 5:2, it ways that “one WILL go forth TO BE a ruler in Israel.” In the following phrase, when it refers to “HIS goings forth are from days of old”, it is still referring to the same one who had not “gone forth” yet. Thus, “his goings forth are from long ago” was probably alluding to the prophecy about the “ruler” who would come from the loins of David (2 Samuel 7:13-14).

          Considering how the people interpreted Micah 5:2 as a reference to one of “the descendants of David” who would be come to be the Messiah, there is no indication that they considered “his goings forth are from long ago” to refer to anything other than his David heritage.

          • Eliseo
            February 1, 2015 @ 11:23 pm

            If I asked you what would it take to prove Jesus existed since before the foundation of the world, your answer would be? If nothing can prove it wrong its unfalsibiable and is pseudo biblical theology

            • Rivers
              February 2, 2015 @ 10:46 am

              Hi Elisio,

              In order to prove that Jesus Christ actually existed before the time of the Genesis creation, there would need to be some testimony from the biblical writers that he was present during that time.

              As far as the Hebrew scriptures are concerned, there is no mention of any Jesus Christ either before the time of the Genesis creation or afterwards. Speculation about whether ambiguous entities like angels, theophanies, or the “wisdom” of Proverbs 8 is not sufficient. Those things can all be reasonably explained in their own context without the necessity to conclude that they had anything to do with the concepts of preexistence or incarnation.

              Even when taking passages like John 1:1-3, John 1:14, and John 8:58 into account, the apostolic testimony also heavily weighs in favor of concluding that Jesus Christ originated from the genealogy of Abraham (Matthew 1:1, 18; Luke 1:14) did not exist until he was conceived (Luke 1:35) in the womb of Mary by the power of holy spirit (Luke 1:35).

              From a forensic perspective, we have to have an explanation for all of the biblical evidence that is coherent and can account for everything the inspired writers spoke about. Thus, we can’t ignore the difficult passages in the 4th Gospel, but we also need to be able to explain them without undermining or disregarding the genealogical records in the other Gospels.

              • Eliseo
                February 2, 2015 @ 11:28 am

                do you see how your theory is unfalsifiable? you say if the biblical writers say that Jesus existed prior to Mary, van Unitarianism would be disproved or debunked. But then you go right after that and talk about all of the verses or at least some that explain Jesus existed prior to the foundation of the world. And you say its not good enough. When if you take the words in the most easiest to understand way didn’t mean that Jesus existed before the foundation of the world. But because you’re saying that its not good enough, and you put more and more rules on it as evidence becomes evident. It shows that your Theory is unfalsifiable. and what that means for everybody who’s reading this, is that no matter what evidence you show against Unitarianism. And the belief that Jesus only existed after Mary, is in no way possible to disprove not because it is perfect. But because they will continually make excuses for this belief system. But a better belief system has a way of being disproved but not. Like trinitarianism says that all three are one, but it is not in the Bible. Not in one single solitary place is it existing that way. No apostolic writer has ever written about it. But no matter what you tell a Trinitarian, they will not admit that it is not biblical it is not in the Bible. So they will continually continually make excuses about their belief even though it’s wrong. And no matter how much evidence you give to it they will not admit. But if you ask a Trinitarian what would it take for you to be wrong what kind of evidence do you need to see. And then for them to say well if Jesus said that there is only one God and its not him then that makes it the Trinity wrong and we don’t have to hold on to it anymore. And then I can prove that Jesus did say that quote the only true God statement he made in John. But they won’t accept even that because the belief system is not based on evidence it’s based on man’s wisdom and authority in certain areas to declare things. So according to the evidence not according to what man’s opinion is the doctrine of the Trinity is wrong. Now according to the evidence Arianism says that Jesus existed before the world were. Now for my understanding to be wrong there should be no indication at all that Jesus existed before the foundation of the world. That’s how you could make my belief system false. if there were no indication at all anywhere in the Bible then obviously what my belief is is not biblical. But what we want to use is biblical evidence, not the changing of what the words mean. So when you see the evidence there does exist verses that speak about Jesus existed before mary. now I call any doctrine that has no basis in Scripture pseudo biblical theology. Because it is not true it is not genuine it is not harvest its information from facts. a doctrine that is falsifiable that is you can understand how it could be false is a more perfect and more trustworthy doctrine then one that does not. So like astrology makes these Broad statements about what’s supposed to happen today. And they are so vague and so broad that anything that happens could fit into their predictions. And if it was specific enough it would be wrong. So it is very broad so that whole collective of people would believe that it is accurate. And there is always an excuse to brought up for why something didn’t happen exactly like it was supposed to according to them. This is pseudoscience it is not actually scientific it is not actually based on evidence it is a sham. a hoax if you will. The same way many other ideas have come along and are so big and so broadthat you couldn’t disprove then even in theory. And this is the same way with Unitarianism even though you have evidence that there are verses that prove that Jesus existed before the worlds. They still will not admit it and will come up with excuses after excuse after excuse even though it sounds super ultra ridiculous. It is unfalsifiable because no evidence no matter how explicit is enough to satisfy them. why would you want to believe in a doctrine that has to do this much gymnastics to keep the the doctrine alive. The same type of gymnastics that is being done in Unitarianism is the same type of gymnastics that is done in Trinitarian theology. Arianism doesn’t have to do any gymnastics with words or changing the meaning of sentences. Everything is taken at face value everything is taken in the most easiest way possible. It is taken at the most simplest way the verses give. And that’s all you have to do, to be an Arian. all you have to do is take the words as you read them, take the sentences as you see them. And believe. There is no reason you will have to change the words look up the Greek, take the meaning out of context to mean something else. No all you have to do is take the Bible as you read it and its most simplest form and there you have it. You would think that the Bible would be written in that way. The way that you can understand it in the most simplest of ways. and it is it is not that difficult God intended the Bible to be read and understood in its most simplest way. For the most simplest person on earth to the greatest scholar. And that’s why I have no problems when defending this. Because number one it’s true. And number two it lines up with the Bible perfectly. And Godwill prove his own words true.

                • Rivers
                  February 2, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

                  Hi Elisio,

                  I understand your concerns here. However, I’m not biblical unitarian because I’m looking for “excuses” to deny the preexistence of Jesus Christ. Rather, I’m just trying to sort out the biblical evidence in order to try to determine the most coherent and plausible explanation of what the apostles understood about the Lord.

                  Please consider that the reason these discussions continue to go on and on is because sorting out the evidence is not just a matter of reading the words. No matter what translation we have, the words still require interpretation. Sometimes we have to put forth grammatical evidence from the Hebrew or Greek text in order to help us try to determine the validity of different translations.

                  I know that you feel strongly about your viewpoint (and I admire you for taking the time to record and offer those detailed responses to Dale.). If I didn’t respect your opinion, I would not have taken the time to listen to your rebuttals. I sincerely try to give every one a fair hearing as long as I know that someone has a high view of scripture and is trying to make a biblical case for their particular interpretation.

                  With all that said, I do agree that the biblical testimony was communicated in the simple language of the common in order for them to understand it. Unfortunately, we are not those people and they spoke languages that have been dead for hundreds of years. Thus, we have to deal with issues of translation and interpretation that sometimes appear very difficult.

  2. Eliseo
    January 29, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

    Part 3 on Classification of Arianism, and R2-D2: http://youtu.be/VywVHIluWk4

    • Rivers
      January 29, 2015 @ 9:11 pm

      Hi Elisio,

      I listened to the third installment in your rebuttal of Dale but don’t have much to say in response. My expertise is not in the area of evaluating the semantics of various theological classifications. I think Dale did a fine job presenting his scholarly perspective and that you made a few good points that I think are worth considering too.

      • Eliseo
        January 29, 2015 @ 9:27 pm


  3. Elisha Rodriguez
    January 28, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

    • Rivers
      January 28, 2015 @ 9:16 pm


      I listened to the second part of your rebuttal of Dale. Again, there are several passages where your interpretation is not the only plausible one. For the sake of brevity, I will only address two of them.

      First, when you claim the Hebrews 1:10-12 is attributing the Genesis creation to Jesus Christ, you are contradicting the author’s own interpretation of Hebrews 1:10-12 in Hebrews 2:7 where he says that “the works of Your hands” refers to God the Father. Jesus was not appointed over his own works.

      Second, in John 8:58, the language does not have to be taken to mean that Jesus existed during the time of Abraham. When it says “before Abraham exists” the writer used the Aorist Infinitive form of the verb GINOMAI which literally means “comes to be” (implying that it is still future). The same Aorist Infinitive form was used by Nicodemus when he spoke of a man being “born again” when his is old (John 3:4).

      Thus, Jesus was probably referring to the resurrection of Abraham (still future) and meant that “before Abraham comes to be [alive again], I am [here].” If the writer wanted to say that Jesus existed before Abraham, he would have used an Aorist Indicative form as he did in John 9:20 where he wrote of the man who was “born blind” (in the past).

      • Eliseo
        January 29, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

        Sorry why then did they mention he was nit yet 50 yrs old if he meant the future? No he is speaking about the past, they said have you seen Arbraham? He said yes… that would be a lie if he had not…

        • Rivers
          January 29, 2015 @ 7:02 pm


          Jesus did not say “yes” (or affirm that the the question the Jews asked him was valid). Rather, he made a definitive statement about the resurrection (John 8:58). Please consider a few things in the context:

          1. Jesus referred to the resurrection numerous times in the context of this one conversation with the Jews (see John 8:12, 14, 21, 24, 28, 32, 35, 51, 54). Thus, another reference to the resurrection in John 8:58 would certainly fit one of the primary themes of the discussion.

          2. The writer also indicated that the unbelieving Jews did not understand what he was talking about (John 8:19, 22, 27, 33, 43, 45, 52). Thus, it’s reasonable to think that they didn’t ask the right question in John 8:57 either.

          3. Keep in mind that Jesus was teaching that the very “hour” of the resurrection had come (John 5:25-28). He was saying that he was “the resurrection and the life” and that some of those who believed in him “would never die” before “the last day” (John 11:24-26; John 21:21-23).

          4. Thus, his response to the Jews makes perfectly good sense if he was saying that “before [PRIN] Abraham becomes [GENESQAI] alive again at the resurrection on the last day, I am [EGW EIMI] the one who’s day he rejoiced to see.”

          This is a plausible grammatical and contextual interpretation of John 8:58 that doesn’t require any notion of preexistence, and doesn’t require that “I am” mean anything more than the simple definition it is given in every other occurrence in the 4th Gospel.

          • Elisha Rodriguez
            January 29, 2015 @ 7:20 pm

            56 Avraham, your father, was glad that he would see my day; then he saw it and was overjoyed.”
            57 “Why, you’re not yet fifty years old,” the Judeans replied, “and you have seen Avraham?”
            58 Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!”
            (Joh 8:56-58 CJB)

            John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he —->>existed<— before me.'" (Joh 1:15 CEB)

            • Rivers
              January 29, 2015 @ 8:58 pm


              The words “truly truly” (Grk. AMHN AMHN) do not mean “yes, indeed” when properly translated into English. It also wasn’t a term used to express agreement with a previous question.

              Please look up the other 27 times that AMHN AMHN is spoken by someone in the 4th Gospel and you’ll find that it was always for the purpose of emphasizing a subsequent statement (and not to give affirmation to a previous statement). In fact, the writer used a different word (Grk. NAI) which means “yes” whenever
              someone was answering in agreement with a preceding question (e.g. John 11:27; John 21:15-16).

              For example, when Jesus “answered” Nicodemus in John 3:5, he used AMHN AMHN to emphasize his statement about the meaning of being “born again.” He was certainly not saying “yes, indeed” to the misinformed questioned that Nicodemus asked him.

              Likewise, in John 8:57-58, Jesus wasn’t affirming the the implications of the misinformed question posed by the unbelieving Jews either, but was using AMHN AMHN to emphasize the importance of his subsequent statement about his own existence (EGW EIMI) necessarily preceeding the resurrection of Abraham in that day.

              • Eliseo
                January 30, 2015 @ 8:34 am

                Im sorry there is no reason to mention the future, while they ask about the past, and Yeshua is not talking about ressurection, but living and existing before Abraham.

                • Rivers
                  January 30, 2015 @ 10:27 am


                  If you look at the statement that the Pharisees made in John 8:52, you can see that they did not understand what Jesus was saying about resurrection life. That is why they could not understand how anyone could “see” Abraham when he had already “died.”

                  As I noted earlier, Jesus was speaking about the resurrection throughout the entire context of his conversation with the Jews in John 8 and they did not understand or believe what he was saying. Please look up the verses I cited for you.

                  Thus, the answer Jesus gave in John 8:58 makes perfectly good sense:

                  “Truly, truly, I am [now] saying to you [Jews], that before Abraham becomes [alive again], I am [the one who’s day he rejoiced to see].”

                  In other words, Jesus corrected their misunderstanding by reiterating the fact that his presence among them was indicative of the fact that the day of the resurrection had arrived (John 5:25-28; John 11:25-26). Abraham’s faith was based upon the resurrection of the dead (Romans 4:17).

                  Since Abraham had “died” (John 8:52), the only way that they could “see” each other in that day would be in the Kingdom at the resurrection (Matthew 8:11). This is what Abraham was always “looking for” (Hebrews 11:8-10). The fact that Jesus had come, meant that “the time was fulfilled, the kingdom of God is here” (Mark 1:15).

                  • Elisha Rodriguez
                    January 31, 2015 @ 9:14 am

                    and John 1:15?

      • Elisha Rodriguez
        January 31, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

        This is one statment…. you dont kow what your taking about.

        8 But unto the Son he saith<——(who are we talking about? Jesus the Son), Thy throne, O God (this is Jesus), is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
        9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
        10 And<—–(Also is said of the Son), Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
        11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
        12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
        (Heb 1:8-12 KJV)

        You are not seeing anything but your biased view. what does this truly say…Of the son it says…Thy Throne o God, AND Thou Lord…..

        • Rivers
          January 31, 2015 @ 5:52 pm


          As I pointed out earlier, the writer of Hebrews applied what he said about “the works of Your hands” (Hebrews 1:10) to God the Father (Hebrews 2:7). Thus, Jesus Christ was not appointed over the works of his own creation.

          I think we should defer to the writer’s own application of the quotation in Hebrews 1:10 in Hebrews 2:7 and not your attempt to apply the passage in a way that contradicts the writer’s intention.

          Another consideration is that the writer of Hebrews plainly said that he was speaking about “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5). Thus, he was saying that “the works of God’s hands” that were originally under the authority of the angels (Hebrews 2:2, 5) had been given to Jesus Christ only after he was crowned and glorified (Hebrews 2:7).

          If you look at the context preceding Hebrews 1:10, it’s evident that Jesus Christ was not “appointed” or crowned or glorified until after his resurrection and ascension (Hebrews 1:3-6). Thus, there is no reason to think that the son had anything to do with “the works of God’s hands” (Hebrews 1:10) until he actually inherited the world.

          • Elisha Rodriguez
            February 3, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

            yea use a whole chapter later to explain the previous…. why not take it in context… your looking anywhere to fine an excuse

            • Rivers
              February 3, 2015 @ 3:43 pm


              The “context” of what the writer of Hebrews was arguing about the supremacy of Jesus Christ over the angels extends from Hebrews 1:1 – 2:9. Thus, when I pointed out how Hebrews 2:7 interprets Hebrews 1:10, I’m getting it from what the writer said in the same context.

              If “the works of Your hands” (Hebrews 1:10) referred to Jesus Christ as the creator, then it would make no sense for the writer to argue that Jesus Christ was greater than the angels because God the Father appointed him over his own creation!

              • Elisha Rodriguez
                February 7, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

                I have proven it is written about Jesus with the “AND” also… who was it? it was Jesus.

                • Rivers
                  February 7, 2015 @ 4:39 pm


                  I think you are misreading to progression of the argument that the Hebrews writer is presenting in Hebrews 1:7-13. Please let me show you why.

                  In the writer’s sequence, the “and” in Hebrew 1:7 goes with the “but” in Hebrews 1:8. Likewise, the “and” in Hebrews 1:10 goes with the “but” in Hebrews 1;13. He is using these “and/but” arguments to draw a contrast between the angels and the son.

                  You are making the mistake of taking the “but” of Hebrews 1:8 with the “and” of Hebrews 1:10 and thus confusing what is said about God the Father in Hebrews 1:10 with what was said about “the son” in Hebrews 1:8.

              • Elisha Rodriguez
                February 7, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

                The writer is switching subjects and no longer taking about creation the you think he is still on the same subject….?

                • Rivers
                  February 7, 2015 @ 4:27 pm


                  The same writer (presumably) is continuing the story about Adam and Eve in Genesis 5. Why would you he think used “image” or “likeness” any differently?

                  What do you do with Genesis 9:6? Do you think “image of God” is different in Genesis 1:26? Please explain how your view can account for all of the evidence.

  4. Elisha Rodriguez
    January 28, 2015 @ 12:10 am

    • Rivers
      January 28, 2015 @ 8:51 am

      Thanks for posting that. I’ll listen to it as soon as I have some free time. Hopefully, Dale will respond to it as well.

    • Rivers
      January 28, 2015 @ 8:41 pm


      I listened to the first part of your rebuttal of Dale. There are many points you made that seem presumptive, but I don’t have space here to give a full response. I just wanted to comment on one particular thing.

      When you use Colossians 1:16 to suggest that Jesus was responsible for the Genesis creation, you seem to be overlooking that Paul understood that there was “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Galatians 6:15). The writer of Hebrews also referred to a different “creation” (Hebrews 9:11). Thus, when John referred to Jesus Christ as “the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14), the Genesis creation is not the only option.

      Furthermore, in the context of Colossians 1:15-20, Paul is speaking of Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:16) because he is “the beginning, the firstborn FROM AMONG THE DEAD” (Colossians 1:18). Thus, Paul seems to understand that “the beginning” and “firstborn of all creation” pertain to the status of Jesus Christ as a result of his resurrection (and not preexistence).

  5. Miguel de Servet
    January 26, 2015 @ 1:07 pm


    sorry for repeating it for the umpteenth time, but the sooner you abandon that peculiar and idiosyncratic use of the word “unitarian” (with the added paradox that you would use it as you do because of “tidiness of classification” – or something), the better, for all concerned, and also for you. May I suggest that (even if for the Ante-Nicene Chrurch Fathers it would obviously be anachronistic) you simply say “trinitarian” (which for you means strictly “co-equal, co-eternal, tri-personal”) or “anti-trinitarian”. I would also recommend that you drastically revise your relevant Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles accordingly.

    • Rivers
      January 26, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

      During the past two months of reading your comments, I haven’t been able to discern what you actually believe (other than the “eternal divine attribute became a human being” idea that you espouse).

      Can you give a brief summary of your position? Do you consider yourself some kind of Trinitaran or anti-Trinitarian? Can you state your understanding of the relationship between Father, son, and spirit in a couple of sentences?

      Thank you 🙂

    • Dale Tuggy
      January 26, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

      Sorry, but my usage is neither peculiar nor idiosyncratic, as I explained in this podcast. “Unitarian”and “trinitarian” are useful, mutually exclusive, descriptive terms. There is no reason to reserve “unitarian,” as some have done, for those who don’t believe in the pre-human existence of Jesus, and there is certainly no reason to use “trinitarian” for the view of those in the catholic mainstream of any era, even those who don’t believe in a tri-personal God. I have principled reasons to use the terms as I do, and you’ve only urged that you don’t like my usage. Well… your not liking it is not a reason for me to change it. It’s all about finding non-polemical, descriptive classifications. Understanding and clarity are the aims.

      • Miguel de Servet
        January 27, 2015 @ 1:51 am

        So Tertullian, who invented the Latin term trinitas and speaks of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as “tres personae” would not be “trinitarian” because he is a subordinationist? Ridiculous! Likewise for Origen? Ridiculous! ALL advocates of the trinity, until the 4th century, were subordinationists. So? “principled reasons”? Mm …

        It’s not a coincidence that you manifestly fail to account for what the Arian Controversy is all about.

      • Rivers
        January 27, 2015 @ 8:37 am


        Good points.

        I don’t think the apostles were teaching any kind of preexistence or incarnation doctrine, but I have no problem with others calling themselves unitarians in order to distinguish their views from the Trinity doctrine. I think most people understand that someone who is not a Trinitarian, and yet believes in the God of the Bible, is a unitarian.

      • Roman
        January 29, 2015 @ 11:59 am

        I understand subordinationism, but wouldn’t both Unitarians who believe in pre-existence and those who don’t be subordinatioists? I Understand why one wouldn’t like the term socinian or Arian, but I just don’t know any other terms used that are descriptive and distinguish the 2. I mean socinians are not adoptionists, so that doesn’t work, they are both equally Unitarian, so I don’t know.

        • Miguel de Servet
          January 29, 2015 @ 12:48 pm


          Subordinationism, very simply, means that there are (at least) two entities (or beings) of which (whom) one is subordinated to the other(s). Origen believed that the “Son” and the “Holy Spirit” are co-eternal, but NOT co-equal, in fact that the “Holy Spirit” is subordinated to the “Son”, who, in turn, is subordinated to God, the Father. Is “unitarianism” a sensible category for analyzing this stituation?

          You decide for yourself. Perhaps, though, you should consider that the adjective unitarian was coined in the 1690s …

        • Rivers
          January 29, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

          I would be considered a biblical unitarian but do not think that Jesus and the apostles were teaching any kind of preexistence or incarnation.

          However, I think subordination of the Father and the son is evident in many biblical texts (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Corinthians 15:27-28). It’s just a matter of whether Subordinationism is a term used in the simplest sense (per Mario) or in a more narrow theological sense.

          • Roman
            January 29, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

            What’s the more narrow theological sense? Would the more narrow theological sense be what would be popularly called “Arianism”? From a purely descriptive standpoint I don’t see how one could be s Christian Unitarian of any kind and NOT be a subordinationist. The same thing with “biblical Unitarian” that would describe jehovahs witnesses, those called Arians, those called socinians and those called Sebellians (medalists), they are all Unitarians, and all claim their christology is biblical.

            I know it’s just semantics, but what professor dale said in the podcast got me thinking, we don’t really have names for these christologies. Then again the same things go with other theological disputes, Calvinism vrs Arminianism for example.

            • Rivers
              January 29, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

              Hi Roman,

              I was just referring to the difference between Subordinationism as a doctrinal (theological) term, and the concept of subordination (that seems more in line with Mario’s simplified definition) that would describe the relationship between two persons in a line of authority.

              I don’t have any issue with your use of the term Subordinationist to refer to all unitarians since they all consider God the Father to be greater than Jesus Christ for all time. I think sometimes the names for the different views are helpful, and sometimes they are not (depending on how they are used, and if they end up misrepresenting someone’s true or unique perspective).

              I accept biblical unitarian because I think it represents the important distinction between the Unitarian Universalist denomination and also the fact that we have a high view of scripture (even though we draw conclusions that are heretical from the standpoint of the historic creeds and confessions of Christendom).

            • Miguel de Servet
              January 29, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

              JWs are Arians. Does that make them “unitarians”?

              • Roman
                January 30, 2015 @ 4:14 am

                Don’t see why not?

              • Dale Tuggy
                February 2, 2015 @ 8:51 pm

                Roman and Mario – these are good questions.

                “Arians”. That’s a bad, misleading term, because JWs didn’t form their views based on Arius or the ancient “Arians”, but yes they hold views similar to what people often mean by “Arian” nowadays. Unitarians? Yes.

                Do all present unitariansn believe in the “subordination” (aka “ontological subordination) of Son to Father? Yes.

                About modalists – the “Sabellian” ones (where the Three exist serially), or other knids – see this post – http://trinities.org/blog/what-is-modalism/ – are not, by my lights, unitarians. Like one-self trinitarians, modalists believe that the one God is a single self. But they think the Son and Spirit are that same one self. This is denied by all unitarians. So, I think it is a mistake to classify, e.g. Oneness Pentecostals as “unitarians” – even though they, like unitarians, hold the one God to be one and only one self. Some very smart people, including William Lane Craig, and Samuel Clarke, have made this mistake.

                One way to put it is that most “modalists” agree that God is tripersonal even though one self. In contrast, any unitarian, properly speaking, holds that God is one self, and that this self just is the Father, and is not the Son or Spirit.

                Again, modalists typcally deny any subordination.

                Still, there may have been some ancient “monarchians” (nowadays called modalists by historians and theologians) who were unitarians – the history is extremely murky. These may have held something like this: that Jesus was a man, but had a divine element operating through him – but this was just the Father.

                • Elisha Rodriguez
                  February 3, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

                  Arianism the term is older and is even different from JWs because we don’t think Jesus is Micheal the angel which is wrong…. so this is close but not original Arianism….

                • Miguel de Servet
                  February 4, 2015 @ 9:19 am


                  Do all present unitarians believe in the “subordination” (aka “ontological subordination”) of Son to Father? Yes.


                  Dale, care to explain in what sense, for a “humanitarian unitarian”, the “Son” would be “ontological subordinated”? Who is the “Son”, for a “humanitarian unitarian”, anyway?