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. Paul Anchor against the Unitarians | Badmanna's Blog
    July 16, 2015 @ 4:46 am

    […] Paul Anchor David Kemball-Cook • 6 days ago […]

  2. Paul Anchor
    July 9, 2015 @ 7:12 am

    “I tried to make the point that trinitarians need to be able to say what they mean by ‘Jesus is God’, if that statement is to have any meaning.”

    But if the bible defines what God is then Jesus must be equivalent to that definition/description of God, if we believe that Jesus is God. Otherwise we worship the “unknown God” like the Athenians in Acts 17.

    That was a long thread on the trinity on blogging theology.

    • David Kemball-Cook
      July 13, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

      Hi Paul. The Bible
      says that Jesus is the Son of God. So if
      ‘Jesus is God’ means that everything that is true
      about God must also be true of Jesus, then Jesus is his own son. Ouch!
      This is reductio ad absurdam for ‘Jesus is God’in the sense of numerical identity
      isn’t it?

      • Paul Anchor
        July 13, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

        Hi David,

        The bible contains other statements about the identity of God in addition to those which would be the equivalent of “Jesus is God”. We have to take them all into account. We can’t see an object until we plot enough of the points through which it passes can we?

        • David Kemball-Cook
          July 13, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

          Hi Paul,

          What are those other statements in the Bible which
          imply ‘Jesus is (numerically) identical with God’?

          • Paul Anchor
            July 15, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

            Hi David,

            Is the unitarian agent numerically identical with God in the process of creation?

            • John
              July 16, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

              Hi Paul
              An agent is someone OTHER than the one for whom he acts
              If you were a property developer you might employ a professional builder to build a housing estate.
              That person is not you, does not have numerical identity with you.
              You will have noticed the shenanegans that Trinitarians get up to in order to ‘prove’ a point.
              Just look at the case of Hebrews 1 verses 8-10 and refer back to Psalm 102 25.The Creator is God a.k.a.The Father
              The footnotes to the NAB Bible note ‘it is important for the authors Christology that verses 10-12 addressed TO GOD , is readdressed to Christ”
              Unfortunately the NT writers used the Septuagint as their base – and the Septuagint mistranslates the original Hebrew (see Tanakh)
              This is a dreary game and just seems to go on, and on…!
              The good news is that it will end sooner or later – by God’s good grace!

              • Sean Garrigan
                July 17, 2015 @ 6:38 am

                In what way does the LXX mistranslate the Hebrew?

                • Rivers
                  July 17, 2015 @ 8:33 am

                  I agree that nothing is being “mistranslated” by the LXX.

                  I agree that nothing is being “mistranslated” by the LXX.

                  • John
                    July 17, 2015 @ 11:39 am

                    Sean/ Rivers
                    Perhaps I used the wrong word when I said “mistranslated’
                    A comment addressed to God in the OT has been re-addressed to Christ in the NT- as the footnotes to Hebrews in the NAB Bible observes.
                    Your analysis of Hebrews was most useful.
                    I must say that so many verses attest to the fact that it was YHWH a.k.a. The Father who created the heavens and the earth that I find it difficult to see Christ as ‘Creator’ in any sense other than that he ‘created’ a new spiritual order (created all things new) following his resurrection.
                    Would appreciate your comments
                    God Bless

                    • Rivers
                      July 17, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

                      Hi John,

                      All the passages that attribute any kind of “creation” to Jesus Christ were written AFTER his resurrection and are things that resulted from his resurrection.

                      Hebrews 1 begins by setting the historical context as “the last days” (Hebrews 1:1) when the “son” was “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2) after he “made purification for sins” (Hebrews 1:3).

                      The writer also says that the “salvation” of which he is speaking (Hebrew 1:14) was “first spoken through the Lord [Jesus]” (Hebrews 2:3) and concerns “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 6:4-5).

                    • John
                      July 18, 2015 @ 1:18 am

                      That is most helpful!
                      Thank you.
                      God Bless

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 18, 2015 @ 9:28 am

                      ” This is the historical context in which “through Jesus were made the ages” (Hebrews 1:3).”

                      Why do you think the author used the plural AIWNAS?

                    • Rivers
                      July 18, 2015 @ 9:31 pm


                      I think the reason AIWNAS (“ages”, plural) was used in Hebrews 1:2 is because the writer is speaking of all the preceding generations of “those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14) as a result of the risen Jesus being “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2) after “making purification for sins” (Hebrews 1:4).

                      The writer also said that Jesus accomplished this “putting away of sin” at “the consummation of the ages (AIWNWN)” indicating that these “ages” refer to those leading up to “the last days” (Hebrews 1:2). See also Hebrews 11:3 where the writer explained that the “ages” (AIWNIAS) that were “prepared by the word of God” involved the many generations of faithful people that were going to became heirs of the promises (Hebrews 11:13, 39).

                      Another consideration here is that a comparison of what comes “through him” (Christ) in Hebrews 1:2 and Hebrews 2:10 seems to be identified with “bringing many sons to glory” through the “salvation” (Hebrews 1:14, Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 2:10) that was “first spoken” through Jesus himself (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 2:3).

                    • John
                      July 19, 2015 @ 1:25 am

                      Hi Rivers
                      I have always wondered where Christ was in the days
                      when God spoke through ‘the prophets’, ( ‘ Hebrews 1 v 1)

                    • Rivers
                      July 19, 2015 @ 10:45 am


                      I don’t think there was any Jesus Christ when God was speaking “long ago the the fathers through the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

                      The prophets didn’t know the “person” or the “time” that they were talking about (1 Peter 1:10-12). They weren’t speaking of anyone who already existed, but only of someone who was yet to be “born” (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2).

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 19, 2015 @ 9:02 am

                      “I think the reason AIWNAS (“ages”, plural) was used in Hebrews 1:2 is
                      because the writer is speaking of all the preceding generations of
                      “those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14) as a result of the
                      risen Jesus being “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2) after
                      “making purification for sins” (Hebrews 1:4).”

                      Well, that sounds like another odd mixing of tenses. He “made” the ages (past) by securing salvation in the present/future? You can probably guess why I think AIWNAS was used:-)

                    • Rivers
                      July 19, 2015 @ 10:58 am


                      I don’t think the “tenses” ultimately matter. I think the historical context is more important.

                      When the writer associated “the making of the ages” with Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2), it is in “the last days” (Hebrews 1:2) when his death, resurrection, and exaltation had already taken place (Hebrews 1:3-6).

                      This is also the case in Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus became “the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1:18) as a result of “reconciliation through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). Thus, whatever was “created through him” (Colossians 1:16) must have resulted from his public ministry among the Jews.

                      Likewise, in the context of John 1:10-12, Jesus “made the world” at the same time that “he was in the world” and “the world did not know him.” Thus, whatever “made the world” is taken to mean, it must have resulted from his public ministry.

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 19, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

                      “I don’t think the “tenses” ultimately matter. I think the historical context is more important.”

                      You’ll forgive me for pointing out that that appears to be an about face;-)

                    • Rivers
                      July 20, 2015 @ 8:30 am

                      Why do you think the writer used AIWNAS in Hebrews 1:2? What is your interpretation of the language in this context?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 21, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

                      Good questions. I’m a bit buried with deliverables right now, but I’ll try to get back to this by EOW.

                      BTW, I don’t reject your understanding of AIWNAS. Hebrews 1 seems susceptible of more than one sound interpretation, and so I’m not particularly dogmatic about it, though I do believe that it’s pretty clear that Jesus is the referent of “your” in 1:8.

              • Rivers
                July 17, 2015 @ 8:24 am


                It doesn’t really matter if the writer of Hebrews quoted from the LXX because Hebrews 2:7 shows that he understood “the works of Your hands” (Hebrews 1:10b) to be referring to God the Father gave to Jesus Christ by “appointment”. Moreover, the writer also alluded to what will “become old” (Hebrews 1:11) again in Hebrews 8:13 and was referring to what God the Father did (Hebrews 8:8).

                The contrast with the “angels” in Hebrews 1:13 which mentions to “My (God’s) right hand”, and the “heirs” (saints) mentioned in Hebrews 1;14, also suggests that Hebrews 1:10-12 is speaking of what belonged to God the Father and was being “inherited” by “the son” (Hebrews 1:2) and the saints. These inter-textual factors render the issue with the quotation from the LXX irrelevant.

            • David Kemball-Cook
              July 17, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

              Hi Paul
              Not sure where you are coming from. Are you a trinitarian?
              If so, I asked you about those ‘Jesus is God’ statements in scripture
              Your question is answered by John i think. But I would add that I do not believe that Jesus was around at the time of creation.


      • John
        July 15, 2015 @ 11:19 am

        I don’t know if you are deliberately trying to obfuscate this matter!
        I hope not!
        I asked you a question to which you have not replied.
        If God = three persons sharing one divine nature’
        If Jesus = God
        Then one must draw the conclusion that
        Jesus is three persons sharing one divine nature.
        This makes no sense at all.!!
        To continually ask about ‘nature’ is being deliberately deceitful – or ‘simple minded’.(being polite)
        There are NO statements in which Jesus says he is God -or even implies he is God.
        There are many verses which refer to Christ as ‘a man’
        This has all been explained to you.
        God Bless

        • Paul Anchor
          July 15, 2015 @ 3:57 pm


          Jesus = God also implies Father God and Holy Spirit God logically or mathematically. So who is doing the obfuscating?

          Do you believe that Jesus is the pre-existent agent that God used to create the world?

          God bless,


          • John
            July 16, 2015 @ 1:21 am

            Hi Paul,
            Regarding your attempt at logic – I’m speechless!
            Where did you get that stuff from ?
            Over 50 verses assert that God a.k.a. The Father created the heavens and the earth.
            I’m glad that you describe Christ as an ‘agent’
            -which is precisely what He is.
            Blessings John

        • Paul Anchor
          July 15, 2015 @ 5:38 pm


          Why don’t you apply this logic to the book of Titus?

          God is our Saviour:

          3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.

          Jesus is also our Saviour:

          4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

          13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

          Therefore applying your logic Jesus must be God.

          • John
            July 16, 2015 @ 1:12 am

            Hi Paul
            You will note that Titus 2v13 is subject to translational variation. I think that you are quoting from the King James Version of the Bible – but the NAB Bible states
            “the glory of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”
            Trinitarians appeal to the Granville Sharp Rules to support their interpretation of the verse ( The noun 1 and noun 2 refers to one person )
            Unitarians say that v 13 says that JESUS IS THE GLORY OF OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR.
            -Matthew 16v27 attests to the fact that Jesus is the glory of His Father
            -Titus 2 v10 states that God is our savior
            Note that in translating v 13 thus, the Granville Sharp rule is not broken . One definite article, one person in view
            The word ‘doxa’ is never translated as ‘glorious’ in the NT. Some would say that changing a noun into an adjective is an crude attempt to obfuscate the matter for theological purposes.
            Strangely the Douay Rheims Bible translates this verse correctly in spite of the Catholic Churches pro-trinity stance.
            Paul , you are wasting your time chasing this illusion.
            Regarding the person of Christ, you will find NO verse which trumps John 20 verse 17 “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Christ’s own words)

            • Rivers
              July 16, 2015 @ 9:51 am


              Good explanation.

  3. David Kemball-Cook
    July 7, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

    Very informative, thank you Dale. I like the way you describe him sliding between ‘Jesus is (one and the same as) God’ and ‘Jesus is divine’ in the way evangelicals typically do, ie with scarcely a sentence or a breath between those two statements.

    I was engaging with the people on the Answering Muslims website last year (run by David Wood, Qureshi’s mentor), facing some hostility from the trinitarians that frequent it. I tried to make the point that trinitarians need to be able to say what they mean by ‘Jesus is God’, if that statement is to have any meaning. The usual response at this point is silence.
    In the end I was kicked off by David Wood, with the reason that I was abusing the word of God. But I think that my questions were getting too difficult for them.

    Here is the link if anyone is interested.

    • Dale Tuggy
      July 8, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

      Ugh… his post was some painful reading. Bile and sloppy reasoning of Athanasian proportions. I was surprised also that he seems unaware of the divine simplicity traditions in catholic theologies. Also amazing are his assertions that the biblical Jesus is omnipotent and omniscient, and it would seem he means, essentially so. One expects the useless, hand-waving appeal to Chalcedon, sadly.

      “Nullitarian” is new to me… an interesting term. Does he mean,though, someone for whom “God” does not name a self, or does he mean just someone who dislikes the term “Person” (as they consider it to be of trinitarian provenance) and so declines to use that term of God? (I’m not sure he cares – but there is a big difference. The latter person may think of God as a self.) It would be an obvious mistake to assume that the second is always also the first.

      I would say that someone who believes in an ultimate source beyond the cosmos (whether or not he calls it “God”) is not a theist, not a monotheist, but rather an adherent of a rival view, which I call “Ultimism.” “God” in the context of any monotheism is a god, and so by definition a powerful self. Interestingly, Ultimism is a kind of atheism.

      • Dale Tuggy
        July 8, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

        “unaware of the divine simplicity traditions” Correction: in the comments below his post, it’s clear that he is aware of them. But it’s unclear what he means by “divine simplicity” – he seems to think it only excludes some varieties of complexity or differentiation as intrinsic to God.

        Below, when David quizzes him about his “Latin” Trinity theory,

        “Ontologically speaking, we distinguish them according to their personal properties, i.e. paternity, filiation and spiritation, just like the Bible does.
        Economically speaking, we do so by observing that the Father sent the Son, and the Father and the Son in turn sent the Spirit, etc., which is also exactly what the Bible says.
        Behold the mystery!!!”

        Sigh. Indiscernibility of identicals.

        • David Kemball-Cook
          July 9, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

          Thanks. Why is it that people have trouble seeing that if the Father is not identical with the Son (because they can be distinguished according to their personal properties), then neither can be identical to Yahweh?

          So what then is meant by ‘Jesus is God’, for a trinitarian?
          I think they find this a difficult question to answer.

          Rogers at least had a go. He replied ‘Jesus is Yahweh, fully divine, the second person of the Trinity’
          He defines ‘Jesus is God’ by ‘Jesus is Yahweh’, among other things.
          Most would call that a circular definition.
          The second and third bits of his definition ensure that he can have his Latin Trinity cake while eating his social Trinity cake (or the other way round)
          Jesus IS Yahweh (LT) and also the second person (ST)

          If I had been allowed to continue, and to ask him whether he meant the ‘is’ to be the ‘is’ of numerical identity or that of predication, I would be pretty sure that he would not know what I was talking about. (At least, that is my experience dialoguing with trinitarians on CARM.)

          Conclusion. No wonder Qureshi was not able to answer his own questions about the Trinity, because his mentors cannot answer them either.

          • Paul Anchor
            July 9, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

            “Why is it that people have trouble seeing that if the Father is not identical with the Son (because they can be distinguished according to their personal properties), then neither can be identical to Yahweh?”

            Perhaps it could be argued the persons are numerically identical in the acts of the divine nature. They all participate in each and every act of God. As one cause in and through each other. A property or attribute is not an act of God strictly speaking. If God were only attributes or properties would he actually exist if those attributes are not being active in reference to an object?

            • John
              July 10, 2015 @ 1:06 am

              Hi Paul
              You confusing nature and identity again.
              Nature is WHAT we are
              Identity is WHO we are
              -God is divine since He is the source of the divine nature – autotheos
              -Christ has INHERITED the divine nature from his Father
              -Believers are partakers in the divine nature.
              Because Paul Anchor and John (me) enjoy a human nature does NOT make me you.
              You and I have unique identities, our DNA so to speak, that means that we have unique IDENTITIES.
              By the way Trinitarians will say that “Christ is God’
              but they then go on to say that “God is three persons sharing one divine nature’ (ousia)
              Does that mean that Christ is’ three persons sharing one ‘ousia’?
              Trinitarians will try to obfuscate the matter by-
              (I) Blurring definitions
              (ii)Confusing Nature and Identity
              (iii)or, like Bauckham, ‘hybridising’ nature and identity.
              They all fail and lead to the confusion that we have today.
              God Bless

              • Paul Anchor
                July 10, 2015 @ 3:36 am

                Hi John,
                I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am not talking about identity in the sense of personal identity. I am trying to define what “numerical identity” means if I make the statement that “Jesus is God”.

                I think I can do this if I define God in aristotelian terms. At least I can try.

                If God is a living being in aristotelian terms then he is moving. All living beings are “moving” according to Aristotle. The bible also says this. We live and move and have our being. It might not be exactly the same as what Aristotle had in mind but I think it is basically the same.

                I say that when God “moves” in an Aristotelian sense then all three persons are the subject of this moving. They are numerically identical in the motion of God.

                God bless.


                • John
                  July 10, 2015 @ 5:39 am

                  My goodness Paul, your analysis is the epitome of human rationalism – and illustrates precisely what I mean about blurred definitions.
                  A person is an entity who is independently thinking and acting – and who has the identity of no-one else.
                  There are things which that individual has which are unique to that individual.
                  One doesn’t need Aristotle to tell us that God is a unique being with an absolutely unique identity . He is ‘autotheos’. There is none like Him.
                  Note that the scriptures do NOT say ‘there are none like them’ – i.e. a multiple (multipersonal) entity.
                  There are no ‘persons ‘ who share this identity or share this beings exact experiences.
                  Christ was begotten, sent, crucified… and so on.
                  There is no being who has the same identity as Paul Anchor.
                  There is no person who has the same identity as Christ.
                  You did not address my syllogism
                  -If Christ = God and
                  – God is three persons sharing one ‘ouia’
                  -Then Christ = three persons sharing one identity.

            • David Kemball-Cook
              July 10, 2015 @ 2:48 pm

              Hi Paul

              I think I am with John here.

              What do you mean by ‘the persons are numerically identical in the acts of the divine nature’?

              If they are numerically identical, they cannot be distinguished. That is, unless
              you have some new idea of ‘numerically identical’.

              • Sean Garrigan
                July 10, 2015 @ 7:49 pm

                “Further, what do you mean by ‘the persons are numerically identical in the acts of the divine nature’?”

                I second that question. How does “divine nature” perform “acts”?

              • Paul Anchor
                July 12, 2015 @ 9:05 am

                Hi David,

                “If they are numerically identical, they cannot be distinguished.”

                Yes, exactly. That’s why it seems to me that we can argue about attributes all day long but at the end of the day it’s a one way street with the dead end of “Jesus is God” being equivalent to “Jesus is (a) God” from the perspective of the Unitarian.

                Attributes can be shared but actions can’t. Humans can share their attributes but they can’t share their actions. So I would have to look for the numerical identity in any given act of God in which all three persons act as one; as one moving efficient cause of any single movement of God’s will and power to effect any given change or movement in the universe. As I see it this will give me the desired numerical identity that I am looking for in the phrase “Jesus is God”.

                For example the creation of light on the first day of creation, assuming of course that Jesus is the Son incarnate:

                3 And God the Father,Son and Holy Spirit said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God the Father,Son and Holy Spirit saw the light, that it was good: and God the Father,Son and Holy Spirit divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God the Father,Son and Holy Spirit called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

                • David Kemball-Cook
                  July 12, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

                  Hi Paul

                  I am sorry, I (honestly) don’t know what you are talking about.

                  ‘One way street … etc.’?

                  The only way I can begin to make sense of your answer is to say that you are assuming the Trinity.
                  For instance you say ‘the Son incarnate’, which assumes an eternal Son.

                  But assuming the Trinity would be begging the question, wouldn’t it?

                  • Paul Anchor
                    July 13, 2015 @ 12:39 am

                    “But assuming the Trinity would be begging the question, wouldn’t it?”

                    But I thought that was where we started from.

                    “So what then is meant by ‘Jesus is God’, for a trinitarian? I think they find this a difficult question to answer.”

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 13, 2015 @ 6:53 am

                      I’m still waiting for you to explain how “divine nature” performs “acts”. Persons perform acts, natures do not.

                    • Paul Anchor
                      July 13, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

                      What is the difference between a person and it’s nature? Is it a distinction that makes any impact on my arguments?

                    • Sean Garrigan
                      July 13, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

                      “What is the difference between a person and it’s nature? Is it a distinction that makes any impact on my arguments?”

                      One big difference is the one I already pointed out: Natures don’t perform acts, persons do.

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      July 13, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

                      Hi Paul
                      I am not assuming a Trinity.
                      And I maintain that trinitarians cannot formulate their doctrine in any way that is
                      a) logically consistent
                      b) in line with the Bible

                    • Paul Anchor
                      July 13, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

                      Hi David,

                      If the bible doesn’t “formulate” it why do I need to? What do you mean by “formulate”? In what terms?

                    • David Kemball-Cook
                      July 13, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

                      Hi Paul. I meant ‘formulate’ in the sense that the creeds try to do. The creeds (eg the Athanasian Creed) aim to define God as a Trinity. I claim they cannot do it in a way which is
                      a) logically consistent
                      b) in line with the Bible

        • Roman
          July 10, 2015 @ 7:35 am

          To be honest, I don’t really think going about the Trinity analytically is the right way to go. I think the first way to go is biblical hermeneutics, hermeneutically the trinitarian has even weaker arguments then analytically.
          From a more “Continental” style of theology, I agree find the theory of the Triniry very theologically beutiful, especially as formulated by People like John Milbank, Chesterton and others, it has a kind of tragic and beutiful appeal of the God that died.
          Problem is, it’s just not at all biblical …
          Anyway, have you ever dealt with the more “Continental” writings on the Trinity Dale? Or are you more strictly and Analytical guy?

          • John
            July 12, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

            Hi Roman
            I am interested in Dales response.
            In the meantime I would add that Trinitarians tend to ensnare their adherents in a rather beautiful web of imagery and words which prove irresistible to so many.
            I used to wonder how the Catholic Churches alleged statement along the lines of ” give us a child to the age of six…” worked.
            After all a child of six cannot even begin to understand dogma and doctrine.
            The answer is, of course that the child falls in love with the ritual, the imagery , the lights, the sounds .. and of course later the ‘full package’ which promises him a safe ‘journey’ plus last rites in the end.
            If one reads certain Trinitarian books one is invited to share the mystery, experience the wonder of the experience which can only come from the vision of a triune God.
            It’s all gobbledygook of course and not even scriptural!
            We are shown beautiful images of little dancing figures in a circle and told to marvel at the love, the simplicity, the co-equality and so on.
            Truth is , its not scriptural or even logical.
            Which one created everything?, which one was created by spiration?. which one was sent and crucified?, which one calls the other ‘the only true God’?
            It’s all really sad that good people like
            Paul Anchor are feel compelled to fight for something that is utter nonsense.
            As Dale once said, “in the end it’s Catholic tradition , or the scriptures.”
            God Bless

    • Dale Tuggy
      July 8, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

      About your comments, I especially like this bit:

      “I think a lot of Trinitarians do not understand there are these different views out there, and they think that the doctrine of the Trinity was safely cut and dried in 381 AD. In fact the theologians are still arguing about it 1600 years later.
      In addition to the elasticity of ‘person’, there is also the ambiguity in what is means to say ‘Jesus is God’ and also in the term ‘being’, which complicates Trinitarian definition.
      In dialogue with Trinitarians on Blogging Theology I discovered that most of them do not know what they mean by ‘Jesus is God’.”

      Absolutely correct. But some trinitarians *are* aware of the substantially different interpretations. Some convince themselves that these are mere differences of emphasis. Others just return neverendingly to the approved language, wishing away the differences. Some, I fear, are just arguing in bad faith in these contexts. These apologists, it seems to me, have closed ranks, collectively deciding to ignore these inter-Christian disagreements. I think it’s closely connected to the evangelical’s self-image that he just accepts all the implications of scripture, undistracted by any considerations of tradition or reason. Well, if that’s so, the Trinity must just be *obviously implied by* the Bible. But of course, it’s not. If it were, it’d have recognized before three hundred years had passed!

      Rogers comments,

      “All orthodox Christians are united in affirming the essential unity as well as the personal diversity and ontological equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is demanded by the Biblical data.”

      But as his following comments show that he knows, all three claims – “essential unity,” “personal diversity,” and “ontological equality” are and have always been in dispute. The narrative just requires him to say that the Bible obviously implies these – whatever they are! But then he goes on to endorse “Latin” trinitarianism. Presumably as such he’d have a friendly disagreement with the “social” trinitarians. But then, why not too with unitarians? Does he really think that they Bible logically implies uninterpreted *formulas*?

      Imagine some apologist pounding the table and insisting that all Christians have always agreed (or nearly so) about “divine sovereignty,” lumping together Molinists, open theists, Calvinists/Augustinians, Arminians, and so on? Such a person would come across as ignorant. The day is coming when the aggressive asserter of traditional Trinity-language will look this foolish. Anyone who cares about truth enough to work hard at it can read up on the rival interpretations/theories.

      It’s only a matter of time before your average Muslim apologist stops going along with the pretense that the formulas mean some one thing, and instantly demands in a debate that the trinitarian pony up a real, evaluable set of claims. But if they do that – danger! It’ll be immediately clear that such a controversial, speculative, not universally accepted by Christians, and probably not the sorts of things that 1st c. people would be implying or assuming. These are some of the reasons why, e.g. Rogers prefers to hide his theory behind a thick wall of traditional language, and sadly, invective.

      • David Kemball-Cook
        July 9, 2015 @ 4:29 pm

        Yes, as I see it, evangelicals HAVE to see the Trinity in the Bible. And so they must
        also effectively conflate Latin Trinity and Social Trinity into one, because
        they cannot allow significant differences between them, because they are both
        Anthony Rogers is typical. Even though he says he favours LT, he blurs the distinctions (see his answer to what is meant by ‘Jesus is God’ copied below)

        Yes, Muslim apologists should, if they have any knowledge of this, be waking up to the fact that there is no single uniform and consistent Trinity doctrine, but a collection of inconsistent claims, and should be aiming at exposing these inconsistencies.

        It is a massive shame (to put it mildly) that Christian apologetic to Muslims should be weighed down by the curse of the Trinity. So much time is spent by Muslims attacking the Trinity, and by Christians defending it, instead of talking about who is Jesus, and what is the gospel, and matching up the claims of the Koran and the Bible.