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. Ben Nasmith
    July 22, 2013 @ 2:52 am

    I really like this book. But… in chapter 6 he argues that Hard EFS (eternal functional subordination) amounts to assigning the Son the property of being subordinate at all times in all possible worlds. This amounts to an essential property of the Son. The Father doesn’t have that property therefore Hard EFS entails heteroousios.

    This inspired me to dust off my The Nature of Necessity where I noticed that all world-index properties are also essential. So it would seem that for every contingent property of the Son, such as being incarnate, there is also an essential property – being incarnate in alpha (where alpha is the actual world). But then the Father doesn’t have that same essential world-indexed property so by the same argument form, the incarnation entails heteroousios.

    Am I missing something here? I suspect McCall is equivocating on Plantinga-essences vs. Nicaea-natures. I still think Hard EFS is wrong, just not according to this argument (or else the incarnation would also entail heteroousios). I sketched this out in a post if anyone’s interested – http://wp.me/3HhGo


  2. Dale
    January 15, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for the comment.

    One difference between Christian philosophers and theologians re: the Trinity is that the former are generally not just exploring various analogies – they are usually constructing metaphysical models. I call this the project of “Rational Reconstruction” on “Rational Reinterpretation”. See these posts starting with part seven of that series, at the bottom. Or see my “On Positive Mysterianism”.

    Concerned with consistency, the philosophers are trying to come up with a way of understanding “the” doctrine which seems consistent. To accomplish this, one must spell out how one understands the creedal claims, enough of them that one could think it is all orthodox.

    In contrast, theologians, following the 4th c. “fathers”, tend to assume that no significant grasp of the creedal claims is possible. Thus, they follow Augustine and others in being content with offering multiple analogies, some of which seem to clash, in that, we can’t see how they could both fit one reality. I understand this as part and parcel of “”Negative Mysterianism”.

    I think both approaches have desperate problems – but that’s another conversation.

    BTW – you should read McCall’s book – it is more accessible than the one you mention on your blog. My “Trinity” entry would also be helpful.


  3. Luke Thompson
    January 14, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

    As a theologian, I kinda like his statement

    theologians “need not undertake to show how God is three and one. Indeed, to attempt to do so reeks of hubris.” (232)

    Frankly, mere theologians will not have the intricate clear thoughts that philosophers do. They should definitely leave it up to the philosophers to answer to the “how” question.
    Now that being said, if I as a theologian want to present your guys’ philosophical analogies as plausible ways to interpret the creeds at the theological level. Will it be irritating to see me unable to select just one? I know that relative identity is incompatible with Leibniz’s law, but I don’t have the knowledge that would be necessary to say one was right or wrong. Where I am at, I can only say that they both seem to me to be plausible.


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