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. trinities - SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – Final Reflections (DALE)
    June 3, 2010 @ 10:51 am

    […] I flagged this issue at the start. As the debate wore on, I settled on the interpretation that each of the Three just is (is numerically identical to) God, and yet each of the three is not identical to either of the other two. I stuck with this interpretation, all the way to the bitter end. And yet, I never did like this interpretation – Bowman is a smart guy, and it is not charitable to interpret anyone, much less smart guys, as (even implicitly) contradicting themselves. Still, it seemed to best fit his claims, his lists of propositions he offered as definitions of the doctrine, and his defense of the apparent contradictoriness of the doctrine in the comments following Burke’s last post. […]

  2. trinities - SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – ROUND 6 Part 2 – Bowman (DALE)
    June 2, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

    […] he tweaks his formula (here’s the previous version): The doctrine of the Trinity is biblical if and only if all of the following propositions are […]

  3. The Great Trinity Debate, Part 5: Dave Burke’s Closing Statement
    May 22, 2010 @ 8:49 am

    […] Rob counts the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as “three persons”, all of which are called “Yahweh”, but he doesn’t want to accept that three persons each called “Yahweh” comprise three Yahwehs. He accepts the Trinity as “three persons”, when it suits him, but at other times he wants to count the three persons as one (ie. one Yahweh, or one Lord). He does this by effectively treating the three separate persons as a single unipersonal being, which is logically inconsistent and results in Modalism (see also Dale Tuggy’s critique). […]

    May 21, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

    […] trinitarian! Instead Bowman brings back his apparently inconsistent set of five claims; we’ve looked at those before. Insofar as they seem inconsistent, the argument will not seem sound. […]

  5. trinities - SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – Bowman 3 (DALE)
    April 30, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    […] my comments on his first salvo, I wondered exactly what Trinity doctrine Bowman means to defend. (Some kind of modalism?) After […]

  6. Dave Burke
    April 17, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    It’s amazing what can be called “Trinitarian” when the definition of “Trinitarian” is flexible enough.

  7. Dave Burke
    April 17, 2010 @ 6:13 am

    Well, sort of. But only to the extent that their heterodoxy helps to substantiate my argument from history.

    I don’t use any of these men to support my Christology; I use them to show that Trinitarian Christology was not the early teaching that so many people believe it to be.


  8. ScottL
    April 17, 2010 @ 5:34 am

    Just as Justin Martyr and Ireneaus help back up non-Trinitarians. 🙂

  9. Dave Burke
    April 17, 2010 @ 4:50 am

    Hahah, good call. 😛

    Let’s just say that Basil wasn’t quite as orthodox as Trinitarians have frequently represented him. 😉

  10. ScottL
    April 17, 2010 @ 4:36 am

    Well, as you say, Dave, I’ll stick to Scripture as the great basis. 😉 Just kidding.

  11. Dave Burke
    April 17, 2010 @ 4:03 am


    I’d love to see more of your thoughts on the Holy Spirit and why He (It) is not a person nor divine in Himself (Itself). But I don’t suppose you will address that much in this debate with Bowman.

    The Holy Spirit is the topic of Week 4, so it will receive plenty of attention at that point.

    While we’re on the subject, you might want to dip into the early church fathers and find out what Basil the Great had to say about it. 😉

  12. ScottL
    April 17, 2010 @ 3:46 am

    Dave –

    I’d love to see more of your thoughts on the Holy Spirit and why He (It) is not a person nor divine in Himself (Itself). But I don’t suppose you will address that much in this debate with Bowman.

  13. Dave Burke
    April 17, 2010 @ 2:46 am

    Bowman’s recent counter-rebuttal employs the “new revelation” argument, as predicted:

    Your reference to the lack of any mention of the Spirit in this text is an argument from silence and misses the progressive nature of biblical revelation. The revelation of the distinct person of the Holy Spirit was yet to come.

  14. Dave Burke
    April 15, 2010 @ 3:07 pm


    Seven years ago I sat down and drafted a template for debating Trinitarians. As part of this process, I identified three specific Trinitarian methodologies. I refer to them as Type I, Type II and Type III Trinitarianism.

    The Type I Trinitarian believes that the Trinity is partially revealed (some will say “strongly hinted at”) in the OT, and properly revealed in the NT. He sees the Trinity everywhere and will argue that the NT takes precedence over the OT because:

    Old Testament believers were unaware of God’s triune nature (yes, even the ones whom God inspired to write His Word)
    Although God dropped hints about his “tri-unity” throughout the OT, they were somehow overlooked until Christianity emerged
    Consequently, the OT does not contain an articulated doctrine of the Trinity, though it may support the concept of a triune god when carefully examined through the “enlightened” eyes of a Christian (which allows for some spectacularly arbitrary exegesis)

    There is no exegetical sophistication in this methodology, so probably doesn’t surprise you that Type I Trinitarians tend to be fundamentalists.

    The Type II Trinitarian takes the middle road.

    He argues:

    That the Trinity is not at all revealed in the OT (though some will say that the “concepts” or “blueprints” are there)
    That the Trinity is not quite fully revealed in the NT (though all will say that the deity of Christ is explicitly stated)

    The Type II rejects some of the proof texts which the Type I Trinitarian supports (but not necessarily all of them). He is particularly averse to claims of implicit and explicit Trinitarian concepts in the OT; this is because he believes that the NT brought a “new revelation” about Christ, which was somehow unknown to the inspired OT writers. Bowman ticks all the boxes for this category, which allows me to predict his arguments with a fair degree of precision. I’ll email you a summary of my expectations and we’ll see how they tally up over the next few weeks.

    Most Type IIs use some form of the old “it’s-the-best-way-to-make-sense-of-the-evidence” argument, insisting that Trinitarianism is the only valid “solution” to the “problem” of allegedly “contradictory” Scriptural data. (E.g. “the Bible says there is only one God; it also says the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God; we must therefore conclude that God is a Trinity”). You are probably familiar with it. Of course, there is no contradiction unless we approach Scripture with certain a priori assumptions about what it means and ignore the clear Scriptural signposts which help us to understand its own terms of reference. Type II Trinitarians are usually evangelical.

    The Type III Trinitarian is the most sophisticated of the three. He rejects many of the standard Trinitarian proof texts (even those found in the NT). He also argues that the deity of Christ was not fully revealed until after the zenith of the 1st Century Christian community, while the Trinity itself took centuries to develop.

    The Type III Trinitarian frequently forgoes Biblical evidence in favour of material from the Early Church Fathers. He views their work as the next logical step in the study of Scripture, bringing clarity to the NT in a way that the apostles could not. Like the Type II Trinitarian, he always interprets the OT through the lens of the NT. Apparent contradictions between OT and NT interpretations are dismissed by assuming that the NT trumps anything that the OT has to say, regardless of the logical/rational fallout that may result. Thus he concludes that whatever the OT means, it must mean the same as his interpretation of the NT.

    Type III Trinitarians are marked by an epistemological method which precludes or compromises Sola Scriptura, which is why we typically find them in churches that uphold strictly creedal Trinitarianism and some form of extra-Biblical theological tradition. A classic Type III will be Catholic, Anglican, or Orthodox, though they do have some representation within the Lutheran and evangelical communities.