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.


    May 31, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    […] I explained before, this usage of “the Holy Spirit” (as a singular referring term, referring to the […]

    May 24, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    […] with v. 11 suggests that the “Spirit” which distributes gifts at will just is God. But as I explained before, a unitarian can concede this (which is consistent with holding the Spirit-talk is sometimes about […]

  3. Dale
    May 13, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    That one I heard rarely, but more than once. More usual is indiscriminate name switching, mainly between Father and Son, without that context of crucifixion. This name switching makes sense, if you think those names refer to one and the same self (which I take it is what many at those churches believe) – e.g. calling your father “Pa”, “Dad”, and by his first name. If Jesus is God, and the Father is God, then it follows that Jesus is the Father. (meaning = for “is” all three times). A more common form: pray to God or to the Father, at the end of the prayer say, “we pray this in your name” instead of “in Jesus’ name”.

  4. ScottL
    May 13, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    Dale –

    what I’ve observed at evangelical churches is people indiscriminately switching Trinity-names. e.g. Prayer starts to Jesus, ends up thanking Father for dying for us.

    That’s interesting that you hear people thanking the Father for dying for us. I’ve never heard this ever, that I can recall. It must happen regularly in your case for it to stick in your mind?

  5. Dale
    May 12, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    Re: spontaneous prayer – what I’ve observed at evangelical churches is people indiscriminately switching Trinity-names. e.g. Prayer starts to Jesus, ends up thanking Father for dying for us. This suggests FSH modalism to me – one being, capable of being referred to in three ways – AND that being is a self, for only selves may be addressed second person.

  6. Kenny
    May 12, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    Helez: I think most Trinitarians would not object to the formulation, “Father of God” in the appropriate context, though, now that you mention it, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that phrase before. (After all, ‘Mother of God’ is an officially accept appellation.)

    Dale is of course correct that there is a big divide between ‘official’ belief – which often makes it into the liturgy – and ‘practical’ or ‘real’ belief, which is exhibited by what people do spontaneously. The fact that, e.g., churches where extemporaneous prayer is part of the service are less likely to use trinitarian formulas than those where the prayers are composed suggests that a lot of people who are supposed to be trinitarians don’t really (practically) believe it. I’ll confess that I myself am often uncertain as to what such a ‘practical’ belief would look like.

  7. Dale
    May 12, 2010 @ 9:38 am

    Again, in my view many ordinary believers are modalists about the Trinity – God is a self who relates to us in three ways. These people, then, “worship the Holy Spirit” – that is, God under that aspect – although still less often than the other two. Sometimes they think of the Spirit as God’s as immanent or omnipresent. Yet this is not to worship the Spirit as a person/self alongside the Father, as is the case with Jesus in Rev 5.

  8. Dale
    May 12, 2010 @ 9:36 am

    In a way, I think Kenny is exactly right – there are many such formulations in liturgy, etc, going along with the official catholic formulas. I think there’s often a gap, though, between assertion and belief. Suppose a guy owns 2 cars, and roundly asserts that he likes them equally well. But he showers 90% of his attention on the one – he mostly drives, cleans, cares for, shows off that one. His behavior is strong evidence that he really likes that car more than the other one.

    Similarly, many (trinitarian) writers on the Trinity have called the Holy Spirit the neglected member. But Christians are probably following the lead of scripture here… as some have pointed out in the comments, the Spirit isn’t clearly worshiped there as a self alongside God (in contrast to Jesus).

  9. Helez
    May 12, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    Kenny, thanks for your response.

    Do some Trinitarians refer to the Father of the Son of God as “the Father of God”? If not, why not?

    The Father of Jesus is the God of Jesus:
    Jesus: “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17)

    Does the Father have a God? Does God have a God? Jesus has a God though. It is the same God as the God and Father of his disciples.

  10. DEK
    May 12, 2010 @ 3:10 am

    I believe there is and there will always be a systemic gap in any concept seeking to bolster the notion that the Holy Spirit is God, no matter what level of contrivance it might attain to in the course of building its argument. The simple and self-evident truth is that never and nowhere does the Scripture allow for this formula, and we have no single instance of the Holy Spirit being called ‘God’ or ‘Lord’ in the way the Father is called either in the OT or NT. Let me try to demonstrate what I mean by this:

    * Whereas we have “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” in Pet. 1:3, we will never find anything like “Blessed be the God Holy Spirit…” in the whole of the Bible.
    * «Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ» (2Joh. 1:3) but not at all anything like “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Holy Spirit” or “the Lord Holy Spirit” throughout the Scripture.
    * “Therewith bless we God, even the Father” (Jam. 3:9), but where “Therewith bless we God, even the Holy Spirit”?
    * «Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father» (1Co. 1:3), but where “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Holy Spirit”??
    * “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”, but never “Now unto God and our Holy Spirit be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
    * “…to them that are sanctified by God the Father” (Jud. 1:1) but never anything like “to them that are sanctified by God the Holy Spirit”.

    These examples could be multiplied if not without number then surely to a far greater proportion quite easily but the essence nonetheless is this: why such a drastic difference in the language, why that systematic, I’d even say deliberate omission and let’s call it stubborn unwillingness on the part of the enlightened apostles to clearly call the Holy Spirit ‘God’ on the same lines as they so easily, so frequently and so clearly, unequivocally and unqualifiedly do when referring to the Father if this is what the Trinitarians say Bible readers are supposed to extract from the text every time the Holy Spirit comes up? I’d even put it this way: whilst no one needs any help nor assistance whatsoever in figuring out that “the Father He is God” when going through the Scripture, the reader is all along strenuously ‘helped’ by the Trinitarian on the way first to perceiving, then understanding and finally accepting that “the Holy Spirit is God too”? I’ve never heard any reasonable explanation of this more than obvious paradox and I believe there can simply be none, and this is why I’ll never be able to say that “The Holy Spirit He is God” as that is a statement no better biblically-grounded and vindicated than a huge host of other ones similarly ‘extracted’ from or read into the Scripture.

  11. Kenny
    May 11, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

    Of course modern Trinitarians worship the Holy Spirit. For one thing, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed affirms that the Holy Spirit “with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.” Second, much traditional hymnody has the following pattern:
    first stanza – worship of the ‘Father’
    second stanza – worship of the ‘Son’ or ‘Jesus’
    third stanza – worship of the ‘Holy Spirit’
    fourth stanza – worship of the ‘Trinity’
    (I use quotations because which appellation is used in each stanza is clear, whereas the reference relations are not clear.)

    For instance, this exact structure is followed by Come, Thou Almighty King.

    Another hymn, “O Trinity, Most Blessed Light”, contains text adapted from the Creed:

    All praise to God the Father be,
    All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
    Whom with the Spirit we adore
    For ever and for evermore.

    I’m not that familiar with hymnody to be able to list these things off the top of my head, but it took me all of five minutes to locate these two examples. Worship of the Holy Spirit is really very common in traditional hymnody. If it is lacking from contemporary praise choruses, that is only because the lyrics to traditional hymns were mostly written by pastors/theologians, whereas the lyrics to contemporary praise choruses were mostly written by rock musicians.

  12. ScottL
    May 11, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    Helez –

    I wonder if they also have three distinct personal relationships with each of these persons, and, when they speak of having a relationship with God, are they actually talking about having a relationship with a community of persons?

    I can’t speak for all Trinitarians and it might all be simply semantics, but in my conversation with God, I address Him as Father or Son or Holy Spirit at varying times. But I don’t see this as trying to maintain 3 different relationships, making sure I give them all the same quantitative time per day. I don’t stress about it. But whether I am speaking to the Father or Son or Spirit, I am simply convinced I am speaking to Yahweh. I don’t embrace modalism, though some might accuse this kind of thinking as modalistic.

    Do Trinitarians today generally worship the Holy Spirit as a person, like they worship Jesus? If not, why not?

    There is an old chorus that says: Father, I adore You. I lay my life before You. How I love you.

    And it is repeated two more times with ‘Father’ being replaced by ‘Jesus’ and ‘Spirit’ successively. I am ok to say we worship the Spirit of God, for we honour Him, adore Him, pray and invite Him to work in our lives, want Him to direct our lives in a Lordship manner, He intercedes for us like Christ, etc. You probably wouldn’t here people say, ‘Oh Holy Spirit, we worship You.’ You might more readily here, ‘Oh Holy Spirit, we honour and adore You.’ Again, semantics maybe. But just giving a little insight into what I have experienced since my conversion 13 years ago.

  13. ScottL
    May 11, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    I was surprised that Bowman did not address the more theological aspect of the Holy Spirit not just being the Spirit of the Father but also the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I think this worth noting from a Trinitarian perspective that the Holy Spirit is distinguishable from the Father. I share some of these thoughts in my own article.

    May 11, 2010 @ 8:15 am

    […] cases? Certainly, the Spirit is spoken of more often, and more pointedly, in personal terms. Again, as I mentioned last time, and as is argued in a Biblical Unitarian article which Burke links, many unitarians urge that […]

  15. John Brien
    May 9, 2010 @ 10:42 am

    Surely being ‘poured out’ and ‘filling’ relates to a ‘spirit’?
    Most of the referencs to the Holy Spirit I have found, show it to be
    a gift
    freely given
    partaken of
    without measure
    filled with it
    sealed with it
    overflowing with it
    baptised with it
    dewlls within us
    Surely these are qualities of an inanimate object ? Not a person?
    Best Wishes
    John Brien

  16. Dave Burke
    May 9, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    I have never heard of a Trinitarian worshipping the Holy Spirit. Never.

  17. Helez
    May 9, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    As Trinitarians believe Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are three fully distinct persons of the Godhead, I wonder if they also have three distinct personal relationships with each of these persons, and, when they speak of having a relationship with God, are they actually talking about having a relationship with a community of persons?

    Do Trinitarians today generally worship the Holy Spirit as a person, like they worship Jesus? If not, why not?

  18. Dave Burke
    May 8, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

    Bowman’s latest shows that he still doesn’t fully understand the Biblical Unitarian conception of the Holy Spirit. As you say, he attributes this argument to us:

    1. The Bible contains no progressive revelation concerning God.
    2. The OT does not reveal the Holy Spirit as a distinct divine person.
    3. Therefore, the NT does not reveal the Holy Spirit as a distinct divine person.

    Speaking personally, I don’t know any Biblical Unitarian who takes this line of reasoning.

    He makes some other errors as well, but I’ll address these in rebuttal.