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. Aaron King
    March 6, 2015 @ 2:09 am

    Hi Dale,

    I was wondering if you’ve heard of or read the book, “A Seal on the Lips of Unitarians, Trinitarians and All Others….” ??

  2. Rivers
    February 28, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

    Hi Dale,

    I really like what you said at the end of “Part 5” about coming to “[the realization] that I [Dale] needed to really revisit the whole issue, looking at the Bible on its own terms, and finding a consistent way to understand it.”

    I think this has been lost upon a lot of biblical interpreters who’ve followed the fallacious tendency of many scholars and critics to defer the authority of the biblical writers away from their own use of language in order to force an interpretation that conforms to external sources, later theological propositions, and other speculation.

    • Dale Tuggy
      March 2, 2015 @ 10:16 am

      ” conforms to external sources” Amen to that. It is very, very hard to get the Nicene goggles off.

      We agree, I think, that no minority interpretation should be accepted just because it is minority, or new, or cool, or best fits current fashions, but only because it well-motivated and illuminating of the works in question. That’s a very high bar, and I think until we reach that level, it is best to stick with traditional readings. I started with those, and slowly worked my way out.

      • Rivers
        March 2, 2015 @ 11:07 am

        Good points, Dale. 🙂

  3. David Waltz
    February 27, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

    Hi Dale,

    I am really enjoying your autobiographical series. Though you and I started our deeper theological reflections from quite different beginnings (yours being Trinitarian and mine Arian), some parallels exist in the development/evolution of our respective positions.

    In today’s installment, you pointed out that your discovery of Samuel Clarke’s, Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity came via, “a book by a theology Ph.D. named Thomas Pfizenmaier”. Though you did not give the title of the book, I am quite sure that it is his, The Trinitarian Theology of Dr. Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) – Brill, 1997, that you were referencing.

    My discovery of Clarke’s work also came via Pfizenmaier’s book (though a couple of years after you).

    Interestingly enough, I posted a thread on this back in 2008 LINK. (About three years later I found your website.)

    Anyway, wanted to share this with you; looking forward to more installments…

    Grace and peace,


    • Keefa
      February 28, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

      Hi David Waltz
      you said that you use to be an Arian, what are you now? and what changed your mind?

      • Rivers
        February 28, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

        I second Keefa’s question. 🙂

        • Dale Tuggy
          March 1, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

          Never was an “Arian” properly speaking, and never called myself that. But yes, I used to believe that Jesus existed before he was a human. I’ll get into this in a future segment, which as yet is unwritten – stay tuned.

          • Sean Garrigan
            March 2, 2015 @ 7:38 am

            Since you’ve been at both ends of the Christian spectrum, i.e. Trinitarian and Unitarian, perhaps your pendulum will swing back the other way a little and you’ll finally settle on a view that embraces Christ real personal preexistence:-)

            I sometimes tend to favor middle positions, e.g. I don’t believe in eternal torment or universal salvation, but favor annihilationism instead, and I don’t believe in the Trinity or Socinian-type Unitarianism, but favor a view that embraces Christ’s real personal heavenly preexistence instead, which seems unavoidable to me.

            • Dale Tuggy
              March 2, 2015 @ 10:11 am

              Yeah, sometimes truth lies in the middle… except when it doesn’t. 🙂

              • John
                March 5, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

                The writings of Samuel Clarke seems to have had a great impact on a number of intelligent people.
                Do his writings (in your opinion) lead to a Trinity model which is consistent?

                • Dale Tuggy
                  March 5, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

                  Hi John – it depends what you mean. I think it is a self-consistent sort of unitarian theology. As with, e.g. Origen or Tertullian, “the Trinity” on this view refers to a group, one member of which is God. But if by “Trinity model” you mean a properly speaking trinitarian theology, on which there is a tripersonal god, it is not that. Clarke would never consider calling his views “unitarian,” although many later describe him (quite correctly, in my view) that way. In his day, “unitarian” was associated with Socinianism proper, and also with the sort of unitarianism on which Jesus did not exist before being a human – and Clarke had no loyalty to either.

                  • John
                    March 6, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

                    Hi Dale,
                    I’m sure you are aware of comments made by Rea in ‘Logos’ that the doctrine of the Trinity appears to be logically inconsistent’ – echoed by The Catholic Encyclopedia which uses the words ‘appears to involve an irreconcilable contradiction’
                    Both writers then go on to suggest a model based on ‘Relational Identity’
                    Both of the proposed models are not credible to the ‘real world’ and even if they were would contradict the scriptures.!
                    As you say, Unitarian theology is generally self-consistent .
                    I appreciate your assessment of Clarkes work.
                    From the scriptures it is cleat that God is a ‘self’ – and independently thinking and acting being.
                    If Trinitarian models are not logically consistent where can Trinitarians go in order to remain credible?

                    • John
                      March 8, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

                      Having read some of your material I guess that the ‘last resort’ of Trinitarians wishing to remain ‘consistent’ is Social Trinitarianism, but as your post shows, this is not supported by scripture.
                      As you also intimated, when forced ‘to the wall’ one can declare the whole thing to be a ‘mystery’ and forget about the problems.
                      I have no difficulties with ‘mystery’ – after all God is a mystery.
                      Man made mysteries are a different thing! Just human rationalisation!

                  • Matt13weedhacker
                    June 15, 2015 @ 5:20 am

                    I.E. Theophilus Ad Autolycus Book 2, Chapter 15: “??? ???????, ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?????”

                    Note: ??? ????

                    • Dale Tuggy
                      June 15, 2015 @ 9:14 am

                      You leave us to guess at your point, but I guess it is that you think the triad is here said to be “of God” – perhaps your idea is that here we see an assertion of a tripersonal God.

                      But here is how we translate this passage, from the ANF
                      “…the three days… are types of the Trinity [better: trinity, or triad], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom.” p. 101

                      Notice that the one God is *a member of* the Trinity here. The whole book assumes that “the god” is the Father; there is no suggestion of a tripersonal god. This is a classic example of what Wolfson calls a “two-stage” Logos theory, on which the Logos comes to exist (i.e. comes to exist as a being, not as a mere attribute) just before creation. (II.10 and II.22)

                      When looking at a translation of this, be aware that the translators, I think for theological reasons, will often render (not ho theos, but) theos as “God.” If you know some Greek, then you’ll know why this can be a problem.

                    • Matt13weedhacker
                      June 16, 2015 @ 6:41 am

                      I apologize Dale. I didn’t make my point clear at all. Sorry.

                      I was actually agreeing with you, when you said: “As with, e.g. Origen or Tertullian, “the Trinity” on this view refers to a group, one member of which is God.”

                      As in the case of Theophilus of Antioch, one of the group, was “God” i.e. ??? ???? = a stand alone identity. That was my point.

                      Theophilus was not saying that “God” was the Tri{3}ad, or that the Tri{3}ad was God. Nor was Theophilus saying that “the three” were collectively the God.

                      At that time, there was no unity aspect attached to the word ???????, (or ?????). Plus there is no three-within-oneness inherent in the etymology of ???????, (or ?????). At all. Compare Book 1, Chapter 20, Sections 1-9, of “Noctes Atticae” by Aulus Gellius, (circa. 125-after-185 C.E.), where ???????, (or ?????) = Ltn., “ternio”. Gk., “???????”, (or ?????) is a common Greek word of simple enumeration.

                      Ltn., “trinitas” which was a word later coined or invented by the apostate Christian heretic, Tertullain. The self confessed follower of the false prophet Montanus.

                      Last of all, the context forbids it. See ??????? in the very next breath/sentence.

                      The person Who was definitively God to Theophilus, was a separate identity in and of Himself. “The God,” in this context, is simply enumerated with two other subjects as reflecting a “type,” in a series of types. It is quite likely that the “??? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?????”, of God here, are referring to His impersonal qualities of reason and wisdom. Just a couple of sentences preceding this passage Theophilus writes:

                      “…And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being – ( full of ) – all power, and understanding, and
                      [Gk., ?????? ] wisdom, and immortality, and all good…”

                      Notice also the twice repeated Gk., ?????, in:

                      “??? ???????, ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?????,”

                      Lit., “of the three [Or: “group of three” “triad”], of the One Who [is] definitively God, and of the word/logos ( of Him ), and of the wisdom/sophia ( of Him ).”

                      So Dale. I agree with you that there is no tri{3}personal God here. I agree that there is “three” enumerated here, and that the Father, as ? ???? is one of them. I’m not Tri{3}nitarian, nor promoting belief in a Ltn., “trinitas”.

              • Rivers
                March 8, 2015 @ 7:46 am


                Good point. Sometimes people take the “middle ground” because they aren’t capable of making up their minds one way or the other. 🙂

                • Sean Garrigan
                  March 8, 2015 @ 1:48 pm

                  Perhaps, but in my case I take the middle ground on the two issues I noted because I find it the best scriptural fit.

      • David Waltz
        March 2, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

        Hi Keefa,

        My current position is virtually identical to that of Samuel Clarke. In THIS THREAD, I sum up my current view in “5 propositions”.

        As for why I moved away from Arianism (BTW, I was raised a JW—4th generation), it was in no small due to my reading of the early Church Fathers, and the fact that Arianism had/has no “convincing antecedent” prior to Arius (see R.P.C. Hanson’s The Search for the Doctrine of God, p. 88).

        Grace and peace,


        • Sean Garrigan
          March 7, 2015 @ 11:03 am

          Hi David,

          While Arianism proper probably didn’t exist before Arius, the belief that Jesus existed in heaven prior to his earthly life almost certainly did.

          I have a very different perspective, i.e. I would never move toward or away from any theological position in response to reading the “Fathers.” They’re simply to late in time and intellectual place to be trusted to get right what earliest Christianity was about. They seem more useful in showing how later Christianity diverged from its antecedents, but not for establishing continuity.


          • Rivers
            March 8, 2015 @ 7:44 am


            Good points. 🙂

    • Dale Tuggy
      March 2, 2015 @ 10:21 am

      Thanks, David. That is a nice post on Clarke’s views. Yeah, his is basically a pre-Nicene catholic view. He heavily cites Novation, Origen, Tertullian, and others in support of his views. I now think that he is too complacent in accepting some traditional arguments, e.g. for Jesus’s two natures, or for the deity and distinct personality of the spirit. But he was, as an Anglican minister, strongly motivated to be catholic – just less catholic than Catholics.