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. Secundus
    February 23, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

    What is wrong with this chart is that it depersonalizes the Divine Essence of God as a sort of “fourth thing” in the Trinity. The Divine Essence of the Trinity is the Divine Essence of the FATHER! The Father HIMSELF is the “root of being” of the Trinity. The Son is begotten of the FATHER from all eternity–not from some impersonal blob of “Divine Substance” out of which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit emerge! The Son is Divine because he shares the Divinity OF THE FATHER…not because he emerges from this amorphous mass of “Divinity” called “the Divine Essence”. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the FATHER, not from a seperate “Divine Essence”. It is in the PERSON OF THE FATHER HIMSELF that the Oneness of God is found. The Trinity is one because the FATHER is one, not because they all emerge from the same “Divine Primordial Soup”.

    The Son and the Holy Spirit share in the Divinity of the Father, and the Father shares his glory and his power with the Son and the Holy Spirit. All things flow FROM THE FATHER to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Everything the Son and the Spirit have comes to them from the Father. Yes, each Person has certain unique Divine attributes–as your diagram shows “Paternity” is the Father’s unique Divine attribute, and “filiation” is the Son’s unique Divine attribute, and “spiration” is the Holy Spirit’s unique Divine attribute. But each of these has to do with RELATIONSHIP to the Father. The Father alone is unbegotten and unproceeding….he is the Source, the Fountainhead, the Root of Being for the Trinity. The Son alone is Begotten, and he alone bears the relationship of a Son to the Father. Only the Holy Spirit Proceeds from the Father. What is the difference between “begotten-ness” and “procession”…no one can know…but they are SOMEHOW qualitatively different from one another. What makes the Son the Son is his relationship to the Father. What makes the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit is his relationiship to the Father. What makes the Father the Father is that he alone is the source and root of the Trinity.

    Only in this way can we affirm everything the Scriptures teach us. When we depersonalize the Divine Essence and make it into a “fourth thing” in the Trinity, and the source of the unity and oneness of the Trinity, we fall into the error of a kind of Semi-Sabellianism. This leads to the denial of the “Monarchy of the Father” as the highest in honor and source of all things in the Trinity and culminates in a kind of “Egalitarian” view of the Trinity, where there IS NO hierarchy within the Trinity, and leads to the conclusion that ANY ONE OF THE THREE of the Persons COULD have become Incarnate. Whereas the fact is that ONLY the Son could have become Incarnate because it is part of his uniqueness and his relationship to the Father. ONLY HE could have become Flesh. The Father could not and would not have. The Spirit could not and would not have. ONLY the Son…BECAUSE He is the Son…became Flesh.

    Your Fellow Seeker,

  2. Chin-Lee Chan
    September 26, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

    Hi Dale:

    I appreciate your eight parts chart.

    What is your definition of Trinity?


    Kindest regards,


  3. ted frizzell
    March 18, 2010 @ 10:30 am

    Why not use words what the bible uses ? MANIFESTED…..

    God was manifested in the flesh Tim. 3:16

    In the beginning God = the Father Gen. 1:1

    The Spirit of God = the Holy Ghost Gen. 1:2

    And God said = the word in The Gosples = JESUS

    spoken word= OLD TESTAMENT
    living word = GOSPLES
    acting word GOD IN ACTS
    explaining word IN THE EPISTLES
    revealing word = IN REVELATION
    his new name in Rev. THE WORD OF GOD= HIS NEW NAME

  4. Ted Frizzell
    August 20, 2008 @ 9:31 pm


  5. trinities - The Latin Trinity Chart 2 - a version of FSH modalism
    October 26, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

    […] a second application for my Latin Trinity chart (see the first post for what the letters designate). Let’s say that a state of affairs is a thing/substance […]

  6. Dale
    October 19, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    Hi Joseph,

    1. Each person “is” God, i.e. is a proper part of God. Each just is God in another sense as well, namely that the only component substance in each person is one and the same D (the only component being a mere property or relation). So in that sense, one might think of each person as “all of” God.

    2. D “is God”. But what is identical to the one God is T.

    3. Yes. I’m being a little vague about what precisely Fi, P, and Sp are.

    4. Why? I guess it’s just that they seem to be sort of ingredients of what has them – or, they bring with them a sort of complexity. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the lingo of parts & wholes…

    5. I think we have intuitions against “summing up” selves of any sort – I’m with you and PVI on this. But on this model, if T is going to be identical to God, it must exist.

    6. Why not say that the form (i.e. P) is the subject of D? Because that seems backwards – that’d be like saying that my whiteness in the subject of me.

    7. You and Alexander are right – you simply can’t go with full-bore, neoplatonist-style simplicity on this model. But you could take a good part of that doctrine – no form/matter, or act/potency complexity here.

  7. Joseph Jedwab
    October 13, 2007 @ 10:55 pm


    Thanks for the reply.

    1. I don’t see how identity on its own is going to do it. What’s the account of how each Person is God and how there is one God?

    2. On this model, is the divine essence God?

    3. Are you using ‘property’ and ‘universal’ interchangeably? It seems to me you could have tropes rather than universals here.

    4. If one does accept universals or tropes, why think of them as parts or something like parts of substances at all?

    5. One could say that the divine essence and each personal form exists, as does each composite of the essence and one form, but there’s no entity that is the composite of the essence and all the forms. Van Inwagen says just as the holy Family (Joseph, Mary, and Jesus) are three persons, not some entity that is the composite of the three, so the holy Trinity (F, S, and H) are three Persons, not some composite thereof. Sounds good to me.

    6. I get that on this model each Person is a composite of the essence and a form, but I don’t see why it follows the essence is the subject of the form. Why then not say rather or also that the form is the subject of the essence. And doesn’t it still seem that if the essence is the subject of each of the forms, the essence is a Father, Son, and holy Spirit, which seems wrong. If every Father generates every Son and the essence is a Father and a Son, doesn’t it follow the divine essence generates itself? But nothing generates itself.

    7. I also don’t see how this model could go with full-strength divine simplicity, but then there are I think good independent reasons to deny the full-strength version. By full-strength I mean Thomas’ account.



  8. Dale
    October 11, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

    Depends what simplicity is. A couple of people who specialize in medieval philosophy have insisted to me recently that different medievals understand this in different ways. If simplicity denies only potentiality/actuality and matter/form distinctions in God, that it allows for the model here. But you seem to take it in a stronger sense, as denying any diversity of properties or components in any sense. But if you take it too strongly, how’s that compatible with there being three distinct relational properties, or as Aquinas says, “substistent relations”?

  9. Alexander R. Pruss
    October 11, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

    If this isn’t compatible with divine simplicity, we get heterodoxy.

    The standard view of the Trinity does not make the relations be something over and beyond the persons.

  10. Dale
    October 11, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

    One more quick point, to tie this in with Alexander’s discussion that I linked. Clearly, this model commits one to realism about universals – P, Fi, and S are properties, I assume property-instances, so you can’t think of universals as general concepts or words, etc.

  11. Dale
    October 11, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

    It is a lot like Brower and Rea – on the surface at least. Really, I came up with this chart by reading misc. medievals, and it can sort of be applied in more than one way (another way in a future post).

    But here – if we’re realists about properties, and think of them as parts, or something like parts of what has them, then why won’t this do the trick – as you point out, no oddball “sameness” relations need to be asserted – just identity, and part-whole relations.

    Your remark about T is interesting. On the face of it, how can this be a trinitarian theory if there’s no x such that x = T? Many people strongly want the Trinity to just be the Christian God, including many social tinitarians, such as Richard of Oxford. The appeal of this model is that T “just is” D, as are F, S, and H, in the sense that D is sort of the core part of each… thought that’s not a good way to put it.

    Re: your second question, on this model, F is identical to the merological sum of D and P, S is identical to the sum of D and Fi, etc. So D is the subject of those relational properties, but so is (e.g.) F, because he just is D+P. So I guess the persons have them in a derived way, by one of their parts having them.

  12. Joseph Jedwab
    October 10, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    Dear Dale,

    This is of course a lot like the Brower and Rea account, except the divine essence is a thing rather than stuff. I think you’ll need to say something about why there is one God here: so perhaps there is sameness without identity and one counts Gods by such a relation. So whether this view is right, partly turns on whether one should posit such a relation in addition to identity. I don’t see why one should. I’m also not a big fan of this kind of constituent ontology, where something like a substance has properties as proper parts. But on its own terms, I note two things:

    1. I don’t see why there need be an entity T. Why not say the Trinity is not one thing but is the three divine Persons? After all, it’s not as if to make this fly we need identify the Trinity with God.

    2. I don’t see why we need say that the divine essence is the subject of the different relational properties. The subject of paternity (i.e. the entity that has the relational property of being a Father) is the Father, the composite of paternity and the divine essence. Wouldn’t saying that the divine essence is the subject of each relational property imply that the divine essence is a Father, Son, and Spirit?