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 - Linkage: The Importance of Nicea (Dale)
    April 11, 2008 @ 12:56 am

    […] covered this in more theological detail some time […]

  2. JohnO
    September 11, 2006 @ 2:14 pm


    “unitarianism is self-defeating” – Better tell the Jews – since this was the single most important creed they believed in (Deut 6:4). AND JESUS BELIEVED IT TOO (Mark 12:29)

    And I am not a JW either. Jesus did not pre-exist in any fashion (other than in the thoughts of God – much like children exist in the minds of their parents as they plan to have them), nor was Jesus ever an angel.

  3. Jeff Downs
    September 10, 2006 @ 1:01 am

    It is actually “Downs”, but that is Ok, I’m the one that spelled it wrong.

    I understand your reject these things and therefore reject God’s word. Christ was clearly more than a “normal man” or a mere man, even before his birth, since it is was Christ the Lord who Mary gave birth, and for some “stange” reason, John leaped in his mothers womb when the two mothers met.

    I won’t call you a name (referencing one of your latest post), I’ll just state that I’m in agreement some of them, since you reject the clear teaching of scripture.

  4. vynette
    September 9, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    Jeff Dowsn,

    All Christian denominations are united in teaching that Jesus was more than a normal man, born in the normal fashion. I reject all such teachings as unscriptural, including those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  5. Jeff Dowsn
    September 9, 2006 @ 3:00 am

    Since you can draw the conclusion (from what I don’t know) that Vynette is right, I can do the same, but the with opposite conclusion.

    Frankly, I have not been reading through Dale’s post, I just knew JWs would end up on this blog.

    Might want to stay tuned, I will be posted an article on my site title “The Centrality of Trinitarianism,” in which R.K. McGregor Wright begins to article why the Trinity is central to the Bible and how unitarianism is self-defeating.

  6. JohnO
    September 8, 2006 @ 11:04 pm

    Well Jeff – Dale is doing our work for us. Showing us the inconsistencies in your own creeds. Furthermore any answers to these problems don’t seem to be plausible – and even less scripturally supported. The burden of proof is on you.

  7. Jeff Downs
    September 8, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

    No, Vynette is not right! 🙂

  8. JohnO
    September 8, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    Vynette is right, although I do ascribe the virgin birth – don’t know if she wouldn’t agree with that from her statement.

  9. vynette
    September 8, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

    May I just step in and restate what I’ve said here before?

    The doctrine of the trinity, whatever its essence, nature, substance or person(s), is unscriptural. Jesus was a normal man, born in the normal fashion, anointed by YHVH for a specific purpose.

  10. JohnO
    September 8, 2006 @ 12:34 am

    Short sentances, with simple words. Is it really that hard to understand?

  11. Jeff Dowsn
    September 7, 2006 @ 4:10 am

    Wow John, I’ll leave you with that great wisdom you just imparted up us. I am baffled. Press on.

  12. JohnO
    September 6, 2006 @ 10:43 pm

    “Substance” does not make one a class of being. Designation does. “God” isn’t a person – even though we commonly use the term in that manner. YHWH is a person. YHWH is a God. YHWH is the God. Therefore we can say YHWH is God. But not that God is YHWH. God is a designation of being. I am a man by substance. YHWH is a spirit by substance. Angels are spirits by substance. I would imagine that angels and YHWH are made of the same ‘spirit-stuff’. The difference is YHWH’s designation – his classification of existence – as the ultimate being – who we call God.

    My substance as a man doesn’t make me you, nor you me. Therefore even though we have the same substance (humanity) we are different people. We cannot say there is one man (in our case), but rather two men. There are two persons, and two men.

  13. Jeff Downs
    September 6, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

    Bingo, substance refers to that which makes God, God.

    Where is the disagreement on this?

  14. JohnO
    September 6, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    Jeff, as I stated, I’m not sure I could give a detailed precise definition. I can give you the definition by which their statements reflect:

    substance (n.) – the matter or energy which constitutes a being.

    Or if you want to use the straight greek word transliterated, that is fine too. I object because they themselves cannot agree – neither historically nor now.

    Kenny – Dale did post it, and I’ve read it previously, and now just re-read it. His post actually points out how none of these claims are consistent. Which underscores what I’m saying

  15. Kenny
    September 6, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

    John – at least we’re agreed on what we’re arguing about! Dale has already posted quite a bit on ways of rendering these claims consistent, and I’m sure there is more to come. See especially http://trinities.org/blog/archives/8

  16. Jeff Dowsn
    September 6, 2006 @ 2:23 am

    If you can’t not give us an understanding of the term substance, why would you be critical of Trinitarians use?

    Regarding the use of philosophical terms – is it wrong to use non-biblical words to get a point across?

  17. JohnO
    September 6, 2006 @ 12:54 am

    I can’t explicitly… I’m not sure they can either. But the closest thing I can come up with is ‘homeoousis’ – a non-Biblical, Greek philosophical word. In any case, the burden of proof is on trinitarians, it is their claim. My claim is quite simple. YHWH is God. He is the Father. He is one person, identified with singular pronouns thousands upon thousands of times. He says of himself there are no other true Gods, and Jesus calls him the only true God.

  18. Jeff Downs
    September 5, 2006 @ 1:51 pm

    John O stated “In the Bible God is never identifed as a substance.”

    John, can you tell us what Trinitarians mean by the word substance?


  19. JohnO
    September 4, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    Kenny – I’m saying your definition is contradictory, and self-defeating. Which is where all the problems that your must deal with throughout church history have come from.

    You claim Jesus (J) is God (G) and the Father (F) is God (G) and the holy spirit (H) is God (G). J=G, F=G, H=G, yet J!=F and so on. I know you’ve heard it before. To say that Jesus is fully God means that J is not a subset of G. J encompases all that G is. And so must F and H. Therefore if J!=F, J contains more than G, therefore G is not God. Because God is defined as the utmost being – there is none “more” than God.

    Also Jesus, being identified as fully God, died. God, as stated by the Bible is immortal (1Tim). God cannot die. Yet this person who was fully God, died.

    The entire argument has more contradictions than words. It is not biblically founded in the least.

  20. Kenny
    September 3, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

    JohnO – this is an argument that trinitarianism is incoherent and/or unbiblical (and an argument that trinitarians must deal with – and have tried to deal with countless times throughout church history), it is not an argument that trinitarianism is tritheism. As I said before, trinitarianism is by definition not tritheism, because trinitarianism explicitly affirms that “there is one God, the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6). That’s all I’m saying (right now).

  21. JohnO
    September 1, 2006 @ 5:49 pm


    In the Bible God is never identifed as a substance. I don’t care what the creeds say. God is always always a Person. So to say that three different Persons are God – you have three Gods.

    To be a “God” is a classification of a being. Not a description of a being. Therefore monotheism states that only one person has the classification of “God”. That one person is YHWH.

  22. Dale
    September 1, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

    Hi Mike,

    No, I haven’t read that book.

    Is Zizioulas saying that God is in the ontological category of a relationship? (If so, that looks like a problem…) Or is he saying that God is a substance, but he essence includes inter-trinitarian personal relationships? I’m sorry, I just don’t have a take on this. At first glance, he seems far from modalism, but in reality I have no idea – I’d have to dig through the book more. If you’d like, feel free to supply more of what you take to be crucial quotes.

  23. Mike
    September 1, 2006 @ 1:32 am

    I wonder if you’ve read John Zizioulas’ Being As Communion? For a non-philosopher, it’s pretty tough sledding…but here goes.

    You’ve raised the question in this topic, “What is the sense of ‘substance’ here?” I recall elsewhere in your blog objecting to your wife relating to your “easygoingness”: I believe you asserted your wife had to relate to you, the person. I’ll trust you’ll correct my memory here if I’ve got it wrong…but, your easygoingness is not a substance. Correct?

    Zizioulas would- possibly- argue, sure, easygoingness is not a substance, but the relationship itself, more specifically: communion, is an ontological category as we discuss or describe the Trinity. “The Holy Trinity is a primordial ontological concept and not a notion which is added to the divine substance or rather which follows it, as is the case in the dogmatic manuals of the West and, alas, in those of the East in modern times. The substance of God, “God,” has no ontological content, no true being, apart from communion.” (p.17)

    At first glance, this reads to me as a type 4 or type 6 FSH modalism…but, that Zizioulas takes a relationship, “communion,” as an ontological category to determine substance has me confused. I’m not sure if he’s being vague like Nicea, or if he’s dodging clarity, or if he’s on to something here.

    Your take? Thanks.

  24. Kenny
    August 31, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    John – what it means to be trinitarian is precisley that: to assert that there are three divine Persons while still claiming that there is only one God (i.e. still claiming to be a monotheist). It is one thing to argue that the trinitarian position is logically inconsistent (and this has, of course, been done quite often), but it is by definition a monotheistic position.

    Dale – I assume we will next deal with the expanded version from Constantinople 1, and the difference between “begetting” and “proceeding”? I think we do probably have a properly trinitarian formulation by that point, since we begin by affirming “I believe in one God” and then go on to identify three distinct divine Persons. However, things are still a little mucky, as the Father seems to be more closely related to deity than the others in the text of the Creed, and the Holy Spirit is not explicitly called God, but only “Lord and Giver of Life,” but the deity of the Holy Spirit must be implicitly recognized here, because it says that the Holy Spirit “has spoken through the Prophets” and the prophets claimed to be giving direct quotations from God.

    Looking forward to further discussion on these fascinating issues!

  25. JohnO
    August 30, 2006 @ 5:43 pm


    So then, can you claim to be a trinitarian (Jesus is fully God and fully man)? All the wile maintaining you are a monotheist?

  26. Dale
    August 30, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    Hi John,

    About John 10 – I agree. It blows me away how often this exchange is warped by an agenda. Here’s a paraphrase:

    Pharisees: You, a man, claim to be God!
    Jesus: What’s the big deal? In the Book, men to whom God’s word is addressed are called “gods”. So its hardly blasphemy for me to claim to be the *Son* of God.

    So part of Jesus’ point is that someone can be called “theos” and be other than the one true God, even a man, no less.

    Typical application (by apologetics guys, conservative theologians): [repeating the Pharisees] “See, Jesus claimed to be God.” People are reading their agenda into the texts big time.

    Jesus’ point (end of the passage) is rather to emphasize that people should trust him because God is clearly with him, empowering and working through him. He draws attention not to his essential nature, but to his relation to the Father – being sent by him, doing his work – being “in” the Father (and the Father being “in” him). As to Jesus’ metaphysical status, this whole exchange is arguably neutral, although v. 36 may be taken to support Jesus’ pre-existence.

    I also agree that the NT both assumes and asserts that Jesus and YHWH are not numerically identical. That just follows from some things being true of one that aren’t true of the other. The passages you cite also presuppose the difference. Many sophisticated trinitarians, though, grant that, and argue that Jesus and YHWH are “the same” in a different sense…

    Re: ditheism, I think the Nicene creed is ambiguous. Probably some people read it in a way suggested by later Latin trinitarianism, which tilts towards modalism, and some read it more along the lines of begetting and procession, where the Father is the “font of divinity” – leaning towards tritheism or ditheism.

    As to being “betrayed” by my post, you should know that I’ve given an extended argument in print (Rel Stud 40, 2004, 274ff) that the NT asserts the numerical identity of YHWH and the Father of Jesus.

  27. JohnO
    August 30, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

    Jesus says that the judges of Israel can be called Gods in John 10:34-35 (and this applies to the very pharisees to whom he is speaking).

    So why is there a problem when Jesus – the Messiah – a worthy judge of Israel is also called God in the same manner in Heb 1 and John 20? There shouldn’t be.

    Furthermore, as the poster states the Father is often identified as God – meaning YHWH – the creator of Heavens and Earth. And the NT makes this distinction plain. Jesus says that his Father is the only true God (John 17:3). And Paul says that the Father is the only God (1Cor8:6). This would preclude Jesus from being the all-powerful ever-present, immortal God YHWH.

    Dale, your own post betrays you:
    “It presents two persons who are each ‘true God'”

    Yet you say:
    “but it doesn’t,… that God is multi-personal.”

    If there are two seperate distinct Persons who are God – this is not MONOtheism – and therefore void.

  28. Dale
    August 30, 2006 @ 12:20 am

    Hi JohnO,

    I’m not even sure I’d call it binitarian. It presents two persons who are each “true God”, and so worship worthy, but it doesn’t, as far as I can see, present the claim that there are two or three persons “in God”, or that God is multi-personal.

    I’m not sure I get your point about the context of the use of ‘god’. Can you say a little more?

  29. JohnO
    August 29, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

    Quite it isn’t a trinitarian document at all. It is binitarian. Furthermore, the NT use of ‘god’ for Jesus (Heb 1, John 20) are in the same context as Jesus’ use of ‘god’ towards the pharisees (John 10) – quite a different context as the NT’s use of ‘God’ for the Father – there is “one God, the Father”, 1Cor8:6, and “the only true God” John 17:3.