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.

18 Comments

  1. Xavier
    May 23, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    Marg

    Was Jesus just joking? Or was he really going to ascend to “where he was before“?

    Fine but the CONTEXT of the chapter would mean that he “came down…in flesh” wouldn’t it? A pre-human human. This is what your reading is forcing the text to say Marg, think about it:

    the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven…I am the bread of life… For I have come down from heaven…This bread is my flesh.

    Note that the Pharisees, once again, misunderstand this “hard teaching” and interpret it literally and then think he is talking about cannibalism.

    he also partook of the same (flesh and blood), so that he could die.

    So he took on flesh again? Since by your reading of John 6.62 he had already come down in the flesh…literally.

    I believe he was the only-begotten (monogenes) Son of God, in contrast to Adam, who was the created son of God.

    The word begotten, as most commonly understood in the Bible in reference to the birth of someone, connotes creation. Just like up any dictionary where the meaning is thus.

    Getting back to 1 Corinthians 8:6, you STILL have not given me a reasonable alternative for the argument Paul is using

    Like Col 1.15-20 I don’t believe Paul has in mind here the Genesis creation since the Bible over and over tells us that God alone, with no other person, was the Creator of the “all things” [Isa 45.12; Neh 9.6; Jer 27.5]. Something Jesus CONFIRMS twice in the Gospels [Mat 19.4; Mar 13.19].

    For alternative views see:
    http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/1-corinthians-8-6

    http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/colossians-1-15-20

    Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:30-35 seem perfectly compatible with the idea that “a body [God] prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5, 10).

    So the man Jesus was this “body” inhabited by an externally preexistent person called “the Son of God”?

    I find the argument of some Protestants to the Catholic title of Mary as “Mother of God” fascinating. The argument follows that Mary was not the Mother of God, since it would obviously be ridiculous, but the Mother of “the body”! : /

  2. Marg
    May 22, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

    I can’t keep track of the labels, Xavier. The specific “heresy” for which Arius was condemned was the teaching that “There was a time when the Son of God was not.”

    However, if your definition of “Arian” simply means belief in the literal preexistence of the Son of God, count me in.

    As for John 6:62, you are completely ignoring the relevant words: “What if you see the Son of man ascending up to where he was before?”

    Was Jesus just joking? Or was he really going to ascend to “where he was before“?

    If his words were serious, then his disciples did, indeed, see him ascend to where he was before.
    They LITERALLY saw him, LITERALLY ascend.
    And again – that harmonizes perfectly with the glory that he had with (in the immediate presence of) the Father, before the world began (John 17:5).

    No, I do not believe in a “pre-human human”. But I DO believe in a Son of God who was “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9).
    I believe that, because the children whom he was going to redeem were partakers of flesh and blood, he also partook of the same (flesh and blood), so that he could die. It was only through death that he could deliver us from the fear of death. So he did not take on [the nature of] angels, but he took on the seed of Abraham (vv. 14-15).

    I believe he was the only-begotten (monogenes) Son of God, in contrast to Adam, who was the created son of God. Adam was from the earth; the Lord was from heaven.

    Getting back to 1 Corinthians 8:6, you STILL have not given me a reasonable alternative for the argument Paul is using – namely, that because there is one God FROM whom all things come, and one Lord THROUGH whom all things come, therefore the idols are worthless. Nothing comes from them, nothing comes through them.

    Do all things come literally FROM the one God?

    Then those same “all things” come, just as literally, through the one Lord.

    Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:30-35 seem perfectly compatible with the idea that “a body [God] prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5, 10).
    In fact, I do not believe that this is when God became the Father of Jesus. My mind entirely rejects the idea that Jesus was some kind of divine/human hybrid. The conception was supernatural (as Sean pointed out); but it had nothing to do with “this day have I begotten thee.”

  3. Xavier
    May 22, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    Marge

    I suggest that the two passages already cited provide two small pieces of evidence that point in that direction.

    It sounds like you believe in a literal preexistence of Jesus as “Son of God” and that this figure was the means through which the One God created “all things”. This is what is called Arianism.

    You have not yet given me any contextual reason for rejecting that evidence.

    The Arian position is NOT found in the virgin birth account. The Synoptics tell us that “the Son” originated [genesis, Mat 1.1, 18] & thereby came into existence [gennao-ginomai, Luke 1.35; Rom 1.3] in the womb of a young Jewish virgin called Mary.

    That harmonizes perfectly with the words of Jesus in John 6:62.

    Here John compares the bread with the flesh of Jesus. Your interpretation would suggest that Jesus preexisted as a “flesh” human being before “coming down” to earth[?]. So you believe in a pre-human human?

    The writer to the Hebrews gives several corroborating passages, but that deserves separate attention.

    Actually the letter opens up by implying that the Son DID NOT exist prior to the NT times:

    In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets. In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son.

    Sounds like either he wasn’t there or that the Son was neither seen nor heard from.

  4. Marg
    May 22, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    No, I am not an Arian. Neither was Samuel Clarke.
    Not that it matters. Like Sean Finnegan, I am interested in what the Bible actually says – wherever that leads.

    What we are discussing is the evidence for the pre-existence of the Son of God. I suggest that the two passages already cited provide two small pieces of evidence that point in that direction. You have not yet given me any contextual reason for rejecting that evidence.

    Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians adds something interesting about the (one) Lord. The chapter has to do with the resurrection of Christ – something fundamental to the Christian faith, I’m sure you will agree.

    I hate to skip the first part of the chapter, and the middle; but the statement that seems to confirm the implication of ch. 8:6 is found in vv. 44-49. Paul is listing contrasts between the natural and the spiritual by contrasting Adam and Christ. So:

    The first Adam became a living soul (as all animals are).
    The last Adam, a quickening spirit (as John 5:21-23 explains).

    The first man was from (ek = out of) the earth, made of dust.
    The second man, the Lord from (ek = out of) heaven.

    That harmonizes perfectly with the words of Jesus in John 6:62. After speaking about being the bread that came down from (ek = out of) heaven, he said, “If then you should see the Son of man ascending up to where he was before?”

    According to Acts 1, the disciples DID see him ascend up to where he was before. And that fits the words of Jesus in John 17:5, when he asked that he be glorified in the Father’s presence, with the same glory that he had in the Father’s presence before the world began.

    The writer to the Hebrews gives several corroborating passages, but that deserves separate attention.

    And then there are the passages in the synoptics which, although they cannot be considered “proof texts,” are nevertheless completely in harmony with what Paul, John and the writer to the Hebrews make explicit.

    By the way, I enjoyed Finnegan’s opening statement, and agree with MOST of it.

    I don’t intend to listen to Bosserman. That may indicate a closed mind; but I have already heard Trinitarian arguments often enough to be thoroughly tired of them.

  5. Xavier
    May 21, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Marge

    And all things – visible and invisible – were created through (not by) the Son, who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1). Once again, the words would not mean much to the Colossians if they did not include the “visible” world.

    So you’re an Arian?

  6. Marg
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

    I understand the concept you refer to, Xavier, but I don’t think it fits 1 Corinthians 8:6.

    I am suggesting that the CONTEXT demands the inclusion of the natural world that the Corinthians could see around them. Paul’s argument is clear. All things come FROM the one God, THROUGH the one Lord. Therefore, idols are nothing. Nothing comes from them and nothing comes through them.

    If those “all things” do NOT include the natural world that the Corinthians are familiar with, I suggest that the argument is worthless. It leaves everything that the Corinthians can see for the idols to claim credit for.

    Paul tells the Romans that God’s power can be “understood through the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). It is the natural world, the things that are visible, that make us conscious of a Creator.

    And all things – visible and invisible – were created through (not by) the Son, who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1). Once again, the words would not mean much to the Colossians if they did not include the “visible” world.

    I would love to discuss Luke 1:35 some time soon, but I think 1 Corinthians 8 should be studied on its own merits.

    By the way, one thing I like about Anthony Buzzard’s comments re Revelation 5 is that we can both honor both God and his Son, simply because God wills it, whether we think the Son began to exist or always was.

  7. Xavier
    May 21, 2012 @ 7:53 am

    Marg

    The context is such that the “all things” must INCLUDE the natural world that the Corinthians see around them…

    Not neccesarily. It is important to understand the RESTRICTIVE way Paul sometimes uses the word “all”. For example, when Paul writes that God wishes “all” people to be saved, it is clear that this will not be the case for the WHOLE of humanity. Or when Paul talks about a “remnant” in Romans in reference to the present non-believing Jews and then says that in a yet to be undetermined time “all of Israel will be saved”, it is clear that not all unbelieving Jews will find salvation.

    When it comes to the “all things” of 1Cor 8.4-6 or Col 1.15-20 for that matter, it is clear that it does not mean the whole of Creation starting with Genesis; since that would mean Jesus was somehow there at the origin of all things before he himself originated in the womb of Mary [Luke 1.35].

  8. Marg
    May 20, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

    I notice you quote 1 Corinthians 8:6 in another thread as

    …yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor 8:6, ESV)

    If this translation does not obscure what Paul had in mind, then it constitutes one piece of evidence that the one Lord is the agent through whom the “all things” come from God.

    The context is such that the “all things” must INCLUDE the natural world that the Corinthians see around them, or Paul’s argument that the idols are nothing is an empty argument.

    Forgive me for repeating this, but the only answer I have been given so far is the suggestion by John that the New Testament isn’t reliable anyway, and Paul should have written something else.

    There are other passages that imply the same thing. It would be great if we could deal with them all in detail, so that we (or at least, I) could discard any that are just the result of poor translation OR inadequate understanding of the text.

    1 Corinthians 8:6 is a good place to start, though. Paul is definitely asserting that the one God and the one Lord are separate and distinct identities. We have no difficulty understanding that, and making use of it as evidence.

    But his argument that “idols are nothing” actually depends on the fact that the one God, FROM whom all things come, and the one Lord THROUGH whom all those things come, leave nothing at all for the idols to claim.

    So the idols are nothing. Nothing comes FROM them and nothing comes THROUGH them.

    More precisely (I think), nothing comes FROM the idols (the “gods”), and therefore nothing comes THROUGH their “lords”, the priests in the temples.

    By the way, I did enjoy Buzzard’s recent comment on Revelation 5:13, 14. Without confusing God and his Messiah, we can honor both equally, because that is the Father’s will.

  9. Dale
    May 19, 2012 @ 8:49 am

    It is clear in some of my readings that in the early church Christians believed that with God the Father there was a pre-existent son who became incarnate in Jesus.

    To understate the case, it is less than clear in the NT that Jesus existed before his conception; but translations and study Bible comments, etc. obscure this. Read, e.g. Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian by Buzzard on this if you’re interested.

    Historically, what is clear is that (1) inspired by the Jewish Platonist exegete Philo of Alexandria, (2) in the mid to late 2nd c. a number of catholic intellectuals took on a Platonic cosmology on which God can’t directly create, but must first somehow emanate a helper or craftsman who directly creates the material world for him – in the Christian version, this is Jesus, before becoming human. They (then?) found this is Pr. 8, and in various Pauline statements, and in John 1. We also know, by their reports, that (3) this was very controversial, both with common folk and with other catholic intellectuals, the main objection being that this involves two creators and so two Gods. Historians now call this “Logos theology”, and up until Origen, all its exponents seem to have held that prior to creation God somehow externalized an attribute of his, and made it an agent or self alongside him. See the posts here: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1137

    Hope that helps. Thanks for reading.

  10. Xavier
    May 18, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    Russell

    It is clear in some of my readings that in the early church Christians believed that with God the Father there was a pre-existent son who became incarnate in Jesus.

    If by “early church Christians” you mean the so-called Church Fathers like Tertullian, Ignatius, et al., then you’re probably right. They set out a speculative theology that is more Greek philosophy than actual Biblical theology.

    The ONLY problem for those who hold to a Nicea-Chalcedonian Christology is that the scriptures don’t really support their views. Take for example what you said about Jesus preexisting as the Son of God who “incarnates” in the man Jesus…where is the textual evidence for that? Instead we find strong evidence in the virgin birth narratives of a “coming into existence” [Luke 1.35] hence “origin” [Mat 1.1, 18] of the Son in the womb of Mary.

  11. Russell
    May 18, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Dale and All,
    I am an occasional dabbler in reading your website. I wrote sometime ago about your comments on Revelation. All of your comments were interesting, but I also find it all confusing. It is clear in some of my readings that in the early church Christians believed that with God the Father there was a pre-existent son who became incarnate in Jesus. He did not simply come into existence at his birth.If the Son shares in the same nature as the Father, does that not make the Son God too? I cannot believe that all of the arguments leading up to Nicea and beyond were about establishing the Son as a mere aspect of God’s being. They really believed that the Son was a center of consciousness in the company of the Father and the Spirit. But I feel like a dilettante on this subject. I await your kind comments and recommended reading.

  12. Xavier
    March 14, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    Dale

    What did you have in mind by “binitarian”?

    By binitarianism I refer to the “Two Powers” heresy that goes way back to even some of the early Rabbinic writings. And as you know, it is with people like Ignatius and Iraneaus that Jesus started to be referred to as “God” and with Justine Martyr that a literal preexistence was spawned.

    The question is whether they saw Jesus as God in the supreme sense of the word as the Gnostics believed a 2nd, lesser God.

  13. Dale
    March 13, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

    Or maybe you meant: believers in two Gods?

    They wouldn’t be that either. They believe in two (actually more) who can be called “God”, but they only believe in one God, in the most basic sense. Comparison: many people called “boss” in the company, but there is still one Boss, one CEO.

  14. Dale
    March 13, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    Xavier, we have to define “binitarian”. If it means that there are two who are equally divine, then no, none of the 2nd c. fathers would be binitarian. They all hold that the one true God, YHWH is the Father. Jesus, they are clear, is divine only in some derived sense.

    If it means there are two objects of worship, then yes, they’re all binitarian. But they’re also unitarians.

    What did you have in mind by “binitarian”?

  15. Xavier
    March 13, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    Justin, along with the other so-called “Church Fathers” were binitarian to say the least!!

  16. Dale
    March 13, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    Hey thanks for this. Interesting argument. It seems to me that Justin doesn’t quote enough; if we start at v1 and not v4, it is clear, arguably, that the context here is messianic. Still, I think it simply does not say what Justin says at the end; I think he’s on thin ice here. I think Worcester’s argument better fits the text.

  17. reality checker
    March 13, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Dale, I thought you would Find interesting the interpretation of this passage in Isaiah from Justin Martyr, a subordinationist, in his Dialogue with Trypho chapter 65. ‘Trypho’ brings up the passage in Isaiah, Notice how Justin includes it as part of a wider messianic context by including the isaiah text immediately above and below the snippet usually used. Enjoy

    “But I shall remind you of what the passage says, in order that you may recognise even from this very [place] that God gives glory to His Christ alone. And I shall take up some short passages, sirs, those which are in connection with what has been said by Trypho, and those which are also joined on in consecutive order. For I will not repeat those of another section, but those which are joined together in one. Do you also give me your attention. [The words] are these: ‘Thus saith the Lord, the God that created the heavens, and made them fast, that established the earth, and that which is in it; and gave breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them who walk therein: I the Lord God have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will strengthen Thee; and I have given Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out them that are bound from the chains, and those who sit in darkness from the prison-house. I am the Lord God; this is my name: my glory will I not give to another, nor my virtues to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass; new things which I announce, and before they are announced they are made manifest to you. Sing unto the Lord a new song: His sovereignty [is] from the end of the earth. [Sing], ye who descend into the sea, and continually sail [on it]; ye islands, and inhabitants thereof. Rejoice, O wilderness, and the villages thereof, and the houses; and the inhabitants of Cedar shall rejoice, and the inhabitants of the rock shall cry aloud from the top of the mountains: they shall give glory to God; they shall publish His virtues among the islands. The Lord God of hosts shall go forth, He shall destroy war utterly, He shall stir up zeal, and He shall cry aloud to the enemies with strength.’ ” And when I repeated this, I said to them, “Have you perceived, my friends, that God says He will give Him whom He has established as a light of the Gentiles, glory, and to no other; and not, as Trypho said, that God was retaining the glory to Himself?”

  18. Xavier
    March 12, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

    Dale

    …fought in Battle of Bunker Hill…campaigned unsuccessfully for pacifism…

    What the?! 😛