Dale Tuggy Responds

In a podcast on 2/19/18, Dale Tuggy responded my response to his challenge to “Jesus is God” apologists. Today, I will be reviewing this response to see how it does. You can read my full response in the previous article. For a recap, Dr. Tuggy argues from the fact that “God” and “Jesus” differ, to the conclusion that “Jesus is not a god”. My main problem with his argument was is fourth premise, which states:

  • For any x and y, x and y are the same god only if they are not two (i.e. are numerically identical). [emphasis in the original]

My argument was simply that no serious Trinitarian, apologist or otherwise, would accept this premise, since Trinitarian theology simply is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God, but different Persons, and so while they are not numerically identical, the nature of the one God is such that it has within it all three Persons, and so each one can be referred to as God.

Tuggy’s New Response

In response to my article, Tuggy argues that what I’m committed to by rejecting premise 4 is “relative identity theory”. This is the theory that you can have an x and y that are the same A but different B’s. Premise 4 in Tuggy’s argument is essentially just, as he says, a specific case of a general theory that rejects relative identity theory. As he states, the premise could be more generally stated as, for any x and y, if x and y are the same A, then x and y are numerically identical. You can put any noun in the place of A and it works: same dog, same city, same anything. All premise 4 is is a specific example, putting the word “god” in place of A.

So, the only way I can reject premise 4 is to ascribe to relative identity theory, which holds that x and y can be the same thing in one sense, but two different things in another sense. I feel it is important, to avoid confusion, that this is a theory of identity, not predication. In other words, it’s not the theory that one person can be both a teacher and a father. That is predication, not identity. This is saying that the Bob and “Scooter” are the same man, but two different police officers. And not just figuratively, but really. This doesn’t seem to make sense in ordinary language speaking about ordinary things.

Tuggy believes that if I accept relative identity theory with respect to God, then he has me contradicting Scripture that speaks of the Father or God as being the “God of” Jesus. “God of”, Tuggy argues, is not a reflexive relation, meaning a relation one can have to oneself. I can be my own attorney, but—when specifically speaking of the one true God—God cannot be His own God. Not really. I’ll address this more fully below, but I don’t think this poses any real challenge to Trinitarian theology, or even truly saying “Jesus is God” within that theology.

So how does this apply to God and Trinitarian theology? If you’ve read my series on the Trinity and answering Unitarian arguments, you know that what I take to be definitional of the Trinity is to simply affirm the definitional statements that make it up, all of which are taught in Scripture. One of those is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each identified as God. I haven’t spent a lot of time on various philosophers’ theories of the Trinity and how it all works. If you’ve read my material, I believe that a person can be a biblical Trinitarian without having to explain just how it all works.

This hasn’t stopped some from trying, however, especially those who are more philosophically inclined. I haven’t checked the citation, but Tuggy stated in the podcast that William Lane Craig has a view of the Trinity that does hold Jesus to possess Deity, but isn’t properly called “God”. He would say only the full being, the full Trinity, is properly called God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the Persons that share the being of God and all possess full Deity. Now, this does mean that Craig can avoid having to talk about relative identity theory with philosophers who bring it up, since he doesn’t say “Jesus is God”, but then he doesn’t really say “The Father is God”, either. Only that the Trinity is God, and the Persons are not “identified” as God.

I was not aware of Craig’s position, and it could be said that Craig would reject my formulation of what truths make up the Trinity. He would not say, as I do, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each identified as God. As I have said, my way of parsing the different definitional statements may differ from someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean one is right and the other wrong. For me, Craig’s way of explaining the Trinity sounds consistent with what I have said, but a bit further away from the biblical language. He still has just one God. He has the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as distinct Persons. And he has the Persons all sharing equally in the deity of the one God. I can see the appeal of his view philosophically, as it is simpler to explain, but it just has to rework many of the statements in Scripture that do affirm Jesus as God. Having to constantly say what Scripture really means in light of my own philosophy is not an appealing prospect. As I have said, I would rather have philosophical awkwardness than Scriptural awkwardness in my theology.

So What Is the Main Issue?

I will say that I have learned a few new philosophical terms and concepts from Dale Tuggy’s podcast episode. I know what relative identity theory is now, and thinking about it reminds me of my days in Philosophy Club in college. So, do I have to accept relative identity theory to reject Tuggy’s premise? One thing I learned in my own philosophy studies was that metaphysics is really hard to nail down, sometimes. In philosophy, metaphysics is not the ooey gooey stuff like astrology and spirituality, but rather the study of just what reality is like. It deals with theories of the ultimate nature of things. Some also use the term “ontology” almost interchangeably with “metaphysics”.

What I mean by metaphysics being hard to nail down is that it can be difficult to decide what word to use to refer to something, and sometimes there is fuzziness in reality that makes things difficult. One special topics class I took was called Metaphysics of Material Objects. The point of the class was to examine different philosophers’ views on just what physical objects are really like. The reason philosophers talk about these kinds of things is that the questions do actually get quite difficult. The most famous example that raises the hard question is the example of Theseus’s ship. Suppose Theseus goes sailing in a newly built wooden ship all over the world, but as time goes on, planks have to be replaced to keep it seaworthy. Eventually every single piece of wood in the entire ship is replaced before it comes back home. The question is, where is Theseus’ ship? Is it back in the harbor where it came from? Is it in pieces all over the Mediterranean? Suppose a powerful being was able to salvage every original piece, restore it to its original condition, and rebuild the ship with the original pieces. Now where is Theseus’ ship? These and other questions are why philosophers have tried to come up with a consistent metaphysical theory. The problem is that virtually no theory of material objects is both (a) consistent with reality, and (b) easily matched up to language as we normally use it.

In the case of Theseus’s ship, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer about which ship really is Theseus’s ship. If it does seem obvious to you, then that is because of your underlying metaphysical leanings, but those leanings are not universal. Some philosophers have, in an attempt to have a clear, consistent view of material objects, developed theories and positions that would sound downright crazy to the average person. Two examples should suffice to give an idea. As a disclaimer, this is information based what I read over a decade ago. If any philosopher changed their view after that, I am unaware.

Peter Van Inwagen attempts to simplify the issues surrounding material objects through reduction. In order to solve the problems related to parts and wholes, he holds that there are only two types of physical objects: “simples”, which are just whatever the smallest, indivisible particle could be, and living things. Or, the way he puts it, the only objects that have parts are objects that are composed of simples that are caught up in an event called a “life”. So, for Van Inwagen, the normal physical objects we all refer to don’t really exist as objects. They are just collections of simples. The only real objects other than simples are those that are living. This makes answering a lot of difficult questions very easy. He can just deny that most things are really “things”. Theseus’s ship never existed. There was always only a collection of simples that was ship-shaped, but nothing more.

Another philosopher, David Lewis, went to the other extreme and held to universalism regarding physical objects. He held that literally any combination of simples or other objects counted as an object just as much as any objects we normally discuss. So, not only do you have a house as an object, but all the houses in the neighborhood as an object, too, and the group containing your car and a specific dog in India is also an object, and also, the Andromeda galaxy, my copy of the Canterbury Tales, and all the members of the Seattle Seahawks are also parts of a real object. For Lewis, since it’s difficult to come up with clear criteria for determining what counts as an object, he just says we don’t need any criteria.

Add to this what the current model of physics seems to imply, that, at bottom, there are no actual “particles” that make up the atoms that make up everything else. Many physicists now say that these base particles, like quarks, protons, etc, aren’t really particles at all, but waves in certain fields, and it’s all very complex. Time may tell if they are right, but the general trajectory of science is that it has found more and more complexity in the world as it digs deeper.

My reason for heading down this path is to illustrate one thing. Philosophers differ greatly on some of the simplest questions, because, when we keep poking at them, those questions illustrate how our normal language usage, while useful for communicating things we actually need to know in our regular lives, is inadequate to really answer some of the deeper issues that are there. God has already revealed the fact that creation reveals His glory, and that He Himself is beyond comprehension. When we really see how little of the created universe that we understand and can make sense of, it screams at us how much greater God must be. It should come as no surprise that the ways He is spoken of in Scripture are difficult for us to categorize neatly. More on this below.

Fitting our Theology to Scripture

So, how do I handle Tuggy’s challenge to my position? I would say he’s heading in the right direction when he gets to working with the biblical text. The problems arise whenever we try to make the text fit our philosophical concerns, rather than fitting our philosophy, or theology, to the text of Scripture. If a question as seemingly simple as, “What counts as a physical object?”, is as hard to answer as it turns out to be, how much harder would it be to nail down all the specifics philosophers like to nail down with respect to an infinite God, complex enough in nature and mind to have created a universe with calculus and whatever quantum realities actually underlie it all?

It is certainly just fine, on a philosophical level, to ask questions about “identity” statements that stipulate that we are talking about numerical identity, something we might intuitively symbolize with “=”. So, Samuel Clemens = Mark Twain; the God of the Old Testament = Yahweh; etc. When we begin to examine the Scriptures, though, and let them all speak, we see that they are comfortable saying things in ways that trouble philosophers. Multi-volume works can and likely have been written on all of the curious and difficult things found in the Scriptures.

First, let me address Tuggy’s challenge regarding the fact that the Father is said to be the “God of” Jesus, in various ways. I completely agree that this is there and have no problem with it. Now, Tuggy says that this poses an unresolvable problem if I accept relative identity theory with regard to God, and said it has something to do with the fact that “God of” is a non-reflexive relation. I.e., it is not a relation one can have to himself. I agree. As I have said elsewhere and have read many places, this relation is one that holds between the Father and the incarnate Jesus. The way I understand Jesus to be fully God and fully Man is that He possesses, at the same time, all divine attributes, and all human attributes. This I believe because Scripture testifies to the deity of Christ in many different ways, and also testifies to the full humanity of Christ. How it works is not revealed to us, but we affirm what Scripture affirms, and so there is no problem when Jesus is spoken of as having human limitations and doing human things, while still being fully God. And so Trinitarians have generally spoken of Jesus using phrases such as “as to His humanity”, or “in His divine nature”. It is shorthand for the affirmation that Jesus is spoken of in these two ways in Scripture, and therefore, the ways we normally talk about regular people don’t necessarily apply to Him the same way. So, I see no difficulty in my theology for saying that the Father is the God of Jesus, because Jesus is a human being, and the most righteous human being to ever live would worship God. I do think these Scriptures are a serious problem for the oneness person or modalist, since there is only one Person there, and it would have Jesus being the God of Himself. I believe Jesus is not the God of Himself. The Father is the God of Jesus, because Jesus is human.

So why does Tuggy take this to be a problem if I affirm relative identity theory? He doesn’t specify, except by speaking about the “God of” relation, so perhaps there are some things he assumes anyone should know about non-reflexive relations and relative identity theory, but I’m not aware of them. If I had to guess, I would say that He thinks that if there exists a non-reflexive relation between two A’s, then there simply is no way the two could be the same B. Or maybe he’s implying an argument that, if there is only one God, then only that one could bear the relationship “God of” to anything or anyone else, and if something “has a God”, then the God of that something has to be the one God and that something cannot, therefore, be the one God. This is Unitarian argumentation 101. This I’m familiar with, but I don’t see its relevance to relative identity theory. If I accept relative identity, then wouldn’t I just say that “God of” is a relation the Father bears to the Son in a different way than they are the same God?

On the one hand, what I believe about the Trinity does sound, at times, like relative identity, but at other times, it doesn’t, since I don’t believe I have ever claimed that Jesus and “God” are numerically identical in any sense, really. If I’m understanding Tuggy correctly, it seems numerical identity is the only identity he is referencing, relative or not. Or maybe relative identity is a different kind of identity than numerical identity. Either way, when coming to Scripture, it is our responsibility to interpret it according to what the original author would have intended. What we simply cannot do is try to cram Scriptural language into modern language and force the writers to be saying things exactly how we might. We have to interpret them in their own context.

How Scripture Uses These Words

A perfect example of this contextualizing of language as it relates to Trinity specifically is to realize that, in the New Testament epistles, the normal titles used of the Father and Son are “God” and “Lord”, respectively, though there are numerous exceptions to this. The Father is called at times “Father”, “God”, “God and Father”, “Lord, etc. The Son may be called “Son”, “Lord”, “God”, “Lord and Savior”, “God and Savior”, etc. If we insist that the meaning of each of these words is static and literal and cannot have any flexibility, than it becomes painfully easy to show contradictions in Scripture. Scripture calls both Yahweh in the Old Testament and Jesus not only “Savior”, but the only Savior. As a Trinitarian, I take this to be evidence of deity for the Son, but a non-Trinitarian still has to explain how that works, and whatever explanation they come up with, it will require some flexibility in language. Namely, that the words may mean something slightly different in different contexts. Unitarians do this all the time when speaking of different kinds of “worship” applied to God versus Jesus versus human authorities. When the Scripture does use “God” of Jesus, they have no problem being flexible on what that means.

It is not, therefore, any problem for the Trinitarian to say that Jesus and the Father are the same God in one sense, but that the Father is the “God of” Jesus in a different sense. To clarify what I mean, at least, by these statements:

The Father and the Son are the same God – The Father and Jesus are members of the Trinity, and share the one Being of God, but are distinct Persons within that Being.

The Father is the God of Jesus – Jesus possesses both the nature of God, and the nature of man. Being a man, Jesus relates to the Father as any other man ought to, and so, since the Father is the God of all men, the Father is the God of Jesus.

Notice that the first statement isn’t a numerical identity statement. It isn’t intended to be one. It is intended to be a way of expressing what Scripture expresses. Notice also that the second statement does not use “God” the same way as the first. “God of” is a relation between God and a member of the created order. Jesus is unique in all existence because, by having two natures, He is both uncreated, as to His deity, and created, as to His humanity.

I don’t know if I have a firm enough grasp of relative identity to know whether I might affirm it in the special case of God, but I have offered what I think is a Scripturally faithful explanation of how the Father can be the God of Jesus and Jesus can still be both God and man. I think, though, that Tuggy’s (and most Unitarians’) argument that I’m running into Scriptural problems with regard to the deity of Christ can be turned around on anyone who denies Jesus’ deity, and in even more forceful ways. Jesus’ deity is not just affirmed in His being called “God”, though that certainly happens. As I’ve pointed out in other posts, there are other ways Jesus’ deity is expressed in Scripture:

  • Jesus is called “God”
  • Jesus has “Yahweh” passages applied to Him
  • Jesus exercises God’s authority
  • Jesus is Creator
  • Jesus does the other works of God
  • Jesus is worshiped/honored like God
  • The “I am” statements in John
  • Jesus has all the attributes of God
  • Jesus has divine titles that are explicitly made exclusive to God applied to Him
  • Jesus has divine titles that are only applied to God applied to Him

I’m familiar with common Unitarian explanations of the passages underlying these statements, and I’m sure Tuggy is familiar with my explanation of how Jesus can have a God and also be God. The issue is, and has always been, the total testimony of Scripture. What Tuggy’s challenge attempts to do is to make the affirmation, “Jesus is God” into a numerical identity statement, which it generally isn’t. It may be some kind of identity statement, or maybe it’s just a description of His nature, but Scripture just doesn’t use language the way Tuggy insists we do in order to be philosophically rigorous.

When we use philosophical categories and language as our starting point, we have to change or reinterpret the language of Scripture to make it fit. When we use Scriptural categories and language as our starting point, we have to admit to limitations in the ability of rigorous philosophical language to express Scriptural truths.

Deriving Our Theology from Scripture

One final thing this whole issue of comparing philosophical commitments to Scriptural commitments reminds me of is how we get our theology, and one way to determine what Scripture is actually teaching. When I was a Unitarian, I was so baffled by all of the extra-biblical language often used by Trinitarians that I thought they just couldn’t possibly be right. My theology was made up of things I could go to Scripture to support, I thought. Of course, I also knew of the verses appealed to by Trinitarians to support their position, along with the answers to those arguments. For a long time, though, I never stepped back to really evaluate what I believed and what I rejected in light of the positive statements of Scripture. Instead, I was favoring only some of Scripture, then filtering everything through my theology, which was based heavily on what seemed logically reasonable to me. To illustrate what I mean, consider the following sequence.

  1. Scriptures about one God and Jesus as human –>no difficulties
  2. Commitment to logical simplicity in describing God–> no difficulties

My theology seemed so much more simple than the Trinitarians who seemed to have to do all kinds of logical gymnastics to make their theology work. What I was missing was that, due to my commitment to these first two concepts, the third concept is where I had difficulties:

  1. Scriptures that speak of plurality in God, deity of Christ, and personhood/deity of the Holy Spirit –> difficulties present that require arguments to overcome

So while I was criticizing Trinitarians for logical gymnastics. I was deeply engaged in interpretive gymnastics regarding Scripture. If you are a Unitarian who thinks I’m making that up, go to your favorite Unitarian website that handles these issues and ask yourself what the website devotes most of its writing or media to. Do they have all of the Scriptures used by Trinitarians linked with explanations to get around Trinitarian arguments? If they’re any good, they do. And there is nothing wrong with this, but it illustrates the logical sequence of accepting the first two concepts above leads to the third, without fail.

I didn’t understand at first, but have subsequently figured out that for Trinitarians, the order of these concepts is different:

  1. Scriptures about one God and Jesus as human –> no difficulties
  2. Scriptures that speak of plurality in God, deity of Christ, and personhood/deity of the Holy Spirit –> no difficulties
  3. Commitment to logical simplicity –> difficulties present that require arguments to overcome

Both sides have to deal with the arguments of the other side. That’s just normal human discourse and disagreement. For Trinitarians, though, the real area of difficulty is that of trying to fit all the Scriptures into our thinking without logical quandaries. Both side have difficulties, but Trinitarians and Unitarians find themselves handling different kinds of difficulties. The way I came to this conclusion was by way of another realization that I’m sure Unitarians would disagree with: Trinitarian theology is based on affirming what Scripture positively affirms, leading to difficulties in explanation philosophically, while Unitarianism affirms only those positive statements of Scripture that can be filtered through certain commitments to logical simplicity, and thus has to answer difficult passages of Scripture appealed to by Trinitarians. Both sides affirm some of the same Scriptures, but Trinitarians affirm more without having to explain difficult Scriptures. Again, go to your favorite Trinitarian website that devotes time to this issue, and you will find the majority of time spent on explaining how Scripture positively supports their position, and comparatively little on any “difficult passages”, because, for the Trinitarian, difficulties don’t generally arise from the text, but from logical questions.

When I say the Trinity is derived from positive statements in Scripture, I mean that Scripture actually says the things that make up the doctrine of the Trinity. Consider the following partial list of things Trinitarians believe, broken down into the simplest statements, and the Scriptures that just say that. Try, if you can, to set aside the “answers” to why it doesn’t really mean the Trinity is true, and just see that, on the surface, these things are found, stated positively, in Scripture.

  1. There is only one God (Isa. 43:10)
  2. God is the eternal one (Psa. 93:2)
  3. God alone is Creator (Isa. 45:12)
  4. God alone is Judge (Isa. 3:13, Psa. 96:13)
  5. God alone is to be worshiped (Matt. 4:10)
  6. Yahweh alone is God (Isa. 44:6)
  7. Yahweh alone is Savior (Isa. 43:11)
  8. Yahweh will come (Psa. 96:13)
  9. Every knee will bow to Yahweh (Isa. 45:23)
  10. The Father is called “God” (1 Cor. 8:6)
  11. Jesus is called “God” (Heb. 1:8)
  12. Jesus was in the form of God (Phil. 2:6)
  13. Jesus is Creator (Col. 1:16)
  14. Jesus is worshiped just as God is (Rev. 5:13-14)
  15. Jesus is Savior (Luke 2:11)
  16. Jesus alone is Savior (Acts 4:12)
  17. Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9)
  18. Jesus is prayed to (Acts 7:59-60)
  19. Jesus came, fulfilling prophecy that Yahweh will come (John 1:23/Isa. 40:3)
  20. Jesus is human (2 John 1:7)
  21. Jesus learned (Luke 2:52)
  22. Jesus prayed to God (John 17:5)
  23. Jesus has a God (Eph. 1:3)
  24. Jesus was tempted (Matt. 4:1)
  25. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13)
  26. The Holy Spirit is called “God” (Acts 5:4)
  27. The Spirit is poured out in believers (Acts 2:17)
  28. The Holy Spirit makes decisions, a personal trait (Acts 15:28)
  29. The Holy Spirit can be lied to, a personal trait (Acts 5:3)
  30. The Holy Spirit has a will, a personal trait (1 Cor. 12:11)
  31. The Holy Spirit intercedes with the Father, a personal activity (Rom. 8:26
  32. The Father speaks of the Son (Matt. 3:16-17)
  33. The Son Speaks to the Father (John 17:5)
  34. The Father sends the Spirit (Acts 2:33)

I will stop here, but more could be listed, of course. Whether you are Trinitarian or Unitarian, you cannot deny that these statements exist in Scripture. Trinitarians simply affirm them all, and then have to wrestle with the logical questions (but not, I believe, any real, logical contradictions) that arise by affirming all of these things. And, really, to affirm all of these things without qualification just is Trinitarianism.

Consider now, the following list of things Unitarians affirm, and the Scriptures that support them.

  1. There is only one God (Isa. 43:10)
  2. God is the eternal one (Psa. 93:2)
  3. God alone is Creator (Isa. 45:12)
  4. Yahweh alone is God (Isa. 44:6)
  5. Jesus is Savior (Luke 2:11)
  6. Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9)
  7. Jesus is human (2 John 1:7)
  8. Jesus learned (Luke 2:52)
  9. Jesus prayed to God (John 17:5)
  10. Jesus has a God (Eph. 1:3)
  11. Jesus was tempted (Matt. 4:1)
  12. Jesus is not God
  13. Jesus is not eternal
  14. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13)
  15. The Father speaks of the Son (Matt. 3:16-17)
  16. The Son speaks to the Father (John 17:5)
  17. The Father sends the Spirit (Acts 2:33)
  18. The Spirit is poured out in believers (Acts 2:17)
  19. The Spirit is not a person
  20. The worship of Jesus is not like the worship of God
  21. God exists as only one Person, not three Persons

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of Unitarian beliefs, but gives a good enough sample to illustrate what I’m getting to. Notice that, alongside the positive statements listed above, with supporting Scriptures, the statements in bold are negative statements about what Unitarians reject. Scripture certainly contains negative statements (before me was no god formed…), but these particular negative statements are not found in Scripture. They are derived by the philosophical commitments Unitarians have. Notice that, if you were to remove all of the negative statements from the above list, what remains are all things Trinitarians believe.

This list isn’t arbitrary. When you really ask about what distinguishes Unitarian theology, Unitarians may make positive statements, but every truly positive statement they make from Scripture is also affirmed by Trinitarians. The only way they have available to actually say what makes their theology unique is to make statements that either limit or negate (only the Father is God; Jesus is not eternal; The Spirit is not a Person). This would be ok except that not one of these negations is actually found in the Bible. Every single one must be inferred and for every single one, there is a verse (or many) that affirms what they deny.

This is what I mean by deriving our theology from Scripture. Trinitarian theology is all based on Scripture. Certainly there are things Trinitarians say in an effort to further explain their beliefs that aren’t directly stated in Scripture, but we all do that. The Unitarian has many things he affirms (in bold above) that are never stated in Scripture either. I believe that most Unitarians believe these things because they think they are implied by what is in Scripture, but that is the exact same argument the Trinitarian makes for his theology. Both sides are alike with respect to the things they say that aren’t explicit in Scripture. The Unitarian cannot accuse the Trinitarian of being wrong for believing things not explicitly taught in Scripture without also rejecting what he believes that is not explicit in Scripture. This is the problem. All of the distinctively Unitarian beliefs are extra-biblical. What Unitarians can point to in Scripture to positively support their beliefs are also affirmed by Trinitarians. But the conclusions Unitarians come to that separate them from Trinitarians are just those things not actually found in Scripture. Again, take out the extra-biblical Unitarian beliefs from the list above and you are just left with a partial list of Trinitarian beliefs.

While both sides are alike in believing that their extra-biblical beliefs are implied by Scripture, both sides are not on equal footing regarding the foundation of what they believe. For Trinitarians, you can take away those things not stated in Scripture and you still have Trinitarianism (see the first list above. It exhausts all that is essential to Trinitarian theology). That is because the Trinity is a doctrine formulated by an exhaustive survey and understanding of Scripture, incorporating all of it and ignoring none. The same cannot be said of Unitarianism. For the Unitarian, certain Scriptures are given priority, then that partial survey of Scripture is run through a philosophical grid that leads to Unitarian conclusions. Finally, the remaining Scriptures get explained away, whether by reference to other Scriptures in different contexts (word-study defense), or by saying that Scripture should be taken “representationally” (shaliach defense), or something else. The problem is that other non-Trinitarians do the same thing, but by prioritizing different Scriptures (such as Oneness folks or Mormons).

So, I don’t know if what I’ve said at this point fits within Tuggy’s philosophical grid, but it most certainly addresses his biblical concerns on biblical terms. As I’ve said before, I would much rather have a theology that runs into difficult philosophical questions than one that is philosophically untroubling, but that I’m always having to rescue from the plain text of the Bible.

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