Marketing in Confusion: A Response to Dale Tuggy, Part 1


Theologically, I am a Trinitarian both of necessity and of conviction.

Part of this is because I was raised to be Trinitarian, but also this is because I have to be able to interact with the revelation of God in and through Scripture.

I believe that Scripture teaches us of a God who is completely unique, transcendent and disconnected from human affairs and yet is fundamentally immanent and completely concerned with human beings. 

This duality conflict with what one finds in the so-called “God of philosophy”, a God who is distant, emotionally disconnected, unavailable, and unknowable in any real way. Our knowledge of this God is purely by inference. Such a God doesn’t really care about the world or people. This kind of God is fully acceptable to atheists and secularists because it makes no demands upon them. It appeals to those who proclaim man’s autonomy because it has no desires or, if it does, it is subject to man’s whims.

But what of the God of the Bible?

How do we determine anything about this God?

It would seem that we would need to turn our attention to what he has made known about himself to men via his self-revelation to them, which we access through Scripture.

The conclusion has been that God, Yahweh, has revealed something about himself that is fundamentally unique when compared to the other gods of the world: he is Triune. That is to say that the being, or essence, or whatever it is that makes this God of us to be God, is shared co-extensively among three divine Persons, who are known to us as Father, Son, and Spirit.

Now, I’ve explored this elsewhere, so I won’t rehearse that here, but it suffices to say that when we consider what makes Yahweh unique, as compared to the other Gods, it cannot be limited simply to knowledge or authority, although there is some aspect to that, but that there is also something that is ontologically different about Yahweh.

Probably the clearest incidence of this ontological uniqueness is found in Isaiah 42, where Yahweh says,

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Isaiah 42:8, ESV)

However, Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer”, in John 17, betrays either a contradiction or it says something about the nature of Yahweh, when just before his crucifixion, Jesus praying says,

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:5, ESV)

If Yahweh doesn’t share his glory with another, then either God is lying, or Jesus is lying, or there’s something else behind Jesus’ words that the text expects that the reader will understand. The question is, what is that understanding?

The answer to the question cannot multiply entities beyond necessity and it must fit with the plain meaning of the text.

The seemingly obvious answer is that Jesus is somehow Yahweh, but also not Yahweh, in order to posses this otherwise unsharable glory, a glory that he claims to have had from eternity. But Jesus is just a man, born of a woman, a man who died, and was raised back to life, right?

Whatever the answer is, we have to ask whether or not we are willing to allow the text of Scripture to define and inform our theological conclusions or have we already decided what our theological conclusions are before we even come to Scripture?

Indeed, one of the greatest problems of our theological exercises is that many of our terms and definitions are not necessarily found in the text of Scripture itself but come from philosophical categories.

 The theological language of Scripture is itself fraught with danger because we have certain preconceptions of what words mean, often because we have allowed our categories to be defined, not by the original context of Scripture--the backgrounds of the original authors--but by later authors who were ignorant of that essential milieu.

I say all of this as a requisite introduction to the article that I present for consideration, an article on the website Trinities, titled “How Trinity Theories Conflict with the Bible”.

What brought the article to my attention was a tweet by philosophy professor Dale Tuggy, someone who calls himself an “analytic theologian”, who said that he “[Had] yet to see any trinitarian apologist tackle this argument, trying to explain where (they think) it goes wrong.”

Well, I’m certainly not one to back down from a challenge, so with that being said, I'm starting a series here on the blog to interact with and respond to Tuggy's article. Hope that you will follow along.

For Part 2


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