Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tripping over his shoelaces

Of all the things I've read by Dale Tuggy, this is the worst: 

It seems almost unfair to critique it. 

He's just out of answers on the Trinity.

Actually, it was Dale who ran away.

1. In the person of the Son, God assumed a rational human soul and body. The Incarnation is a union between the timeless, incorporeal Son, a mind in time, and a body in space. A union between different individualized natures, analogous to Cartesian/substance dualism (although souls exist in time whereas the mind of the Son exists outside of time).

So, “God” here, I take it, means the Trinity. Somehow this thing, whatever it is…

For Dale, the Trinity is a "thing".

can act through one of its parts, the eternal, divine Logos. 

i) No, the Son is not a "part" of the Trinity. It's okay to restate what someone says in your own words so long as you preserve the semantic content. So long as your paraphrase or summary conveys the same idea, has the same meaning. But Dale's penchant is to substitute his own idea, then impute that misrepresentation to me. 

ii) Since I think the Logos is an economic title, I prefer an ontological designation (the Son), which denotes that particular member of the immanent Trinity.  

Using traditional catholic language, Hays says that this god “assumed” a “rational human soul and body” – what many catholic sources call “a complete human nature.” But then, strangely, he touts “the Incarnation” as a “union” (whatever this may mean) between this god “and a body in space.” Let’s go with this second thing he says here for the moment, that Incarnation is the Son god “assuming” a human body, resulting some sort of “union.”

i) I'm defining a rational human soul as a mind in time. Human minds are characterized by mental processes. Temporally successive thoughts. 

ii) I'm defining a human body as a body in space. Physical objects occupy space.

iii) In my dualistic anthropology, the soul subsists in time while the body subsists in time and space. As such, there's a distinction between the soul's mode of subsistence and the body's. Both subsist time, but the soul is not a physical thing. As such, the soul is strictly illocal. 

iv) I didn't say the Incarnation is a union between "this god" and a "body in space".  Rather, I said it's a union between the timeless, incorporeal Son, a mind in time, and a body in space. For some bizarre reason, Dale drops the human mind out of my formulation. 

Moreover, I didn't say it's a union between "this god", but "God in the person of the Son...

One may well ask what “assumption” means, and what sort of “union” he has in mind. But I fear that he’d do the squid getaway: squirt out a cloud of black mystery ink, and swim away as fast as he can. Let’s not poke the squid right now.

I'm happy to define my terms:

i) I'm not using "assumption" in some fancy sense. Let's take some examples. If I adopt a child, I assume the role of an adoptive father. If I get married, I assume the role of a husband. 

"Assumptive" language has the connotation of a preexisting agent who acquires a new relation or role. That's in addition to what he already was, prior to taking on that new relation or role. Becoming a husband or adoptive father doesn't mark my point of origin. 

So the point of "assumptive" language in Incarnational discourse is to indicate that the Incarnation doesn't mark the origin of the Son. Rather, the eternally preexistent Son has taken on a new relation or role. 

That's how I use the term. Admittedly, I haven't bothered to study how that's employed in Latin theological usage. Perhaps it has a more specialized sense in traditional theological usage. 

ii) I'd add that in principle, an assumption could be more immersive than taking on a social role or new relation. Consider the science fiction trope of alien invaders who replicate human bodies, transfer their alien minds into human brains, in order to study humans up close, undetected, or infiltrate human society, undetected. A common plot twist is that by experiencing humans at such an intimate level, the alien invaders become sympathetic to humans, begin thinking and feeling like humans, and shift allegiance. 

I'm not using that as an Incarnational analogy. Just using that to illustrate the fact that an "assumption" isn't necessarily superficial or extrinsic to oneself. In principle it could be more involving. 

iii) By itself, "union" is a vanilla gray term. A verbal placeholder. However, "union" language has connotations of two (or more) things becoming one in a qualified sense. Unity without dissolving the constituents into each other. For instance, the United States is a legal union of distinct states. They remain distinct from each other and from the Federal government after the union. 

iv) Let's take some further illustrations. In Cartesian dualism, there's a union between mind and body. They're not in physical contact. Rather, it's like action at a distance. The mind influences the body and the body influences the mind. The mind uses the brain and body as a vehicle.  

It isn't necessary to explicate the nature of the union to defend it. If there's evidence that mental properties are different from physical properties, then that in itself is reason to subscribe to substance dualism. 

v) Another example is spirit-possession. That can involve different kinds of spirits. Consider one kind: when the Spirit of God takes control of Ezekiel's mind and plays a movie in the seer's mind. The Spirit "assuming" the seer as a revelatory vehicle. A temporary union between the mind of the Spirit and the mind and body of the prophet. Two minds, one body. Two minds, one divine and one human. 

We’re talking about Jesus, right? A living, human being? 

Jesus is a composite being. With respect to the human nature, Jesus is a living human being. But that's not all he is. 

So Hays’s view is that this god, the Logos, takes the place of a human soul in this instance; the living being, the man we call Jesus, is a god in a bod. As a normal human is a human soul in a human body, in this case the man Jesus is supposed to be a god in (or somehow united to) a human body.

Four obvious problems with all of this:
    1. What happened to the assumed “rational” (i.e. human) soul? That’s not needed, right? Hays combines two historical, but clashing views of what Incarnation involves. On the interpretation of Hays we’re working with now, he picks Athanasius over Origen. (More here.)
    2. We all think that a non-human spirit which happens to be controlling a human body is not, thereby, a real human being. (More here.) So why think that in this case, the result would be a real man?
    3. None of the things he’s said so far is clearly taught in scripture.
    4. The catholic traditions denounce this god in a bod view as “Apollinarian” heresy.
Dale's reading incomprehension is startling. I explicitly stated three constituent elements of the Incarnation: (i) the Son; (ii) a rational human soul or mind in time, and (iii) a human body. I expressly stated that the Incarnation involves a union between the Son, on the one hand, and a human mind/soul and body on the other hand. He acts as if I eliminated the rational human soul from the union, when in fact I'm using "a mind in time" as a synonym for a rational human soul. Note the parallel, where a "body in space" is epexegetical for a physical human body while a "mind in time" is epexegetical for a rational human soul. 

But tritheist Hays speculates on:

The relation [between the god which is the Son and the human body and soul] is asymmetrical. To paraphrase Aquinas, the Incarnation entailed no change in the Son, but only in the nature newly assumed into the preexistent Son. The eternal Son became Incarnate through union with a human soul and body. Now a union is a relation. And relations newly said of God with respect to creatures do not imply a change on God’s side, but on the creature’s side by relating in a new way to God.

Not clear why he wants the Son/Logos, which he just said was “a mind in time” to be changeless. 

i) A specimen of Dale's hopeless confusion. I never said the Son was a mind in time. The human soul is a mind in time. 

ii) In my theology, God is timeless. Therefore, each member of the Trinity is timeless. 

Perhaps he thinks full deity entails timelessness, and so changelessness. This would be hard to square with the Son of the Bible, who is constantly changing.

The human nature of Christ undergoes change. His human mind and body are temporally conditioned. The Son does not undergo change. The Incarnation involves a union between something mutable (human nature) and something immutable (divine nature). Once again, we're treated to Dale's reductionistic, simpleminded analysis. 

In any case, we’re back to Origen now! Now this Son god “assumes” “a human soul and body.” The problem here, is that the dualist theory underlying this is that a human and soul are what constitute a living human person. Does Hays, like Origen (and arguably the 5th c. “fathers”) agree that in addition to the god person here (the eternal Son) there is also a human being, a man? If so, that is one too many Jesuses! If not, why not? 

The Son qua Son isn't Jesus. The Son qua Incarnate is Jesus. The Son isn't one Jesus in addition to a second Jesus. The Son is a person of the Godhead in union with a rational soul and body. The result is Jesus. 

He had an answer before – that the god assumes only a body. But he’s gone back on that. 

No, I never went back on that since I never said that in the first place. 

On the face of it, there are two selves here: the god and the man. But it’s about to get worse, as Hays appeals to the 5th c. and later idea of the composite Christ – yet another self!

2. The union produced a complex person. In a sense, Jesus has a human mind and a divine mind, but the relation is asymmetrical. The divine mind knows everything the human mind knows, while the human mind, in addition to its natural human understanding, only knows what the divine mind shares with it. The divine mind controls the human mind.

“Jesus” here means not the man (or the human nature) but rather that thing composed of the god, the soul, and the body – the godman. For all we can tell, Hays’s theory gives us a man, a god, and a godman which is composed of the first two. So, we’re up to three Jesuses. The man Jesus has the human soul, so a human mind. The other, the god, has a divine mind. The composite Jesus, then, has both, in virtue (somehow) of one one part which has each. 

Dale needs to take a remedial course in arithmetic. Jesus just is the composite. There is no Jesus apart from the composite. There is no Jesus separate from the Incarnation. There is no human Jesus who preexisted the Incarnation, who existed apart from the Son, with whom the Son subsequently formed a union. The Incarnation occurs at the moment of conception. That's when Jesus comes into being. The Son is ontologically independent of human nature he assumes. The human nature is dependent on the union. 

Although human nature can, and generally does, exist apart from Incarnation, this individualized human nature only exists in virtue of the Incarnation. 

But Hays assures us that the god here knows more than and is in control of the man.

It's the nature of God to know more than humans. It's the nature of God to be in control.

Admittedly, Dale Tuggy is an open theist, so for him, God is often ignorant and loses control. 

3. Since human nature already has communicable divine attributes, divine and human natures are sufficiently compatible to make a divine Incarnation possible. Likewise, human minds originate in God’s concept of human minds, so the idea of human minds is already contained in the Godhead.

Worse, Hays reasons poorly here, saying that because “human nature already has communicable divine attributes” – I think he means, the man here has whatever attributes the god can pass on to him – like maybe the inability to sin? – “divine and human natures are sufficiently compatible to make a divine Incarnation possible”. But this doesn’t follow. Just because some divine attributes can be given to a human, it doesn’t follow that they all are. 

The category of "communicable" divine attributes implies a category of "incommunicable" attributes. So, yes, it doesn't follow that humans share all God's attributes. Kudos to Dale's grasp of the obvious. He acts like I said something I didn't and wouldn't. 

What about essential omniscience? Essential omnipotence? Aseity? The essential inability to be tempted? Uncreatedness and eternity? Does the god-Jesus pass on the essential divine features of uncreatedness and existing at all times to the man-Jesus? This body and soul composite, after all, did not exist in 100 B.C.

Dale misses the point (what else is new?). By virtue of the communicable attributes, man is more like God than any other creature. (unless angels are more like God). It is therefore fitting for God to become a man whereas it would be unfitting for God to become a flea. 

All in all, a poor outing. He’s got the eternal god Jesus, the Logos that catholic traditions find in John 1…and he’s also got a composite godman Jesus. The former is supposed to be have always existed, while the latter came to be in the 1st century. 

Jn 1 distinguishes between the eternally preexistent Son who created the world, and the Son Incarnate. There is no Jesus who antedates the 1C. Rather, there's the eternally preexistent Son. The Son doesn't occupy a timeline. The body and soul which the Son assumed exists on a timeline. The Son has no beginning. The body and soul have a beginning. 

The existence of the Son is a necessary fact while the existence of Jesus is a contingent fact. The Son cannot fail to exist whereas Jesus could fail to exist. There are possible worlds in which the Son is discarnate. There are possible worlds in which the Son becomes Incarnate as a Chinaman, Eskimo, Apache, or Samoan. 

In addition, there is a human body and soul, apparently the owner of a human mind, and so apparently, a man. 

The soul isn't the owner of the human mind. Rather, the soul is the human mind, and vice versa. 

No doubt, Hays thinks this is what died on the cross, so again, a man, not a property, and not merely an aggregate of soul and body.

What died on the cross was the body of Jesus. 

So that’s three Jesuses. He’s not only a tritheist, he’s also a tri-Jes-ist.

Dale keeps tripping over his shoelaces. Maybe he should buy loafers so that he doesn't fall on his face so often. 


  1. The good news is, I own that I misinterpreted a sentence if your previous post. The bad news is, you really are saddled with tri-Jes-ism.

  2. Steve said:

    “A specimen of Dale's hopeless confusion. I never said the Son was a mind in time. The human soul is a mind in time.”

    Kid’s got a script. He can’t roll without it.

    “Admittedly, Dale Tuggy is an open theist, so for him, God is often ignorant and loses control.”

    Boom! Goodnight everybody.

    Dale said:

    “Now this Son god “assumes” “a human soul and body.”

    Dale’s repeated attempts to denigrate Hays’ position are cute insofar as his false Jesus is nothing more than another Dionysius or Augustus.

  3. I'd like to point out that the distinction between communicable and incommunicable attributes of God is a common and familiar distinction in systematic theology and philosophical theology. So, Steve isn't pulling that out of thin air.

    1. I have no objection to that distinction.