Saturday, July 02, 2011

Tuggy's intellectual shortcuts


Steve, it is amazing to me that when I try to un-confuse you on basic logic, I get abused as some kind of arrogant rationalist. But I'll continue, for the sake of the less smug who may read this.

Actually, I hadn’t leveled that accusation. But since you bring it up, yes, there’s a sense in which you’re a rationalist, albeit a rationalist who takes intellectual shortcuts.

You also try to try to bully your opponents into submission. Maybe intimidation works in the classroom, but it has no effect on me.

For a relation to be symmetrical means that if A bears that relation to B, then also B bears it to A. A symmetrical relation doesn't have a direction, as it were.

You admitted at the outset that you know nothing about enantiomorphism.

See here sections 1&2.

I’m already acquainted with the Stanford entry on identity, which, of course, doesn’t address enantiomorphism. Nice bait-n-switch, though.

Geach's position is widely rejected…

I didn’t appeal to Geach, so that’s a red herring.

But I do claim that it is self-evident that there's such thing as =, and that L's Law is self-evident as well, and that these are part of our God-given common sense, and so, really don't need arguing for, for us to rely on them.

Since your unitarian god doesn’t exist, that appeal fails to inspire much confidence. Beyond that, there are several basic problems with your argument:

1. Does Isaian monotheism contradict the Trinity?

Tuggy likes to bandy this charge, but I have yet to see him even begin to rigorously derive that contradiction from Isaian prooftexts. If he’s going to allege a logical contradiction, then that’s a logically stringent allegation. He has to meet to meet a rigorous burden of proof. Just making facile appeals to the law of identity will hardly suffice.

This is what I derive from Isa 40-48:

i) Isaiah logically excludes the possibility that someone without Yahweh’s attributes could be truly divine.

ii) Isaiah logically excludes the possibility that someone with Yahweh’s attributes couldn’t be truly divine.

But I don’t see, by logical implication, how one validly infers from either or both of those propositions that the Trinity contradicts Isaian monotheism.

2. Tuggy has conceded if God is a Trinity, then that’s a necessary truth. In that event, he can’t simply invoke another necessary truth (or what he takes to be another necessary truth) to falsify the Trinity.

If we’re confronted with two apparent necessary truths which apparently contradict each other, what should we do about that? We can’t arbitrarily privilege one necessary truth over another. And a contradiction (real or apparent) doesn’t point in any particular direction regarding the possible resolution.

At best, that shifts to the issue of what’s our degree of warrant for believing that an apparent necessary truth is, in fact a necessary truth? In case of conflict, how do we weigh the comparative warrant for one with the comparative warrant for the other?

The warrant for believing the Trinity is a necessary truth involves the warrant for believing the Bible is inspired, as well as believing the Bible teaches the Trinity.

3. Tuggy says Leibniz law is self-evidently true whereas the Trinity is not self-evidently true.

Keep in mind that he hasn’t actually demonstrated the relevance of Leibniz law to his unitarian prooftexts.

But for the sake of argument, is it self-evident that Leibniz law is a necessary truth? Take the Stanford entry on psychologism:

I think psychologism is wrong, but a philosopher like Tuggy can’t just stipulate that psychologism is self-evidently wrong, for the arguments and counterarguments are quite complicated.

And this illustrates a larger problem for Tuggy: the status of necessary truths is worldview-dependent. Imagine if he were debating W. V. Quine rather than James Anderson. The presumption would be quite different.

On the one hand is the warrant for believing necessary truths like (arguendo) Leibniz law.

On the other hand, the warrant for believing there are no necessary truths given the warrant for believing in things like physicalism, psychologism, eliminative materialism, naturalistic evolution, &c.

I don’t believe those things myself, but as a philosopher, Tuggy can’t act as though his own position is a just a given.

4. Finally, Tuggy’s own position runs afoul of Leibniz law:

One Man’s Story: How to Have a Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary

The story went like this:
”For our 25th wedding anniversary, I took my wife to Hawaii. Now, on our 50th anniversary, I’ll go there and bring her back.”
Adapted from Colby King, Washington Post. (Please note: I do not share Mr. King’s view of what constitutes a good marriage or even a marriage. But I just had a good belly laugh when I read this and I wanted to pass it along with a proper attribution.)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Blasphemy and exaltation

In a religious atmosphere where it is presupposed that God is not a man, one can heap exalted terms, terms normally reserved for God, onto that special man, the Son of Man, and people will not infer that that man is God himself. Over and over, you ignore the crucial points that predictions about YHWH can be fulfilled in his special agent, and that beings other that YHWH can be called by names and titles normally reserved for YHWH - even the proper name, "Yahweh"!

An obvious problem with Tuggy’s contention is that Jesus was executed for blasphemy. That’s multiply-attested in the synoptic gospels. Moreover, the blasphemy charge also crops up in the Fourth Gospel.

Therefore, in the “religious atmosphere” of 1C Palestinian Judaism wherein the Gospels are set, the audience inferred the very thing that Tuggy denies such an audience would infer.

The unitarian conundrum

Dale Tuggy has two methodological tricks for deflecting Trinitarian prooftexts. He has a hermeutical trick by which he relegates all divine ascriptions to Jesus to merely agential ascriptions. And he has a philosophical trick by which he preemptively discounts all divine ascriptions to Jesus because they (allegedly) violate the law of identity.

Unfortunately for him, his two methodological tricks are working at cross-purposes.

I. The epistemic indiscernibility of identicals

If any divine property or prerogative, however apparently unique to God, can be reassigned to a creaturely agent, then there’s no way to tell the difference between what’s God and what’s not God. At a noetic level, the Creator and the creature become perceptually indiscernible.

II. The ontic indiscernibility of identicals

And the dilemma, if possible, runs even deeper. If mere creaturely agents can actually assume divine properties and divine prerogatives, then the Creator and the creature become metaphysically indiscernible.

Tuggy’s monotheism quickly degenerates into pantheism. A chain-of-being in which divinity is a matter of degree rather than kind. 

The name above every name


God wants us to worship Jesus - compare the heavenly worship scene in Rev 5. This topic of worship and idolatry is a fascinating topic, and one unitarians have spent a lot of time on - can't go into it all here though. (Yes, there have been some unitarians like Priestley who enthusiastically wielded charges of idolatry against trinatiarins.)
The sequence of Rev 4 & 5 is interesting. Rev 4 is all a vision of God (the Father), like in Isaiah or Ezekiel.
Jesus makes his entry in ch. 5 looking very much like a creature entering God's court, and is declared worthy because of his obedience (9-10) to God, accomplishing the mission God gave him. On this basis, he's worthy to receive the things in v. 12 - things which if he were God, he would not need to be given. Consequently, he is worshiped alongside God, as if sharing God's throne. (13-4)

Several problems:

i) One of the major themes in Revelation is the distinction between true and false worship (e.g. 19:10; 22:9).

ii) Actually, Jesus makes his first appearance in chap. 1.

a) There we find a Yahwistic text (Zech 12:10) directly applied to Jesus (Rev 1:9).

b) We also find a uniquely Yahwistic title (Isa 44:6; 48:12) alternately applied to the Father and the Son (Rev 1:8,17; cf. 21:6,13). This places Jesus on a par with Yahweh and the Father alike.

ii) The interrelation between Rev 4 & 5 is, indeed instructive. Parallel doxologies are applied to both (4:11; 5:12). The whole point of the back-to-back comparison is to accentuate their parity.

iii) In fact, the doxology for Son is even more effusive than the doxology for the Father.

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

iv) The concentric architecture also accentuates the divine worship of Jesus. The divine throne-room is structured in concentric circles. The whole point is to make the central figure God.

v) As for Jesus “looking very much like a creature,” let’s not forget how he looks in chap. 1:

 12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

This includes imagery which evokes the Ancient of Days in Dan 7:9-10.

vi) As far as appearances go, let’s not forget that the Father is also depicted in human terms, as a monarch seated on a physical throne (Rev 4:2).

vi) From an incarnational standpoint, Christ is creature and Creator in one, so highlighting some creaturely aspects of Christ is hardly at odds with Trinitarian theology or Christology.

This is all parallel to Phil 2:1-11. Unitarians see these as about the exaltation of Jesus for the first time, not a restoration of former glory temporarily laid aside.

i) That destroys the V-shaped line of Phil 2:1-11, where you have the downward motion followed by the upward motion. The ascent presupposes the prior descent.

ii) This is underscored by the:

a) Synonymous parallelism between morphe theou and isa theo

as well as the:

b) Antithetical parallelism between morphe theou and morphe doulou.

iii) Then, in vv9-11, you have a uniquely Yahwistic text directly applied to Christ. To take in the full context:

Isa 45:18-25

 18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens

   (he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
   (he established it;
he did not create it empty,
    he formed it to be inhabited!):
"I am the LORD, and there is no other. 19 I did not speak in secret,
   in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
    'Seek me in vain.'
I the LORD speak the truth;
   I declare what is right.

 20 "Assemble yourselves and come;
   draw near together,
   you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge
   who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god
   that cannot save.
21 Declare and present your case;
   let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
   Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the LORD?
   And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
   there is none besides me.

 22"Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
   For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
   from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
   a word that shall not return:
'To me every knee shall bow,
   every tongue shall swear allegiance.'

 24 "Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me,
   are righteousness and strength;
to him shall come and be ashamed
    all who were incensed against him.
25In the LORD all the offspring of Israel
   shall be justified and shall glory."

Phil 2:9-11

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Unitarian apostates

Sam, you should be embarrassed to slander a Christian like this. I worship the one true God, and have since I was born again in 1978.

I wasn’t planning to comment on Tuggy’s Christian status. Since, however, he’s thrown down the gauntlet, I’ll take it up.

i) Tuggy is a paradigm apostate. What is more, like many apostates, he’s also a recruiter. A self-deceived deceiver.

From a Reformed standpoint, if he dies in his current condition, he was never regenerate. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 Jn 2:19).

ii) Tuggy ceased to be a Christian the moment he became a unitarian. “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 Jn 2:23).

Keep in mind that John’s antithetical statement is contextualized by John’s high Christology. John repeatedly teaches the deity of Christ.

For a useful summary of the evidence, cf. Andreas Köstenberger, “The Deity of Christ in John’s Gospel,” “The Deity of Christ in John’s Letters and the Book of Revelation,” C. Morgan & R. Peterson, eds. The Deity of Christ (Crossway 2011), chaps 4,6.

Of course, unitarians like Tuggy deny that John teaches the deity of Christ, but that’s irrelevant. Unitarian Christology is on a par with Ufological Christology. You have professing Christians who think Jesus was really an alien from outer space. They, too, deny the deity of Christ. The fact that both groups present alternative Christologies doesn’t make them Christian. Just deluded.

Tuggy has allied himself with John’s Christ-denying opponents in 1 John. Sam didn't slander Tuggy. Rather, Tuggy slanders the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. 

I can't fathom where you get the idea that I'm uninterested in exegesis (prejudice based on my being a philosopher?); in point of fact, I've spent many years sweating through the texts, reading trinitarian and unitarian arguments with constant recourse to them.

In my exchanges with Tuggy, he ducks exegesis. And for someone like Tuggy, exegesis is a waste of time. Regardless of what the exegesis yields, Tuggy can always resort to his philosophical escape-cause to evade any unwelcome exegetical results.

The very point of the logic is to find some fixed points to reason about what the authors are and are not saying, on the assumption that they are self-consistent.

But Tuggy doesn’t assume the viewpoint of the Bible writers to understand how they understood consistency. Rather, he swaps out their understanding, then swamps in his understanding.  

Does the Trinity contradict monotheism?

Unitarians like Dale Tuggy claim the Trinity contradicts Biblical monotheism. It allegedly violates the logical law of identity. However, there are several problems with his accusation:

i) A logical contradiction is a logically stringent category. Yet the Bible doesn’t define God’s unicity in logically stringent terms. Strictly speaking, the Bible doesn’t “define” God’s unicity at all.

Yet you’d need a stringent definition, which is derivable from Scripture, as a precondition to generate a logical contradiction–or apparent contradiction.

ii) The most detailed explication of divine unicity occurs in Isa 40-48. That, however, isn’t logically rigorous. Rather, that involves a contingent historical illustration. It compares the true God with the pagan pantheon of the ANE. So it’s a fairly generic, limited comparison.

The true God is distinguished by his premeditation, creative power, exhaustive foreknowledge, meticulous, inexorable providence, and miraculous deeds. The gods of the heathen are nonentities because they lack these characteristics.

True deity is (informally) defined by the possession of these indicia while spurious deity is (informally) defined by the absence of these indicia.

It would be contradictory for the true God to lack one or more of these indicia. Likewise, it would be contradictory for a false god to embody one or more of these indicia. That’s the framework.

That, however, is not logically equivalent to the claim that only one party can embody these attributes. In Isaian terms, it’s not contradictory to say that more than one party could embody these attributes. To say Ashur is a false god because he fails to embody the attributes of Yahweh does not entail the proposition that Messiah can’t possess the attributes of Yahweh. Indeed, if Messiah did embody these attributes, then by definition, he’d be truly divine.

Tuggy likes to vaguely assert a logical contradiction, but I have yet to see him actually derive a contradiction from his Isaian prooftexts.

iii) In addition, this is not a bare logical possibility. For there’s evidence that Isaiah did, in fact, exercise that option.

Take the accession oracle in Isa 9:1-7. In this oracle the “crown prince” not only has royal titles, but divine titles (9:6). Even a liberal commentator like Goldingay admits that all four titles are theophoric titles:

Wonder-working planner

In Isaian usage, one of Yahweh’s defining attributes is the fact that he’s a God who plans the future, and successfully implements whatever he plans. No one tells him how to plan the future (e.g. 14:24-27; 40:13-14; 45:9-11; 46:10-11).

Warrior God

In context, that’s a standard title for the divine warrior (par. 10:21; 42:13; cf. Deut 10:17; Jer 32:18), who leads his army into battle. Who leads his people to victory.

Everlasting Father

In context, that’s a divine title for the God who adopted Israel and David (e.g. 63:16; 64:7; cf. Deut 32:6; 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 89:26,29).

Prince of Peace

This is another military title (cf. Dan 8:11,25), which parallels El Gibbor. Both titles evoke the divine warrior motif.

BTW, even a liberal commentator like Childs admits that this is an eschatological oracle rather than a historic coronation text. 

Understanding the Early Development of the House Churches in Rome 5: Patronage and Leadership

Since I haven’t been able to publish every day, just by way of review, my goal in this series is to present a useful (and easily accessible) overview of some of the writings that discuss the recent historical understanding that the earliest Roman church was composed of a network of households, and thus, that they had no single leader. This, in turn, flatly contradicts both the pronouncements of “perpetual” successors given at Vatican I, and the history that Roman Catholic Church has been telling for centuries about the foundation of its own authority.

As the Roman Catholic biblical scholar John P. Meier recently noted in recent “high level” ecumenical discussions, the papacy does not yet provide “a credible historical account of its own origins…” (“Petrine Ministry in the New Testament and in the Early Patristic Traditions,” in James F. Puglisi, ed., How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Uity of the Universal Church?” Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William Be. Eerdmans Publishing Co., © 2010). Meier is one of those who believes in “God’s providential guidance of the church, leading by a series of steps to the emergence of the bishop of Rome,” but this is a far, far cry from the “divine institution” of the papacy – directly conferring it on Peter who directly conferred it, in “full power” directly to an unbroken chain of “successors.”

And as the Lutheran scholar John Reumann noted in an essay in that same work,
Biblical and patristic studies make clear that historically a gap occurs at the point where it has been claimed “the apostles were careful to appoint successors in” what is called “this hierarchically constituted society,” specifically “those who were made bishops by the apostles . . .,” an episcopate with an “unbroken succession going back to the beginning.” For that, evidence is lacking, quite apart from the problem that the monepiscopacy replaced presbyterial governance in Rome only in the mid-or late second century. It has been noted above how recent treatments conclude that in the New Testament no successor for Peter is indicated. (in Puglisi, pgs 65-66, emphasis in original).
The historical studies as presented in this series serve as the underpinning for the statements given here by Meier and Reumann.

This is the kind of understanding that I believe Reformed and Evangelical believers must bring to any ecumenical discussions (along with Scriptural contradictions of any notion of “the papacy”) as solid reasons for rejecting Roman claims and for requiring repentance from the entire institution of Roman Catholicism for its false claims through history and damage has caused to the church and the hindrance it has added to the Gospel throughout history.

Part 1: Households in Ancient Rome: An Introduction
Part 2: Christians and Jews in First Century Rome
Part 3: Commerce and Household Communities
Aquila, Priscilla, and the accurate history of Acts 18.2
Part 4: Household Leadership as Church Leadership
House Churches and Households in the New Testament

Continuing with Lane’s account from my most recent post:
A typical insula [apartment building where a house church might congregate] contained a row of shops on the ground floor, facing the street, and provided living quarters for the owners and their families over the shops or in the rear. There would be space on the premises for the manufacture of goods sold in the shops, and accommodations for visiting clients, workers, servants, or slaves. The arrangement brought together a considerable cross section of a major group in society, consisting manual workers and tradespeople. Such households were part of an intricate social network made up of other households to which they were tied by kinship, friendship, professional advantage, and other considerations. The strategy of situating the church in the home was sound, for it provided Christians with relative privacy, a setting where identity and intimacy could be experienced, a ready-made audience as well as a social network along which the influence of the Christian movement could spread. The conversion of households with their dependents helps to account for the growth of Roman Christianity.

Wealth, Patronage, and the House Church
There is an abundance of evidence from antiquity that patronage and leadership went hand in hand especially when a member’s generosity extended to the gift of his home for communal use. To cite only two instances, inscriptional evidence recovered from the house synagogues at Dura-Europos and at Stobi demonstrates that this was true in the Diaspora Jewish community. Epigraphic evidence from the third-century-C.E. Dura synagogue shows that the owner of the house, Samuel Ben Yed’ya funded and supervised the conversion of his private home into a synagogue complex. The designation of Samuel as elder (πρεσβυτέρως) and ruler (ἄρχων) probably indicates that he was the highest authority in the community. C. H. Kraeling, who published the evidence, argues that Samuel continued to live in the domestic quarters of the enlarged complex. At Stobi in Macedonia, in the second century C.E., Tiberius Polycharmus, who is designated “father of the synagogue,” converted his villa into a household synagogue containing a prayer hall, a dining room, and a portico, reserving for himself and his successors the right to reside in the upper story of the complex. In both instances, wealth and patronage were determining factors in leadership.(209-211).

Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution

Dr. Albert Mohler:
Evangelicals and the Gay Moral Revolution
In less than a single generation, homosexuality has gone from something almost universally understood to be sinful, to something now declared to be the moral equivalent of heterosexuality—and deserving of both legal protection and public encouragement. Theo Hobson, a British theologian, has argued that this is not just the waning of a taboo. Instead, it is a moral inversion that has left those holding the old morality now accused of nothing less than "moral deficiency."...

The fact that same-sex marriage is a now a legal reality in several states means that we must further stipulate that we are bound by scripture to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman—and nothing else.

We do so knowing that most Americans once shared the same moral assumptions, but that a new world is coming fast. We do not have to read the polls and surveys; all we need to do is to talk to our neighbors or listen to the cultural chatter.

In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins.

This is not a concern that is easily expressed in sound bites. But it is what we truly believe.

It is now abundantly clear that evangelicals have failed in so many ways to meet this challenge. We have often spoken about homosexuality in ways that are crude and simplistic. We have failed to take account of how tenaciously sexuality comes to define us as human beings. We have failed to see the challenge of homosexuality as a Gospel issue. We are the ones, after all, who are supposed to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin, starting with our own...