In “Divine deception, identity, and Social Trinitarianism,” Dale Tuggy argues that “if Social Trinitarianism [ST] were true, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would have engaged in wrongful deception via both Old and New Testament revelation.” The deception is that the Persons “passed themselves off as one personal being, while in fact they were three personal beings.” Let’s grant Tuggy’s argment: The God of ST is guilty of such a wrongful deception. But Tuggy is a Christian Unitarian; i.e., he believes God is, in fact, one personal being, not three. So, Tuggy’s God is not guilty of such a wrongful deception.
But if we grant Tuggy’s argument, his God is not clearly off the hook: by letting the doctrine of the Trinity define orthodox Christian belief from its very inception (from the earliest Patristic interpreters of the NT to being enshrined in the creeds), is not Tuggy’s Unitarian God guilty of passing Himself off as three personal beings, while in fact He is one personal being? Surely Tuggy’s God could have prevented the mistake, perhaps by making the Scriptural data more obviously Unitarian, or by preventing orthodoxy from being established as Trinitarian. But Tuggy’s God didn’t. Why has he allowed the mistake carry on for over 2000 years, suppressing belief about His true nature (indeed, even allowing belief about His true nature to be established as heterodox)?
In several ways, this tu quoque argument strikes me as even more pressing for Tuggy than for Social Trinitarians. For example, while it is arguably consistent with monotheism that God is more than one person, it is not consistent with unitarianism that God is more than one person. So if the God of ST is guilty of deception, it’s a form of deception where He causes (or permits) his followers to believe p1 when in fact p2 is the case, where p1 and p2 are ultima facie but not prima facie compatible. This is what allows the ST to appeal to progressive revelation to wriggle out of the problem. Tuggy’s God, on the other hand, is guilty of a deception where He causes (or permits) His followers to believe p1 when in fact p2 is the case, where p1 and p2 are strictly incompatible. No similar appeal to progressive revelation is available to Tuggy, because no acceptable form of progressive revelation allows for instituting a precept that flatly contradicts a previous one, thereby annulling it (aka Naskh).