Against Dalcour

*Below we continue with excerpts from our exegetical refutation(s) of the charges of Edward Dalcour toward Oneness Pentecostal believers.  As before, I have simply copied Dalcour’s assertions from his website in *black with categorical and textual rebuttals immediately following in *blue.  This particular post specifically targets Dalcour’s claims regarding the ancient hymn found in Colossians 1.15-16.  Corroboration of Dalcour’s quotes can be located HERE.  Enjoy!

Colossians 1:16-17:  “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”

*Not surprisingly, Dalcour here violates his own criteria of exegesis and analytical discourse by overlooking the introduction of the dependent “hoti” (ὅτι) clause of v. 16, which is hinged on the independent clause of v. 15.  That is, vv. 16-17 hang upon v. 15, which, as we shall see, is crucial to understanding what Paul was naturally communicating if this text is allowed to stand uninterrupted on its own strength.

Despite the biblical simplicity, Bernard (1983: 116-17) attempts to circumvent the biblical truth that the Son is the Creator of all things:

Perhaps these scriptural passages have a deeper meaning that can be expressed as follows: Although the Son did not exist at the time of creation except as the word in the mind of God, God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world …The plan of the Son was in God’s mind at creation and was necessary for the creation to be successful. Therefore, He created the world by the Son (emphasis added).

This is an obvious case of eisegesis.  Bernard’s assertion is clear: passages that speak of the Son as the Creator mean that when the Father created all things, He had the “plan of the Son” in mind or in view, that is, “God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world.”  Bernard’s conclusion assumes unitarianism and disallows normal exegesis.

*“Normal exegesis” does not completely ignore the all-important explicating-subordinate conjunction translated “for” (ὅτι) at the beginning of a passage. Ironically, it is Dalcour who is “disallowing normal exegesis” and “assuming” his predisposed Trinitarian theology.

*Further, this passage does not “speak of the Son as the Creator” – this is supplied by Dalcour contra the inspired biblical data standing alone.  By contrast, it is Dalcour who shows an “obvious case of eisegesis” by imposing his theology upon the God-breathed (θεόπνευστος) text—a text that never states the same as we shall demonstrate below.

In the first place, Colossians 1:13-15 clearly differentiates Jesus from the Father. These verses contextually prohibit the Oneness notion that Jesus is both the Father and the Son:

*It is not “the Oneness notion” that teaches that Jesus is simultaneously the Father and the Son of God—it’s the forced conclusion and plain statements of Scripture itself.  Moreover, it was Christ’s “notion” as well!  When asked about the location of the Father, Jesus responds by expressing surprise in exclaiming, “Am I with you so long a time, and you have not known Me, Philip?  The one having seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14.9).

*If Jesus is someone other than the One inquired about, His response is entirely non-sensical.  “Am I with you so long a time, and you have not known Me, Philip?” Dalcour’s usual dodge of this clear passage is to appeal to v. 6 in an effort to somehow circumvent and disallow Jesus’s self-declaration in order to protect his religious (Trinitarian) tradition—of course, operating under the guise of “context.”  

*Trinitarianism is both a denial and an insult to the plain self-identifications of Christ – and it’s painful to watch them attempt to spin away from such passages.  There are many other similar verses that Trinitarians like Dalcour labor long and hard to explain away (e.g., Isaiah 9.6; John 14.16-18; 2 Corinthians 3.17; et al.).

*Moreover, Oneness believers gladly acknowledge that there’s a distinction between the Father and the Son of God.  Indeed, such a distinction is decidedly paramount to understanding Christ’s biblical identity.  However, Dalcour assumes that this “differentiation” demands “co-equal, co-eternal, divine, persons”—it does not.  Ironically, the very verses to which Dalcour appeals below actually militates against his doctrinal posturing, and that on the grammatical level.

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  He [the Son] is the image of the invisible God [the Father].”  Consider also, as we have shown (cf. Chapter 2, 2.4.4), that Paul’s main purpose for writing the book of Colossians was to provide a meaningful refutation of the proto-Gnostic ideology concerning spirit versus matter.

*Note above that Paul defines God’s Son as the One in whom we have “redemption” and “the forgiveness of sins.”  Specifically whom “redeemed” us—a “pre-existent 2nd of 3 co-equal, divine persons” or the “God-Man?”  This is both the grammar and context of this ancient hymn, as Dalcour accurately points out.

The Gnostic system did not allow Jesus to be the Creator of something so inherently evil as “matter.”  In light of this, Paul provides a clear anti-Gnostic polemic by firmly demonstrating that Jesus the Son of God did in fact create all things. Note the clear and forceful (and even redundant) way he presents this:  By Him [en autōall things [panta] were created … all things [panta] have been created through Him [di’ autou] and for Him [eis auton].  He is before all things [autos estin pro pantōn], and in Him [en autōall things [panta] hold together” (emphasis added).

*Both above and below we have exegetically demonstrated that the force of these prepositional constructs and pronouns used by Paul do not teach a “pre-existent Son of God” as a “second divine person in the Trinity” if the inspired text itself is allowed to stand alone.

The following grammatical aspects pointedly codify Paul’s argument:

1.  Along with John 1:3, Paul employs the neuter panta, which indicate that the Son was the actual Creator of all things.  White (1998: 213) remarks on the theological implication of Paul’s use of the neuter:   

It is significant that Paul does not use the more popular terms pas or pan, both of which had meanings in Greek philosophy that allowed the creation to be a part of God or God a part of creation (as in pantheism).  Instead, he uses a term that makes the creation a concrete, separate entity with the real existence.

*We are rather puzzled how Dalcour thinks Paul’s usage of πάντα (panta) in this text vindicates the Son of God as a supposed collateral co-existent divine person?  The Greek adjective πάντα (panta) here is merely the nominative neuter plural form of πᾶς (pas).  There is absolutely no theological significance relative to the Godhead in this form of the adjective—and is but another case of a fertile Trinitarian imagination.

2.  Paul utilizes four different prepositions to magnify his affirmation that the Son was the Agent of creation:  All things were created “by/in Him” (en + dative; vv. 16, 17); “through Him” (dia + genitive; v. 16); and “for Him” (eis + accusative; v. 16); and, He is “before all things” (pro + genitive; v. 17).  To say again, Paul is speaking here of the Son, not the Father (cf. v. 14).

*Here’s the actual Greek text of Colossians 1.16 (NA28):

ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα

ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,

τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα,

εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες

εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι·

τὰ πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται·

“because in Him were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and unto Him.” (Colossians 1.16; BLB)

*Note the prepositional construct above translated “in Him” (ἐν αὐτῷ + dative) in the opening (ὅτι) dependent-causal clause.  Though there are at least ten different forms for ἐν + dative, the most straightforward meaning of this particular preposition governing a dative case pronoun (αὐτῷ) is:  “properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) ‘in the realm (sphere) of,’ as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within)” (cf. Greek prepositional chart online [http://www.chioulaoshi.org/BG/Lessons/lesson05.html]; also see http://biblehub.com/greek/1722.htm).  This is quite different in both translation and meaning from Dalcour’s theologically preferred “by Him” rendering above.  

*Significantly, Dalcour apparently fails to realize above that the verb translated “were created” appears in the aorist tense, passive—contra the active—voice.  Exegetically, a passive voice verb generally denotes the subject (in this case the Son of God) as the recipient of the action whereas the active voice denotes the subject as the actual doer of the action.  If – as Dalcour repeatedly asserts – the Son of God is presented as the “actual Creator” in this hymnal context, the active voice would have been employed as consistently done elsewhere in Scripture when the subject is the confirmed doer of the verb.

*Indeed, in 3.10 (of the same book) Paul readily uses the aorist active form of this selfsame verb (κτίσαντος, contra ἐκτίσθη of 1.16).  Hence, the routine “deponent verb” dodge of this exegetical fact from Trinitarians will not do at this point.  Deponent verbs are typically verbs for which no active form is found in the Greek New Testament.  And, as demonstrated above, that is not the case with this particular verb.

*That is, when Paul wanted to state that the subject is “active,” as Dalcour inflicts into the text above, he precisely uses the active voice in Colossians—but does not do so at 1.16 as he does in 3.10.  To somehow shift the meaning of a passive voice verb in this text betrays an over-eager theological rush that negates even 1st year Greek grammar.

*Neither can Trinitarians appeal to the supposed “divine passive” of the verb translated “were created” in Colossians 1.16 since this is merely another theological assertion and not a direct exegesis of the actual inspired data itself.  See here renowned Greek grammarian Dr. William Mounce: “Divine passive” is more of a theological category than grammatical.  In form and basic meaning, it is simply a passive, but when God is the author of the verb, we call it a “divine passive.” (https://billmounce.com/blog/divine-passives-and-seminary-education-eph-3-19)  

*{Note: The (perfect) passive ἔκτισται is equally employed in the final clause of this hymnal text.  Indeed, in no portion of this entire context is the active voice used for “created” relative to the Son of God.  This is nothing more than Dalcour’s intrusion into the biblical data.}

*This does not even delve into the depths of (i) the specific psalm context of these passages, and (ii) the pronouns translated “Him” that modify their antecedent noun translated “image” (εἰκὼν), which is lexically defined as “an embodiment or living manifestation of God form, appearance (CO 1.15)” (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek NT).  Clearly “God the Son” did not posses an “embodiment” (a synonym for “incarnation” [cf. Oxford’s Dict.]) in eternity-past, unless Dalcour is now advocating bodily separation for each “divine person in the Trinity?”

*Renowned exegete Dr. Murray J. Harris comments on v. 15 (cf. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament; Colossians and Philemon; p. 39):

Εἰκὼν (-όνος, ἡ, image) is nom. after the vb. εἰμί, and is anar. because a pred. noun after εἰμί sometimes lacks the article (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4).  It is definite (“the image,” “the visible image [NLT], “the visible representation” [Cassirer]) although anar.  An εἰκὼν is a “likeness” or a “visible expression.”  The degree of resemblance between the archetype and the copy must be determined by the word’s context but could range from a partial or superficial resemblance to a complete or essential likeness.  Given 1:9 and 2:9, εἰκὼν here signifies that Jesus is an exact, as well as a visible, representation of God…The invisible God, who dwells in unapproachable light (I Tim. 6:16), is visibly expressed in his Son (cf. John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9).

*Just for good measure – see here the New International Greek Testament Commentary quote concerning Colossians 1.15:

As the sequence of parallels with motifs characteristically used of Jewish Wisdom in these verses will confirm, the writer here is taking over language used of divine Wisdom and reusing it to express the significance of Christ, if not, indeed, taking over a pre-Christian hymn to Wisdom.  That is to say, he is identifying this divine Wisdom with Christ, just as ben Sira and Baruch identified divine Wisdom with the Torah (so also Heb. 1:3; cf. particularly Davies, Paul 168-75; Weiss, Untersuchungen 306-8).  The effect is the same:  not to predicate the actual (pre)existence of either Torah or Christ prior to and in creation itself, but to affirm that Torah and Christ are to be understood as the climactic manifestations of the preexistent divine wisdom, by which the world was created.  

It is Christ in his revelatory and redemptive significance who is the subject of praise here; “the description is revelatory, more than ontological” (Martin, Colossians and Philemon 57).  And the praise is that his redemptive work (1:14: “in whom we have the redemption”) is entirely continuous and of a piece with God’s work in creation.  It is the same God who comes to expression in creation and definitively in Christ; “he who speaks of Christ speaks of God” (Gnilka, Kolosserbrief 61).  In short, there is no dualism here.  Quite the contrary:  this is Christology set within Jewish monotheism and predicated on the Jewish theological axiom that the one God has chosen to reveal himself in and through his creative power (cf. Hegermann 101: “Dynamic Monism”; Wright, “Poetry” 114: “Christological Monotheism”).

*I ask the honest reader, does careful language such as “visible expression,” “representation,” and “copy” naturally communicate the eternal-heavenly realm—or is such grammar innately descriptive of the Incarnation?  I will simply allow the integrity and privacy of your conscience be the guide!

*In footnote 1 (quoted immediately below), Dalcour suggests three distinct methods of agency contingent upon various prepositional constructs.  He argues that the Son of God was the “intermediate agent” of creation in that He actually “carried out the act for the ultimate Agent,” viz. the Father:

In the New Testament, agency is commonly expressed in three ways:  ultimate agency (the ultimate source of the action; the one directly responsible for the action—apo, hupo, para, + the genitive); intermediate agency (that which the ultimate Agent uses to carry out the action—dia + the genitive); and impersonal agency (that which the ultimate Agent uses to perform the action—en, ek + the dative; cf. Wallace, 1996: 431-32).  Biblically, then, the Father was the source (ultimate Agent) of creation, the Son being the intermediate Agent in that He carried out the act for the ultimate Agent (cf. ibid, 431).  That the Son is the intermediate Agent of creation does not mean that He was a mere “helper” of sorts, or a secondary agent of God, but rather, He was the actual Agent of creation—namely, that which the ultimate Agent (the Father) used to carry out the actionnamely, the Creator of all things.

*As is obvious, there’s absolutely no “Biblical” distinction to be made between Dalcour’s superficial intermediate agency versus impersonal agency, for which he offers zero scriptural support – while feigning that this distinction is actually “Biblical?”  That is, neither a logical nor a Biblical contrast is to be made between that which is used to carry out the action (i.e., intermediate agency) versus that which is used to perform the action (i.e., impersonal agency)—these obviously describe one and the same verbal activity.

*Further, Dalcour again demonstrates his eisegesis (masquerading as exegesis) in asserting that God the Father “used” God the Son to “carry out the act” of creation—then somehow translates this into, “namely, the [Son is] Creator of all things.”  To reemphasize, this is nothing more than usual Trinitarian theology pawned off as supposed exegesis.  

*Stay tuned for more to come!   

    

Leave Comment Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s