Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (IV)

*Below we conclude our exegetical series on Acts 2.38 in refutation to the charges of Edward Dalcour (see HERE ).  As  before, we have simply copied Mr. Dalcour’s claims in *bold black below and responded in *blue (as here) immediately following.  The first several excerpts are continued from Dr. Daniel Wallace as quoted by Dalcour in his original article.  Dalcour then continues his commentary as delineated below. 

*We will again note that we have repeatedly challenged Mr. Dalcour to a one-on-one formal debate regarding these dogmas.  After initially agreeing (two years ago now), he has subsequently ignored all debate offers.  It is a standing debate offer.  In the meantime, hopefully this article is edifying to the body of Christ.  Enjoy!  

The idea then would be, “Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each one of you be baptized.…”  Such a view is an acceptable way of handling εἰς, but its subtlety and awkwardness are against it.

*Of course, we would agree with Dr. Wallace’s assertions that this would be an irresponsible way of exegeting the preposition εἰς in this text.  Again, Trinitarian grammarians such as Mantey, Robertson, et al. are renowned for inserting their theological preferences into the biblical data under the guise of exegesis.  Such is the case with the plainness and clear soteriological force of Acts 2.38.

4) Finally, it is possible that to a first-century Jewish audience (as well as to Peter), the idea of baptism might incorporate both the spiritual reality and the physical symbol.  In other words, when one spoke of baptism, he usually meant both ideas—the reality and the ritual.

*Oneness Pentecostals would agree with this assertion.  We cannot divorce the spiritual reality of the forgiveness of sins from the physical act of water baptism in Jesus’s name.  Indeed, the removal of sins is the very point of the ritual.

Peter is shown to make the strong connection between these two in chapters 10 and 11. In 11:15-16 he recounts the conversion of Cornelius and friends, pointing out that at the point of their conversion they were baptized by the Holy Spirit.

*It is amazing how Dalcour can actually endorse the biblical evidence for water and Spirit baptism in Jesus’s name “at the point of conversion” (as affirmed by Wallace above)—in a hit piece designed to deny the same!?  Acts 10-11 well demonstrates that a person is not “saved” when they merely believe in Christ since Cornelius already believed in Christ prior to Peter’s message (cf. Acts 10.37-38).  However, Cornelius had not yet been born again “of water and of the Spirit” (John 3.3-5; BLT).  {Note: it will not do for Dalcour to argue that John 3.5 does not refer to water baptism.  This is easily and quickly debunked grammatically, contextually and historically [deserving of an entirely different article].}

After he had seen this, he declared, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit…” (10:47).  The point seems to be that if they have had the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit via spiritual baptism, there ought to be a public testimony/acknowledgment via water baptism as well.

*Agreed—since it takes both elements to complete the new birth experience (John 3.3-8).

This may not only explain Acts 2:38 (viz., that Peter spoke of both reality and picture, though only the reality removes sins), but also why the NT speaks of only baptized believers (as far as we can tell):

*We would respectfully, yet strongly, disagree with this assertion.  Water and Spirit baptism in Jesus’s name was a necessary part of biblical salvation—and the proof texts that clearly demonstrate this are the very passages being discussed!  We are reminded of when Jesus—who was “the truth” (John 14.6)—stood before Pilate who asked Him, “What is truth?” (John 18.38). 

*That is, Truth literally personified was right before Pilate’s eyes – and yet he was still searching for “truth!”  So it is with agenda-driven Trinitarian apologists like Dalcour.  Truth regarding biblical salvation stares them right in the eyes—and they still refuse to acknowledge that truth.  One would think that they would take eternity seriously and tremble at God’s saving instructions.

Water baptism is not a cause of salvation, but a picture; and as such it serves both as a public acknowledgment (by those present) and a public confession (by the convert) that one has been Spirit-baptized.

*We have repeatedly affirmed that water baptism apart from genuine faith is meaningless.  Conversely, saving faith apart from water baptism in Jesus’s name is equally futile according to Scripture (e.g., cf. James 2 cited in this series below).  Hence, we would strongly disagree that water baptism is merely a “public confession that one has been Spirit baptized.”  Indeed, the Samaritans had been water baptized in Jesus’s name, but had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This well demonstrates that one does not automatically receive the Holy Spirit upon belief, confession and water baptism in Jesus’s name.

The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8.16; NLT)

*Further, the biblical presentation of genuine Spirit baptism is accompaniment of speaking in other tongues “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2.4).  Indeed, the Jews who went with the Apostle Peter to Cornelius’s house knew that Spirit baptism had truly occurred on the Gentiles:

For (note the inferential conjunction γὰρ) they were hearing them speaking in tongues” (Acts 10.46; [cf. John 3.8]).

In sum, although Mantey’s instincts were surely correct that in Luke’s theology baptism was not the cause of salvation, his ingenious solution of a causal εἰς lacks conviction.

*We would turn this assertion on its head and state the polar opposite.  Clearly water baptism was a necessary part of Lukan soteriology.  Indeed, it is Luke who observes:

But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.  (Luke 7.30; BSB)

*As we have established in this series we would agree that Dr. Mantey’s argumentation for the supposed causal force of εἰς in Acts 2.38 flows out of a presupposed theological commitment and not the actual biblical data standing alone.  As well substantiated by Greek linguists above – if the inspired grammar is allowed to stand on its own merit the alleged causal interpretation of this preposition will never fly.

There are other ways for us to satisfy the tension, but adjusting the grammar to answer a backward-looking ‘Why?’ has no more basis than the notion that εἰς ever meant mere representation.”

*This is a very good point by Dr. Wallace.  Well stated!

*As we conclude our investigation into the Greek preposition “eis” in Acts 2.38—and since Trinitarians like Dalcour are fond of appealing to these same lexical authorities in John 1.1, 17.5, et al.—let’s see how these selfsame linguists view the prepositional phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” in this verse shall we?  Surely Trinitarian apologists will accept these lexical authorities in this passage also—right?

*(Exegetical Dictionary of the [Greek] NT;  Vol. 1-3):  b) With abstract nouns, to/for to indicate purpose:  εἰς μαρτύριον, “as a witness” (esp. common in the Synoptics); as a memorial (Mark 14:9 par.);  as a demonstration (Rom 3:25); for the glory of God (15:7);  for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

*(BDAG):  εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν for forgiveness of sins, so that sins might be forgiven Mt 26:28; cp. Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Ac 2:38.

*(Louw & Nida Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains):  84.16 εἰς (1) extension toward a special goal – to, toward, in the direction of.  [a] ἤρχοντο εἰς τὸ μνημει̂ον they went to the tomb JHN.20:3 ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ιεροσόλυμα as they drew near to Jerusalem MAT.21:1.

*(Meyer’s NT [Exegetical] Commentary):  εἰς denotes the object of the baptism, which is the remission of the guilt contracted in the state before μετάνοια.  Comp. Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

*(Discovery Study Bible;  Drs. Gary Hill & Gleason Archer):  eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.

*(Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon):  eis aphesin hamartion, to obtain the forgiveness of sins.

*In his discussion of Acts 2.38 esteemed grammarian Dr. Ceslas Spicq noted:

Water baptism is a means of realizing this conversion, and its goal — something altogether new — is a washing, “the remission of sins” (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 1, 242).

*And the list goes on and on!

(Dalcour):  Final thoughts:  the fundamental problem with the groups who embrace baptismal regeneration is that their view challenges Paul’s main thesis that “God credits righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6) and justification is through faith (sole instrument) alone (not by works).

*Baptism in Jesus’s name no more makes water the savior than the man preaching the gospel makes the minister the savior of his audience.  And, clearly a person needs to hear the gospel to be saved!

*Since Dalcour is quoting from Romans above perhaps he should keep reading:

Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.  (Romans 6.3-4; NET)

How are they to call on one they have not believed in?  And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them (**Note:  Will Mr. Dalcour be consistent and say that the effort of “preaching” the gospel is a “work” also?)?  (Romans 10.14; NET)

*Further, as pointed out above, (i) Oneness Pentecostals do not teach baptismal regeneration since there is much more to salvation than water baptism standing alone, (ii) the Apostle Paul – to whom Dalcour appeals – was water baptized in Jesus’s name for the express purpose of washing away his sins (Acts 22.16) and spoke in tongues upon his reception of the Holy Spirit (cf., e.g., I Corinthians 14.18).

*Hence, Dalcour appeals to a writer (Paul) who had already experienced the very phenomenon that he is warring against (cf., e.g., Acts 19.1-6; I Corinthians 1.13; Romans 6.3; Galatians 3.27)!  This is the very thing that Dalcour lectures Oneness believers for doing when they quote a Trinitarian academic.  But, as noted, such unequal scales is vintage Dalcour.

(Dalcour):  Although the “work” of water baptism is a biblical commandment, it is a work that man does.

*This is an unwarranted assumption.  God is the One who washes away our sins when we obey His “biblical commandment.”  Since Dalcour is forced to concede above that water baptism is indeed a “biblical commandment”—perhaps he will heed the Apostle John’s warning (since he stubbornly rejects ours):

Now by this we know that we have come to know God:  if we keep his commandments.  The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.  But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected.  By this we know that we are in him.  (I John 2.3-5; NET)

*Strong words indeed!  In sum, God is the One who does the “work” of forgiving our sins when we obey His command to be baptized in His saving name (Acts 4.12)—just as He does the same “work” when we repent.

(Dalcour):  It does not contribute in any way, shape, or form to the atoning work of God the Son (gospel), which is the very ground (cause) of justification.

*There is no such definitive identification of Jesus as “God the Son” (Dalcour need not appeal to the meaningful and viable variant in John 1.18).  The Son of God (not “God the Son”) is forever the sole God of the biblical data enfleshed for the redemption of mankind.

(Dalcour):  So Paul says to the Corinthian church:  “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . .” (1 Cor. 1:17).    

*As noted above, the original recipients of Paul’s letter would have already read the rhetorical question:

Is Christ divided?  Paul wasnʼt crucified for you, was he?  Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul?  (1.13)

*As the New International Greek Testament Commentary notes:

Schnackenburg concludes that 1 Cor 1:13 and 1:15 should both be translated “in the name” since what is at issue is an “immediate relation to Christ himself” in 1:13, and by implication an immediate relation to Paul in 1:15.  He paraphrases the passage: “Christ is undivided. . . .Christ alone died for you. . . . You belong to Christ alone. . . .You were baptized in the name of Christ (and in the name of no other).

*UBS Handbook for New Testament Translators;  I Corinthians 1.13:

Baptism, from the earliest times, involved literally naming the name of Christ (see Matt 28.19 for a command from Christ that uses the formula “in the name” in both RSV and TEV).  GeCL has a note on the word “name ” in its glossary.  It says, “with this naming of the name, the person baptized is given over to belong to Jesus, his LORD, and is placed under Christ’s protection.

*Of course, we could continue ad nauseum with quotations from honest grammarians on this passage (which Dalcour has conveniently omitted from his audiences consideration) that speak to the fact that the entire Corinthian church was baptized in Jesus name!  Indeed, if water baptism in Jesus’s name is not a part of the Christian initiation process why does Paul mention various inflections of the verb translated “baptize(d)” (βαπτίζω) six times in opening chapter of his letter?  Clearly water baptism in Jesus name was a part of the new birth experience—despite how hard Dalcour campaigns against that saving name.  

*Paul’s point was that—due to current factions in Corinth—no one could charge him with attempting to begin his own following.  From this perspective Paul reminds them that he was not crucified for them, nor were they baptized in his name.  His contention was that into whose name someone is baptized—this is the same person they are following.  Hence, how can someone call themselves “Christians” when they reject and fight against this same name at baptism (contrary to the Apostles and every NT instances)?

*As Grimm-Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon says of this passage:  “to administer the rite of ablution.”  Paul’s emphasis was on who administered this salvific rite—not a denigration of the sacrament itself.  This is well confirmed by the following quote from the New International Greek Testament Commentary:

Since baptism and the Lord’s Supper also, for Paul, proclaim the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6:3-11; 1 Cor 11:24-27), the contextual meaning of βαπτίζειν has been conveyed by translating it “to perform baptisms,” with its emphasis on ministerial agency.  (I Cor. 1.17)

*As esteemed grammarian Dr. Kenneth Wuest renders this portion of the verse in his Expanded Translation of the New Testament:

 for Christ did not send me on a mission to be a baptizer but to be a bringer of good news…(I Corinthians 1.17).

*Paul continues, “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name!”  Whose name then was the Corinthian church baptized in?  The answer is obvious to the honest seeker for biblical truth.

*In summary, we have combined the corroborative evidence of literally hundreds of linguists in this expositional series—all of whom adamantly reject and deny the “causative” force of the prepositional phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” in Acts 2.38.  Not only this, but they also each openly affirm that this Greek phrase demands a “purpose clause.”  In no forensics-proper setting would a defendant be exonerated if hundreds of experts all testified to the identical conclusion.  Thus, the charges leveled at Acts 2.38 from Mr. Dalcour demand a “not guilty” verdict from the jury that is factual-centered!

*That is, exegetically, the Greek phrase translated “for the forgiveness of sins” in this soteriological context dictates that water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is the prerequisite for one’s sins to be forgiven.  This is simply the natural conclusion of the inspired grammar when it is allowed to stand on its own merit—unaided by religiosity.

*Finally, we sincerely hope and pray that—in the fear of God’s Word—Mr. Dalcour and other Trinitarians will exchange their religious tradition(s) for NT biblical salvation – just as they did in Acts 2.38!  Please feel free to contact us in the comment section for further information or prayer.  We are here to serve you.  Thank you for reading and God bless!

4 comments on “Edward Dalcour & Acts 2.38 (IV)

  1. David Coleman says:

    Excellent analysis, Elder Perkins. It has often been my experience when testifying of God’s word that they who are otherwise minded will retreat to any “stronghold” that will sustain their beliefs. They cannot construct a persuasive argument in English, so they resort to Hebrew/Greek in the vain attempt to shore up their weakened credibility.

    Kudos to you and other likeminded brethren who endeavor to show from the original languages that the emperor of tritheism and easy believism has been shopping in a Greek outlet that doesn’t have any clothes.

    It takes a special kind of dishonesty for pseudo intellectuals like Dalcour to overlook the overwhelming evidence in favor of water baptism in Jesus’ name in favor of a results-oriented approach. Something has gone seriously wrong in a person’s heart who can look himself in the mirror after warping the sacred text in such a manner.

    Thanks again for your efforts. It is much appreciated.

    Like

    • Perkins says:

      Thank you for your (usual) keen observations Elder Coleman. I completely agree with your analysis of Trinitarian apologists like Mr. Dalcour.

      What concerns me is the people he leads astray with his flawed “exegesis” (such as he did in John 6.38 in his debate with Bro. Steven Ritchie).

      I especially like your analogy of “the emperor of tritheism and easy believism has been shopping in a Greek outlet that doesn’t have any clothes.”
      Could not agree more!

      **(Note: For those interested, be sure to get Elder David Coleman’s excellent work on the biblical doctrine of wine vs. “grape juice” for The Lord’s Supper here):

      https://www.amazon.com/Cup-Blessing-David-Coleman-ebook/dp/B00WFTKQZS.

      Well documented with Elder Coleman’s usual gentlemanly spirit. An absolute must resource for the *SINCERE* seeker of truth with this issue!

      Like

  2. nontrinitarian says:

    IT is obvious to me why Pastor Perkins has difficulty in getting trinitarians to agree to formal public debate – they realize that he is not going to be bufallo’d by the kind of nonsense with which they are usually able to stifle their opponants.

    Like

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