The Saare-Turner Debate

Part One

Proposition: “The New Testament Scriptures teach that, for the penitent believer, water baptism is for, unto, or in order to the remission of sins.” Allan Turner affirms; Keith Saare denies.

Turner’s Third Affirmative (posted 08/02/06): Because Keith has chosen to prevent me from reading his Eis Aphesin Hamartion, Part II arguments until after I make these concluding remarks, he will, in violation of the rules of honorable debate, introduce material in his Third Negative of which I will have no opportunity to respond. So, let me just say this: Although Keith went to great lengths to explain how a Greek preposition can mean different things in different places, he made absolutely no effort to tell us why he thinks eis ought to be translated “because of” in Acts 2:38 and “for” or “unto” in Matthew 26:28. This was, of course, the very thing he was under obligation to scripturally prove, if he could, and to do so in a way that would have afforded me the opportunity to refute his arguments. It disappoints me Keith has chosen to pursue such tactics, as I had truly expected better.

Keith’s Charge Of Heresy

Those who use the King James and American Standard versions of the Bible will, no doubt, be surprised to discover that they are, according to Keith Saare, a bunch of “heretics” for simply quoting Acts 10:43 as it appears in their Bibles. Similarly, the New King James version, which I use, renders the verse as, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (emphasis mine-AT). So, although Keith blew smoke all over the place with his shrill accusation and heresy chart, there never was a hermeneutical fire here at all; no one “playing fast and loose” with God’s word, as he charged.

The Accusations Of “Baptismal Regeneration” And
“Roman Catholic Sacramentalism”

Like all his previous charges, these, too, are bogus. I do not belive in, nor do I preach or teach, a causal connection between baptism and salvation. I have never attributed to the baptismal water, nor the baptismal act, the power to cleanse one from his sins, as do baptismal regenerationists and Roman Catholic sacramentialists. Yes, the Bible clearly says that baptism “saves us” (1 Peter 3:21), but only in the sense that baptism is submitted to by one who is exercising faith in God’s power to save through the sacrificial death of His only begotten Son. It is God’s power, and God’s power alone, that saves. Even so, it remains true that the place God has agreed to remit our sins (or save us, if you will) is baptism. Thus, I make no apology for teaching that baptism—along with belief, repentance, and confession—is a condition for salvation, as does the Bible (please refer to all the passages I’ve previously cited concerning this matter).

Keith’s Introduction Of Biblical Typology And My Alleged Confusion

It is interesting that Keith, knowing I will only have 1000 words with which to reply, introduces the subject of Biblical typology, a subject he knows, as a seminarian, is not always a clearly defined field of study, and to do it in a way that clouds, not clarifies, the subject at hand. Consequently, I must offer, as succinctly as I know how, a description of Biblical typology as I understand it. Basically, it is the study of type and antitype. Thus, an Old Testament “type” is a person, thing, action, ceremony, structure, furniture, color, or number that prefigures a New Testament “antitype.” To this way of thinking, the antitype is always greater or more significant than the type. Types are explained in Romans 5:14 and Hebrews 9:9 as a figure; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:9 and 2 Peter 2:6 as examples; and 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Hebrews 11:19 as a type. Additionally, most of what is recorded in Hebrews 11 is devoted to Old Testament typology.

Keith argues that baptism, in 1 Peter 3:21, is called an antitupos (“antitype”). Yes, it is, but the usage of this word here is much different than Keith attempts to project. He wrote:

Since Mr. Turner has demonstrated a working knowledge of Thayer’s lexicon, he should recognize that antitupos according to Thayer means “a thing resembling another.” Could there possibly be a clearer definition of symbolism than this? (Keith’s emphasis—AT).

Actually, Thayer’s definition reads:

1) a thing formed after some pattern 2) a thing resembling another, its counterpart 2a) something in the Messianic times which answers to the type, as baptism corresponds to the deluge (1 Pet. 3:21).
Why did Keith cite only part of the definition? Simply this: the whole definition did not fit the argument he was trying to make. Nevertheless, he attempted to bolster his selected definition by writing, “Since the Scriptures teach that baptism is but a mere symbol, it cannot accomplish anything literal—otherwise it would be the reality that it is supposed to symbolize.” In the same paragraph, he wrote, “Simply stated, a symbol cannot be the reality which it symbolizes.” a truth, he claims, that is simply “the nature of all symbols” (Keith’s emphasis—AT).

Hold On There, Pardner

Just hold on a minute. Yes, baptism is a symbol or figure all right, but it is certainly no “mere symbol,” as you claim. Yes, water baptism is a fitting symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-3) and, yes, it is even a fitting symbol of our own spiritual death, burial and resurrection (cf. Romans 6:3-11). However, 1 Peter 3:20-21 teaches that God’s salvation of eight souls through water in ancient times is the “type” (or foreshadowing) of the “antitype” (“namely baptism”) which, under the Christian dispensation, serves as an instrument of God’s salvation “through [one’s faith] in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” In other words, if Jesus, as Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15, was not resurrected from the dead, our preaching is vain, faith is empty, men are yet in their sins, the dead are perished, hope only in this life makes men most miserable, and the apostles of Christ were false witnesses. In contrast, Keith argues that baptism, as a “mere symbol,” cannot (that’s his word) operate as a symbol of God’s salvation and a means to obtaining that salvation at the same time. He is wrong about this, and 1 Peter 3:20-21 is the passage that proves it.

Acts 22:16 And My So-Called “Non-Literal” Interpretation

Before getting into Keith’s interpretation of Romans 6:3-4, which will serve to conclude my remarks on this topic, I need to make a few remarks about his interpretation of Acts 22:16. But as I do so, I want you to remember that Keith has repeatedly criticized me for what he has called my “non-literal” hermeneutic. But now, he turns around and criticizes me for thinking that Acts 22:16 is literally saying that baptism serves as the place where God has agreed to wash away our sins. Go figure. But notice his argument: “Acts 22:16,” he says, “could be nothing more than a symbolic representation of [Paul’s] prior remission of sins” because he was “already saved by the time of his baptism” (Keith’s emphasis—AT). The Bible, of course, teaches no such thing. Nevertheless, Keith insists that the “washing away of sins described in Acts 22:16 could be nothing more than a mere symbolic act of cleansing.” Although Keith’s argument here is a figment of his imagination, he has the audacity to refer to my way of interpreting Scriptures as “exegetical gymnastics.” Simply unbelievable.

Keith’s Discovery Of Metaphorical Baptism In Romans 6:3-4
And His Faltering Exegesis Of The Passage

Keith says “there is not a single drop of water to be found anywhere in the context of Romans 6.” Therefore, he claims Romans 6:3-4 isn’t talking about water baptism at all, as most people have thought (including many of his Baptist brethren). Instead, he claims to have discovered, using what he calls as a “strict literal interpretation,” a “metaphorical baptism,” he called it, and to do so, evidently, with a straight face. Sort of makes one wonder what in the world they’re teaching in seminaries these days, doesn’t it? And not only does he claim the baptism of Romans 6:3-4 is not really baptism at all (only metaphorically so), but he also claims this baptism is actually not something done by the Christian, at all. Instead, he claims it was done by “proxy.” In other words, “The baptism of Romans 6:3-4,” Keith says, “is nothing more than an act accomplished on behalf of Christians by Jesus Christ and that is all.” Such an idea is as bizarre as it is novel, to say the least, and I suspect that his Baptist cohorts must be cringing a bit at his chosen line of reasoning.

Having said this, I conclude my remarks, thanking you for your interest in this study.

Keith Saare has two weeks to respond with his Third Negative. As soon as he does, a link will be posted here and, with that, Part One of this debate will be history.

Saare's Third Affirmative

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Back To Turner’s First Affirmative

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