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.

Saare’s Third Negative (posted 08/07/06): Straight to the point–

Mr. Turner’s Acts 10:43 Fiasco

Since Mr. Turner settles for non-literal interpretation, it should not surprise me to find him also interpreting his own writings out of context in a non-literal manner. Whereas my accusation of heresy was clearly leveled against his method of interpreting Acts 10:43 because of John 12:42, he changed tactics to pit me against the NKJV (as if it actually were the original reason for his hermeneutics of Acts 10:43!). Mr. Turner, the matter is sealed in your own writing: you interpreted Acts 10:43 as “will receive” because of your exegesis of “dead faith” in James 2 and John 12:42, not because of a variant translation in the NKJV. Furthermore, you were not quoting the NKJV when I called your bluff, nor were my remarks referenced against this translation, as it was never the topic of my discussion anyway. Thank you for introducing a matter to thwart attention away from our debate.

No Comfort for Mr. Turner in Mark 16:16

By way of review, Scripture states:

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

A Baptist preacher once said, “Whatever spiritual blessings the Scriptures attribute to the person who believes and is baptized, the Scriptures also attribute the same blessings to someone who has faith only.” In Mark 16:16 a person who believes and is baptized will be saved, likewise, in John 5:24 a person who only believes is also saved. Consequently, since both passages share belief in common, not baptism, the unbiased interpreter is apt to think that baptism may not be a condition for salvation after all. Rather, mention of it in Mark 16:16 is coincidence as ascertained by a harmonization with other non-baptism passages attributing salvation to faith only.

An illustration helps illumine the logic: “He who boards a train and sits down will arrive in Phoenix.” Of course, the traveler will wish to sit during the trip, but it is not an essential condition, a “qualification” in Mr. Turner’s vocabulary. (One can attack this illustration—no illustration is perfect—but I trust the readers can understand my point.)

If Mark 16:16 is inspired Scripture, some exegetical observations add more force to the viable likelihood that baptism is not a condition for salvation:

·        The immediate context attributes miraculous signs to believers, not necessarily to those who both believe and are baptized.

·        In context there is reoccurring emphasis upon belief (or lack thereof), but not upon a necessity for baptism.

Notice the latter half of the verse does not state, “but he who has disbelieved or is not baptized shall be condemned.” Rather it just says, “but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Hence the question arises: Will the person be condemned who believes but is not baptized? My opponent will say yes. But according to John 3:18:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (KJV).

Therefore, because of the promises in John 3:18, we may rest assured knowing that the person who believes will not be condemned, regardless of his baptism status. Remember, believing begins before baptism—by necessity so must relief from condemnation! J

Finally, whereas Mr. Turner uses Mark 16:16 to teach that the penitent believer receives salvation at the very moment of baptism, there is no support grammatically from this verse to suggest this faulty assertion. If Mr. Turner is competent with Greek, he will recognize that the two substantival participles, ho pisteusas kai baptistheis, are aorist and indicate antecedent action to the future tense verb sōthēsetai. In other words, there is a gap of time that takes place between the act of baptism and experience of salvation spoken of in this verse. Therefore, one cannot use Mark 16:16 to teach that salvation begins at the moment a penitent believer is baptized; the verse is silent to this matter. If a believer is saved at baptism, it is true for other reasons outside of Mark 16:16.

Eis Aphesin Hamartiōn, Part II

In “Part I” we explored how eis in a same prepositional phrase can take on other meanings in different contexts. Mr. Turner made a mere dogmatic assertion to connect the same meaning of eis aphesin hamartiōn in Matthew 26:28 to Acts 2:38, even though the two contexts are vastly different. But my research, based upon a consistent methodology of consistent literal interpretation, revealed there is no rule in Greek to suggest eis must mean the same thing in each verse. His approach was unscholarly to say the least, and I suspect he took comfort in willful ignorance until I presented the evidence of my research. I wonder what he will do in the future with Acts 2:38 and Matthew 26:28 since he now understands there is no grammatical rule to justify his illegitimate crux. If Acts 2:38 meant “in order to obtain” forgiveness, then Peter could have used hina in a purpose clause to do so, but he did not, hence we both find necessity to determine a meaning for eis because of its natural ambiguity in this context.

I accept the possibility that eis in Acts 2:38 can be causal (“with reference to” or “because of”). I also understand some notable Baptist scholars disagree with this possibility. The truth is, however, other evangelical interpretations of Acts 2:38 exist which do not demand mine or Mr. Turner’s sacramental view. So even if Mr. Turner can quote a Baptist scholar against my view, he still has yet to deal with other possibilities to interpret Acts 2:38 which refute his position (such as connecting the forgiveness of sins with repentance instead of baptism).

The proposed examples of causal eis in the New Testament are well known, so I need not labor the issue now. However, here are two Koine examples outside of the New Testament to demonstrate its use where it means because of:

Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice,
You wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech,
For I have killed a man for [eis] wounding me;
And a boy for [eis] striking me” (Genesis 4:23, LXX).

In my experience, I have seen that sacramentalists generally try to win the debate over eis by sneer. And when presented with the evidence for causal eis, they scoff even louder and say things like, “No reputable Greek scholar has ever thought eis should be translated because of! Go figure. Sort of makes one wonder what in the world they’re teaching in seminaries these days, doesn’t it?” Such is unbecoming of any Bible student.

When critics give into this behavior, it escapes their notice that the NAU translates eis as “with respect to” in Romans 4:20. In fact, one prominent translator for the original New American Standard Bible and General Editor of a leading concordance explicitly confessed to me, “In some contexts, eis can be causal.” With a plethora of scholarly works allowing the existence of causal eis, I am in a good company of grammarians and lexicographers with the likes of John Broaddus, A.T. Robertson, Nigel Turner, Julius Mantey, Zorrell, H.E. Dana, Bruce Compton, Henry Liddell, Robert Scott, et al. I am not intimidated by the ridicule sacramentalists in the Restoration Movement may heap upon me because of causal eis.

The question begs, “If eis in Acts 2:38 means ‘because of,’ then why isn’t it translated that way?” The answer naturally is not a matter of lexicography; rather it is a committee’s philosophy of translation. The idea is to be as neutral as possible over controversial matters. The English word for is an excellent choice for eis because it too can mean “in order to, because of, etc.” There is nothing inherent to for that demands our differing views of eis either way. The word is so neutral that it leaves room for the interpreter to decide for himself what it means according to context. This is the reason translators choose the word for, though they might agree with my view that eis means “because of” or “with reference to.”

So why do I believe eis is causal in Acts 2:38? One reason is that the theology of Acts militates otherwise. When the Philippian jailor asked the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered adversely to my opponent’s view: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” To elaborate upon this, it is thus my pleasure next to defend sola fide.  

With this being said, my denial of this proposition is now completed.

A Proposal for Mr. Turner

Because Mr. Turner has expressed a repeated desire to address my view of eis aphesin hamartiōn in Acts 2:38, I offer a proposal for him to do so at this time. I certainly do not want to seem like an unfair opportunist seeking to take advantage of any malicious debating techniques. Though I honestly felt that my strategy and natural slower pace of moving through the issues were within the domain of the rules and format we agreed upon, I do understand his frustration for not addressing my view of causal eis. I have confidence he would extend the same courtesy to me if I were in his shoes also feeling disappointed.

Be that as it may, and because I am genuinely interested to read his defense, I hereby extend an opportunity for him to have the final word on Acts 2:38 by closing this proposition in a fourth affirmative with another 1,000 words to address my view of eis aphesin hamartiōn. If he takes advantage of this offer, I will then follow without a rebuttal by opening our second proposition for debate to proceed with the original format after this brief extension of the discussion.

The ball is in his court to decide.

See Turner’s Addendum

Back To Turner’s Third Affirmative

Back To Saare’s Second Negative

Back To Turner’s Second Affirmative

Back To Saare’s First Negative

Back To Turner’s First Affirmative

Return to Debate Propositions.
Return Home
Copyright © 2006 Allanita Press