Recently, I was able to interact with Sam Shamoun on Whaddo You Meme??, an apologetics YouTube channel run by Jon McCray, through the super-chat feature on YouTube. They were doing a response video to a video by an adherent of oneness named Marcus Rogers.
Sam put forth a challenge at 33:25.
I challenge…any oneness modalist to show me that was the baptismal formula they used when they immersed someone in water…[that they] said ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’…Show me that this is the precise formula they uttered when they…baptized the one being baptized in water.
Now, I was glad to accept the challenge! So, I submitted a super-chat. He responded and I wasn’t satisfied with his response, so I submitted two further super-chats. My points were made and responded to at 55:30, 1:01:35, and 1:14:10. Let’s review them!
At 55:30, my first comment was read.
I accept your challenge about baptism in Jesus’ name. In Acts 2:38, 10:48, and 22:16 the Greek suggests that the name of Jesus was invoked at baptism. James 2:7 confirms this. No trinitarian formula.
Now, I was limited by a character count on YouTube, but I think my point was clear. It seems it was clear to Sam as well because while the question was being read by Jon he said “absolutely not” and when he started his reply he repeated “absolutely not”. The point, unless the reader doesn’t understand, is that the Greek at those references in Acts suggests that Jesus’ name was invoked, that is orally invoked, at baptism.
To briefly substantiate my point, according to Bauer, et al., Greek-English Lexicon, 572-73, en to onomati in Acts 10:48 means “with mention of the name, while naming or calling on the name,…be baptized or have oneself baptized while naming the name of Jesus Christ” and epi to onomoti in Acts 2:38 means “when someone’s name is mentioned or called upon, or mentioning someone’s name”. Furthermore, in Acts 22:16, which says “…be baptized…calling on his name”, the Greek word rendered “calling” is epikaleomai which means “to call over” or “to invoke”.
There are many commentaries which have trinitarian authors that recognize these points. Here is a quote from Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition) commenting at Acts 2:38:
Peter identifies the repentance and baptism he is speaking of as being specifically Christian in that it is done “in the name of Jesus Christ”. What that means, it seems, is that a person in repenting and being baptized calls upon the name of Jesus (cf. 22:16) and thereby avows his or her intention to be committed to and identified with Jesus.
Finally, James makes a remarkable incidental comment in a passage dealing with practical church matters: “Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?” Notice the reference to the “name” that was “invoked over you”. Given the points we’ve already made from Acts 2:38, 10:48, and 22:16, many commentaries recognize this as a reference to Christian baptism where the name of Jesus was invoked.
Commenting on this verse, Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume) says:
…the literal rendering, ‘which was called upon you’, and the reference may be to the invocation of the name of Christ at baptism (cf. Ac. 15:17; Gen. 48:16).
They only say this “may be” a reference to the invocation of the name of Christ at baptism. Therefore, from this commentary we can only establish that this is a possible interpretation.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition) says:
Christ’s name is described as ‘noble,’ ‘excellent,’ or ‘honorable’, a word that refers to what is kind or morally good. This ‘noble name’ is the name of ‘him to whom you belong’ (lit., ‘the noble name that was called upon you’). This expression clearly reveals its OT background (Dt. 28:10; 2 Ch. 7:14; Am. 9:12). A person was dedicated to God by calling God’s name over him or her. That act indicated that the individual belonged to God. So Christians bear the worthy name of Christ as indication that they are his people.
I think this commentary shows that the invocation of Christ’s name is the most plausible interpretation of James’ incidental remark in that it brings out a profound connection between the invocation of Christ’s name at baptism and the invocation of the name of God for dedication in the OT.
So, I’ve said all of this to explain what I was getting at with my super-chat comment. Now, let’s review his response. He said:
Absolutely not…what he’s telling me is that he is having them get baptized as a recognition that they acknowledged Jesus’ lordship because they had crucified Christ…read Acts 2:37. But then further read on, when they got baptized where was the formula uttered? I’m aware of these passages. I guess he thinks that I’m speaking in ignorance, that I’m not aware. For example, I’ll even quote Acts 2:38: “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Keep reading on. When they…actually do get baptized, what formula was pronounced over them? Nothing! So, why is he saying “Repent and be baptized every one of you into the name of Jesus Christ”? Because…Peter had just indicted them for instigating the crucifixion and death of Jesus…He said…if go to Acts 2:36, he says “This Jesus whom you crucified God has made both Lord and Christ. So, what he is saying is: now, acknowledge your sin and error by getting baptized as a recognition that you believe that Jesus is lord, he is risen, and that you wrongly condemned him to die. That’s all the formula is saying…So, he [yours truly] failed miserably to show me that when they did get baptized…keep reading! Keep reading! When they did get baptized that they pronounced the name of Jesus only to the exclusion of the Father and the Spirit. You won’t find it. It doesn’t exist. That is what we call abysmal failure.
Now, I was extremely unsatisfied with this answer. It just didn’t substantively address the main point I made which is that the Greek language in Acts 2:38 and 10:48 suggests that the name of Jesus should be orally invoked at baptism and that the Greek language in Acts 22:16 and James 2:7 suggests that Jesus’ name was orally invoked at baptism. He simply denied my claim and gave his own interpretation even boldly claiming that “you won’t find” what I’m claiming to be the case because “it doesn’t exist”. He even called my comment “an abysmal failure”.
Given the comments from Bauer, et. al., Greek-English Lexicon, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, and Zondervan Bible Commentary, clearly I’m not advocating for a position which just doesn’t exist and that you can’t find. It is recognized by scholars who are admittedly on his side of the theological aisle. This being the case, I would have appreciated a more substantive answer. So, I decided to respond. Hey, it only cost me $10!
At 1:01:35 my second comment was read:
Sorry. That was a failed answer to my points. You didn’t adress the Greek in Acts 2:38, 10:48, and 22:16…
This wasn’t my full comment because Sam interuppted to say “Yes I did!” And, Jon concurred saying, “Yeah, I thought you did…in context.” He goes on:
In fact. here, I want to see how much he knows the Greek. Can he confirm to everyone that the Greek preposition is not the same in every place that the formula “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”…Can he confirm that? Or, do I have to school him on that? Cause, he’s trying to school me.
For the record: Yes. I recognize that. However, I don’ think it is a significant response to my argument.
First, I want to address the tone of his response. He says “I want to see how much he knows the Greek” and “do I have to school him…cause, he’s trying to school me”. I don’t claim to be a Greek scholar. My knowledge is completely second hand. However, that shouldn’t matter. We should be able to confirm whether what I said is true by asking the scholars. I’ve given you quotes from scholars who concur with my point. Secondly, I wasn’t trying to “school him”. I was simply pushing back to attempt to get him to address the point I’m making, which unfortunately, he didn’t do.
Jon then goes on to read the rest of my comment:
Well, you may have to school him. But, there is one more point…he said: “Nor did you address James 2:7.”
At this both Sam and Jon seemed confused as to the relevence of James 2:7 with respect to the discussion at hand. As I point out above, in James 2:7 we have an amazing affirmation of the oral invocation of the name of Jesus at baptism in an incidental remark from James, as is recognized by even trinitarian scholars in such resources as I quoted above.
Here was his response:
And why would I need to [address] James 2:7…I don’t understand what he is trying to get at. Is he saying the name in James 2:7 means that the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit happens to be Jesus?…When they invoke the name it’s not so much that the name of the Father is Jesus, the name of the Son is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, that that’s the name they share in common. In Biblical usage, when you speak of the name, you’re talking about the person that has authority over you and that you submit to and that you trust your life to as lord. That’s all it means. In fact, if you go to James 1:1, James says that he’s a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. And, in James 2:1, he talks about the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. So, again, I think he is thinking name in the sense like “hey, my name is Tom”. The Bible uses the term name in a variety of ways. It can invoke a person’s characteristics or the authority that a person has over your life so that you submit to that authority.
Notice that he seems confused at first but then remembers that James talks about “the name” that was “invoked over you” and realizes my point. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t adress my point that the Greek word used suggests that the name under consideration, namely Christ’s name, was orally invoked but simply denies it and gives his own interpretation. In point of fact, he is right that to speak of “name” has connotations of authority and to invoke a person’s name involves an invocation of that authority. I’m not disputing that. I’m saying that the Greek language suggests that the way in which the authority represented by the name under consideration was invoked was orally.
If anyone reading this is still confused by what I mean, let me give you this example. I’ll quote from Dr. David Bernard:
Jesus told His disciples they would pray for the sick in His name (Mark 16:17-18), and James said we should pray for the sick “in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). When Peter prayed for a lame man, he actually used the name, for he said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). Then he explained that the man was healed “by the name of Jesus” (Acts 3:16; 4:10). In other words, when the Early Church prayed for the sick in the name of Jesus, they actually uttered the name Jesus.
I would concur with Dr. Bernard:
Likewise, when the Early Church baptized in the name of Jesus, they actually uttered the name Jesus as part of the baptismal formula.
Maybe I should have gathered from his tone and refusal to substantively address my point that the dialogue would continue to be fruitless, but I decided to try one more time. (When my wife sees that I spent $30 to have a super-chat conversation on YouTube…)
My final comment was read at 1:14:01.
The preposition in Greek doesn’t change the fact that Jesus’ name is the only name associated with baptism in Acts. James 2:7: Jesus’ name was “invoked”. Many trinitarian commentators recognize this is Jesus’ name at baptism.
The comment as read was a little different than this because of my character count limitation on YouTube but I only made it more understandable.
So, in this comment you see that I am responding to his point about the variation of the Greek preposition throughout Acts in the phrases translated something like “in the name of Jesus” and attempting to clarify the point I am making about James 2:7.
Here is his response:
Ok…who denies that Jesus’ authority would be invoked in baptism? Notice he is still not getting the point. He’s assuming the name is like “Hey, my name is Tom”. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it. The word name can also refer to the characteristics or the authority. Of course they are going to invoke the authority of Jesus to baptize…In other words, when you say to me, “Hey Sam, why should I get baptized?” Because Jesus authorizes me to…That’s what it means. I mean, Jon, I thought I was clear the first 20 times.
Sir, I don’t deny that your opinion is being clearly stated. However, you aren’t answering my point in a substantive manner. You are merely denying what I am saying and asserting your own position.
Well, I think you can see that all three times I commented he just didn’t respond to the fundamental point I am making which is about the Greek language indicating that Jesus’ name was orally invoked. He simply denied it and asserted his own interpretation of what it means to “invoke” the name of Jesus.
When the dust settles, it seems to me that his response is the abysmal failure because it didn’t attempt to substantively address my point. Frankly, it is a little rude to indicate that someone who is limited by a character count on YouTube in response to your challenge has given a comment that is an “abysmal failure”, especially when you didn’t substantively address the comment.
In addition to Sam’s poor performance in interacting with me, I don’t think Jon did very well as a moderator when it came to my comments. All throughout these interactions, he simply affirmed what Sam was saying and didn’t push him for a better answer. In fact, this happened.
But now, notice how he does a backpeddle with the Greek. Who appealed to the Greek preposition? Me or him?
Jon replied with: “He did”.
But now when I say “is it the same preposition?”…”well, it doesn’t matter”…So then, why are you appealing to Greek? Oh, because it’s all Greek to me.
The fact is that Sam brought up the Greek preposition. My claim was that the Greek langauge suggests that Jesus’ name was orally invoked. I didn’t make any claim specifically about the Greek prepositions used. And, I certainly didn’t “back-peddle”. I responded to his point about the Greek prepositions and attempted to advance the discussion.
Unfortunately, Jon, after inaccurately telling Sam that I was the one who brought up the Greek prepositions, just laughed at Sam’s response. I so desire Jon would have pushed him for a better one. Alas, I suppose that Jon’s bias to agree with Sam prevented him from doing so.
In conclusion, I want to say that I have no hard-feelings against Jon or Sam. I am only frustrated that Sam was challenged and wasn’t pushed to give a substantive response to the challenge by Jon. In my estimation, the challenge he gave was met in my comments. But, instead of refuting my comments substantively, he simply denied what I was saying and asserted his own position. What irritates me the most is that those who were watching didn’t receive a substantive reply to my comments. Perhaps some of them will see this article and will be better able to think about this particular issue.