Martignoni’s Dilemma

Mr. Martignoni seems to believe that every book of the New Testament, as we know it today, was delivered from city to city throughout the ancient Roman Empire with the assurance of “word of mouth oral tradition” backing its authenticity. History, however, disagrees with Mr. Martignoni and it would be nice if he would take the time to explain, if he can, exactly what he means by “oral tradition.”

The catechism of the Catholic Church says the following regarding tradition:

“This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.” “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”” (CCC 78)

Perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.” If this were true, and, as Mr. Martignoni asserts, the canon of Scripture was set by oral tradition, why did the early church not know which books to include?

I hope Mr. Martignoni returns to answer this question and the one I presented in my comment:

Which of these oral traditions came from the apostles: to observe Pasch (Passover) on Sundays only, or to observe in accordance with the Jews?

Brian Culliton

PS. Anyone is welcome to answer the questions.


39 Responses to Martignoni’s Dilemma

  1. Phil says:

    Hi Brian,
    The whole point of Jesus’ talk to the apostles in Jn 15 is to encourage them to ABIDE in Him. Since they were already doing that, why did He insist so much unless there was the possibility that they might fail Him? As a matter of fact that is what they did a few hours later. You said that a dead branch is one that “has turned against Him.” I don’t know where you got that. Jesus said that it is one “that does not abide in Me” not one that has turned against Me. The fruit they bore is in the past which you cannot change: time travel is only science fiction. I asked you a question which you did not answer. I am going to ask it again: how can you tell when a true believer begins to produce fruit or when he/she fails to do so if required of him/her to produce it?
    The image of the olive tree and its branches is not a different matter. As you have recognized before, the olive tree and the vine are one and the same; now, let’s look at the branches. The vine branches are the apostles which you have also admitted could be applied to any disciple abiding in Him; the olive branches Paul is talking about are divided into natural and non-natural to distinguish Jew and Gentile believers, but after they are grafted there is no distinction between them: they are both abiding in Him. Then Paul goes on to say to the Gentile Christians regarding the natural branches that were cut off: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.” Isn’t that “a scenario where one is in Christ and then cut off”?
    May God bless you.


  2. Phil, I am doing my best to understand your perspective. You and I are thinking of this differently and perhaps we are at an impasse. Your focus seems to be on the word, “abide,” while mine has been on the branches and fruit. Your definition of abide seems to be very strict. You are indicating that if a person commits a sin such as Peter did when he denied Jesus, that person is cut off from Christ. In the context of the parable, I see abiding as maintaining fellowship with Christ. I do not believe that Peter broke fellowship with Christ when he denied that he knew Him. Peter was afraid of what people would do to him if they knew he was one of Christ’s disciples and so he caved under the pressure. But Peter never fell away from Christ; he loved Jesus and wept bitterly when he realized what he had done.

    If Peter had been cut off that would have been the end of Peter as an apostle of Christ. If we follow through with the parable of the vine and branches we see that branches that are cut off are gathered to be burned. Perhaps you see the dead branches as abiding in Christ because they are in the vine, but I see them as not abiding in Christ, because if they were they would not be dead. I see these branches as being the same as the plants growing among the weeds depicted in the parable of the sower. These are believers who have no real relationship with Christ. So the branches of the olive tree which Paul referred to as potentially being cut off will be cut off if they fail to abide (maintain fellowship) with Christ.

    The parable of the vine and branches is clear; Christians who bear fruit abide in Christ, and those who do not bear fruit do not abide in Christ. If a person who abides in Christ were to break fellowship with the Lord, then, according to Hebrews 6, there would be no hope for that person.

    Here is my conclusion on the parable of the vine and branches: a person who bears spiritual fruit abides in Christ and is useful to God. A person who does not bear spiritual fruit does not abide in Christ and is useless to God. The former will be pruned and the later will be cut off and burned. What is your conclusion from the parable?

    You said, “How can you tell when a true believer begins to produce fruit or when he/she fails to do so if required of him/her to produce it?

    There is one word in your question that clearly demonstrates that we are thinking on two different planes, and that word is “required.” The word required implies obedience to law; if you think that is what bearing fruit is then I couldn’t disagree more. I should know if I bear spiritual fruit, and you should know if you bear spiritual fruit, but although I might see evidence of the fruit you bear, it is not for me to judge your relationship with Christ. So I cannot necessarily tell if a person is bearing fruit to the Lord. In order to do that I would have to have the ability to know another person’s heart and God did not give me that ability. As I said before, if you look at the parable of the sower you will notice that those who bear fruit do so because they received the word of God with a prepared heart. Bearing fruit for them is inevitable.

    God bless!


  3. Phil says:

    Hi Brian,
    First, to understand your interpretation of the parable of the sower I need to know what the plant bearing fruit represents since the soil represents our hearts, that is ourselves.
    I am glad that you are trying to understand my perspective, too. That’s why I am going to tell you that in my question to you on when we begin to produce fruit I used the word “required” in the sense of “needed” and you can substitute it, if you want.
    The focus of the parable of the vine and the branches on ABIDING is the Lord’s, not mine (He uses it about twice as much as BEARING FRUIT), although they go hand in hand. I also “see abiding as maintaining fellowship with Christ.” In your conclusion on the parable you divide the persons as useful or useless to God: is that a fixed category or could there be a crossover?
    God bless you.


  4. Phil says:

    It’s almost two months since my last comment and Brian hasn’t answered my questions or clarified the parable of the sower, which it is his favorite. I doubt that he intends to answer them. However, for the benefit of those who may have followed our arguments, I am going to state the reason why Peter’s sin of denial separated him from the Lord, albeit temporarily. Brian denies it. Earlier that evening, when Jesus attempted to wash Peter’s feet and he refused, the Lord told him: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” I think that a denial of Him is a lot more serious offense than refusing to let Him wash your feet.
    God bless you all and enrich you with an open mind and heart.


  5. I didn’t answer you because I find myself repeating the same things over and over. Jesus was stressing a point to Peter that He came to minister to others and give His life as a ransom. What would Jesus’ example have been if He agreed with Peter? It would have shown Peter that he should exult himself above others as His Lord did.

    The fact that you cannot seem to see past the depth of the words is the reason our discussion is so limited.


  6. Phil says:

    Hi Brian,
    I completely agree with you that by washing the feet of His disciples Jesus was stressing the point that He came to minister to others Jn 13:14. My point was:
    The other disciples complied.
    Peter did not complied.
    Jesus told him that if he didn’t: “you have NO PART WITH ME (emphais mine).”
    Peter complied.
    Peter loved the Lord very much and could not face the possibility of being cut off from fellowship with Him.
    God bless you.
    P.S. You still have not answered my question about your favorite parable of the sower, namely: what do the plants (not the weeds) represent?


  7. Steven147 says:

    Hi Brian,

    Phil’s question is a very good one : What does bearing fruit spiritually entail ?

    Also w.r.t Peter’s denial of Jesus

    transposed to modern day Christians in Iraq and Syria who have to choose from 4 choices 1 . Paying a levy in gold & remaining as christians 2. Leaving with minutes notice 3. Becoming Moslems 4. Being beheaded .

    1. is not always possible 2. Is the most popular choice 4 happens a lot 3. happens with the elderly and sick ……I wonder what would be the view of Jesus here.


  8. The simplest example I can think of is what I call the fruits of repentance. If a person lived a worldly life then later heard and believed the Gospel, and then began to conduct their life in accordance to the precepts of the Gospel, not by will but from the heart, that new behavior would be good fruit to the Lord. Their fruit is pleasing to God and is visible to the world, especially to those who knew them before they changed. Jesus said what comes out of a man comes from the heart. The fruit we bear, whether good or bad, comes from the heart. In order to abide in Christ we must experience a change of heart.

    When Peter denied Jesus he did not have a change of heart away from Him, he wept bitterly because he loved Him.

    1 I think the Christians in Iraq understand that even if they were to pay the levy, the chances of them remaining there in peace as Christians is not really an option.

    2 The best choice. Then hope that Mr. Obama and the U.S. congress decide to give a rat’s behind and do something to help.

    3 Not an option for Christians

    4 The only option for Christians who are unable or unwilling to leave.


  9. Steven147 says:

    I wonder about option 3 not being an option as their religion is very superficial , for example if you say there is no God but God and Muh… God’s prophet you have become a moslem , you must learn to mumble their prayers occasionally and be seen to fast , all very superficial . Obviously no going to church which would be all burnt anyway .
    So is the issue of apostasy in fact the issue of appearing in public to have switched sides even if your faith is intact? Jesus mentioned he would deny anyone who denied him but details are lacking . These people acknowledge Him as a prophet but refute his divinity, they also acknowledge He will conduct the Final Judgment


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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

%d bloggers like this: