Are you infallible?

What

It’s a question that requires little thought to answer; are you infallible? It ranks right up there with, “Are you God?” But to Catholic apologists the question is quite serious; that’s because they believe that there is a man on earth who, on the subject of faith and morals, is infallible; they call him, “holy father.” See, it does rank right up there with, “Are you God,” at least when coming from people who think their leader is equal with God on deciding issues of faith and morals.

According to Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, this question should cause Protestants to suddenly doubt everything they believe, and Catholics should take comfort in knowing they and only they, have an infallible leader here on earth. But how can they know? Is there one Catholic person out there, besides the pope of course, who will confess to being infallible? And if a Catholic is not infallible, how can he or she “know” their pope is infallible? They can’t! So if they cannot infallibly declare their pope to be infallible, then their assertion is nothing more than a fallible opinion. And if they are wrong, which my fallible counter-assertion says they are, then they are being deceived.

The logic that so often accompanies claims of papal infallibility goes something like this: “Jesus did not leave His people vulnerable to the doctrinal whims of competing leaders.”

The logic used is quite revealing; it indicates very strongly that those who use it have no idea what it means to have the gift of the Holy Spirit, because if they had the gift of the Holy Spirit they would not be looking to Rome for infallible direction. It also reveals that they think everyone else is like them, wanting to follow the whims of their leaders. It also denies the notion that Christ has relationship with man through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Their magisterium reserves that privilege for themselves and people buy into it. It’s no different than Mormons following their prophet in Utah.

The pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, but the Apostle Paul explicitly said that Christ is the head of His Church and He reconciles all things to Himself. To wit, Catholics will be quick to agree that Christ is the head, but then immediately contradict themselves by saying, “but He established the papacy through which He reveals His truths .” Based on what? If Christ is the head and we are the body, where does the papacy fit in? I see no evidence of this claim in Scripture or history, so if the evidence is not there the papacy must belong to a different body; one that is not associated with Christ and His church.


In his newsletter on his website where he shares chapter one of his new book, “Blue Collar Apologetics,” John Martignoni instructs his faithful followers to establish the fact that Protestants are not infallible early on in discussions with them. The purpose of doing this is to attempt to convince the Protestant that he could be wrong about what he believes. The funny thing is Martignoni never tells his readers what to do if the Protestant turns the question back on them; and that is most certainly what is likely to happen.

Does Martignoni really not see this coming, or is he simply at a loss for how to address it? Once a Catholic apologist is faced with admitting their own fallibility, they will immediately be forced to deal with the realization that their claim of papal infallibility is itself a fallible opinion; so they must, therefore, admit that they could be wrong as well. And once they realize the playing field is level, the evidence will do the talking.

A Catholic apologist who is willing to concede that his belief regarding papal infallibility is nothing more than a fallible opinion will likely ask another similar question, “What church do you belong to and how old is it?” In their minds this is the true “gotcha” question. They believe, in their fallible opinions of course, that they belong to the church founded by Christ nearly 2000 years ago. But the fact is, and yes it is a fact, there was no Roman Catholic Church 2000 years ago; it took a few hundred years for that to develop. Furthermore, by their own admission, the doctrines they hold equal in authority to the Bible, which they call “sacred traditions,” did not exist at the time of the apostles; that also is a fact.

There is something, however, that is clearly older than any Protestant or Roman Catholic Church and that is the written books of the Bible. If a person bases his or her faith on these written works then no supposed authority that came later can undermine the power of God working through them. It is unfortunate that when a person comes to Christ in faith through reading the Bible, that there are so-called Christians who come along to cast doubt in their minds. For example, in a tract on the Catholic Answers website called, “By What Authority,” it is stated, “In fact, not one book of the Bible was written for non-believers.”

Not according to the Apostle John who explicitly wrote, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name”? He did not say these are written because you believe; he said, these are written that you may believe. John’s gospel is a firsthand written testimony of the ministry of Jesus for the purpose of bringing people to Him, and Catholic apologists are telling us it was never John’s intention for us to become believers by reading it? Amazing; isn’t it? The Catholic Answers philosophy seems to be to make up facts rather than face them.

So for the sake of the next John Martignoni disciple who wants to ask me if I am infallible, the answer is no; and incidentally your answer to my identical question is also no. Thus I am not interested in your fallible opinion that your pope is infallible when speaking on faith and morals. Perhaps one of you can go tell Mr. Martignoni that chapter his one is incomplete, and that he might want to consider adding a realistic response to his question rather than a bunch of scenarios where the Protestant is simply dumbfounded. His current scenarios might have been fun for him to write, but they are only going to embarrass his readers when they go out armed with the Martignoni sword.

240 Responses to Are you infallible?

  1. Jim,

    How do you get from a commission to preach the Gospel to an establishment of a hierarchical structure? Yes Jesus spoke of a kingdom and He called it His. He reigns as King in His kingdom and said it is not of this world. Do you dispute this?

    Peter taught repentance prior to baptism which denotes a change of mind and a reception of the Gospel. I was baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant; how does this align with what we read in the New Testament? Jesus said to make disciples of men and baptize them. I wasn’t a disciple. Peter said repent and be baptized. I didn’t repent or even understand anything about it. How as an infant did I meet the criteria for baptism?

    “Okay. But what if one, after entering the Church by Faith alone opted to skip the water? Would he remain in good standing? Would he lose his saved status?”

    What saved status? Why would I assume a person is saved who entered the church by faith but afterwards rejected the commandment of Christ to be baptized? It either says his heart is not truly converted to Christ or he is grossly ignorant of the Gospel. On the other hand, if he is truly converted who could deny him water? See Acts 10.

    Part of your challenge was to assert Gospel infallibility in the four evangelists. Again, to be infallible means to be inerrant. If a mistake exists in the writing you cannot attribute infallibility to the author nor inerrancy to the work. If the authors of the Gospels were not infallible what is the basis for saying your pope is? There was never any claim to the apostles being infallible. They preached the Gospel they received from Christ and were helped by the Holy Spirit. It is God that is infallible and His work done through them is an infallible work. But you are attributing the infallibility that belongs to God to the apostles so that you can claim infallibility for your pope. There is simply no basis for your claim.

  2. Mike says:

    Brian says:

    There was never any claim to the apostles being infallible.

    This is a good point Brian. In fact, the opposite is taught. I never have understood how Roman Catholics can claim infallibility for their popes, when even Peter, their first pope, was rebuked by Paul for wrong teaching. I know the “out” is “only when speaking ex cathedra” but this is not satisfying, and certainly isn’t the case for Peter as he was not teaching ” the truth of the gospel” according to Paul.

  3. Kevin says:

    Jim, we have so many exmples of people in the NT who werent baptised. The apostles werent baptised. Paul said he didnt come to baptise. Peter gives his great sermon olivet , never mentions it. Im not downplaying the importance of baptism as God’s imprint on us, but it isnt a condition of salvation. When Jesus tells Nicodemus of being born of water and Spirit, Nicodemus would have no idea of baptism. He was talking about the OT reference about being wsshed cleansed from sin.

  4. Jim says:

    Mike,
    The Apostles and Evangelists were not infallible? You obviously don’t believe the Church to be infallible either if her leaders were not.
    Okay, so how did a fallible Church produce an infallible book? No effect can be greater than its cause, can it? ( Of course, I am assuming you believe the Bible came out of the Church. I mean, the Church we see being added to by 3,000 men on Pentecost did exist before Luke wrote about it, right? )

  5. Mike says:

    Mike, The Apostles and Evangelists were not infallible? You obviously don’t believe the Church to be infallible either if her leaders were not. Okay, so how did a fallible Church produce an infallible book? No effect can be greater than its cause, can it? ( Of course, I am assuming you believe the Bible came out of the Church. I mean, the Church we see being added to by 3,000 men on Pentecost did exist before Luke wrote about it, right? )

    I don’t find anything in Scripture that tells me they were infallible. But that’s not even the question. The better question is why do you feel the need for infallibility in the Church and in its leaders? The notion we need an infallible Church denies the very way the Church came about. The church was built on fallible men, with human weakness and issues. This is crystal clear in Scripture, and it glorifies God and His Holy Word.

    The Church did not product the Scriptures, nor the collection of books called the Bible – God did. No, I don’t believe the Bible “came out of the Church.” The Scriptures were authored by God, recorded by men over an approximate 1500 year span, in three different languages, over three different continents, with one cohesive message as if produces by one mind – which it was. All of this would have been impossible with men alone, and none of them were infallible. Was Peter infallible? Obviously not, yet you claim him as the foundation of your church, and your “rock.”

    The word infallible means “incapable of error.” When we say something is infallible, we mean it’s never wrong and is absolutely trustworthy. By comparison is the word inerrant, which is also applied to Scripture, and it means “free from error.” Simply put, the Bible never fails. It’s the Scriptures that are inerrant in their original form, as they were directed to be written by God Himself.

    The Bible claims to be infallible in 2 Peter 1:19, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable.” Peter gives a description of how Scripture came into being: “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21).

    Also, we see infallibility implied in 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” It also has the effect of producing servants of God who are “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The fact that God “breathed” Scripture ensures that the Bible is infallible, for God can’t breathe out error. The fact that the Bible equips God’s servants “thoroughly” for service shows that it guides us into truth, not error. Notice all of this is from God, through the Scriptures, and none of it is produced by the Church. Further, the Church was enabled by God to discover truth through the Word and with help from the Holy Spirit. The RCC can’t, by way of its self-declared authority and infallibility create any new doctrine or teaching using its “infallibility” powers. Even worse – those types of teaching are not needed. Scripture is complete.

    Your need for infallibility arises from your belief that it’s your church whose allowed to declare new doctrine and teaching, and this is precisely what has led you into error.

  6. Jim says:

    Mike,

    “The Bible claims to be infallible in 2 Peter 1:19”

    Ever hear of circular reasoning?
    I believe the Bible is infallible too. But not because it says so.

    “Your need for infallibility arises from your belief that…”

    My belief in infallibility arises from the fact that Jesus claimed to be and proved he was sent by God. He instituted a Church and imbued it with his own power. That Church says the Bible is infallible and inspired. In the words of Augustine, ” I would not believe one word of the Bible if not for the witness of the (Catholic) Church”.

  7. Mike says:

    Jim says:

    My belief in infallibility arises from the fact that Jesus claimed to be and proved he was sent by God. He instituted a Church and imbued it with his own power. That Church says the Bible is infallible and inspired. In the words of Augustine, ” I would not believe one word of the Bible if not for the witness of the (Catholic) Church”.

    I agree. The issue is that your church is not the Church Christ imbued with His own power. Christ does not use His power to hurt children, launder money, kill dissenters, give up his power to men, make men cannibals, join in global government, change Scripture, or profit of it’s members by selling them salvation on the installment plan.

    You will know them by their fruits Jim – and the fruit of your church is rotten to the core.

    Neither you, nor your church has any power or influence here.

    Move on.

  8. Jim says:

    Mike,
    Your ignorance of what the term “infallibility” means is over the top. You shouldn’t be attacking a position you can’t even define. Go do your homework on Catholicism 101 and then come back.

    Caiphas was a wicked high priest. Yet he spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit in virtue of his office. He was infallible as were other high priests when they used the Urim and thummim.

    Jesus told his followers to obey those who sit in the Chair of Moses but not to imitate their wicked lifestyles.

    A child molester, Catholic or Protestant, can infallibly say that 2+2=4.

    Infallible does not mean Impeccable.

    As for those fruits by which we can recognize the Church, you won’t even divulge to Kevin which outfit you are a member of. If you did, we could see all the hospitals and orphanages you don’t run, all the saints you have not produced, all the speaking truth to power over the centuries you haven’t done, all the…

    But, alas, you are playing your cards close to your vest so we cannot put your little denomination under the microscope to see just how little it has donated to the world.

  9. Brian, for some reason I hadn’t read this article. Its quite good. K

  10. Eric says:

    My walk with the Lord was blessed when I understood that God spoke to and into a world full of fallble opinions. In a strange way, He competes with opinions on their own terms. He is concerned about His reputation. (Ezk. 36:23) More time in the Word shows how the god of the RCC becomes more and more unlike the God of Ezekiel.

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