The Council of Jerusalem

October 27, 2017

Unlike any other book of the New Testament, the book of Acts is a historical work, and the so-called council of Jerusalem is a historical event. All too often historical events get interpreted through the lens of one’s current ideology. In the case of the Jerusalem council, the long-held interpretation that the apostles and elders came together to decide whether Gentiles need circumcision, was interpreted through the lens of post-Nicene church leaders who themselves asserted similar authority and needed a Scriptural example for doing it.

Unlike Christians in the past who were denied Scriptural examination, we have the privilege of not only examining Scripture, but to do it in any language or translation we like. So when Christians today propagate the same interpretations held by those who formed them for selfish gain, it astonishes me. It astonishes me because Luke, the author of the book of Acts, took valuable time and effort to lay the foundation of what transpired in Jerusalem nearly two millennia ago; context that is largely ignored.

A new page on the Onefold Blog details the event in context. Beginning with Paul’s conversion to the faith, the article walks the reader through the context laid out by Luke and adds historical insight. It follows Paul and Peter along different paths and demonstrates that they, and the other apostles and elders, had been of the same understanding regarding Gentiles for nearly twenty years prior to the meeting in Jerusalem. It examines the underlying issue in the Jerusalem church that grew like a cancer and eventually culminated in the largest controversy of the apostolic church.

To read the article, click here, or navigate through the menu above.

Thank you!

Brian Culliton
Onefold admin

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Catholic Propaganda Takes Me Back to My S.E.R.E. Training

January 9, 2014

sere_capture

I was asked by a Catholic visitor to listen to a series of audio recordings of a catholic apologist making the case for the authority of the Catholic pope. I agreed to listen to the first one and told him I would give my response in a new post. The audio can be found here, and my response below.

Okay, so I listed to the first audio file and I was immediately taken back to the time I went through S.E.R.E. training in the Navy. S.E.A.R. stands for Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape. I spent a week in the woods of Maine, in November, learning to survive and evade hostile enemy forces. I spent the last three days of the course as a P.O.W. The first night of P.O.W. experience I was blindfolded and lead to a facility where I was placed in a small cell and forced to sit all night in a particular position that quickly became uncomfortable. They checked on me regularly to make sure I didn’t move from that position. While I sat there, severely sleep deprived, they played propaganda recordings throughout the entire night that continually told of American bombs hitting hospitals and civilian communities. Intertwined with that were several assertions about the American forces that were purely fabricated. And there was evidence reported by them that was taken out of context in order to make their cause appear justified.

Although I was sitting comfortably on my couch as I listened to that Catholic apologist on the audio, it felt almost as uncomfortable as that nigh in the cell. Before listening to the audio I predicted that it would be pure propaganda and I was right. The reason I knew this is because I am quite familiar with Catholic indoctrination and I know what things they are going to point to in Scripture and history and, more importantly, what things they will leave out. Read the rest of this entry »


Answering John Martignoni: Assurance of Salvation

July 17, 2013

vine and branches

This will be the first installment of a series of articles where I will give my answer to questions asked by John Martignoni in his newsletters. But before we get to the question on assurance of salvation, I would like to briefly share my encounter with John Martignoni.

In January 2009, John Martignoni responded to an article I wrote where he asked me a barrage of questions in response to my criticism of his assertion that oral tradition is responsible for the canon of Scripture. I was happy to answer all his questions sincerely and honestly. Since in his newslettesrs John tends to ask a lot of questions to his Protestant opponents and then berates them for not answering them, I wondered how he was going to respond to someone that addressed each and every one. But much to my surprise, I never heard back from him. I suspect the reason was that he was too nervous about being called out on the false information he presented to his some 30,000 newsletter subscribers.

Read the rest of this entry »


If you are considering Catholicism, consider this first.

September 9, 2010

“If anyone comes and tells me they’re the church and I know that they’re not teaching the same thing as the church of 2000 years ago then I know it’s false.” (Dr. Sungenis)

The above quote is the philosophy of Catholic apologist Dr. Robert Sungenis who made this comment during a debate with Evangelical apologist, Matt Slick this past July.

Apparently Dr. Sungenis never applied his philosophy to his own beliefs, because if he did he would find his own church to be false. This is because none of the “oral [T]raditions” of the Catholic Church that Catholics are required to believe were known in the ancient church nearly 2000 years ago. And what are Catholics required to believe? Dr. Sungenis answers that for us:

“Any oral teaching inspired by the Holy Spirit to the apostles is our Oral Tradition that we must be obedient to.” (ibid)

So for anyone that might be considering joining the Catholic faith, here is a non-comprehensive list of doctrines Catholics are required to believe that did not exist in the apostolic and Ante-Nicene church; doctrines that according to Dr. Sungenis, were received by the apostles from the Holy Spirit and passed down to the church by oral tradition.

  1. The Immaculate Conception
  2. The assumption of Mary
  3. Transubstantiation
  4. Confessing sins to priests
  5. Holy days of obligation
  6. And the requirement to believe that the Roman bishop is infallible in regards to his proclamations concerning faith and morals.

I would love to hear from Catholics on this, especially apologists. Is Dr. Sungenis wrong, or is the Catholic Church teaching false doctrine?


John Martignoni’s video apologetics

June 19, 2010

Catholic apologist, John Martignoni decided to take his one-man apologetics show to You Tube. He intends to present a series called, “Questions Protestants can’t Answer.” He opens the series with this question: “Is a dead body really a body?” The analogy is that a body without a spirit is still a body though be it a dead body, and faith without works is still faith, but like a body without a spirit it is a dead faith.

So far very good and very biblical, but then Martignoni attempts to associate the doctrine of “faith alone” with dead faith. And how does Martignoni associate faith alone with dead faith? He doesn’t say. Martignoni offers nothing to support his accusation. Nevertheless he is willing to send his disciples out to confront Protestants with this accusation armed with nothing but ignorance and misconceptions.

Take a look.

If Catholics are going to confront Protestants on this issue, they better be prepared to talk about works, specifically works of the law.

Faith alone is a biblical doctrine and it refers to a living faith. Dead faith is faith that is not accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit, which is the works of God in us. There are indeed those who proclaim Christ yet lack the works of the Spirit in their lives, these have dead faith. But those who by faith have become a new creation in Christ are alive in Christ and Christ in manifested in them by the fruit they bear. When a person truly believes the Gospel of Christ they desire repentance, and in their repentance they change the way they talk, the way they treat others, and the way they perceive their neighbor. They begin to manifest the fruits of the Spirit, this faith is a living faith accompanied by good works.

Conversely, the Catholic view of faith plus works is entirely unbiblical. This view separates faith from works. If we apply this doctrine to the thief on the cross next to Jesus we have a conflict. In order for the thief to be saved, and we know he was, an exception has to be made to the Catholic doctrine. And if we are to say that a person can believe and be saved upon their deathbed we again have to make an exception to the doctrine. And again exceptions have to be made with regards to small children and the mentally handicapped. All this is proof that the Catholic doctrine of faith plus works is a doctrine of men.

In addition, the Catholic system, yes system, of salvation includes adherence to “canon law.” For example, if a Catholic does not go to mass on a day deemed mandatory by canon law, they supposedly commit mortal sin and are immediately removed from a state of grace. Then comes the exception; if they confess their “sin” to a priest and do the mandatory penance they can return to a state of grace.

Such laws were never intended to be imposed on Christians. Salvation by faith is accompanied by good works apart from any law. Catholics are told that their salvation is dependant upon following canon law, the Apostle Paul said,

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)


Response to Martignoni’s “Biblical Evidence” for the Catholic Mass (Part 1)

January 6, 2010

Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, in his latest newsletter asks his readers (of which I am one) to respond to an email he received from a non-Catholic. The email Mr. Martignoni received was rather brusque and only offered someone else’s article as a response to his earlier newsletter. Martignoni’s objection to his challenger’s email was that it did not address the Scripture references he cited in his previous newsletter on the sacrifice of the mass. So my response will be to address those references in this and forthcoming blog posts. Read the rest of this entry »


Mary Ever Virgin: Why the doctrine should not be believed

October 22, 2009

The cousin argument

In order for anyone to believe that Mary remained a virgin, they first have to believe the Bible doesn’t really say what it appears to say. The apostles called Jesus’ relatives brothers and sisters, but they really meant cousins? Then why didn’t they say cousins? Luke, a Greek speaking gentile, referred to Elizabeth as Mary’s cousin (syggenēs); why did he not call her Mary’s sister (adelphē)? The cousin exegesis makes Luke out to be inconsistent.

The Mary at the cross argument

They also propose the idea that Jesus had no brothers because on the cross He gave His mother to John. Someone has told you that it would have been customary for Jesus to place His mother’s care in the hands of His brother, and since He did not do that He must not have had a brother. Sounds logical, but there is one major problem; had Jesus given His mother to one of His brothers, His actions would have contradicted His teachings.

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” I think you would agree that there is enough evidence from the Gospels to conclude that Mary believed in Jesus, but we know with certainty that His brothers did not (John 7:5). So if Jesus were to give His mother to His brothers He would have contradicted His own teaching.

What about the obvious conclusion just from reading the Bible?

I am sure most would agree that if a person who never heard the Gospel read them for the first time, they would believe that Mary had other children based simply on the text. It would take someone to come in and tell them that what they read isn’t as it appears. That means the burden of proof lies with those who dispute the obvious conclusion drawn from the text.

The evidence that the doctrine of Mary remaining in her virginity perpetually is not orthodox

“For the one and the same Spirit of God, who proclaimed by the prophets what and of what sort the advent of the Lord should be, did by these elders give a just interpretation of what had been truly prophesied; and He did Himself, by the apostles, announce that the fullness of the times of the adoption had arrived, that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near, and that He was dwelling within those that believe in Him who was born Emmanuel of the Virgin. To this effect they testify, saying, that before Joseph had come together with Mary, while she therefore remained in virginity, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Against Heresies; 3:4)

“And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or The Book of James, that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end.” (Origen; Commentary on Matthew; 17)

“Thus is the temptation about His birth unsuitable, for it might have been contrived without any mention of either His mother or His brethren. It is clearly more credible that, being certain that He had both a mother and brothers, they tested His divinity rather than His nativity, whether, when within, He knew what was without; being tried by the untrue announcement of the presence of persons who were not present.” (Tertullian; On The Flesh of Christ; 7)

How and when did the doctrine take hold?

The belief that Mary remained a virgin seems to have developed out of the Christology debates of the mid to late fourth century. A very large schism occurred over the notion of whether or not Mary was the mother of God, i.e. Jesus’ divinity and humanity, or merely the mother of His’ humanity. The idea that Mary remained in her virginity blossomed out of that controversy. The only group I have come across from the ante-Nicene period that believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Mary-worshiping Callyridians. And in my personal opinion, they are the catalyst for the Marian doctrines that developed in the fourth and fifth centuries.

So the evidence really is stacked against the belief that Mary remained a virgin. Historically it’s a no-brainer. But no amount of evidence will ever persuade people who just choose to believe the doctrine. But this evidence does matter to people who are willing to let go of ideology and seek truth.