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?

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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)


The Source of Sacred Tradition

October 16, 2009

The Roman Catholic Church indelibly asserts that their “sacred tradition” was truly transmitted by the apostles and preserved through the ages by the “teaching Authority.” The assertion is clearly stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia under “Tradition and Living Magisterium.”

“The Council [of Trent], as is evident, held that there are Divine traditions not contained in Holy Scripture, revelations made to the Apostles either orally by Jesus Christ or by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and transmitted by the Apostles to the Church.”

Yet when put those traditions to the test, nothing from ante-Nicene history can be found to support them but sketchy out-of-context evidence. And that’s for only a few of the doctrines, for most no evidence can be found at all. The Catholic Church, however, is not ignorant of this fact; in fact they justify the discrepancies in the same article.

“The designation of unwritten Divine traditions was not always given all the clearness desirable especially in early times… The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings–she judges them more than she is judged by them.”

In other words, the truth does not exist within the historical evidence, according the Catholic Church it resides in the mind, or present thought of the “teaching authority.” But it stands to reason that if the apostles passed on those doctrines, history must support it. It is not reasonable that present thought should contradict traditional thought and still be regard as truth. Why would the Holy Spirit lead early church leaders to believe something contrary to what He leads current leaders to believe?

The truth of history makes no difference to the Catholic hierarchy because they believe that they alone are the keepers of truth. They decide what is true or untrue regardless of the evidence. Since they alone are the true interpreters of the Bible, guided by divine assistance, according to them, they interpret Mathew 28:20 as applying to them. And in their ostentatious minds, they like to imagine that God has granted them infallibility. One might logically ask, as if logic has anything to do with it, why the Bible is not expanding with time. But I suppose that even the most pretentious have their limits.


Catholic Apologist Refutes Own Logic

October 13, 2009

Catholic apologist John Martignoni’s own “logic” has handed him a shovel and he’s digging deep. While attempting to defend the Catholic doctrine of the immaculate conception from Revelation 12, John Martignoni logically states that since Jesus and Satan are real people, the woman mentioned in that verse must also be a real person; and that real person, Martignoni claims, is Mary. Here is a quote from his newsletter for context.

“Now, some will say that the woman represents the Church, because it is the Church that brings Jesus to the world; or that she represents Israel, because Jesus is a child of Israel. And, at one level of interpretation, they would be right. The image of the woman can be a metaphor for either the Church or Israel. There are many passages of Scripture that can have different levels of meaning, and this is one of them. However, at the most basic level of meaning, the woman is also a real person – Mary, the mother of Jesus. After all, no one ever says that the male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron is a metaphor. Nor do they say that the ancient serpent, Satan, is a metaphor. Why then do they claim “the woman” is only a metaphor? They claim that because they do not want her to be Mary. To admit that could damage some of their arguments against Catholic teaching on Mary. So, in the parallel passage of Gen 3:15, we see three real persons, but in chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, we supposedly only have two real persons and a metaphor?” (John Martignoni; Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #127)

If it is only logical that the woman be a real person in Revelation 12, than the same logic must apply to the woman in Revelation 17; the two chapters refer to the same woman. In Rev. 12:6 the woman flees to the wilderness, in Rev. 17:3 John is taken to the wilderness where he finds the woman. It’s obviously the same woman. The dragon never became something different later in Revelation so why would anyone think the woman was something different- especially when we have the location to tie the two together?

No Christian would ever say that the woman in chapter 17 is Mary, so why accept that interpretation in chapter 12? The woman is a metaphor plain and simple. Martignoni defeated his own logic, unless of course his logic allows for double standards. I would ask him, but he’s probably tired of digging.


No Absolution from Sin for Catholics who Read the Bible

September 18, 2009

According to the infallible Council of Trent:

Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise there from more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission, may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Book-dealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them. (Council of Trent, Tridentine Rules: Rule 4)

If you are Catholic and want to read or possess a Bible you have to have written permission from your bishop, if not, you’re sins are not forgiven.

This statement speaks volumes about the leadership of the Catholic Church. According to them, Catholic laity have no brains of their own and are denied the gift of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, one can only grow in faith and knowledge of our Savior through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. So long as one has their approval, one can possess and read God’s holy word. In absence of the express written permission of one’s bishop, reading the Scriptures is considered a sinful act. Amazing!


History of the Sabbath: A Critical Response

August 31, 2009

I read a few chapters of J. N. Andrews’ book, History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week. The chapters I read were on Christian history. I wanted to understand how a Christian Sabbath-keeper viewed this history in light of the evidence supporting Sunday assembly.

Andrews, who lived in the nineteenth century, was an intelligent well-educated man and probably the most prominent forefather of the Adventist movement. Had that not been the case, I would have dismissed his entire book on the basis of his derogatory opinions concerning the early ecclesiastical writers. But because of his credentials, I knew it was imperative that Andrews address these writing as representing Christian belief, lest he offer defeat of his theological opinion to his critics on a silver platter.

It soon becomes apparent while reading Andrews’ book that he did not write it with the intention of pleasing scholarly critics. His intentions were to persuade the less informed to follow after what he had undoubtedly accepted as absolute truth. A good example of this is found on page 127 where he presents quotes from two different historians and pits them against one another in an effort to discredit the known history of our faith. If Andrews can show his readers that historians cannot agree on the facts of history, he will have scored a victory for his efforts to persuade their minds.

One historian, Johann Mosheim, an eighteenth century scholar, was quoted by Andrews as saying this about early Christian assembly:

All Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Saviour arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship. This pious custom, which was derived from the example of the church of Jerusalem, was founded upon the express appointment of the apostles, who consecrated that day to the same sacred purpose, and was observed universally throughout the Christian churches, as appears from the united testimonies of the most credible writers.

No doubt this is a damaging statement to adherents of Christian Sabbath keepers, especially coming from a prominent historian, and one worthy of Andrews’ discrediting if at all possible. Andrews then proceeds to present another quote, this one from the nineteenth century historian, August Neander. Andrews prefaces Neander’s quote with this: “Now let us read what Neander, the most distinguished of church historians, says of this apostolic authority for Sunday observance.” He then presents the quote as follows:

The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday. Perhaps at the end of the second century a false application of this kind had begun to take place; for men appear by that time to have considered laboring on Sunday as a sin.

Andrews asks the question: “How shall we determine which of these historians is in the right?” It was immediately obvious to me, and I suspect to anyone familiar with ecclesiastical history, that the two historians were referring to two completely different things. Andrews, who must have understood the difference, apparently wanted to convey to his readers that Neander’s opinion is superior to that of Mosheim’s and thus proceeds in his effort to disingenuously persuade his readers to his opinion by launching his argument off the apparent contradiction. But there is no contradiction between the historians and surly Andrews must have understood that.

Mosheim was merely referring to Sunday worship not Sunday Sabbath or Feasterville. There is no record of Christians observing a Sunday Sabbath in the first two centuries of church history. In fact the churches in the region of Asia Minor distinguished quite clearly between the seventh day Sabbath and Sunday worship. Keeping the seventh day Sabbath was encouraged in the Syrian churches, but was clearly inferior to Sunday worship as illustrated in the third century compilation of Christian instruction called, The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles. In this work we find the following instruction:

Assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the Gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food?” (2:59)

This is not only sufficient to show proof of Sunday worship in the third century, but it also supplies credence to Neander’s claim that the day Sunday was becoming something much more than a day of Christian worship and assembly; it was becoming an obligatory requirement from which a type of Christian Sabbath immerged later (officially) in the fourth century (Council of Laodicea, 364).

We can also verify Mosheim’s claim that Christians assembled on Sundays from Justin Martyr’s first apology in which he described a typical Christian assembly during his time in the mid second century.

On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president [Bishop] verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.” (First Apology, 67)

Beyond Justin we can draw from the first century bishop of the church in Antioch, Ignatius (80 – 110 A.D.) Ignatius undoubtedly knew some of the apostles personally. In all likelihood he knew to some extent Peter, Paul and John. On his way to martyrdom Ignatius wrote letters to various churches in the region of Syria, one to the church in Rome where he was being taken, and one to his good friend Polycarp, the bishop of the church in Smyrna. In one of those letters, the one written to the church in Magnesians, Ignatius exhorts Jewish converts to the unity of Christian worship.

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death–whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master–how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead.” (To the Magnesians, chapter 9)

Nothing could be more devastating to Andrews’ theology than a credible refutation of it by a well respected and highly admired first century bishop of the Christian church. It was therefore, imperative that Andrews discredit the Ignatius quote as thoroughly as possible. He began his argument by attacking the authenticity of the letter. Andrew draws primarily from nineteenth century scholar Dr. Killen for information to support his claim that this letter was not authentic. Dr. Killen struggled to admit any part of the Ignatius letters were genuine, but admits that four of them, in their shorter versions, were accepted by many as genuine, and of those four Magnesians was not listed. However, the fourth century historian, Eusebius, listed seven letters as genuine and Magnesians was among them (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:36:5). Those same seven letters, again in their shorter form, are widely accepted as genuine by scholars today.

There is probably no stronger historical evidence that directly denies the Sabbath-keepers doctrine than that of Ignatius’ letter to the Magnesians; but we must accept the fact that the evidence can rightly be dismissed on the bases of uncertainty of its authenticity. But those who wish to dismiss the evidence are burdened with reconciling the undisputed historical evidence against them with the absence of evidence in support of their view.

If the Sabbath-keepers doctrine were true, how did the entire universal church mutate into a Sunday worshiping church within the forty or so years between the death of the Apostle John and the writings of Justin Martyr? My argument is from silence though not of a single source, but of an entire period of history from which some evidence, if the Sabbatarian doctrine is true, must be produced.