Are you infallible?

December 10, 2013

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.

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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.

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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)


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 »


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.


Where do infants go when they die?

September 26, 2009

Q:

Hi Brian,

I was reading this article again [If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?], and I was just thinking, what would be a Biblical answer to the question “Where do infants go when they die?” There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer in this article, but I see an excellent response to the Roman Catholic position of having to be baptized as an infant. Could you clear up the question with the Biblical mindset that we are all born into sin and that everyone needs a savior (including infants).

Thank you

A:

Hi David!

You are right; the article was focused more on addressing Martignoni’s assertions rather than addressing the actual question. That being the case, I thought I would post my response to your question here so I could properly address it. Thanks for your feedback!

I know there are a lot of varying opinions out there concerning this question. My philosophy is to just stick with what I understand. So I will try to answer your question using biblical examples and logic, and you can decide whether or not it makes sense.

The big question is: do infants inherit Adam’s sin and therefore considered (by God) guilty of sin? We cannot answer for God, who ultimately is the Judge of such things, but I think we can understand what the answer might be from biblical study; and the answer for me comes down to one word: law. Paul said, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Rom. 5:13) So the question becomes, if sin is not imputed without law, what law, if any, is an infant under?

Adam, as soon as he was formed, was placed in the garden and put under law. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) Adam’s innocence was conditional; so long as he was obedient to the law over him, he remained without sin. But as we know, Adam disobeyed God. His disobedience brought about the promise God made to him, that he would surely die.

Adam and Eve’s nature changed the moment they disobeyed God; at that moment they knew they were naked and experienced shame and regret. And although God promised they would surely die, He also promised that He would save them through their posterity. Therefore, the descendants of Adam are not descendants of innocent Adam, but descendants of fallen Adam.

The curse placed upon Adam is placed upon his descendants, which is all of mankind. It is the curse, not the sin that is passed on throughout our generations. When God’s Law came through Moses sin was once again revealed, because God commanded the children of Israel to obey His commandments. So disobedience to the Law imputes sin upon those who disobey, just like Adam did.

So what about those who were not under the Law of Moses; how is sin imputed to them in light of what Paul said, that sin is not imputed where there is no law? Paul himself answers that question in Romans, chapter 2.

For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (v 12-16)

Adam and Eve did not need God to tell them they should feel guilty over their sin; it came naturally. As soon as they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve’s conscience bared witness to them of their sin. The same is true of those who are ignorant of the Law of God, or His grace. So the similitude of Adam’s sin is found in disobedience to the law of nature and is witnessed by the conscience.

When we consider what Paul said, “…their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men,” what does it mean for those whose thoughts cannot accuse them? It can only mean that they are excused on the Day of Judgment because they did not disobey the law, which, according to Paul, is the only way sin could be imputed to them. Nevertheless, as Paul also taught in Romans 5, death reigns over those who do not sin in the similitude of Adam because Adam brought death into the world, which was conquered by Christ at His resurrection. Therefore, all who are justified, whether by forgiveness or by innocence, are made alive through Christ’s obedience.

One more thing to consider: Christ possessed the same humanity we do. Although He is God, He became a man, born under the Law and prevailed over the Law, which rather than having the power to condemn Him it declared Him righteous through obedience. Nevertheless, even Jesus, in His humanity, was stricken with Adam’s disease. Likewise, every human being drinks from the dregs of Adam’s curse, and those who are disobedient to the law will suffer condemnation. That condemnation falls upon all people whose conscience has witnessed to them of their sin; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20)

An infant, though seemingly under natural law, has no knowledge of sin; and where there is no knowledge of sin and no conviction of conscience, there is no condemnation from law. But that is only true because of Christ. I think what we need to understand is that humanity was separated from God through Adam’s sin. Only God could reconcile that separation. And without God’s intervention no one, including infants, could be united with Him. Thanks and reverence be to God that He loved us enough to send His Son to reconcile us back to Himself!


Critical Questions for Adherents of Sola Scriptura: My Answers

June 9, 2009

The following questions are asked by Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, in one of his recent newsletters published on his website. The questions challenge the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. There are three general areas in which Martignoni disputes Sola Scriptura: Logic, History, and Scripture. This post will answer Martignoni’s five questions from the perspective of logic.

1. Where did the Bible come from?

We believe the New Testament was orally preached to the first believers. The Apostle Paul wrote letters to various churches, which were compiled as early as the late first or early second century and circulated among Christians. Along with the Pauline Corpus the four Gospels were compiled by the mid second century along with First Peter, Jude, Revelation, and two of John’s letters.

It is certain that 22 of the 27 canonized books of the New Testament were well rooted in the ancient Christian church of the first two centuries. There is no record of these 22 books ever being disputed or doubted until 150 years later in the fourth century when some disputed the book of Jude. Even if we move Jude out of the list of undisputed books, we still have 21 books of the New Testament that were considered authoritative Scripture in the early church.

2. What authority do we rely on for our belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God?

The doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) states that the Bible is the only infallible authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. It does not claim to come from the Bible as though the apostles could have known the scope of its contents. Their calling was to lay the foundation of the church and in so doing left their writings to continue their work in these last days.

Nevertheless, if a person believes the Gospel message and puts their trust in the Bible as the word of God, it does not mean they profess the entire Bible to be inerrant or even inspired. Every believer who draws closer to Christ will gain understanding and insight into the more difficult areas of the Bible. Gaining biblical understanding, however, is not something that is accomplished in isolation. The body of Christ has structure and organization. “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-13)

Some things may never be understood to the point of an individual being able to honestly say that the Bible is inerrant in its entirety. As the formally blind beggar said to the Pharisees who accused Jesus of being a sinner, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (Jhn. 9:25) When believers draw closer to Christ they begin to understand the harmony of the Scriptures, which in turn enables them to gain trust in its contents – even if they know little or nothing of its history.

As Christians mature in the faith it becomes evident that the authority of the Bible is God Himself. When Peter confessed that Jesus is the Son of the living God, Jesus answered saying, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mat. 16:17) And so it is with all who put their faith in Christ!

3. Is there a list of books in the Bible, which tells us which books should be in the Bible?

This question is obviously meaningless. Catholic apologists formulate it in order to set up what they believe to be a trap of contradiction for Sola Scriptura. Unfortunately for them, Sola Scriptura claims nothing of the kind. It would be a waist of time for any Catholic to use this tactic. Sola Scriptura is not a biblical doctrine; it is a doctrine born out of the Reformation to protect faithful Christians from the corrupt traditions and brutal spiritual oppression of the Catholic hierarchy.

4. What authority decided the disputes among Christians as to which books should and should not be considered inspired Scripture?

Of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, history has provided no evidence that twenty of them were ever disputed. These twenty books alone, which include the four Gospels, all of Paul’s epistles except Hebrews, Acts, First Peter and First John are enough to validate the Bible as authoritative. The remaining seven books were scrutinized thoroughly in the early church and found to be acceptable. Anyone familiar with the Bible can determine for himself or herself whether these books harmonize with the other twenty. I don’t think one would find many believers who find them objectionable.

5. What authority prevents me from disagreeing with the canon of Scripture as we currently have it and putting my own Bible together?

The only people in history who have ever done that are those who hold themselves as their authority. Our authority is Christ!