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 »

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Rome and Preeminent Authority in the Ante-Nicene Church

December 28, 2010

Preeminent – the word garners attention whenever it is used, suggesting to the reader or hearer that something or someone is held in the highest regard. And when the word is used by a respected early church father with regard to the church, its meaning demands attention. And when the word is used in connection to a specific church, the church in Rome, attention it will get. Such is the case regarding a certain passage from the works of a beloved second century bishop named, Irenaeus.

Any Roman Catholic that has heard of Irenaeus will tell you that in his works against heresies, he explicitly referred to the church in Rome as being preeminent. “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [the church in Rome], on account of its pre- eminent authority.” For Roman Catholics, this statement is proof positive that the second century church regarded the church in Rome as preeminent to all the others. The problem for Roman Catholics, however, is that the “proof” falls apart when the quote is reunited with its context. 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 »


The Truth behind Catholic Answers Early Church Quotes: Papias on Apostolic Tradition

October 28, 2009

The following is a first in a series of posts aimed at exposing the severe lack of credibility at one of Catholicism’s most popular apologetics websites, Catholic Answers. Over the years I have been inundated with quotes taken from Catholic Answers and used by Catholics as proof that the early church taught and believed all the “Sacred Traditions” of the Catholic Church. What I have found from reading those quotes over the years is that they are highly selective, unfairly edited, and deliberately misleading. If there is one admirable thing I can say about Catholic Answers it is that they provide references, which makes their culpability for fairness equally shared with those readers who fail to validate their claims. To understand what I am talking about, I am going to begin this series by examining a single quote from Papias, the first and oldest reference that appears on Catholic Answers in defense of “Apostolic Tradition.”

The early church quote from which Papias’ is the first, are prefaced by this following statement on the (Catholic Answers Apostolic Tradition page:

“The early Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, recognized the necessity of the traditions that had been handed down from the apostles and guarded them scrupulously, as the following quotations show.”

The Papias quote is taken from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History and appears on the Catholic Answers website as follows:

“Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition” (fragment in Eusebius, Church History 3:39 [A.D. 312]).” Catholic Answers; Apostolic Tradition) (Emphasis mine)

Now read the same quote from Ecclesiastical History:

“And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.
But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.”

Where Eusebius says Papius mentions Aristion and John by name, and gives their traditions in writings, Catholic Answers inserted “concerning Jesus.” Eusebius didn’t say or even imply that the traditions Papias recorded were from Jesus,” something Catholic Answers dubiously added. By doing that, they created the premise that Papius’ writings revealed unwritten teachings of Christ.

The only thing one can ascertain from the quote is that Papias recorded some sort of tradition dating back to apostolic times. But what that tradition is Catholic Answers does not say. So it’s up to the reader to find out.

When read in context from Ecclesiastical History, one can see that Eusebius never mentions any so-called Sacred Tradition. He does, however, talk about a particular belief that Papias claims came from unwritten tradition. This is found in paragraphs 11-13.

11 The same writer [Papius] gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Savior, and some other more mythical things.

12 To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures.

13 For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Iranaeus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.”

Papius claims to have received unwritten tradition from Aristion and John that proclaims a 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth after the resurrection. But Catholic doctrine expressly rejects this view. Even on Catholic Answers own website one can find the evidence that they disagree with Papius:

“As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been ‘amillennial‘” (Catholic Answers; The Rapture)

The apostolic tradition Papias actually recorded, according to Eusebius, contradicts Catholic teaching, yet Catholic Answers passes it off as support for Catholic tradition. I wonder how many times people have pulled this quote from Catholic Answers to defend Catholic Tradition in discussions on forums, blogs, and emails, not knowing that it actually supports doctrine they oppose?

In light of Papias’ support of millennialism, let me once again share Catholic Answers preface to his quote:

“The early Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, recognized the necessity of the traditions that had been handed down from the apostles and guarded them scrupulously, as the following quotations show.”


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.