Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #73

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

I’m back. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas Season and that this new year brings abundant blessings for you and your families.

Before we get into the meat of this week’s edition, I just wanted to mention that I will be in Texas this weekend. I’ll be speaking Saturday morning at St. Maria Goretti parish in Arlington – the Dallas area. If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you if you have the chance to come out that way. I think everything gets going around 9:00 AM, but to be sure, you might want to call the parish for more information.


In Issue #69, I related the happenings from a meeting my pastor and I had with some gentlemen who had come down from Arab, Alabama, to save our souls and to warn me, in particular, that what I was teaching folks would not bode well for me come judgment day.

Well, I received a response to that newsletter from the ringleader of that little group…Rich. If you recall, Rich was the one who claimed himself to be infallible. (You might want to go to the “Newsletter” page of the website – www.biblechristiansociety.com – and read Issue #69 to refresh your memory before getting into this one.) Below is Rich’s response to what I said in my newsletter. I respond to him on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.

Some of my points are a little long, but I wanted you to see all of the problems in this man’s theology – not just the scriptural ones, but the logical and common sense ones, as well…and these are all in just one relatively short email of his.



Hi John,

I did claim that my interpretation of the particular verse we were discussing is infallible. You are claiming that I declared that I was infallible on everything and this is not true. It was true for the verse we were discussing. Your original question to me was “Are you infallible with regards to the interpretation of this verse?”. I said, “ yes with regards to this verse I am infallible”.


Actually, Rich you did not say that you are infallible in everything, but I assumed that to be the case because you did indeed say you were infallible in your interpretation of pretty much every verse we discussed in our meeting that day. After the first time you said you were infallible on a particular interpretation, I turned to you every other time we disagreed on the interpretation of a verse and asked you if you were infallible in that particular interpretation as well. Each time I asked you, you said, “Yes,” that it was an infallible interpretation. So, forgive me if I didn’t realize that you are apparently infallible in interpreting some passages of Scripture, but not others. Would you please give me an example of a Scripture verse for which you have only a fallible interpretation?

Plus, in another recent email to me, you stated the following in response to a question I asked about how you know the Bible is God’s Word: “Through the Holy Spirit, John,” you stated. And you continued: “A Christian receives the Holy Spirit the instant they believe the Gospel ( Eph.1:13 ) and the Holy Spirit tells us what God wants us to know through the word.”

Well, Rich, with all due respect, but there is a big contradiction in what you’re saying here – if you actually think about it. On the one hand you say that you, as is every true Christian (not those who think they’re saved but really aren’t), are guided by the Holy Spirit from the very first moment you believe the Gospel. Does the Holy Spirit make mistakes? No, He doesn’t, does He?! In other words, it is safe to say that the Holy Spirit is infallible, isn’t He? So, if you, as a true Christian, are guided by the Holy Spirit at all times, then you are indeed infallible. Unless, you claim that the Holy Spirit sometimes leads you into error. Do you claim the Holy Spirit sometimes leads you into error? Or, maybe you claim the Holy Spirit leads you sometimes, but not other times. Is that it?

But, if the latter is the case, that begs the question: How do you know when He’s leading you and when He’s not? Plus, it would also contradict your faulty interpretation of Eph 1:13 which you think says a Christian receives the Holy Spirit the instant they believe the Gospel (not quite what that verse says). But, let’s go with your interpretation here, because your interpretation prevents you from claiming that the Holy Spirit only guides you some of the time.

So, if the Holy Spirit is guiding you, and He is guiding you all the time, especially when you read and interpret Scripture, and we know the Holy Spirit doesn’t make mistakes…then the conclusion has to be that you are infallible, especially in all of your interpretations of Scripture. In other words, you’re more infallible than the Pope. Do the folks in your congregation know that you believe yourself to be more infallible than the Pope? I’ll bet they don’t, do they?

But now we have another problem. If you are indeed always guided by the Holy Spirit when you interpret Scripture, then you are infallible. Yet, you just claimed not to be infallible. Which means, the Holy Spirit can’t be guiding you. If the Holy Spirit was guiding you, and the Holy Spirit knows that He is infallible, then He would guide you into claiming that you are indeed infallible, since you are guided by the Holy Spirit. But, since you claimed not to be infallible in all things, that means the Holy Spirit can’t be guiding you, which means you cannot be infallible in any of your interpretations of Scripture. Which means, you have one big problem on your hands.

Basically, what’s going on here, Rich, is that your faulty theology got you backed into a corner, and you didn’t think through all the implications of what you said before you said it. You claim to be partially infallible…yet, you’re guided by the Holy Spirit…Who is completely infallible…which means you cannot be partially infallible if you’re actually guided by the Holy Spirit…but you indeed claim to be only partially infallible…which means you can’t be guided by the Holy Spirit…because if you were truly guided by the Holy Spirit, then you would claim to be completely infallible. Oops.

So, please explain how it is you are guided by the Holy Spirit, Who is infallible, yet you are not yourself infallible? Does the Holy Spirit sometimes lead you into error? Or, does He guide you sometimes, but not other times? If so, how do you know when He’s guiding you and when He’s not?

One last thing on this before I move on. You claim to believe in the Holy Spirit…why? Because of the Bible. You claim to believe in the Bible…why? Because of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever heard of the term – circular reasoning? Because that is exactly what you are doing here, Rich. Is circular reasoning a sign that the Holy Spirit is guiding you? Does God use circular reasoning?

Which did you believe in first, Rich…the Bible, or the Holy Spirit? If you say the Bible, then it cannot be the Holy Spirit that witnesses to you of the authenticity of the Bible…you believe in the Holy Spirit only because you first believed in the Bible. If you say you believed in the Holy Spirit first, then you can’t say you believed in the Holy Spirit because of the Bible. In other words, you relied on some authority outside of the Bible to first believe in the Holy Spirit. So, that means you don’t go by the Bible alone. Man, you have one inconsistency in your theology after another, don’t you? How do you sleep at night with all of these inconsistencies in your belief system? That would drive me crazy.


Michael originally asked you before we met if we could record our session. You said you did not want it recorded because it could be used in a manner that was not agreeable with you. Since our session you e-mailed your newsletter with your account of what transpired during our session to your readers. You made claims that are not true and we are not capable of remembering all of what was said verbatim. Why wouldn’t you want to have our session recorded so that your words and ours are accurately handled? What were you afraid of?


I explained fully to Michael why I did not want our session recorded, and he obviously explained that to you. But, I apparently need to say it again, so I will. In the past, I have had someone else ask to record a conversation he had with me. He said he would use it only for his own personal use. About a year later, I found out that he was passing out copies of our conversation to others. But, he wasn’t passing out the entire conversation. In other words, he edited what he gave to others. I don’t know you and I don’t know that you wouldn’t do the same thing as this other guy did. After all, you believe 60 million people died in the Inquisition…that’s pretty outlandish! How much should I trust someone who believes such falsehoods so easily? Although, I actually wish now that I had recorded it, so that I could have the audio of you claiming that your interpretations of Scripture were infallible. I would love to share that with your congregation, because I know you won’t.

Regarding my making untrue claims in my newsletter about our conversation, I will share with you a quote from an email Michael sent me after I sent him a copy of that last newsletter. He said, and I quote, “I read your account and it was similar to my recollection. If Rich and/or Marty wants to respond, I’ll e-mail you the response." In other words, Michael remembers our conversation pretty much the same way as I do. Are you going to claim he is also making claims that aren’t true? I believe he is generally on your side in this matter, is he not? So, for you to claim that what I said in my newsletter is not true, rings a bit hollow, given your own colleague’s recollection of events.


I never said that Christ laid hands on me. That is inaccurate and again could have been solved had you allowed the session to be taped. I said that my authority was given to me by Jesus Christ as recorded in Scripture. The authority of preaching the gospel is not conveyed by the laying on of hands. The authority of preaching the gospel is conveyed by the commission of Jesus Christ found in the following verses: Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8.


Actually, you did indeed say that Christ laid hands on you. As we were walking out the door (so it wasn’t a part of the conversation that would have been recorded anyway), you gave me an ominous warning about what I was teaching others. I asked you by what authority you teach what you teach. You answered, “By the Bible’s authority.” When I asked you where your name was in the Bible so that I might believe you, you basically had no answer. I went on to say that one could see by reading Timothy and Titus, that authority is passed on by the laying on of hands. I then asked you, “Who laid hands on you?” You responded, very clearly and very plainly, and without hesitation, “Jesus Christ.” At which time I simply shook my head and walked out the door.

And, you say that the authority of preaching the gospel is not conveyed by the laying on of hands. Yet, what does Scripture say on this matter? “Till I come, attend to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you,” (1 Tim 4:13-14).

What gift is Paul talking about? The gift of preaching and teaching. How did Timothy receive this gift? Timothy was given the authority to preach and teach through the laying on of hands, at least, according to the Bible. You say that one is not given the authority to preach and teach through the laying on of hands. Should I believe the Bible, or you? Could you please infallibly interpret 1 Tim 4:13-14 for me?


The gospel that Christ commanded to go and spread to the ends of the earth is defined by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, it says that Christ died for our sins. He didn’t just go to die physically and open a door to heaven for you to work your way through. He went to pay the penalty for our sins and rise from the dead for our justification. He IS the door (John 10:7) and made full propitiation with God for our sins through His death (1 John 2:2). Jesus Christ paid the full price for our sins. Isaiah predicted, “The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “Chastening” means “punishment.” It was our “punishment” that Jesus Christ endured in Gethsemane and on the cross. In other words, what should have happened to us, fell on Him. What we deserve, He endured. He took our place.


Well, you agree with the Catholic Church in most everything you say here. There are many, many paragraphs in the Catechism that I could point you to on this, but you might want to take a look at paragraphs #606 – #618, just as a starting point. The one point of potential disagreement, depending on what you actually meant to say, is when you say that Christ endured “our” punishment. There is no amount of punishment that we could have suffered which would have resulted in the forgiveness of our debt, because we have sinned against infinite Good. So, Christ suffered on our behalf, because we could not pay back our debt through our own suffering. He didn’t endure “our” suffering, He endured the suffering that could actually pay our debt. Which, again, may be what you are saying, just not in the way I would have worded it.


Galatians 5:4, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.” First of all, we must define words that are used in this verse. The key word in this verse is justified (just as if you never sinned). We are justified because Jesus Christ paid for our sins in full on the cross and rose from the dead. This is found in Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.


We are indeed justified because of Christ’s death and resurrection. By His stripes, we are healed. You have gotten that part correct.


If you are justified by faith in the gospel (Romans 5:1; Romans 4:5) then the law negates faith because you are saying that you have to help God get you to heaven and that what Christ did at the cross wasn’t enough. Therefore, if you are trying to use the law so that you hope that God will take it into consideration on judgment day (the good works outweighing the bad works) then Christ is of no benefit to you other than simply opening a door to heaven. So in that sense you have been severed from Christ and you have fallen from grace. You never were justified by faith and joined with Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is not what you receive through your sacraments and cannot be earned. Grace is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9)


Rich, with all due respect, but reading what you wrote here reminds me of when I was growing up next to Jones’ farm up in Huntsville. When the wind came in from the south, you were treated to the distinct aroma emanating from the herd grazing in the pasture. Reading what you wrote here takes me back to those days when the wind blew in from the south.

Your “infallible” interpretation of Gal 5:4 (I believe this is one of those verses that you said you were infallible when interpreting, correct?), crosses over into the realm of the bizarre. First of all, the “law” and “good works” are not the same thing, as you seem to think. Second, can you please show me, from your extensive reading in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where it teaches that all we have to do to get into Heaven is to have more good works than bad works on our spiritual ledger? You say you once were a Catholic, but I’m beginning to doubt that. At least, not a Catholic who knew anything about his faith. Because what you believe to be Catholic teaching is not Catholic teaching.

Third, your explanation of the phrase, “You are severed from Christ,” as meaning someone who was never saved…never attached to Christ in the first place…is a woeful attempt to distort the plain meaning of this verse. Please tell me, Rich, how can someone be severed from Christ, if they were never a part of Christ? It’s not possible. Can a branch be severed from a vine that it was never a part of? Can a finger be severed from a hand that it was never a part of? Can a head be severed from a body it was never a part of? No, no, and no. You cannot be severed from something unless you are first a part of the thing you are being severed from. Your interpretation, Rich, makes a mockery of the English language.

Read the passage, Rich. Verse 1 is addressed to folks who have thrown off the yoke of slavery. These are saved people, Rich. Would you say that unsaved people have thrown off the yoke of slavery? Of course, not. Paul also says that they are “free.” Would you say that unsaved people are free, Rich? Of course not. In verse 7, Paul says these folks were “running well.” Is that how you would describe the unsaved, Rich? Of course not. No, Rich. If you read the entire context of this passage, it is obvious – very obvious – that Paul is talking to saved people.

And what does he say to these saved people? He says that if they accept circumcision, as the Judaizers wanted them to do, then they will be severed from Christ…they will have fallen away from grace. How can they be severed from, and fall away from, that which they do not have? And, you know, Rich, as is obvious from what you said above, that to be severed from Christ is to be unsaved. Which is not what you argued with Fr. Bean and me. You said “severed from Christ” meant one is still saved, but that they were not “walking with Christ.” In other words, you’ve changed your argument here. Very interesting how your arguments change once they are challenged. I hope Michael and Marty clue in on that.

In Galatians 5, Paul is telling saved people that if they accept circumcision – if they accept the Law of Moses – then they will no longer be saved. But, wait a minute, that doesn’t fit with your belief in once saved, always saved, does it? That’s why you have to twist the obvious meaning of this Scripture, Rich, isn’t it? Because you bring a set of pre-determined beliefs to the Bible, and you have to twist the Word of God in whatever way you can to make the Bible conform to your beliefs, instead of conforming your beliefs to the Bible. If you are too proud to see it, I hope that Michael and Marty are at least able to.


So I would like to ask a question of you at this point John, do you want God to get some of the glory for your salvation or all of the glory for your salvation? He can only get all the glory through faith in who He is (God in the flesh) and what He did (paid in full for all our sins and rose from the dead for our justification). Isaiah 48:11, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.”


Rich, if God works through me for His good pleasure and purpose, then who gets the glory for what I do…me or God? God does, because He is the One working in me and through me and I am only able to do what I do by His grace. Nothing I do of my own is worth spit. But what God does through me…now that is indeed something. To God be all the glory, now and forever, amen!


I appreciate your zeal, but it is not in accordance with knowledge of God’s Word (Romans 10:2). It is in accordance with your church and its traditions. For instance your church says that Mary is Mediatrix (Catechism paragraph 969), but 1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.


Oh, yes…no anti-Catholic rant is complete without throwing in the “Mary card.” Rich, when Catholics call Mary by the term, Mediatrix, do you know what that means? Well, obviously not. It means that Mary cooperated with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a way that is unique in all of human history. Do you disagree with that, Rich? Was anyone else overshadowed by the Holy Spirt in such a way as to conceive Jesus Christ in their womb? Did anyone else give birth to the Savior of the world? Don’t think so. In other words, Mary shared in Christ’s mission of mediation between God and man in a way that no other human being did, didn’t she? She is the Mediatrix because God chose her to be the mother of the one and only Mediator between God and man. And, she is the Mediatrix because she continues to pray for us, her children – the rest of her offspring (see Rev 12:17) – from her place in Heaven perfectly united to her Son.

I suggest you read the Vatican Council documents if you want a fuller understanding of what we mean by the term Mediatrix. Read paragraph #62 in the document entitled “Lumen Gentium.” But you won’t do that, will you, Rich? Because you’re really not interested in finding out what the Catholic Church actually teaches, are you? You’re comfortable in believing the misrepresentations, half-truths, and outright lies about Catholics that you’ve been taught by others such as yourself. To learn what the Church teaches from those who are part of the Church, rather than those who prefer to throw stones, might be a little unsettling for you, right? But, I ask you this question: If you wanted to find out about the people of Israel, would you ask the Palestinians, or the people of Israel themselves? When it comes to the Catholic Church, you’ve been listening to the Palestinians. Is that fair?


Other verses that I can interpret without error are: 1 Timothy 4:1-4, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;” The Bible says that it is a departure from the faith when people forbid marriage (celibacy is commanded in the Roman clergy) and command people to abstain from meats (Canon 1251 – Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.) These verses are saying that the RCC is teaching the doctrine of demons. There are no other interpretations of these verses. Excuses do not reinterpret the passage.


Well, even though you have infallibly interpreted these verses, I think maybe the Holy Spirit has not made you aware of some historical facts that I would like to present you with here. In the 2nd century and following, there appeared heretical groups such as the Gnostics, the Encratites, the Marcionites, the Manicheans, and others who condemned all marriages as evil. You see, these folks thought there was a god who was the author of all good things, and another god who was the author of all things evil. Two of the things they considered evil were marriage and all animal meat. So, they forbid all marriages as being evil and they forbid the eating of all meat as being evil. Hmm, it seems these verses from 1 Tim 4 apply directly to the practices of these heretical groups, doesn’t it?

The Catholic Church does not forbid marriage. I was married in the Catholic Church. How then, can you say it forbids marriage? Now, you will probably point to the celibacy of the priesthood, right? Well, a couple of things to be said here. First, there are married Catholic priests. Didn’t know that, did you? Of course you didn’t. Your ignorance of the Catholic Church manifests itself once more.

Second, by adopting the general practice (not the absolute practice) of mandating celibacy for its priests (in the Latin rite of the Church), the Church is merely following the advice of Paul and the words of Christ Himself. Paul said, “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided,” (1 Cor 32-34). Paul says that the unmarried man can devote his full time and energy to serving the Lord, while the married man has divided interests. The men who become priests are not forbidden to marry, they voluntarily give up their right to marriage so as to serve the Lord with their undivided attention.

Plus, Jesus said in Matthew 19:12, “…there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” Now, these folks didn’t physically castrate themselves for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, did they? No. So, what is Jesus talking about here? He’s talking about men who voluntarily give up their right to marry – and engage in sexual relations with their wife – for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. And He further says that not all are able to receive this. In other words, this life of celibacy in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven is not for all.

Do you have anyone in your church who fulfills Jesus’ words here? Do you have anyone in your church who follows Paul’s advice when it comes to serving the Lord with their undivided attention? No, you don’t, do you? But, the Catholic Church does. So, who goes by the Word of God and who doesn’t?

Regarding abstinence from certain foods, the Church requires temporary abstinence for most, but not all, at certain times (less than10 days in any given year) in the spirit of self-denial and mortification – so as to unite ourselves to Christ and His sufferings. That is a far cry from what the Gnostics and others did in declaring meats evil and that they did not come from God and thereby forbidding their adherents from eating them altogether at any time.

So, want to rethink that “infallible” interpretation of yours?


I’m not interpreting the verses, but it has to say what the author intended it to say apart from anyone’s interpretations. In other words, what would the verse say if everyone was dead? You evidently don’t know the principles for interpreting scripture. The reason you can’t understand what I’m saying is because the god of this world has blinded your mind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). What is your interpretation of 1 Timothy 4:1-4?


You are, once again, agreeing with the Catholic Church here (see paragraphs #115 – #119 of the Catechism), in regards to the intent of the author. But, you are indeed interpreting those verses from 1 Timothy, as you interpret all the verses of Scripture. I have offered an alternative interpretation to 1 Tim 4 – an interpretation which fits the verses much better than your interpretation does. Which means, there is not just one available interpretation for these verses, as you seem to think. So, given that there is more than one interpretation for these verses, will you now admit that you are going with one interpretation over another interpretation?

One last thing, Rich…I notice you didn’t touch the Parable of the Prodigal Son…why not? In Luke 15:24, it says that the son was dead and is alive “again.” In other words, he was alive, then dead, then alive once more. In terms of salvation, that would be: saved, unsaved, saved again. But, that doesn’t fit with your theology, does it? Could you please give me an infallible explanation for Luke 15:24?


Because Christ always is living and never is sacrificed,

Rich Basvic


Because Christ always is living and was sacrificed once for all and He eternally offers that one sacrifice to God the Father on our behalf as our High Priest.

John Martignoni

In Conclusion

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Apologetics for the Masses