Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #103

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Wow! Politics really does make some folks blood boil. I have received a whole bunch of nasty emails in the last couple of weeks because of the last 3 issues of my newsletter. And a number of you guys who forwarded my newsletters to your mailing lists also received some nasty emails. Well, as I always say, if somebody’s getting mad by what I say or do, then that gives me a pretty good indication that I’m on the right track. (This would be a good place for a “smiley face” if I was one to use smiley faces.)

Anyway, I’ll have one more follow-up to those newsletters in the near future that will use some of the negative responses I’ve received to highlight exactly the point I was making. Those folks were responding with raw emotion, rather than with logic, reason, and rational thinking, as I will demonstrate.

Also, for those who wrote to say that what I had written helped them to put proper focus on the election and caused them to reconsider their votes, I appreciate the kind words.


At the conclusion of Issue #97, which was the last one that dealt with Pastor Walker, I said the following:

“Well, this will be interesting to see how he responds. Either he will back away from the consequences of his admission that the Catholic Church could be right and come back with the same ol’ same ol’, or he will come back with a greater realization of just what his fallibility means and just what his admission means and possibly more openness to a genuine dialogue.”

Well, I heard back from Pastor Walker last week, and guess what? It was the same ol’ same ol’. I will respond to him in this week’s edition, but this will more than likely be the last we see of Pastor Walker in these newsletters. I may still correspond with him on the side, but for our purposes here, he has outlived his usefulness, so to speak.

As you will see, he just doesn’t get it. He really has no clue as to what my arguments are and his response was, to be pefectly honest, rather painful to read. As far as I can tell, we’ve reached the point where his logical contradictions are so glaring and so big, that he just cannot, or will not, see them. It’s kind of like putting your nose up against the side of an elephant…the elephant is so big that you just can’t see him because you’re way too close. (I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but I understood it.)

My reply is below and will include qoutes from his response to provide context. I will not, however, be including his entire response, as it, along with my comments that he was responding to, is some 42 pages long, and would require a couple of hours for me to format it in such a way that you could tell his remarks from mine. Just as a point of information, when I copy something from one of his emails, into these newsletters, I lose all of the fonts – the bolding, the italics, the underlines and so on. There is nothing that differentiates his words from mine, so I have to go back through and manually install fonts and clearly identify his paragraphs from my paragraphs and so forth. All of which takes a whole lot of time – especially when we’re talking 42 pages worth of material.

So, again, I will not be reproducing his entire response this time. But, if anyone wants to read all of it, I will hang on to it for another week. Just shoot me an email saying you’d like a copy of the whole thing and I will be happy to forward it to you.


Dear Pastor Walker,

The whole thrust of my dialogue with you has been over the issue of authority. And the main question regarding authority is this: If you have two men, both of whom profess belief in Jesus Christ; both of whom are relatively intelligent men; both of whom read and study Scripture on a regular basis; both of whom believe Scripture is the inerrant and inspired Word of God; and both of whom pray devoutly and sincerely for guidance from the Holy Spirit when reading Scripture; what do you do when these two men come up with contradictory interpretations of Scripture? How do you decide which one is right and which one is wrong? Who can decide which one is right and which one is wrong?

The point of my argument is that in your theological system, you have no tie breaker, so to speak. You have no person, or no institution, that can authoritatively decide the issue. In your theological system, God gave us no means by which a dispute about Scripture can be authoritatively decided. So, the best you can do in that situation is, in a sense, a tie. The issue cannot be authoritatively resolved.

I am not saying that there is no truth to be had – far from it! The truth is there, waiting to be discerned. However, the truth cannot be declared with any degree of authority because the discernment of it has been left up to two men who, even though they are intelligent and prayerful and appeal to the Holy Spirit for help and guidance are, nonetheless, fallible human beings. They do not have the gift of infallibility. Oh, to be sure, they can go round and round and swap Scripture verses and discuss it ‘til they are blue in the face, but if after doing so they still disagree over the interpretation of Scripture…over the discernment of truth in Scripture…then the best they can possibly hope for is to "agree to disagree."

In other words, your theological system leaves us with a situation where God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a book over which He knew there would be disputes, yet He, in His infinite wisdom, gave us no way of authoritatively settling these disputes. Quite frankly, and with all due respect, that is nothing more than the height of absurdity.

Now, on your part, one of your main assertions in this dialogue has been that you are more than willing to give up all preconceived notions about doctrine and theology, and you have invited me to do the same, so that we can engage in a study of Scripture to see what the truth of Scripture really is. You have said you want to go back to our "lowest common denominator" and start there in our search for the truth.

But you have, as yet, been able to understand my response to your invitation – you say that you are, in theory, willing to give up your preconceived notions of theology; but I say that, in practice, you are actually unwilling to do so. The core belief that you are unable, or unwilling, to give up, is that you are your own ultimate authority when it comes to all matters pertaining to the Word of God. You have even bestowed upon yourself the authority to decide what is, and is not, the Word of God.

In a previous email, I asked you how you knew the Bible is what you think it to be…the inerrant and inspired Word of God. In your reply you basically described a process, and a series of "tests" – apparently of your own creation – that you took yourself through to determine, all on your own without any outside authority, that the 66 books of your Bible are indeed the inspired and inerrant Word of God. You did it! You didn’t have to rely on the testimony of early Christians (just fallible men) or the testimony of the Church (just a fallible organization) or any such thing! You, Pastor Eddie Walker, determined the books of Holy Writ all by yourself! That’s amazing!!! It truly is. A fallible man, has apparently infallibly determined, what is and is not, the infallible Word of God.

So, on the one hand you, Pastor Eddie Walker, with no authority other than that which you have given unto yourself, have determined that the Bible is 66 books, no more and no less. On the other hand, you say things like this:

"The Bible is the standard that you must use, not your own understanding. As I said before, I continue to test my doctrine against scripture and when I find something that is not scriptural I correct."

"I am not the standard to be tested against, but scripture is the standard. "

Yet, when determining what is and is not the inerrant Word of God, you did indeed rely solely upon your own understanding, did you not? You did not use the Bible as your "standard" when determining what books should and should not be in the Bible, did you? Which is the fatal logical flaw to any Sola Scriptura theology: Scripture is the standard by which all theological judgments should be made; yet, one has to rely on some standard other than Scripture for the most important theological question of all…What books should and should not be considered Scripture? Rather nonsensical, I should say.

So, you test your doctrine, without relying upon your own understanding, against a standard that you have determined to be the standard, by relying solely upon your own understanding. Please forgive me if I find that a bit of an awkward position for a rational person to take.

Here is another quote from you: "And if they do not originate in scripture, which I know to be God-breathed and from the Holy Spirit, than there is possibility that they are based on man’s teachings and could be wrong. If I test these teachings against what I know to be true and from God and they fail, I must reject them regardless of who told them to me."

Again, my question: How do you know the Scriptures to be true? How do you know they are "God-breathed and from the Holy Spirit?" By what authority do you claim these things to be true? You have previously stated that you claim them to be true by your own authority. But what authority do you have in such matters? None.

So, while you believe we should start with the inerrant inspired Scriptures, I believe we should start one level lower – what are the inerrant inspired Scriptures, and how do we know? For example, your Bible has only 66 books. My Bible has 73 books. By what authority do you reject the 7 books of Scripture that are not found in your Bible? Do you not know that the vast majority of Christianity over the last 2000 years has considered these 7 books to be the inspired inerrant Word of God? Oh, I know, numbers do not make for truth, but the question is: What authority do you have to tell these billions of people that they are wrong? Do you expect every man, woman, and child to read through every verse of the Bible for themselves to determine if each passage and each book is actually the inspired and inerrant Word of God?

And, if they did so, and they all came to the same conclusion I have come to – that Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Tobit, and 1 and 2 Maccabbees are indeed the inspired and inerrant Word of God, then by what authority do you say we are wrong?

This is the "lowest common denominator," the place I believe we should start in our conversation. You believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God because of your reliance on some authority outside of the Bible. So do I. So let’s start there. By what authority do you believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God? Your own authority! You have freely admitted this in a past email. By what authority do I believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God? By the authority of the Church.

The Church founded by Jesus Christ and which is the Body of Christ…the fullness of Him Who is all in all…the pillar and ground of the truth…the Church. The Church which was given authority, by Jesus Christ Himself, to teach all nations. The Church whose succession of leadership can be traced, through an abundance of historical documentation that is freely available for examination by all, back to the Apostles and to Jesus Christ Himself.

You, an admittedly fallible man, who admittedly believes in error in regards to the Bible, who has admittedly changed his beliefs in the past based on his own newer interpretations of the Bible, are fallibly declaring that there are 66 books in the Bible – no more and no less – based solely upon your own understanding and your limited knowledge, and you have further fallibly declared that these 66 books are the inerrant and inspired and infallible guide to which we all must turn for guidance in matters of faith and morals. Do you not see the logical error that you have built into your theology?

Are there errors in the Bible…yes or no? Pastor Walker’s response: "No." How do you know there are no errors in the Bible? Pastor Walker’s response: "Because the Bible is the Word of God." How do you know the Bible is the Word of God? Pastor Walker’s response: "Because I have undertaken a study of the books of the Bible and have found them to be the Word of God based on my own understanding." Is your understanding fallible or infallible? Pastor Walker’s response: "Fallible." So, you could be wrong when you believe the Bible is the Word of God based on your own understanding? Pastor Walker’s response: "I could be wrong." So, you could be wrong about there being errors in the Bible? Pastor Walker’s response: "No, because it is the Word of God."

That, in a nutshell, is the problem that I have with your whole approach to the Word of God. You are talking in circles.

So, again, I say that in your theological system, the best you can hope for when you have a disagreement on the interpretation of Scripture with someone like me, is a tie. You have no authority by which to declare my understanding/interpretation of Scripture to be wrong and yours to be right

In my system of theology, however, we at least have the possibility of breaking the tie. We at least claim, whether you agree with the claim or not, to have a tie breaker. We claim to have an authentic, authoritative guide to the interpretation of Scripture. This guide does not interpret the Scriptures for us line-by-line, it does, however, weigh in when the meaning of Scripture is disputed.

The first major dispute in the Church of the New Testament, was that some of the Jewish Christians were, going by the Scriptures, claiming that the Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and follow all the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law. The Scriptures were clearly on the Judaizers’ side. So, how did the early church decide the matter? Did they go by the very clear words of Scripture on the necessity of circumcision? No, they called a council, and the council authoritatively and infallibly decided that the Gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised after all. And these leaders of the early church claimed the authority of the Holy Spirit in doing what they did.

In other words, there were leaders of the early church who could, guided by the Holy Spirit, authoritatively and infallibly, decide doctrinal disputes in the early church. They did not "invent" new doctrine, they merely authoritatively decided a dispute on doctrine. Between our two theological systems, whose most closely resembles the pattern established by the early church? Yours – everyone deciding for themselves what is truth and what is error, based on their own limited understandings and fallible interpretations of the Bible, without being able to authoritatively and infallibly declare anything, and without answering to any outside authority.

Or, mine…the Church being given teaching authority over the flock, occasionally calling Councils to treat with disputes over theology, being able to authoritatively and infallibly declare on matters of faith and morals, with the authority given it by Jesus Christ, so as to guide God’s people into truth and away from error?

Now, you might once again appeal to the example of the Bereans, but can you not understand that the Bereans were basically clueless as to Jesus being the Messiah, based upon their own understanding of the Old Testament scriptures? Paul had to explain the Scriptures to them. They didn’t get it on their own. They needed an infallible teacher to explain it to them. Paul would say something like: "It somewhere says…" and then he would quote the Scriptures, and they would merely go and see if what he was saying was actually in there. They weren’t trying to compare Paul’s interpretation vs. their interpretation, they were looking to see if what Paul was saying was really in the Scriptures!

And how did the Gentiles come to believe in Christ? Was it based on their own understanding of the Scriptures? No! They didn’t have the Scriptures. They had to rely on the authoritative teaching of the Apostles and those appointed by the Apostles.

The early Christians were not "Bible only" people when it came to their acceptance of Christ and their understandings of the teachings of Christ. They relied on infallible guides. They were like the Ethiopian eunuch who, when asked, "Do you understand what you are reading," replied, "How can I unless someone guides me?!" They needed a guide for the proper understanding of Scripture. They needed a guide…an infallible guide…in order to properly understand and live out the teachings of Christ. An infallible guide who could authoritatively decide matters when disputes on theology arose.

So do we. Left to our own devices, we will allow pride to enter into our interpretations. Left to our own devices, new knowledge will oftentimes result in new doctrines. In other words, we might believe Doctrine A based on our understanding of Scripture two years ago, but further study has caused us to scrap Doctrine A and we now believe in Doctrine B. Is that how God left us? To muddle about, relying on our own limited knowledge and abilities, trying to figure out the truth without any authoritative assurance that we have properly discerned what He wants us to know and believe and practice?

Sorry, but I will not buy into that theology of confusion, that theology of uncertainty, that theology that is doctrinally dependent upon the limited understanding of each individual. I have heard every argument that you can make regarding the Bible and the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church. I have heard them in hundreds of different ways from hundreds of different people. You have not, and actually cannot, offer anything new.

Now, you claim that I have not answered certain charges of yours regarding some Catholic doctrines that do not, according to your fallible interpretation, have any backing from Scripture. You seem to be keenly focused on the Catholic use of statuary and on our prayers to the Saints, as well as the sinlessness of Mary and other Marian dogmas, in this regard.

Regarding statues, and all the passages you quote to back up your condemnation of our use of statuary, let me say this: Is it possible, since you are a fallible human being, that your application of those passages to the Catholic practice of sometimes kneeling in front of statues while we pray, and in fact your understanding of Catholic practice in this regard…could be flawed? Your answer has to be, "Yes."

All of the passages you quoted, have to do with actually worshipping the statues themselves as gods. Read the passages in context. The people making these statues thought that the statues themselves were gods. They were abandoning the one true God, for false gods that they had made with their hands. They were offering sacrifices to the statues.

These verses have nothing to do with using a statue as a remembrance of those who have gone before us. Statues for us are like the pictures in your wallet or on your desk. The statues remind us of those in the Family of God who have preceded us into the Kingdom of God. When we kneel in front of a statue, say of Mary, we do not believe Mary is a god. We do not believe the statue of Mary is a god. And when we pray while kneeling or standing in front of a statue…we do not pray to Mary instead of Jesus. That is a spiritual impossibility. We "pray to" Mary in the sense that we ask her to add her prayers to ours. And we realize that only as a member of the Body of Christ can Mary hear us and join her prayers to ours. So we ask her, the Mother of our Lord, a member of the Body of Christ, perfectly united to Christ in Heaven, to pray for us just as we would ask any member of the Body of Christ on earth to pray for us.

If you cannot accept that, if you cannot, or refuse, to understand that, then you are indeed acting as one who considers himself infallible. If you prefer to lean unto your own understanding of what we believe and practice, rather than taking a Catholic’s word for it, then you are indeed acting infallible. As if you, a non-Catholic, know better than we Catholics, what our beliefs and practices are.

You mentioned the Transfiguration, and you stated, rather infallibly I might add, that it has nothing at all to do with the Catholic practice of praying to Saints. You went so far as to state that Jesus did not ask Moses or Elijah for prayers on His behalf. Really? How do you know that? Is that not, in fact, an insertion of a preconceived belief into the text? Nowhere does the Bible say what Jesus and Elijah and Moses discussed. Yet, you have authoritatively declared that Jesus did not ask them for their prayers! You have added to the Bible, Pastor! Please give me chapter and verse which states that Jesus did not ask Moses and Elijah for their prayers?

Does not Luke 9 mention that Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus as "He was praying"? Uh-oh! And do not all the versions of the Transfiguration mention that Moses and Elijah were "talking" with Jesus. That’s what prayer to the Saints is, Pastor, we are merely talking to the Saints and asking them to pray for us. The Scriptures give us an example of Jesus talking with those who are no longer with us here on Earth, why do you believe it is so wrong to follow Jesus’ example?

You also mention Isaiah 8:19-20, which talks about consulting mediums and spiritists. Can you tell me which mediums I consult when I ask Mary to pray for me? Which spiritists do I consult when I ask St. Joseph to pray for me? These are occult practices and have to do with the power of Satan. They have nothing to do with asking members of the Body of Christ in Heaven to pray for us.

So, I can give you biblical support for my beliefs. The problem is, you rely upon your own understanding to reject outright whatever I have to say on the subject. You reject my interpretations of the Bible, you reject my understanding of my own Faith and practices…you reject all of my scriptural defenses of my beliefs, because you have your own understanding to lean unto. I give you scriptural backing for my beliefs, and you turn around and say that my beliefs are not in the Bible. When, the truth is, they are simply not in accord with your fallible, fallen, non-authoritative, non-binding, man-made, error-prone interpretation of the Bible – which you would admit to if you could simply remove the blinders from your eyes.

If you do not wish to believe the arguments that I put before you from Scripture, that is entirely your prerogative to do so; however, do not then turn around and say that I offer no scriptural support for my beliefs. That is simply a lie.

Now, I will address some of your flawed interpretations of Scripture that you provided in your last response:

1) You keep saying that faith without works is not really faith.

 "Faith that does not produce works is not faith."

  "Faith without works is dead, it is useless and is not real faith."

Yet, in another place you say this: "I did not keep saying that faith without works isn’t really faith, it was your question for me."  So, you said it, but you really didn’t say it…do I have that right? I have focused in on this particular point because your dogma of salvation by faith alone is core to your beliefs. It is, in fact, the core dogma of all Protestantism. And I have used James 2:26, to show that your interpretation of Scripture pertaining to this dogma, is faulty. I have used it to show that James 2 does not in any way say what you are trying to force it to say. I have used it to show that you are twisting the Scriptures to get them to say something they don’t in fact say.

Your whole point in explaining away the Catholic interpretation of James 2, particularly James 2:24 – that it is not faith "alone" that saves us – is to claim that what James is saying here is that faith without works really isn’t faith.

In other words, in the Protestant construct, it is impossible to have faith that doesn’t produce works. If you don’t have the works, you really don’t have the faith. In the Catholic construct, however, it is indeed possible that one can have faith which is not accompanied by good works, but this faith by itself – faith "alone" – does not save us.

In James 2, if it can be shown that James does indeed believe it is possible to have faith without works, then the Protestant position falls apart. Because it will have been shown that faith, without works, is indeed faith, but it is dead faith, it cannot save you. In other words, it will have been shown that faith "alone" cannot save a man.

So, you have to prove, to save your theological system, that James is saying that faith without works really isn’t faith. And you hinge your proof on one word – "says." "If a man says he has faith…" (James 2:14). "See," you say, "the man ‘says’ he has faith, but he really doesn’t." First of all, nowhere does James say that the man in question doesn’t really have faith. That is your insertion into the text. In fact, James goes on to say in verse 14, "Can his faith save him?" James doesn’t say, "Can his pseudo-faith save him," or "Can his alleged faith save him," he says, "Can his faith save him?" Why does James ask if the man’s faith without works can save him, if he knows the man doesn’t really have faith?

Then, in verse 17, James says, "So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." Notice, James didn’t say, "So faith by itself, if it has no works, really isn’t faith." And then in verse 20, James says, "Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works really isn’t faith?" Oh, wait…he didn’t say that did he? He said "faith apart from works is barren." And then verse 24, "a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." And, of course, we know that really means, "a man is not justified by works but by faith alone," right?

Which brings us to verse 26. So far, nowhere has James said faith without works isn’t really faith. He has said it is dead. It cannot save you. In other words, the Catholic belief that one is not justified by faith alone, that faith alone is dead – is getting a whole lotta love from James.

The point I am making, by using James 2:26, is to deliver the knockout blow to your contrived interpretation of James 2. James makes an analogy here between faith and works and the body and the spirit. Faith is analogous to the body and works are analogous to the spirit. James tells us that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. You agree. But, you go one step further and say, "Faith without works isn’t really faith." You have to take that extra step or your interpretation of these verses falls apart. Problem is, though, that extra step is not taken by James. I have asked you repeatedly to answer a simple "yes or no" question, which you have steadfastly refused to do, the answer to which will show you that your interpretation of James 2 is wrong. Dead wrong.

That question is this: Is a body without a spirit, no longer a body? Yes or no? James’ analogy does not say that a body without a spirit is not really a body. He says it is a dead body. So, for the analogy to hold, we must conclude that faith without works, while still faith, is dead. We cannot conclude, based on James’ analogy, that faith without works isn’t really faith.

So, since faith without works is still faith…even though it’s dead faith…one must conclude that James is telling us that faith "alone," cannot save us. Just as the body without a spirit is still a body, so faith without works is still faith. But, neither one can give us life. We need both body and spirit for life, and so we need both faith and works for life.

The analogy is plain. It is simple. And it thoroughly destroys your interpretation of James 2, which is why you will not answer my question! Is the body, without the spirit, still a body? Yes or no? If yes, then is faith, without works, still faith? Yes or no?

The best you have done here is to claim the following: "And for the record I have shown you what James means and why faith is useless or dead if it does not produce works."

For the record, you have done nothing of the sort. You have not answered my question and you have not given me "what James means," you have given me, and please have the honesty to admit this, your fallible interpretation of – and what you so desperately need – James to mean.

I agree 100% that faith without works is useless…is dead. I do not agree that it is not faith, as you claim and which claim can nowhere be found in the Bible!

So, please, sir…answer my question!!!! Yes or no? Is a body without a spirit, no longer a body?

2) You stated: "In fact salvation by faith even pre-dates the Mosaic law, being explained to Abraham and displayed from Adam and Eve."

My comments: Again, I believe in salvation by faith…I do not believe in salvation by faith "alone." And, if you were truly going by what the Bible teaches, neither would you.

If Adam and Eve were saved by faith alone, then how did they fall away from God at the urging of Satan? Why did the fall from grace? How could their sin separate them from God if they were already saved by faith alone?

3) And another statement from you: "I have 66 books that have the same message, spanning 1500 years, that does not contradict, but teaches rock solid truths, again beyond the control of a man."

My comments: I have 73 books in my Bible. By what authority do you declare them not to be Scripture? By the Bible’s authority? You yourself stated that you came to believe the 66 books of the Bible were the whole and complete Bible based solely on your understanding. But, you are a fallible man. Could you be wrong about the 7 books of Scripture that Catholics have and you don’t? Also, have you read the Apocalypse of Peter? What about the Apocalypse of Paul? What about the Acts of Peter? What about the Gospel of Mary?

In other words, have you read all of the earliest writings that were purported to be Scripture by one or another persons so as to be absolutely sure that they are not Scripture? If not, then how can you proclaim the Scripture to be closed at 66 books? Why isn’t the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians Scripture? Why isn’t the Didache Scripture? Why isn’t the Letter of Barnabas Scripture?

You might say, "Well, I have read them and they contradict in one or more places the Scriptures that I know to be true?" Do they really contradict each other, or is it your limited understanding of what is being said that makes it seem like a contradiction. And, if they really do contradict each other, how do you know which is right and which is wrong? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that something in the Letter of Clement contradicts something in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. How do you know it is the Letter of Clement that is wrong and not the Letter of Paul to the Philippians? What are you using as your standard in that instance? Fact of the matter is, you would be leaning upon your own understanding, wouldn’t you?

4) I asked you previously about Matt 19:16-17, "What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?…If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Doesn’t that fall into the category of works?

Your response was this: "‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’  This is certainly a true statement, but as Jesus, just said there is no one who is good. And as I showed early Paul explains that the very reason Jesus had to come and die, was because we could not be saved by the law, because we have all sinned. And if it were possible for us to be good, and therefore be saved by the law, than Christ died in vain. This passage does not teach that following the commandments will save any person, in fact Jesus says just the opposite. While being perfectly holy, would certainly make some up to the standard of God, Jesus tells us here that "There is only One who is good" and that is God."

My comments: The problem with your explanation is that once again you claim that a verse in the Bible means the exact opposite of what it says. And, you have made a serious contextual mistake here. The young man Jesus was talking to did not have the benefit of reading Paul. Neither, in fact, did many of the first Christians who read Matthew. So, you cannot insert things into the conversation that the young man would have had no way of knowing. The broader contextual meaning you are trying to force into this passage does not work. The broader contextual meaning that you have devised, does not fit into the immediate context of the young man’s situation.

Yes, only God is good. The point Jesus was making is that He is indeed God and He is wanting the young man to recognize that. But, the fact is, that Jesus was asked a very specific question about salvation and He gave a very specific answer about salvation – an answer that doesn’t fit into your theology, so you have to make Jesus mean the exact opposite of what He said.

5) I asked you previously about Matt 25:14-30 – the parable of the talents. The servants who gave a return on what the master had given them enter into "the joy of the master." The servant who did nothing with what he had been given is cast into the outer darkness. Salvation by faith alone?

Your response: "This parable does definitely show that we will be judged by our deeds, however it does not teach that the deeds are what saves us, lets look at some verses here…In fact what the master said is that he should have at least out it in the bank, so that there would at least be interest.  But that man did not. Why? Because he did not trust the master (have faith), he believed the master to be an unfair master that stole from others. He took the little he was given and did nothing with it.  Many people hear the gospel of Christ that He came to die for our sins so that we can live, yet they do nothing with it. They do not trust in His promises or rest in him. They do not believe the message, because they do not trust the one who sent it."

My comments: Where does this passage say the man did not trust, or "have faith," in his master? You have again inserted a preconceived notion into the passage to get it to say what you want it to say. The man indeed trusted his master. He trusted him to be a hard man; a man who reaped where he did not sow and who gathers where he did not winnow. So, he gave the master back exactly what the master gave him, with no interest. The 3rd servant in this parable is a perfect example of your theology - all we have to do is rely upon what the master gives us, we can do nothing beyond that which impacts our salvation.

6) I asked you previously about Rom 2:6-7 – those who in patient well-doing seek for glory, immortality, and honor are given eternal life. Faith alone?

Your response: "Paul is building the case here in Romans 2, that just having the law can’t save you, because when you know the law and continue to sin it is worse than those who sinned and didn’t know the law. He continues to show them their hypocrisy, by showing them that they have the law and still sin. In Romans 3 is where he shows them what this means, is that Jew or Gentile, know the law or don’t we are all in the same boat. While God used the Jews to illustrate this to the world and his law makes his righteousness know to us, it does not save us because we can not meet his righteous standard. The law will stand as a judge or a standard and shows us our sin, but it was never intended to save us…This passage does not teach what you say it does and when read in context of Romans 1,2, and 3, we see that Paul is teaching them the basic simple gospel, that we can not save ourselves, but God has made a way to be made righteous."

My comments: I didn’t say what this passage taught. All I ask is this: Does this verse say, yes or no, that God will give us eternal life if by patience in well-doing we seek for glory, immortality, and honor? Yes or no? Indeed it does say that. Once again, you take the very plain words of a Scripture passage and you explain them away based on your preconceived notions. Your theology renders so much of the Scripture as mere nonsense. So much of the Scripture doesn’t really "mean what it says" once you’re done "interpreting" it.

7) One last example of the absolutely off-the-wall interpretations you come up with: I asked you about John 15:1-6 – the branches (us) must produce good fruit (works) or they are cut off from the vine (Jesus).

Your response: "John 15:3, ‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.’  Jesus is not talking about salvation here, as he clearly states in verse 3, he is referring to someone who stops producing fruit and someone who continues to produce good works. This passage does not teach salvation by works.

My comments: Once again, I do not believe in salvation by works. Having said that, I have to again say that your interpretation is simply ludicrous. "Jesus is not talking about salvation here?" So, if a person gets cut off from the vine – cut off from Christ – and they then wither and get thrown into the fire to be burned – what do you think they are talking about? Oh, they’re cut off from Christ, but they’re still saved? What do you think the fire represents? Salvation?

I’ll tell you what this passage teaches. It teaches that we become Christians (branches of the vine) solely because of the good graces of the vine. We have absolutely nothing to do with becoming a branch. But, if once we are a branch of the vine, we do not cooperate with the grace coming through the vine to us, and we do not produce good fruit (works), then we are cut off from the vine. And if you are cut off from the vine…from Christ…you cannot be saved. So, we are saved, not of our own doing, but by the doing of Christ; but if we do not participate with the grace we receive as members of the Body of Christ, as members of the vine, and we do not produce good works, we will lose our salvation. Just as Catholic theology teaches. By the way, I thought a Christian couldn’t stop producing fruit. I thought faith without works wasn’t really faith?

I will close with this. In side conversations, I asked both you and your fellow Calvary Chapel pastor, Ernest Martinez, a simple question. Does the Bible teach that a baby, who is incapable of professing faith in Christ, go to Heaven or Hell? You said, "Hell." Funny thing, though, your fellow Calvary Chapel pastor said that the Bible doesn’t say anything about that situation, one way or the other, so it is an open question.

Two Calvary Chapel pastors, who go by the Bible alone and are both guided by the Holy Spirit, who cannot agree on what the Bible says on this matter. So, which one of you is right? You know, if you guys had not been communicating with each other about my newsletters, I’ll bet there would have been a whole lot of different answers that I could have gotten out of you on the same questions. What does that say when two pastors of the same non-denominational denomination, that goes by the Bible alone, cannot agree on what the Bible says on such a simple question?

Now, regarding your answer that these babies go to Hell. Does not Scripture say that God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth? So, if that’s the case – if God wants all of us to be saved – then how can you say that God provides no possible means for a young baby to be saved? What a cruel and capricious God you serve. And, didn’t Jesus die for these babies’ sins? So, if we have nothing at all to do with our salvation, why aren’t they saved? Haven’t their sins been paid for? Or is there some sort of "work" that they have to do to be saved?

What is the difference between a saved person and an unsaved person? Is it the work Jesus did? No. It must be something (a work?) the saved person does that the unsaved person doesn’t do, right? But, wouldn’t that be adding to the work of Christ? Gosh, I’m so confused….

Pastor, I am going to tell you up front, that your response will not be printed in any future newsletters, so I don’t want you to spend a lot of time on it with that hope. If you reply to me, I will read what you have to say, but if it’s just more of the same, then I probably will not respond. I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go. I have pointed out fundamental flaws in your logic, your theology, your approach to Scripture, and so on that you just don’t seem to understand, so I really see no point in going any further.

God bless!

John Martignoni

In Conclusion

I hope this exchange with Pastor Walker has shown you guys that the Sola Scriptura theology of many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters is filled with logical incosistencies that lead to all sorts of inconsistencies in Sola Scriptura interpretations of Scripture. Do you notice how many times Pastor Walker’s interpretations of certain verses lead to the Bible meaning the exact opposite of what it actually says?

Hope you have a great week!

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Apologetics for the Masses