Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #122

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Please keep little Breigh Gallagher in your prayers moreso than ever right now. This 10-yr. old girl and her family have been through such a tremendous amount of suffering (see General Comments in Issues #115, 118, and 120). She received a bone marrow transplant from her 7-yr. old sister a few weeks ago and showed some signs of improvement but then her condition worsened and her life is literally hanging in the balance at this time. The doctors have told the family that they have done all they can do for her…which means they need God to step in in a miraculous way to save this young girl’s life. So please, when you hit your knees tonight, keep Breigh and her family at the top of your prayer list.


Now that I’m done moving my family (we bought a new house) and my office (moved it into the old house) and with the 2008 IRS filings for the three non-profits I work for on their way to the Treasury Dept., I should finally be able to get back to some semblance of regularity in getting these newsletters out. I might even be able to get back to doing them almost every week…we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, this week I want to try and finish up with Mike Patrick, although his response to my newsletter has left me with just so much to talk about that I might not be able to get it all in this week and it might spill over into the next issue. If so, then that will definitely be the last focused on him.

This week I want to look at a number of the things that he says and respond to them, but in particular I want to look at his view of the Church. He has a very stunted, or possibly warped is a better word, view of the nature of the Church that I want to highlight because it will give you some background on how a bunch of the folks you deal with think about the Church and how that affects their theology – because Patrick’s views are not at all uncommon amongst a number of Protestants.

I’ll start this week by drawing attention to a very common technique that a lot of folks use when dealing with Catholics, and which is used in almost every paragraph of Mike Patrick’s response to me. They read what you say and then give you their own personal interpretation of what you said. And, if their own personal interpretation is nothing like what you actually said, well, that’s just too bad for you. Their interpretation is all that matters. This is the same thing they do with the Bible. What the Bible actually says does not matter to them as much as what they say it says. Their interpretation is all that matters. If you interpret a passage of the Bible differently than they do, well that simply means that you are not truly a believer in Christ, or that the Holy Spirit is not guiding you as it is guiding them, or that you are spiritually bankrupt, or some such thing.

Next, I’ll make some general comments about different parts of his response, and then wrap it up with an overall look at Mr. Patrick’s view of the Church vs. the Bible’s view of the Church.

If you wish to read Mr. Patrick’s entire response to my last newsletter, which I did not print here for brevity’s sake, you can find it under the “Newsletter” tab on his website: www.martignonirevealed.com. I would suggest you read my last newsletter first (the “Newsletter” page at www.biblechristiansociety.com), and then read his response. And please note that he pretty much never directly answers my questions or directly responds to my arguments…surprise, surprise!


I want to start by listing a number of statements that Mr. Patrick puts in my mouth, yet they are statements that I have never made nor even implied.  Again, I do this so that you can see his interpretive method, which is similar to that of many Protestants.  You need to always make sure that the words coming out of the other guy’s mouth, or from his pen or keyboard, actually match what it written in the Bible…or, in this case, what is written in my newsletter.  The purpose is to ask the question: If he has trouble interpreting what I have written, how can he claim that his interpretations of Scripture are infallible?  After all, he claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  How could the Holy Spirit have interpreted my newsletter so badly?  And, if he doesn’t claim his interpretations of Scripture are infallible, then how can he claim the Holy Spirit is guiding him unto a "perfect" understanding of the Bible?  If he cannot properly interpret what I’ve written, how can he claim to properly interpret what is written in Scripture? 

Here are some examples:

1) "According to John Martignoni, asking Jesus to come into your heart is a silly thing to do."

Nowhere have I ever stated or even implied such a thing.  Give me the quote from my writings where I say such a thing, Mr. Patrick.

2) "He’s stated that no where do we find that concept in the Bible."

Okay, to quote Mike Patrick, I have "stated" – which means I have written – that nowhere is the concept of asking Jesus to come into your heart in the Bible.  Again, give me the quote from my writings where I say such a thing, Mr. Patrick.

I have stated in a talk of mine, and in my writings, that we do indeed need to have a close, and very personal, relationship with Jesus Christ.  In fact, there is no relationship with Christ that is closer or more personal than being united with Him as one in the reception of the Eucharist, which I have also stated in one of my talks. 

What I have said, that Mike Patrick has so grossly misinterpreted, is that nowhere in the Bible does it say one becomes a "member of the Body of Christ" by "accepting Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior."  I will ask him again to give me book, chapter and verse that states such a thing.  However, just because I stated that Mr. Patrick’s belief about how one becomes a member of the Body of Christ is not in Scripture, does not mean I regard asking Jesus to come into your heart as a "silly thing to do."  It’s just that the Bible is very clear that one becomes a member of the Body of Christ through Baptism (1 Cor 12:13, Gal 3:27, Col 2:11-12). 

3) "The Bible actually tells us how that all works, but one needs to read it to find that out what it says; a practice Mr. Martignoni has taught us shouldn’t be done since we’ll come away with a “fallible” interpretation."

Again, another distortion based upon his fallible and biased interpretation of what I have written.  I have never said one should not read the Bible.  In fact, I have frequently stated that we need to read, meditate, pray, and soak in the Scriptures.  In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter talks about those who "twist" the Scriptures.  After seeing how Mr. Patrick has twisted my words, imagine what he can do to Scripture – well, you don’t have to imagine, you can just read his own words to find out.

4) "Evidently, Mr. Martignoni, believes the Holy Spirit has decided to withhold the ability of God’s children to personally understand His Holy Word."

I’ve never said nor implied such a thing.

5) "Mr. Martignoni’s assertion that it’s impossible for anyone to personally interpret things correctly."

Where have I ever asserted such a thing?  Mr. Patrick takes my statement about his "fallible interpretations" of the Bible and translates that into a general statement that I believe it is "impossible for anyone to personally interpret things correctly."  And his egregious errors in interpreting my words are simply a preview of what can happen when he turns his "Holy Spirit-inspired" interpretive abilities to Scripture. 

My assertion is that Mr. Patrick is not infallible when it comes to interpreting the Bible, although he seems to believe he is.  So I ask you, Mr. Patrick, point blank: Are you an authoritative interpreter of Scripture?  Yes or no?  Does the Holy Spirit guide you into an infallibly correct understanding of each and every verse of Scripture?  Yes or no?  And please, answer "yes" or "no" before explaining your answer, so there is no doubt as to what your answer is.

The point is, Mr. Patrick, that you keep telling us how Catholics are wrong, and how I am wrong, in what I believe and in how I interpret the Bible.  Yet, what we read in the Bible does not correspond in many instances with your personal interpretation of what the Bible says.  So, if you’re interpretations are fallible, why should we trust what you say the Bible says vs. our own understanding of what the Bible says?  (And, by the way, nothing in my beliefs contradicts anything in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – your interpretation of what I believe might contradict something in the Catechism, but not my actual belief.)  The point I’m leading to is this: What if two people, both of whom are "saved" in accord with your theological system, both of whom are diligent in reading the Bible and in prayer; read the same passage of Scripture and come to conflicting conclusions as to what it means…how do we determine which one, if either one of them, is correct in their interpretation?  Who decides disputes between two saved, Bible-reading, Holy Spirit-praying people over what a particular passage of the Bible means? 

6) "What I’m saying is that Mr. Martignoni’s point – that you and I can’t come to valid conclusions by reading the Bible, and by way of the Holy Spirit helping us to understand – is false."

And what I’m saying is that Mr. Patrick’s statement about "Mr. Martignoni’s point," is false on the surface of it.  I have never made such a point.  Again, the point is, who decides disputes about the meaning of Scripture?  Is it Mr. Patrick because he is infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit?  Did Jesus give us anyone who could decide disputes between Christians on such matters?

7) "It’s notable that Martignoni vehemently disagrees with the idea that we, as believers in Christ, can gain an understanding of Scripture by reading it alone with the Holy Spirit aiding us."

Not only do I not "vehemently" disagree with the idea, but I believe in it 100%.  However, as Scripture states, there are some things in Scripture that are difficult to understand.  And, nowhere does the Bible say that we, as individuals reading Scripture on our own, of our own authority, will come to a complete, 100% infallibly correct understanding of each and every passage of Scripture.  Again, I have stated in my talks that we can indeed come to some knowledge of the truth by reading Scripture on our own, but, as I have also said in my talks, it is very scriptural to have an infallible guide when reading Scripture to help us understand the parts of Scripture that are difficult to understand (see Acts 8:30-31).

Now that I have shown that Mr. Mike Patrick does not, and apparently cannot, properly interpret what I have written; I think it is very safe to say that it is entirely possible that, as he has made egregious errors in interpreting my writings, he can also make, and has made, egregious errors in interpreting the Scriptures. 

Now, just some general comments on several different parts of his response. 

Mike Patrick: "There are many who profess to be in true communion with Christ and claim to be members of the Body, but who aren’t."

I absolutely love it when someone says this.  Of course, only the people who are "really" and "truly" the members of the Body of Christ would say something like this.  If a person is able to deceive themselves into thinking that they are a member of the Body of Christ, when they really are not a member of the Body of Christ, then how can anyone "really" know that they are a member of the Body of Christ and not simply suffering from self-delusion?  Think about it.  If you were to ask someone if they are a member of the Body of Christ, or if they’re "saved," and it was a person who thought they were saved but really weren’t, how would their answer differ from that of someone who thought they were saved and supposedly really were?

Are you saved?  Yes.  How do you know?  I just know.  Do you believe there are people who think they’re saved but really aren’t?  Yes.  So, how do you know you’re not one of those people?  I just know.  How do you know?  I know in my heart…the Holy Spirit tells me so.  Wouldn’t someone who thought they were saved but really weren’t say the same thing?  I suppose so.  So, how do you know you’re not one of those people?  I just know.  Uh, huh. 

Mike Patrick: "I don’t come to an understanding of Scripture based on my own fallible interpretation of the Bible, but rather by God’s promise of help from the Holy Spirit, and lots of prayer."

Catch that, folks?  He isn’t interpreting the Bible when he reads it, the Holy Spirit is interpreting it for him.  Now, how can he claim not to be infallible when interpreting the Bible if it’s the Holy Spirit that’s helping him to understand the Bible?  But, if he claims to be able to infallibly interpret the Bible, then how come he couldn’t infallibly interpret my newsletter?  And, if he claims the gift of infallibility for himself, how can he then turn around and say the Pope cannot also have the gift of infallibility?  Or that I cannot have the gift of infallibility?  Or that every Christian does not have the gift of infallibility?  And isn’t it convenient that the Holy Spirit is on his side, but not mine? 

Mike Patrick: "It’s interesting to note that both of these religions [Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons] share a common ground with the Catholic Church, in that they all three require us to turn, at some point, away from Scripture, and to their own interpretations and teachings cloaked in their self declared authority."

He forgot to say, "In my opinion."  Mr. Patrick is seemingly incapable of understanding that the Catholic Church turns away from Scripture only in Mike Patrick’s warped interpretations of Catholic teaching and of Scripture.  The Catholic Church never turns away from Scripture.  Not one example has Mr. Patrick offered of such a thing.  Again, the Church turns away quite often from Mike Patrick’s fallible, man-made, non-authoritative interpretation of Scripture, but never does she turn away from Scripture itself.

It’s interesting to note that what Mike Patrick’s church and the JW’s and Mormons have in common, is that they are all no more than about 150-200 years old, and I’ll bet Mike’s church, which he so far has refused to identify, is probably a lot younger than either of the other two just mentioned. 

Mike Patrick: "There are metaphorical statements making the comparisons Martignoni is talking about, but Christ remains God, and nowhere do we find that we, the members of the Body, turn into God. The Bible is clear that the Church will rule “with” Jesus, not “as” Jesus, when He returns to establish His kingdom on earth."

Talk about another huge misinterpretation of what I’ve said.  I have never anywhere said that we become God or that we rule "as" Jesus.  Just as there is one God, yet three distinct Persons, each consubstantially God, we are one with Christ yet still individuals.  However, Mike seems not to be aware of the verse from 2 Peter 1:4 that says we "become partakers of the divine nature."  Exactly what does that mean, Mr. Patrick?

Mike Patrick: "Again, Martignoni assumes that the Catholic Church is the true Bride of Christ, but I submit he cannot know the true Bride of Christ without Scripture – the very thing he shuns. The true Church is utterly dependent on the Bible."

Book, chapter, and verse on that, Mr. Patrick?  You said, "I submit he cannot know the Bride of Christ without Scripture."  You submit?  Why didn’t you quote a Bible verse on that?  And, again, what is the implication of what he is saying?  He claims at some points in his response to "need" the Church for teaching and such and that the Church has some authority, but what authority does it have over him, if he gets to decide, based on his own authority, whether or not that Church is in accord with the teachings of Christ?  He has placed himself, with his personal interpretation of the Bible, over whatever church he might attend.  

Furthermore, how can the "true Church" be utterly dependent on the Bible?  Does that mean that there was no such thing as a "true Church" for at least 50 or 60 years after Jesus’ death?  Because it wasn’t for around 60 years or so that the entire Bible was written.  And, who wrote the Bible, at least, the New Testament?  Wasn’t it members of the Church?  How can the Church be "utterly dependent" on the Bible, when the Bible came after the Church and when the Bible was written (speaking of the N.T. here) by members of the Church?  It seems to me that Mr. Patrick got it backwards, the Bible is utterly dependent on the Body of Christ, the Church, as guided by the Holy Spirit.  Can you have the Church without the Bible?  Yes.  We did have the Church without the Bible.  Can you have the Bible without the Church?  No.  Mr. Patrick’s statement not only makes no scriptural sense, but it makes no logical sense either. 

Mike Patrick: "The obvious answer to the first comment is that the Bible had not yet been fully put together. Most reasonable people understand that we can’t imitate something we can’t see, so Paul suggests we imitate his actions in following Christ because it’s what the Church at the time had to go on."

So, in one place in his response he states the Church is "utterly dependent" upon the Bible, but then in another place he says that Paul’s actions were all "the Church at the time had to go on."  How, Mr. Patrick, did the Church survive without the Scriptures that it is "utterly dependent" upon?  And if, in Scripture, we have an example of people following the guidance and teaching of the leaders of the Church, as Mr. Patrick correctly points out the early Christians followed the actions and teachings of Paul, rather than reading the Bible for themselves to decide true and false doctrine, why does Mr. Patrick claim I am being unbiblical when I follow the leaders of the Church established by Jesus Christ to guide me in my understanding of Scripture and in my knowledge of true and false doctrine?

[Next issue: Mike Patrick’s view of the Church vs. the Bible’s view of the Church.]

In Conclusion

Ran out of time, so I’ll finish up either next week or the week after. And please remember that if you have comments about this newsletter, or any other newsletter, please leave them on my public Facebook page: “John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society.” Do not try to leave them on my private Facebook page which is just: “John Martignoni.”

And please remember to pray for Breigh!

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Apologetics for the Masses