Apologetics for the Masses #244

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

A couple of things for those of you in the Birmingham Diocese:

1) The 5th annual Diocesan Rosary for Life and Vocations will be this Sunday, October 5th, at 3:00 PM, at the Lourdes Grotto of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville. It is really a peaceful and beautiful setting to have a Rosary, and the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed and Bishop Baker will be there.  I invite everyone in the diocese to join us there for an afternoon of prayer...

2) I will be speaking at Holy Infant of Prague in Trussville, AL on Saturday morning October 11th.  Not exactly sure of the time, but it will be around 10 AM, you can call the Church to get the exact time.  I'll be talking about basic apologetics...very informal.  It's part of Holy Infant's OctoberFest that day.  So, there will be a lot of good food for you to sample.  I'll also be manning the "Stump the Catholic" booth (although that's not what's it's really called) for a few hours, so come on by if you're in the area.

Finally, for those of you in the Lafayette, LA, area, I will be at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Beaux Bridge on Friday and Saturday, October 31/November 1.  It will be the first time I will be giving my new Apologetics Seminar.  I hope you will put it on your calendar and will plan on joining us down there in Cajun Country...


This week, I will be taking a little break from writing my book, Blue Collar Apologetics, to share an exchange with someone that I guess you could call an Evangelical, although I'm not necessarily sure what he calls himself.  He receives these newsletters and has been sending me emails ripping into me and the Church, so I thought I would respond and see what happens.  Below is where we've gotten so far, although I assume he'll read this newsletter and send me a response.  If he does, I'll continue the conversation.  Just a little exercise in how to deal with someone like this for those of you who have such folks in your life - maybe in your family, or at work, or some such thing.  I'll put down his emails in their entirety, and then my responses will follow his.  His email name is John Smith, although his real name is Tyler.  His words will be in italics...


The Opening Salvo:

I apparently deleted the very first email he sent me, but it was in response to one of the newsletters on Blue Collar Apologetics.  I'm pretty sure it was something a bit ambiguous, and I wasn't quite sure where he was coming from, so I think I responded by just asking him if he was Catholic, and this is the reply I received:


John Smith
I'm not catholic, the Catholic Church is an abomination!



That's a nice calm and loving way to start a conversation, right?  So, this is how I responded:


John Martignoni

Well, I'm sorry to hear you're not Catholic.  The Catholic Church can historically trace its founding back 2000 to Jesus Christ.  How old is your church?

God bless!

John Martignoni



This is a question you need to always keep on the tip of your tongue.  Asking this question is a very easy way to plant a seed.  The crux of the question is, that if the folks you're talking to believe Jesus founded a church, as the Bible tells us He did (Matthew 16:16-19); and Jesus lived 2000 years ago; then how old must the church founded by Jesus be?  2000-years old, right?  The thing is, most non-Catholic Christians don't ever think about their church from an historical perspective.  And, very few Protestants even claim their churches are 2000-yrs. old (although this particular one does, as you will see shortly), much less have any historical evidence to back it up as we Catholics do. 


John Smith

Actually, you can't trace its founding back to Jesus. Jesus had nothing to do with the Romans trying to blend Christianity with paganism.  Nor did he appoint a "pope".
Here's a better question: Who is the head of YOUR church?


John Martignoni

A few things:

1) I notice you did not even attempt to answer my question, so I will ask it again: How old is your church?

2) We can indeed historically trace the Catholic Church back to its founding by Jesus Christ. Have you ever read Eusebius' history of the church, written in 315 A.D.?  Have you ever read any early church history?

3) Jesus Christ is the Head of my Church and Peter, the Pope, is His prime minister here on Earth.

4) Jesus did indeed appoint a "pope."  3 times in John 21 Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, tend His sheep, feed His lambs.  If you can't figure that one out, that is Jesus giving Peter shepherdship over His flock.

Now, I've answered your questions, please answer mine.  How old is your church?  And, by what authority does your pastor preach and teach?

God bless!




I pointed out that he did not answer my questions, then I did indeed answer his question, then politely asked for him to answer my questions, which I repeated for him at the end of the email.  This is a pattern that you need to follow for the first one or two questions asked of you - with you asking your own questions in turn - and then, when your questions are not answered (as usually happens), you need to switch to pointing out that your question was not answered and then ask (insist) for it to be answered before the conversation can move on.  If you have answered a question or two, while also asking a question or two (answer a question, ask a question, or two) but you have not received any answers, then you need to stop answering any further questions until such time as your questions get answered.  Trust me when I say that this technique will save you a lot of time and frustration in dealing with folks who want to preach, but do not want to listen.  They want you to listen to them, but they have no inclination to listen to you.  They want you to answer their questions, but they can't be bothered to answer your questions.  You cannot have a rational and productive conversation with such a person, so it is better to realize that sooner rather than later, so that you can get out of the conversation with only a minimal amount of wasted time. 


John Smith

The church I belong to is as old as Jesus bro. Much older than your Roman Catholic Church. The first Roman Emperor to CONVERT to Christianity was Constantine some 300 years after the death of Christ  (Right around the same time of Eusebius) I'd say 300+ years is a pretty big gap wouldn't you? That's why you Catholics so desperately search for ways to twist the scriptures in order to be able to say "it was Rome at the beginning" like your reference to Jesus talking to Peter. Yes, Peter was told to "strengthen your brethren" (Lk. 22:31) and to "feed My sheep" and to "Follow Me" (Jn. 21:15-19). Why this to Peter? Because he was the one who was going to stumble by denying the Lord three times (Jn. 13:36-38), and thus he, was the one who needed to be "converted" (Lk. 22:32) and be given these specific charges at the time they were given to him. Catholicism didn't begin with Christ or Peter.  It began with Constantine adopting Christianity and blending it with his already known pagan beliefs.  That's why real Christians  protested this abomination.

If you do some biblical research on the Holy Spirit you will find that He is the one, the "comforter" that teaches us ALL things, yes even the deep things of God. So I tell you sir that is by the authority of the Holy Spirt that I teach, interpret, and learn from the Word of God just as the Disciples did!  There is not one single verse in the bible that says I MUST be taught by someone under the authority of Rome. Nor is there any place in the Gospel where Jesus gathered his disciples together under Rome's authority.  

The pope is Jesus's prime minister on earth?! Really? You have just placed a man other than Christ between you and God! Are you aware the Bible teaches us that NO man comes to the Father except through His son? Or "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus"? Didn't Jesus claim that HE has "all authority on heaven and earth"  You're placing the pope between you and Jesus bro.  In addition you're letting a man tell you what the scriptures say instead of God.

Now I answered your questions. And I have some for you. So many, I don't know where to start LOL. But.. How about for starters:

Is Mary the "mother of God" ?

Is "Hail Mary" in the bible?

Why has the Catholic Church removed the 2nd commandment?

How many Graven images do you estimate the Catholic Church to have in an average building where they claim to Worship God?

Come out of her,



John Martignoni


First, you say the church you belong to is as "old as Jesus."  Does your 2000-yr. old church have a name?  And furthermore, does it have pastors? 

Regarding Constantine being the first Roman emperor to convert, and so you believe that's when the Roman Catholic Church began, I'm afraid you're mistaken as to what the Catholic Church is and who its leaders are and were.  The Roman emperor - Constantine or any other - was never the head of the Catholic Church.  You can do a simple search of any secular encyclopedia to corroborate that information.  You can also do a search of any secular encyclopedia to see who the first Pope was and who his immediate successors were for the 1st three centuries of the Church, before Constantine was ever born.  The first earthly head of the Catholic Church, as I've already mentioned, and as you would know were you to search any valid historical sources, was St. Peter, who was appointed to his leadership role by Jesus Himself.  And, after Peter were a number of successors as the Bishop of Rome, again, before Constantine was ever born.  As I've previously mentioned, this can all be confirmed through historical documentation, "The History of the Church," by Eusebius, being one of the earliest sources, but there are others.  Have you ever read the book by Eusebius?  Have you read any of the Early Church Fathers?  Also, you mention that "real Christians" protested Constantine blending Christianity with "already known pagan beliefs," as you believe happened.  Can you give me a 4th century source to back up this claim?  Or maybe a 5th century source? I don't believe one exists.

You say that it is by the authority of the Holy Spirit that you teach and interpret and learn from the Word of God.  Does that mean, then, that you are infallible in your interpretation of Scripture?  And, what evidence can you offer that the Holy Spirit is guiding you?  Where does the Bible say that the Holy Spirit will guide John Smith into a perfect interpretation of each and every passage of Scripture?  To use your words, "There is not one single verse in the bible that says I MUST be taught by someone under the authority of [John Smith]. Nor is there any place in the Gospel where Jesus gathered his disciples together under [John Smith's] authority." And, just so you know, I have never made the claim, nor has the Catholic Church, that there is a Bible verse that says you must be taught by someone under the authority of Rome.  But, are there not verses that point to people being under the authority of the church?  Yes or no?  And, does not the Bible say that we need someone to guide us to properly understand Scripture?  Yes or no?

Now, regarding your questions, here are my answers:

1) Is Mary the "mother of God"?  Answer: In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"  Is the Lord, God?  Yes or no?  I say that the Lord is God, do you disagree?  And, if the Lord is God, then it is Scripture itself that tells us Mary is indeed the "mother of the Lord/God." 

2) Is the Hail Mary in the Bible?  Answer: Yes, in Luke, chapter 1, verses 27-43. 

3) How many graven images do you estimate the Catholic Church to have in an average building where they claim to Worship God?  Answer: Not having been to but a relatively small number of churches, given the tens of thousands world-wide, I cannot give you any kind of precise number on that.  However, I will claim with a high degree of certainty that, on average, any given Catholic Church has less graven images than the number of graven images God ordered Solomon to put into the Temple of God that God ordered Solomon to build. Was God wrong to order Solomon to put graven images in the Temple where people were to go to worship God?

Okay, I have responded to your claims and answered your questions in a straightforward and direct manner.  I would ask you to please do the same in your response to my questions.  And just so you remember the questions, here they are in the order they were asked:

1) Does your church have a name?

2) Does it have pastors?

3) Have you read Eusebius or any of the other Church Fathers?

4) Can you give me a 4th or 5th century source to back up your claim that "real Christians" objected to Constantine supposedly mixing Christianity and paganism?

5) Are you infallible in your interpretation of Scripture?

6) What evidence can you give me that the Holy Spirit is guiding you?

7) Are there verses in the Bible that point to people being under the authority of the church?  Yes or no? 

8) Does the Bible say that we need someone to guide us to properly understand Scripture?  Yes or no?

9) Is the Lord, God?  Yes or no?

10) Was God wrong to order the Israelites to put graven images in the Temple of Solomon?  Yes or no?

These questions should be able to be answered in just a few minutes time, so I hope you will do me the courtesy of taking that time.

God bless!




Okay, what am I doing here?  First thing to notice, I am not filling up pages and pages with answers to his questions and to his false claims about the Catholic Church.  I have had folks send me their correspondence with non-Catholics, and it is pages and pages long.  They try to cover every little nuance of any particular teaching of the Church and it goes on and on.  Don't do that!  Give answers/responses that are short and sweet and to the point.  And, remember, every claim they make about the Church, or every question they ask about the Church, can be used as the source of a question for you to ask in return, as I have done above.  I answered his claims directly, one at a time, although I did not answer every single one of them, and then pulled a question out of most of the claims he made or questions he asked. 

Just remember, you are never under any obligation to answer every single wild and crazy claim about the Catholic Church.  I answered more of his claims than I normally would have here, for the purpose of catechesis, but it was still a relatively short response.  I did not answer all of his claims here because, again, I'm under no obligation to answer everything, but also, in this case, I am leaving some of them out there to respond to later, after he answers my questions (if he answers my questions).  You see, if he answers my questions, and answers them honestly, then he will end up contradicting some of the things he's already said - either direcly or indirectly.  For example, my question about his church having pastors.  Why did I ask that?  Well, he has said that by the Catholic Church having the Pope as its earthly head, that we have put a man in between us and God and that that is contrary to the Bible (according to his fallible interpretation of the Bible).  Well, what is the Pope?  The Pope is simply the pastor of the universal church.  So, if his "church" has pastors, then he is a hypocrite, because he has done the same thing he is accusing us of doing - putting a man between him and God.  And, if his church does not have pastors, then he is going contrary to the Bible, because the Bible is very clear that the Church of the Bible has pastors, or shepherds.  What does he think the bishops and the elders that are mentioned in the Bible were?  They were pastors. 

No matter how he answers the question, he has a problem.  And, even though he is reading this very explanation and I am telling him exactly what the trap is that I have set for him, there is absolutely nothing he can do about it - except, to not answer the question.  Which is what I predict will be his response - a non-response.  Lots of words and lots of claiming what the Catholic Church teaches and what the Bible says (in his fallible opinion), but no direct answers to my questions. 

What else did I do?  Notice the question about his infallibility.  That is a question that you ought to ask every single non-Catholic that you ever have a dialogue with.  The first time they throw a Bible verse at you, is when you hit them with that question.  They don't believe (usually) that any man is infallible, so they almost have to answer, "No, I'm not infallible," (again, if they answer the question).  But, as has already happened in this case, they usually claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  So, how can someone be guided by the Holy Spirit and teach and interpret by the authority of the Holy Spirit, yet not be infallible?  Is the Holy Spirit not infallible?  So, if He is guiding you when you read Scripture, then you have to be infallible when you interpret Scripture.  If you're not infallible, then how can you claim to be guided directly by the Holy Spirit?  You can't have it both ways. 

Also, regarding this whole nonsense of Constantine founding the Catholic Church, he dug himself quite a hole by claiming that "real Christians" objected to what Constantine was doing.  Well, how does he know this?  There must be documents, Christian writings, from the 4th, or at least from the 5th, century that tells us these things, right?  Well, what are they?  Ask for sources whenever someone starts claiming this garbage.  And don't just ask for any sources, ask for Christian sources from the early centuries.  If they can't produce anything, then that means they, or someone they trust, is simply making these things up.  Which is indeed exactly what they are doing. 

Finally, I put all of the questions that I had asked, and will be waiting for him to answer, at the end of the email so that there was no doubt as to what I was waiting for him to answer.  I think that's a good practice to do with everyone you are talking with. It puts everything in one place for them, plus it will let you see how many questions you've actually asked, so you can get a sense of whether or not you've overdone it.  10 questions could be too many in many instances, but in this case, they are all questions that require very short answers, which are the type of questions I always try to ask, so it shouldn't be too difficult of a task to answer all of them.  I could answer all ten questions in under 1 minute. 

Okay, that's the thinking behind my response and my questions.  I can't wait to see how he answers questions #7-10 above, or how he avoids answering them.  And, again, even though he is reading this, and I am sharing my thoughts and strategies with him so that he knows exactly what traps are being set and where they are, it doesn't matter in the least, because there isn't anything he can do about it...except not answer the questions.  There was a movie back in the 70's, "The Legend of Billy Jack."  I don't know if any of you ever saw it, but in the movie, there is a scene where Billy Jack, the good guy, says to one of the bad guys: "I'm gonna take this right foot, and I'm gonna whop you on that side of your face [and he points to the bad guy's right cheek]...and you wanna know something? There's not a [darn] thing you're gonna be able to do about it."  And then he did it and there wasn't a darn thing the guy could do about it.  And, there isn't anything the folks you dialogue with can do about it either.


I've posted a new YouTube video - "Are You an Infallible Interpreter of Scripture?"  You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Gm-fjkjos.  I'll let you know next week as to whether or not I get a response from Mr. John Smith.  I hope you guys have a great week!


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Apologetics for the Masses