Apologetics for the Masses #250

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

1) Sorry for the long delay in getting this newsletter out.  I had wanted to get something out before the holidays, but I just had too many things going on that had me running around crazy.  And then I deliberately took a couple weeks off for the holidays.  Anyway, it's good to be back. 

2) Thank you, thank you, thank you (!) to everyone who responded to the last request for financial support, and for prayer support.  Your generosity is very humbling and keeps me determined to continue to do what I can through the Bible Christian Society to bring the truths of the Catholic Faith to more and more folks throughout the world.  Also, whether you are able to support us financially or not, please keep praying for the Bible Christian Society...prayer is what keeps us going more than anything else.  And please know that my family keeps all of you in our daily prayers. 

3) Finally, please pray for the repose of the soul of my wife's brother, Randy Scarvey.  He died just a few days before Christmas, apparently of a massive stroke.  His was a very rough and difficult life, so if you could keep him in your prayers, that would be greatly appreciated. His only child, Brittany, is a wonderful young woman, but she was not raised in the Church, or any church for that matter, so please say an extra prayer for her as well. 


As you know, I've been writing my book, Blue Collar Apologetics, piece-by-piece, chapter-by-chapter, in my newsletters over the last several months.  I'm going to suspend that process for a little while so as to publish some of the "dialogues" I've been in lately with a few Protestants.  Not to worry, though, as I am not suspending the writing of the book.  In fact, I'm about to send off the first 5 chapters to a publisher or two to see if there might be interest on their part in publishing the book.  So the book is still in progress. 

This week I'm going to highlight an email exchange I had with a Protestant named Michael.  Michael is a Protestant who apparently receives my newsletter - maybe one of you signed him up for it or maybe you sent him an issue or two.  Anyway, he just emailed me one day out of the blue to take a swipe at me.  It happens on a somewhat regular basis.  A number of those I just ignore because I know that trying to dialogue with certain folks is like trying to talk to a wall.  But, I decided to respond to Michael.  He reacted as I knew he would - no direct responses to my very direct questions.  I thought it might help you to see that there are folks out there - and lots of them - who are pert near impossible to carry on a logical, rational, and/or productive conversation with.  I know many of you come across these folks quite often and that it frustrates the stew out of you when you do.  Just remember, you are not alone...

I am going to start with his first email and then my response and then his email and my response and so on.




Hello John, It would be a grand occasion to see you and James White or Rob Zins in a public moderated debate. Nowadays, you among other RC apologists, have much to say in your respective forums but will not engage in open debate.


My Response

Dear Michael,

Well, it just so happens that I debated Rob Zins a year or so ago.  I did so against my better judgment, because I have found such debates to be rather useless exercises...and this one proved my judgment to be correct.  But, I did it because the guy who was bringing me in to talk really wanted a debate, so I gave in.  I won't do that again.  The reason being, is that there was no real "debate."  Mr. Zins would say what he wanted to say regardless of what I said.  He wasn't actually listening to what I had to say.  He wanted to preach, but he did not want to listen.  That is why I quit debating folks a few years ago, because the "debates" turned out to just be the other guy sticking to his script and saying what they think Catholics believe and why it's wrong, and not even being open to the fact that they just might have gotten a few things wrong about what they "think" Catholics believe.   But, trying to tell them that was pretty much fruitless.  So, I made an exception for Zins, but I won't do that again...

However, I am more than happy to debate Mr. Zins, or anyone else, in writing and to carry the whole thing in my newsletter.  I have, in fact, given a number of non-Catholic apologists/pastors/etc. a forum to espouse what they believe, and why they believe the Catholic Church is wrong - unedited - in my e-newsletter which goes out to some 30,000+ folks - the vast majority of whom are Catholic.   I have given non-Catholic folks way more "free" time with my audience than they would ever give me with theirs, that's for sure.  I don't know of any one on the Protestant/Evangelical side who has ever done anything along the lines of what I have done, and will continue to do.  And, my online audience is a whole lot bigger than you would ever get in a live debate.  So, I am not afraid of "open debate," however, I find it much more productive to have the debate in writing rather than doing it live.

God bless!

John Martignoni



I love it when the very first time someone contacts me it's to essentially rag on me - that strategy is definitely not from the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" playbook.  So, Michael emailed me to not-so-subtly imply that I, and "other RC apologists," are essentially cowards afraid to "engage in open debate" with Protestant apologists.  We say all sorts of things on our blogs or in our newsletters, but we won't engage the other side mano a mano, so to speak.  Well, it just so happens, that that simply is not true, at least not in my case (I cannot speak about other "RC apologists" because I don't necessarily keep up with all of what they do or don't do, but I do know that plenty of them have engaged with Protestant apologists in the past).  As any of you who have been subscribers to this newsletter for a while know, I have regularly engaged in open debate with all kinds of Protestant apologists, pastors, and lay people, not to mention actually having public debates with some as well.  So, I thought I would point out to Michael that what he said was simply not true so as to see if I could get him to recant his statement when faced with evidence/facts to the contrary.  Even though this was from a more personal angle than what I usually deal with - usually its folks attacking the Church and its teachings rather than attacking me personally - the basic question is still the same: will the attacker acknowledge their error, and withdraw their accusation, when faced with the facts that their statement is blatantly wrong?  I know a lot of you face similar situations, because I hear from you all the time. 

So, I responded by informing him that I have indeed engaged in "open debate" with one of the two Protestant apologists he mentioned, and that I have engaged many others through my "respective forum" as well.  In fact, I think my forum is unique - among Catholics or Protestants - in giving the "other side" so much free air time.  Which means, his assertion that I never did so was shown to be completely without merit.  How did he respond?



Hello John, thank you for your response. I didn't realize that Zins and yourself had a "debate". Is this available ? Perhaps you should contact James R. White ? Incidentally, I'm a former RC myself. It's interesting that you mentioned, "and saying what they think Catholics believe and why it's wrong, and not even being open to the fact that they just might have gotten a few things wrong about what they "think" Catholics believe." I see this as being alive and well among RC's who carry this out in their "dialogues" with Prots. Terribly annoying, to be sure--even after the RC has been corrected !


My Response

Dear Michael,

Sorry, but I have no idea if the debate with Zins is available anywhere or not.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a fruitless exercise, not actually a "debate."  In a debate, people listen to each other, respond to the other person's arguments, and so on.  That didn't happen.

Someone from James White's camp contacted me about 5 years ago to do a debate, in Long Island I think, but I was starting a new job - I think maybe just a few weeks before they wanted to schedule the debate - and was not able to take the time to travel.  And, to be honest, I was pretty burnt out on debates at the time and so was not overly bothered by the fact that it didn't work out.  And, after "debating" Zins, I have vowed to never do another "live" debate - they are basically a waste of time in my opinion.  However, I am more than happy to do an online debate.  In an online debate you have more of a chance of having a real exchange of information and ideas, more of a chance of having your arguments responded to (although that is not a given), and you can reach a larger audience - which is why I have done them, and published them in my e-newsletter.  In fact, I'll be happy to have an exchange of ideas and arguments (debate) with you, if you would like, that I am more than happy to publish to the 30,000+ Catholics on my subscription list.

So, I hope you will re-think your original email to me, because this "RC apologist" is more than happy to engage Protestants in debate.  In fact, this "RC apologist" gives Protestants way more time in front of my audience, than any Protestant I know gives to any Catholic with their audience.  In fact, I have had several Protestant apologists take swipes at me in their e-newsletters or blogs and such, but when I respond to them, my responses never (ever) get printed in those same e-newsletters or blogs.  So, I am more than happy to give Protestant apologists unedited access to my 30,000+ Catholic readers, on a regular basis, but I have yet to be accorded any similar courtesy from the other side.  Hmmm....

Finally, yes, I have no doubt that there are some RC's who get some things wrong about what they "think" Protestants believe; however, the problem for "RC's" is that while the Catholic Church's beliefs are easily accessible to one and all through this thing we call the Catechism of the Catholic Church - which lays out Catholic belief in pretty good detail - there is no such similar document among Protestant denominations that I am aware of.  So, there is no excuse for a Protestant apologist to not know what Catholic belief is, when it is right there for them in black and white, while there is an excuse for the Catholic to not know what any particular Protestant believes - since there are literally thousands of combinations of beliefs among Protestantism.  Furthermore, I have been accused of not getting it right when it comes to Protestant belief - for instance, on Sola Scriptura - but when I informed the person who accused me of getting it wrong, that my understanding of Sola Scriptura came from other Protestants, he admitted that yes, many Protestants have a faulty belief of Sola Scriptura.  So, I asked him, "Well, who is it in Protestantism that gets to decide what Sola Scriptura actually means?"  No response.  So, don't blame "RC's" for getting Protestant belief wrong, when Protestant belief is all over the map.

God bless!

John Martignoni



So, he did not address the main point of my intitial response - that I have indeed met Protestants in open debate (both live and online) - surprise, surprise!  The facts knocked the wind out of the sails of his initial claim.  This is just like the many times when someone has claimed the Catholic Church teaches this or that (worship of Mary, salvation by works, etc.) when it really doesn't.  Then, when confronted with the evidence, either no response, or a change of subject.  What did he do?  He changed the subject.  He used one of the offhand comments I made about why I no longer do live debates - because the other guy usually is not open to the truth of what it is Catholics actually believe and teach, no matter how many times you tell them - to go off in a different direction.  Again, surprise, surprise!  I did, however, follow him in this other direction, but first I made sure to essentially ask for a retraction, a "re-think", of his intial claim to try again to see if I could get him to recant his initial accusation.  Remember, always bring them back to the first topic until you get an answer.

Then, after re-emphasizing my initial point, I responded to his claim about Catholics getting it wrong about Protestant beliefs.  The point being that while I'm sure that does indeed happen, how can you blame the Catholics when they have no authoritative source in Protestantism - that is recognized as such - to turn to in order to get the "correct" version of Protestant belief. There is no single source in Protestantism that comes close to being what the Catechism is for Catholics.  Any Protestant anywhere can open up a Catechism and get the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  There is no similar document that a Catholic can open up and get the official teaching of the Protestant church that all Protestants are called to adhere to.  That document does not exist.



Hello John,

Thanks for getting back with me. I'll try and contact Rob Zins about the 'debate'. I'm surprised that you haven't an idea about its availability-hopefully Rob will.  There's really nothing to 're-think' about my email to you. What I sense is what i sense based on simple observation. Why not contact White or even Michael Horton about a live debate?  I understand that 'you' consider them a waste of time, however many don't and prefer to see a live engagement. At any rate, I'm not going to labor the point. Perhaps you should contact either White or Horton about a book exchange, much like the one we see between James G. McCarthy and Fr. John R. Waiss ?

Quick correction about your statement, "there is no such similar document among Protestant denominations that I am aware of ". Are you really not familiar with any historical Protestant catechism, which, by the way, is/are easily accessible ? Furthermore, RCism is hardly unified as a whole. James R. White has discussed this very clearly. Additionally, even within my own family and among acquaintances of mine, who are Roman Catholic, they're not even 'unified' in their catholicism, hence, thousands of combinations of beliefs among RCs, to be sure.

As for the doctrine of SS, who is the person who accused you of getting it wrong ? Have you taken the time to read/research such works as: 1.) The 3 volume set by David King and William Webster entitled, Holy Scripture, 2.) Sola Scriptura, the Protestant position on the Bible, 3.) The Shape of Sola Scriptura by Keith A. Mathison, 4.) Sola Scriptura by James R. White (and the RC controversy, along with all of his debates on the topic, 5.) Canon Revisited and The Question of Canon by Michael J. Kruger ? The magazine, Modern Reformation, Vol. 19, Number 6, 2010 (still available) has very good dialogue between Michael Horton and Bryan Cross on SS. There's also a segment whereby Dr. Kenneth Samples also responds to objections to SS. Through and through, I will continue to blame RCs for getting Protestant beliefs wrong, such as SS, when there's ample information available.

Regards, Mike


My Response

I am going to save my response for next week.  I'll let you guys ponder what Michael has said here and see if you can figure out where he has gone wrong.  And, particularly, try to think about how you would respond to his claim that "RCism is hardly unified as a whole."  I run into more and more Protestants who say that Catholicism is just like Protestantism, with thousands of its own "denominations" - which is, of course, a response to Catholic apologists using the disunity within Protestantism as evidence that Sola Scriptura is a failed dogma and one that cannot be of God.  So, how would you answer his assertion?  I'll tell you how I answered it this coming week...



I hope all of you had a wonderful and holy Christmas season and that 2015 brings many blessings!  


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Apologetics for the Masses