Apologetics for the Masses #251

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

For anyone in the North Alabama area, mark your calendars for March 10,11, and 12.  I'll be giving a Lenten retreat at Resurrection Chapel in Moulton.  Also, if you're on the east side of Birmingham, I'll be speaking at St. Theresa's in Leeds on March 18th.  More information on both engagements as the time gets closer.

One other thing, if you have a college student anywhere in Alabama, or the surrounding states, let them know about Birmingham Awakening #1 which will take place the weekend of April 10-12 here in the Birmingham area.  If you're not familiar with the Awakening retreat, it's a retreat that is of the college students, by the college students, and for the college students.  It's patterned after the Cursillo retreats, and it really gets the young folks fired up about their faith.  Would love to have your college students come and join us for our kickoff Awakening.  More information on this will be available in the very near future.


Last week I shared part of an exchange with a former Catholic named Michael, who is apparently a subscriber of this newsletter and who took me to task for essentially hiding from "open debate" with Protestant apologists.  If you missed that part of the exchange, you can read it in the last issue, #250, here: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter/detail/318.  I'm going to start here with the last response of his that I shared in Issue #250 and go from there. 



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 Sola Scriptura, 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

Dear Michael,

Well, there actually is something to "re-think" about your original email to me.  You stated: "Nowadays, you among other RC apologists, have much to say in your respective forums but will not engage in open debate."  And, you specifically mentioned wanting me to debate Rob Zins.  I informed you that I had indeed debated Rob Zins, yet you say there is nothing to re-think about your accusation against me?  Furthermore, I informed you that I have engaged in written debate with many and sundry Protestant apologists, including: Todd Tomasella, Dr. Joe Mizzi, Mike Gendron, and a number of ministers and lay people from various denominations.  I have also indirectly debated with James Swan and Matt Slick, by posting articles of theirs - in their entirety - and then posting arguments to the contrary.  And James and Matt know I have done this, yet they have chosen not to respond directly to me.  So, I don't just "have much to say in [my] respective forum," the implication being that I hide in my forum and refuse to engage non-Catholic apologists; rather, I have openly debated, in public and in writing (with a much larger audience - 30,000+ - than any public debate would ever have), with many non-Catholics, including one of the two that you mentioned in particular.  Yet, you say there is nothing to re-think about your accusation against me?  Furthermore, in my "respective forum," I give non-Catholics way more "airtime" than I'll bet any non-Catholic anywhere gives to Catholics in their "respective forums."  Yet you say there is nothing to re-think about your accusation against me?

In other words, I have proven your accusation to be a false one.  If after you have been presented with facts that run contrary to your assertions, you still wish to hold to your false assertions, that is certainly your privilege to do so.  It would also fit in very well with the standard operating procedures of many of the Protestant apologists that I have encountered.

Regarding the Protestant catechisms you mention, do you really wish to contend that they are similar to the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Really?!  The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a systematic and detailed explanation of the Catholic Faith. If someone reads that, they will know the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  Which catechism can I read that gives me the official teachings of each and every Protestant?  Is the Reformed catechism the official teaching of the Baptists? Is the Baptist catechism the official teaching of the Methodist church?  And what about all of those non-denominational denominations out there?  Where are the catechisms with their official teachings?  Which of the Protestant catechisms that you know of represent the official teaching of all of Protestantism?  Sorry, but there is no source book a Catholic can go to in order to find the official teaching of all of Protestantism.  That book does not exist.  Whereas, there is a source book that Protestants can go to in order to find the official teaching of all Catholics.  Oh, one other thing, I noticed that when it comes to Sola Scriptura, you did not reference a Protestant catechism for me to read, you gave me several different references, thus confirming my statement that there is nothing in Protestantism similar to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Regarding "RCism" not being "unified as a whole," that is inaccurate.  There is one body of teaching in the Catholic Church...one.  If there are folks who call themselves Catholic, but who do not agree with one or more doctrines and dogmas of the Church, then these people are known as dissenters.  They are, in essence, Protestants.  They are no longer one with the Church.  The body of doctrine and dogmas of the Church, however, is one.   In Protestantism, is there one set body of doctrine and dogmas?  No, there is not.  So, yes, there are dissenters to Catholic teaching within the Church, and there may indeed be "thousands of combinations of beliefs among RC's," but there is still only one set of official and authoritative beliefs in Catholicism.  Protestantism can make no such claim.

Regarding Sola Scriptura, can you tell me which of the people or sources you mentioned are infallible?  Which of them speak with the authority to bind all Protestants to their version of Sola Scriptura?  Yes, you can continue to blame "RCs" for getting Protestants beliefs wrong, however, the blame actually rests with the fact that there is no such thing as one unified body of doctrine within Protestantism.  I have met Protestants who believe in the rapture and those who don't.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those who believe in one rapture and those who believe in more than one rapture.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those who believe in once saved always saved and those who don't.  Who can  authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those who believe in Sola Fide and those who don't.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those that believe in soul sleep and those who don't. Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right? I have met those who believe in infant baptism and those who don't.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?   I have met those who believe in baptismal regeneration and those who don't.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those who believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and those who don't.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those who believe in 7 sacraments, those who believe in 2 sacraments and those who believe in no sacraments.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those that believe Scripture is the sole authority - period - on matters pertaining to Christianity and those who believe it is not the sole authority, but simply the sole infallible authority.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those that say the Old Testament rules and regulations no longer apply to Christians and those that say they do.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those that say only the letters of St. Paul apply to Christians and that the rest of the New Testament does not and I have met those, of course, who say that all of the New Testament applies to Christians.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  I have met those that say their pastors have authority over them when interpreting Scripture and those that say their pastors have no authority over them when interpreting Scriptures.  Who can authoritatively tell me which of them is right?  Where is the book I can pick up that gives me the official and authoritative teaching of Protestantism on all of these matters, and the many others, that Protestants themselves disagree over?

Sorry, Michael, but there is nothing in Catholicism like the doctrinal confusion and disunity in Protestantism.  So, go on blaming Catholics for getting it wrong, but sorry if we're just repeating the confusion we hear from you and your fellow Protestants.

God bless!




First and foremost, I want to keep hammering away at the initial point that I made until he responds directly to my argument.  I don't care what he thinks or says about me, that's not the point.  The point is, will you continue to make false claims even after you have been presented with overwhelming evidence that your claim is indeed false?  Will you be open to admitting at least the possibility that you "might" be wrong in your assertion, when presented with overwhelming evidence that your assertion is indeed wrong?  I think anyone who has read this newsletter for any length of time knows that I do not shy away from debate.  In fact, this newsletter  was born of a debate I was having with a former Catholic turned anti-Catholic (Issues #1 - #6).  So, when presented with the evidence, what does Michael do?  Does he recant?  Does he admit he might have been wrong?  Nope.  He simply ignores it.  If you run into someone who is not open to evidence that their position just might not be true, then there is no reason at all - none - to engage with them once they have conclusively shown their unreasonableness.  Those are folks who like to preach, but they don't like to listen.  The only exception to that rule, is if you have an audience (whether in person or online).  You might want to engage the other guy a little bit longer if you have an audience, because the audience will see that this person is indeed being obstinate and unreasonable and avoiding direct responses to your questions and arguments, and that could very well plant a seed with any of those that might have originally sided with the other guy.

His claim that "any historical Protestant catechism" is similar to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is absurd on the face of it, as he himself proves.  For 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, there is one official book that anyone - Catholic or not - can pick up and find the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church from the Pope (the recognized leader of the Church) and the Bishops in union with him (the Magisterium).  Are there folks who call themselves Catholic yet refuse to accept one or more of the official teachings of the Church?  Absolutely.  But, even these dissenters, many of whom could be classified as heretics, know what the official teaching of the Church is.  That is not the situation in Protestantism and that is not how a single one of "any historical Protestant catechism" is viewed by Protestants.  If a Protestant asked a Catholic, "What is the Catholic belief on...[fill in the blank]," all a Catholic would have to say is: "Let's look in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and see."  If a Catholic were to ask any Protestant, "What is the Protestant belief on...[fill in the blank]," what would the Protestant say?  Would they say, "Pick up any historical Protestant catechism and see?"  No.  They can't, because just about any Protestant catechism, historical or modern, contradicts just about any other Protestant catechism in one or more places.  And, the thing of it is, is that's okay in Protestantism! 

For example, in Luther's Small Catechism, which he wrote in 1530 or thereabouts, he gives a list of the 10 commandments.  Exact same as what is in the CCC today.  How many Protestant catechisms today do you think would have the Catholic version of the 10 Commandments in them?  I'll wager not a single one.  Another example, a more weighty example, in Luther's Small Catechism (http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php), he states that Baptism does the following: "...the forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the Devil, gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God's words and promises declare."  I'll bet Michael, who is obviously a disciple of James White, does not believe that.  Furthermore, in the Evangelical Free Church Catechism of Santa Margarita Community Church (https://leadingfromthemiddle.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/an-evangelical-free-church-catechism/), it states this about Baptism: "God gave only 2 ordinances or required practices: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are required practices but are not to be regarded as a means of salvation."  So, which is it?  What does the Protestant catechism say?  Does Baptism give eternal salvation or not?  Well, Protestant catechisms say, "Yes," and they say, "No."  Does Michael really want to claim that there is an equivalent Protestant document to the CCC?

If you go online, you can find a whole bunch of Protestant catechisms (the first one even goes back about 500 years).  Which makes sense, given that there are literally thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations.  Each one of these catechisms is an official authoritative document within Protestantism, although they are not binding on all Protestants, only on those of that particular denomination.  All Protestants recognize that this is okay.  Each denomination with its own head (or heads), its own governing structure, its own ordinances or sacraments, its own body of doctrines and dogmas, etc.  So, as a Catholic, how am I supposed to keep up with the "official" beliefs of Protestantism, when there really are no "official" beliefs of Protestantism?  Yet, for a Protestant, it is relatively easy to keep up with the "official" beliefs of the Catholic Church.  You go down to Books-A-Million and ask to buy a Catechism of the Catholic Church.  So, I say again, Michael's claim in this regard is absurd.

Furthermore, his claim that there are "thousands of combination of beliefs among RCs" is indeed true, but not in the way he meant it.  Yes, there are people who call themselves Catholic who dissent from the official teaching of the Church.  However, they recognize what that teaching is, even if they disagree with it.  And, they recognize that there is one earthly head of that Church - the Pope - even though they dissent from what the Pope teaches.  Does that mean, then, that there are thousands of denominations within Catholicism?  No, it means that there are lots of people within Catholicism who are dissenters from Church teaching - they are, in essence, bad Catholics.  They are, in essence, Protestants.  If a Protestant, however, dissents from his denomination's teaching, does that make him a bad Protestant.  No.  It actually defines what it is to be Protestant.  He just goes off and joins another denomination, or he starts his own.  And, who is the head of Protestantism?  Everyone - Catholic or not - Christian or not - knows who the head of the Catholic Church is.  Is the same true of Protestantism?  No.  Protestantism actually has thousands upon thousands of "Popes".  

Did you notice that he himself proves my point in his discussion about Sola Scriptura?  Here he is telling me that there is indeed a document within Protestantism that is similar to the CCC - a one-stop source for Catholics on Protestant beliefs - so when there is a question as to exactly what the Protestant teaching on Sola Scriptura is, what does he do?  Does he send me to this all-encompassing Protestant catechism to discover the Protestant definition of Sola Scriptura?  No, he lists no less than six sources that he says I should read to find out what Sola Scriptura is.  Really?!  And he cannot see the contradiction in his own words from one paragraph to the next. 

Finally, I gave him a dozen or so examples of doctrinal confusion that I have come across within Protestantism, and I simply asked the questions: Who can authoritatively tell me which Protestant is right and which is wrong?  And, where is the book that I can pick up that gives me the official and authoritative teaching of Protestantism on all of these matters?  Do you think he answers my questions?  You need to keep these examples in mind and ask these same questions of any of the Protestants you engage with.



Hello John,

Right back at you John: Sorry, John, but there is nothing in Protestanism like the doctrinal confusion and disunity in Catholicism  So, go on blaming Protestants for getting it wrong, but sorry if we're just repeating the confusion we hear from you and your fellow Catholics--plain and simple; I see this on a REGULAR basis.

John, you need to relax, you're way too hyped my friend. Again, a book debate with James R. White or Gendron, et al, would be beneficial; something you should really consider.
List some Protestant catechisms that you're familiar with or have read John--i'll await your response.
And yes John. RCism is NOT unified as a whole. James White has discussed and proved this and I see it every day, period; no need to try and convince me otherwise.
John, have you read any of the sources that I mentioned regarding Sola Scriptura ? I'll await your response.

Regards, Mike

My Response

Dear Michael,

As is customary with most of the Protestant "apologists" I have dealt with, you responded to not a single question I asked, nor formulated a response to a single argument I made.  So, I must assume that you are unable to do so.  However, I will try one more time:

1) Did you accuse me of essentially playing it safe by publishing things in my column while avoiding, in your opinion, open debate with Protestant apologists, such as Zins and White?  Yes or no?

2) Did I point out that I had actually publicly debated Zins and had debated other Protestant apologists, in writing, before an audience of 30,000+ readers?  Yes or no?

3) Did I not also say that I give more time to Protestants in my forum than any Protestant gives to Catholics in theirs? Do you know of a Protestant who gives more time to Catholic apologists in their forum, than I give to Protestant apologists in mine?

4) Given all of that, does that then not call for a retraction on your part, since I have proven your assertion about me false?

5) Can you tell me an official authoritative document of the Catholic Church that contradicts anything that is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church...yes or no?

6) If, yes, please provide the reference.  If, no, then will you admit that the Catholic Church has a unified body of doctrine and dogma that it teaches?

7) Is there a difference between having one body of official doctrine that some members dissent against (Catholic Church), and having thousands of bodies of official doctrine (Protestantism) that quite often contradict one another...yes or no?

8) James White has proven nothing except that there are Catholics who dissent from the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  Name me an authority, just one, other than the Pope and the Magisterium, that James White has "proven" has the authority to officially promulgate Catholic teaching.  If you cannot, then will you accept the fact that Catholicism has one, and only one, set of official teachings?

9) Can you give me the one set of official authoritative teachings of Protestantism?

10) Regarding catechisms that I am familiar with, I have already listed three - Baptist, Reformed, and Methodist.  Did you actually read my email or not?

11) No, I have not read any of the sources you mentioned on Sola Scriptura.  I asserted that there was no comparable Protestant document to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  A document that any Catholic could go to in order to find out the authoritative teaching of Protestantism that applies to all Protestants.  You stated that there was.  Yet, when you want me to research a Protestant doctrine, you give me what, 6 or 7 different references to read.  By so doing, you have proven my assertion, yet you will not admit that I was right.  Again, typical of what I have found amongst Protestant apologists.  I will, however, read any of those sources that you tell me are authoritative for all of Protestantism and are infallible in what they teach.  Which one should I start with?

12) "Hyped up?"  You have no idea if I am "hyped up" or sitting back laughing at yet another person who makes claims that, when challenged, responds with basically, "Oh yeah?!  Well it's true because I say it's true."  Or, instead of being "hyped up," I might actually be saddened by the fact that once again, my opinion of Protestant apologists - closed-minded; want to preach to Catholics but don't want any Catholic to talk back to them; cannot respond to simple questions or form consistent arguments - is once again proving to be true.  

Look, if you're not willing to answer the questions or respond to the arguments, then don't bother responding, as I will simply delete another email like your last one and blacklist your email.  I hope you will at least look in the mirror and say to yourself, "You know, John spent a decent amount of time in an attempt to answer each and everyone of my objections.  Even if I disagree with his arguments, I have to admit that he responded to what I said point-by-point.  And, I have to admit, I didn't respond to a single one of those arguments."

God bless!

John Martignoni



Did you catch his response?  "Right back at you, John."  Then he goes on to simply regurgitate everything I said to him.  It's the sort of thing that my 10-yr. old does to my 12-yr. old when they get in an argument.  He just repeats word-for-word everything my 12-yr. old says.  Why?  Because he cannot make a rational and coherent argument in response.  So, he simply becomes absurd.  As does Michael when he repeats my words back to me.  Such as when he says that "...there is nothing in Protestanism like the doctrinal confusion and disunity in Catholicism."  That is an absolutely amazing claim.  One set of official beliefs, one universally recognized earthly head (the Pope) of the world-wide Church, who has the gift of infallibility vs. thousands upon thousands of sets of official beliefs and thousands upon thousands of earthly heads (popes) of the thousands upon thousands of divisions within Protestantism, not a single one of whom even claims infallibility.  Mind-boggling.  

So, I simply put everything I had asked him from the beginning of our dialogue, in a logical, easy to answer format (one of my favorite things to do), and gave him one last chance to answer even one of the questions or respond to even one of the arguments.  And, I warned him that if he did not, the discussion was through and his email would be blacklisted.  Unfortunately, he turned out to be just like most of the other folks I have dealt with in this newsletter or in my email conversations - they cannot answer direct questions with direct answers.  They cannot respond to a specific argument with a specific counter-argument.  A potentially informative discussion and dialogue becomes something that harkens back to the days of elementary school:  "Oh yeah, well your mother wears army boots."  "I'm rubber and your glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you."  "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but logic will never penetrate my skull." 

Keep #5 - #9 above in mind should you ever run into someone who starts talking about all the divisions within the Catholic Church and how it is no different than all of the divisions within Protestantism.



Greetings John,

Sorry--but you're not making the rules with me nor are you going to repeat questions that, in my thinking, are irrelevant--not going down your rabbit trail.  Given that you haven't read any of the sources that I provided you, then you you remain, as well as those of your ilk, deeply ignorant of what you continue to criticize of what you know very little about. James has several good debates on Sola Scriptura as well, which are available for purchase and can be seen on YouTube (his latest is with Peter D. Williams-I strongly suggest that you actually listen to it). You REALLY NEED to make the time to listen to these debates John along with reading the publications that I cited. My hope is that you'll become far better educated/informed on the topic and a bit more humble. I'm still awaiting your response about Protestant catechisms and/or confessions that you're aware of and have ACTUALLY read. Maybe you'll reconsider a book debate with James, et al ---? And no John, you haven't spent any time in responding to what I've actually questioned you about, e.g., chiefly the sources that I've cited regarding SS along with my question to on the Prot. catechisms/confessions. I'm starting wonder if it's actually you writing/replying to my emails or some assistant ??


My Response

Dear Michael,

I read your first line and am deleting your email without reading the rest, and blacklisting you so I will no longer receive your emails.  You obviously are unable to have a conversation on these topics wherein two people ask and answer each other's questions and formulate reasonable and sensible arguments to support their position or counter the other person's position.  You started off by making a claim about me that I have demonstrated to be indisputably false, yet you refuse to retract your statement.  You then make claims about the Catholic Church that I have countered with very rational and reasonable arguments, again showing your claims to be false.  I am open to hearing your arguments to counter mine, but you simply reply with: "It is because I say it is."

Sorry, but I will waste no more time on you.  Although, it will not have been a total waste of time, as this exchange will provide some good catechesis for the folks in my newsletter.

God bless!

John Martignoni



I actually did delete his email after reading the first sentence and realizing that he was not about to answer a single one of my questions or respond to a single one of my arguments.  However, after thinking about it, I realized that this exchange might be of interest to you guys so I fished it out of the "Trash" bin and have since read through all of it.  However, I have indeed blacklisted his email address so any further emails now go to the "Junk" inbox.  He did respond to my last email, and he also responded to the last newsletter.  I know this because I saw the emails as I was cleaning out the Junk mailbox.  I did not open either one of them, though.  I like to be true to my word.

A couple of final points: notice that he gets upset and complains that I am "making the rules" and asking "irrelevant" questions.  He has to do that because he has no clue how to answer the very relevant questions that I was asking.  If you can't answer the questions or respond to the arguments, you have to throw up a smoke screen.  You have to complain about the questions instead of answer them.  Every question I asked had to do with a point that he had already made.  I didn't bring up anything in those questions that he had not already talked about.  And, notice that he insists that I read the sources he provided to me, even though he completely ignored my question about those sources - which of them was binding on all Protestants and was infallible in what it taught?  Keep that question in mind for the Protestants you deal with.  Any time they give you some source regarding Protestant teaching, ask them those two questions: Is this source binding on all Protestants, and does it teach infallibly?  You will never get an answer. 

And speaking of irrelevant questions as he did, the question of the meaning of Sola Scriptura is actually something that is completely irrelevant to the conversation at hand.  The relevant question about Sola Scriptura in this instance is: Where is the one book that is like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which you claim exists out there somewhere, to which I can go to find out the official, authoritative, and binding teaching on Sola Scriptura (or any other Protestant teaching)?  The answer is:           (well, we're still waiting on that one). 


I hope all of you have a great week! 


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Apologetics for the Masses