Apologetics for the Masses #327 - The Sinlessness of Mary (cont'd)

Bible Christian Society


A Debate, with Anti-Catholic Steve Fitz, on: The Sinlessness of Mary (cont'd)



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General Comments

Hey folks,

Here are my next few speaking engagements, if you happen to be in these areas:

1) Oneonta, Alabama - July 11; I will be speaking at Corpus Christi parish - 6:30 PM

2) Hays, Kansas - August 11; Diocesan Men's Conference

3) Mobile, Alabama - August 17-19; Men of St. Joseph retreat



      Okay, wrapping up this "debate" with anti-Catholic Steve Fitz on "The Sinlessness of Mary."  In this issue I will respond to his 2nd round comments for the sole purpose of showing you how void of merit his arguments against the sinlessness of Mary are.  I did not respond to these comments in our actual debate because, as I have previously stated, he never answered the questions I had asked in my first response to him.  If you don't answer the questions I ask, after I have answered your initial questions and responded to your initial arguments, you have no right to expect me to answer any further questions you may ask or to respond to any further arguments you make.

     So, immediately below is my response to his 1st round comments.  I'm including that here so that you guys can have an easy reference to what Fitz is responding to.  Following my 1st round comments, is his response to those comments (his 2nd round) - in italics.  I will reply to his remarks on a paragraph by paragraph basis.  (You can see his 2nd round comments in their entirety in Issue #324 here: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter/417-apologetics-for-the-masses-325-the-sinlessness-of-mary-cont-d)



John Martignoni (1st Round)

     Point #1: General point: Steve Fitz - is it fair to say that everything you post here, outside of quoting Scripture, are the words of a fallible man who has no authority whatsoever outside of that which you have vested in yourself?  I ask that because you rest a crucial point of yours, not on the Word of God, but on your fallible, non-authoritative opinion - the word of Steve, as it were.  When you state: “If Mary was sinless...there would be...bible verses that teach that Mary was sinless,” will you agree that is nothing more than your fallible opinion?  And, would you further agree that when I disagree with your fallible opinion, as I do, that you have no authority, outside of your fallible opinion, to declare me wrong?  

     Point #2: To your question: “Why was Jesus uniquely qualified to die on the cross for sin?”  Your answer - because He was sinless - is right, but doesn’t go nearly deep enough.  I have basically no problem with your use of the passages from Exodus and Leviticus regarding the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb.  Yes, I agree.  Particularly with the example of the Passover lamb - a male lamb, unblemished, whose bones will not be broken, and whose blood will be spilled so that Israel may escape slavery.  (By the way, you may not be aware that the Israelites were ordered to eat the flesh of the lamb that was sacrificed.  Catholics do that!)

     Now, why did I say your point doesn’t go nearly deep enough?  Because you seem to not be aware that His sinlessness wasn’t the only reason He was qualified to die on the cross for sin.  The main reason was, and is, that He is God!  

     2 Cor 5:18-19, “All this is from God, Who through Christ reconciled us to Himself...that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself...”  

     When we finite human beings sin, we sin against an infinitely good God.  The demands of justice preclude that any finite being, even one who is sinless, could pay the price for the sins mankind has committed against infinite goodness.  God was in Christ!  That is why His sacrifice can redeem all of mankind.  Not simply because He was sinless.  

     The reason Christ was sinless is because He is God.  The reason Mary was sinless is because God saved her from sin.  Therefore, Mary, even though she was sinless, would not have been able to pay the price to cover the sins of mankind.  So, on this point, your argument is moot.  

     Point #3: Your comment regarding grace: “What does grace mean?  It means ‘unmerited favor’ not sinless.”  Really?!  You missed the point - and badly - of why Catholics believe Luke 1:28 points to Mary being sinless.  It isn’t because we think the word, “grace,” means “sinless.”  We know that grace doesn’t mean “sinless.”  You must not be doing a whole lot of research on Catholic belief to make that mistake.  I hope you will do better in the future.  It’s because Mary is said to be “full” of grace.  Filled with grace.  The cup is full of grace, so there is no room for sin.  That’s why we believe that verse is evidence of Mary’s sinlessness.  

     Point #4: Your biblical “evidence” that Mary was a sinner:

     A. Romans 3:23, “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  And, you stated, “The only exemption of one being sinless is God Himself.”  So, you believe the word “ALL” means absolutely every person with a human nature, except for Jesus.  What about babies?  Have they sinned?  What about the mentally handicapped?  Have they sinned?  What about Elizabeth and Zechariah?  In Luke 1:6, the Word of God states that Elizabeth and Zechariah were both “righteous” before God, “walking in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  Do you contend that they, in fact, did not walk in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless?

     B. Question: Are you, Steve Fitz, seeking God in your life?  Yes or no?

     C. You point to Mark 10:18 to prove your point that if Mary was sinless she would be called “good,” because God alone is “good.”  Well, for your point to hold, that would mean that no one else in the New Testament should be called “good,” because that would mean they were indeed without sin.  Well, what about Matt 12:35 that mentions a “good” man bringing forth good things from the good treasure of his heart?  And the servants in Matt 22:10 who gathered both bad and “good” people for the wedding feast?  And the two servants who the Master calls “good” and faithful in Matthew 25?  What about Barnabbas who was described as a “good” man in Acts 11:24?  And there are many other examples I could point to.  Do you contend that all of those people are sinless because they are called “good”?  So, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Mary is not sinless because she isn’t referred to as being “good.”  Your example is without merit.  I think you haven’t done enough research...into Scripture this time.

     D. “Luke 1:47, Mary said "and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior". The definition of the word Savior in Christianity is God or Jesus Christ as the redeemer of sin and saver of souls...I’m not going to tell you John what you believe but I am going to tell you what the Catholic Church believes. They believe that although Mary was sinless, Jesus died for her. Which is not true and no need for Mary to have a Savior if she was sinless.”  

     I also believe that Jesus died for Mary.  And you contend that since Jesus is Mary’s Savior, that definitively means Mary sinned - “No need for Mary to have a Savior if she was sinless.”  Once again, I feel it my duty to point out that you are giving your fallible opinion here - the word of Steve as opposed to the Word of God.  Secondly, may I ask if it is possible to save someone from something before they succumb to it?  For example, are you an alcoholic?  If you answer, “No,” would you agree that Jesus saved you from alcoholism before you were ever an alcoholic?  Did you have need of Jesus to save you from alcoholism?  From drug addiction?  Even though, I assume, you were never an alcoholic or a drug addict?  

     If a person falls into a deep hole and gets hurt, and someone pulls them out - that person saved them, after the fact.  However, if that person is stopped from falling into the hole before they fall in, then the person that stopped them from falling...saved them, before the fact.  Just so Jesus saved Mary from sin, before the fact.

     E. I will gladly await your answers to these questions and arguments, as well as the third scriptural reason which you began to mention but did not finish.  



Steve Fitz (2nd Round)
1) Would it also be fair to say that your words are the words of a fallible man? John I have a feeling you did not read my post very clearly. My post relied mainly on the word of God! I feel like you John, when you were writing your post, was looking in the mirror. Its your post that was based on opinion, assumptions, and made up stories. In fact your first post did not even quote the Bible even one time!! All this I will get back to later in this post!


John Martignoni
     This is Steve's desperate attempt to not answer my question in regard to him being fallible in matters of faith and morals, and thus having absolutely no authority to tell me, or any other Catholic, anything about the teachings of our Church being right or wrong.  I had asked Mr. Fitz this question: “Is it fair to say that everything you post here, outside of quoting Scripture, are the words of a fallible man who has no authority whatsoever outside of that which you have vested in yourself?”  
     He can’t say, “Yes,” which is an honest and truthful answer, because then he would be admitting that he could be wrong in what he says about Catholic belief and practice and, in particular, in what he says about Mary not being sinless.  And there is no way on God’s green earth that he would ever admit even the possibility of the Catholics being right - on anything!  But, he can’t answer the question with a, “No,” because then he would be claiming to be infallible, and we all know that Protestants believe that no man is infallible.  
     So, what is he to do when backed into a corner from which there is no logically or scripturally consistent answer that can get him out of his predicament?  He doesn’t answer!  He can’t!  At least, not without shooting himself in the foot.
     Okay, what about his claim that he “relied mainly on the word of God” in his comments?  FALSE!  Yes, he did quote Scripture in his comments.  However, he did not rely directly on Scripture for his conclusions, he relied on his fallible, man-made, non-authoritative, private interpretation of Scripture to reach his fallible, man-made, non-authoritative, private conclusions.  This is what he, and every Sola Scriptura Protestant, fails to understand.  They do not actually believe in Sola Scriptura, they believe in Sola [Fallible, Man-Made, Non-Authoritative, Individual Interpretation of] Scriptura!  Huge difference.
     Also, he stated that my comments did not quote Scripture “even one time!!”  FALSE!  I quoted and/or referenced Scripture 7 or 8 times in my response.  Which shows that he was not paying much attention to what I actually said.
     Now, I will be happy to answer his question about my fallibility.  Unlike Mr. Steve Fitz, and most of the Protestants I have dialogued with in the last 15-20 years, I am not afraid to answer questions in a direct and clear manner.  I am not infallible.  Which means, when John Martignoni teaches his own private conclusions on matters of doctrine and morals, then that teaching is fallible, man-made, and non-authoritative.  When John Martignoni interprets Scripture on his own, without any regard for any authority outside of John Martignoni’s own imagination, then those interpretations are fallible, man-made, and non-authoritative.  Will Steve Fitz admit the same?  Ain’t no way.
     However, when John Martignoni teaches what the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit teaches on matters of doctrine and morals, then those teachings are indeed infallible.  Why?  Because they are not based on John Martignoni’s authority - they are not John Martignoni’s teachings.  They are the teachings of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit and based on the authority of that Church - which is the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.
     And, for those who would say, as Mr. Steve Fitz would, that since I have admitted to being fallible, I cannot know anything with certainty, therefore I cannot know the Catholic Church is true, well, that is being disingenuous to the nth degree.
     You see, Mr. Fitz does not believe that fallibility means man cannot know anything with certainty.  For example: Ask him if he is infallible, and he will say no (even though he will then turn around and not actually admit to being fallible - Fallible in Theory, Infallible in Practice - as he has demonstrated in this dialogue).  Ask him, though, if he has absolute assurance of his salvation, and he will say yes.  So, Mr. Fitz does not believe fallibility = absolute lack of certainty in all things.  So, for him to claim that when I admit to being fallible, then that means I cannot know the Catholic Church is true, is being disingenuous, if not outright dishonest.  
     Here’s the thing: the problem for Fitz, and for all Protestants, is that they agree with Catholics up to a point.  The point at which they diverge from Catholics, is the point where they turn to teachings based on their personal interpretations of Scripture, while Catholics turn to the teachings of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.
     We agree that we can know God exists.  We agree that Jesus is the Son of God - true God and true man.  We agree that He died and was resurrected.  We agree that Jesus founded a Church.  We agree that that Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.  We agree that the Bible has God as its primary author.  We agree that the Bible is inerrant.  
     But, we disagree on some of the particulars of what the inerrant Bible teaches us.  So, how do we come to a conclusion - a definitive conclusion - as to who is right and who is wrong when there is a disagreement about what the Bible teaches?  Steve Fitz - and the vast majority of Protestants - would say we are to rely on our own fallible individual interpretation of this or that passage of Scripture to decide the question.  Yet, that is a nonsensical solution!  Why?  Because the dispute is over what I believe the Bible says (my interpretation of the Bible) vs. what you believe the Bible says (your interpretation of the Bible).  So, the Protestant Sola Scriptura Steve Fitz Private Interpretation of the Bible solution results in going ‘round and ‘round in circles with no way of coming to a definitive, authoritative conclusion.
     However, what does the Bible say?  Well, the Bible - that we both believe to be the inerrant Word of God - tells us to take our disagreements to the Church (Matt 18:15-18).  It even gives us an example of this: When there was a disagreement between Paul and the Judaizers as to whether or not Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and keep kosher and other such things, what did they do?  Did they consult the Bible?  No!  They took it to the Church.  They called a council of the Church to decide the issue.  Who guided this first council of the Church?  The Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28).  Which means, this first council of the Church settled this dispute authoritatively and infallibly!
     So, does being fallible necessarily mean one cannot know anything with certainty?  Absolutely not!  

Steve Fitz
John why were the Bereans of more noble character then the Thessalonians according to ACTS 17:11? The verse states "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." They did not blinding accept something being taught to them, they examined the scriptures to see what Paul was teaching. Very different then Catholics who blindly believe whatever they are told by your church. Could it be that this is exactly what the Catholic Church wants from you? For you to be reliant on them to get the truth thus being dependant on "fallible men"?


John Martignoni
     First of all, notice how what he says here has absolutely nothing to do with the question I asked him.  I ask him about his being fallible, and he comes at me with the Bereans.  
     Secondly, how anyone could expect to be taken seriously after saying something like this about the Catholic Church is beyond me.  His incredible ignorance of Catholics and of Catholic teaching - for one who claims to know all about the Catholic Church (after all, he was Catholic until he was 15) - is mind boggling.  The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, asked for blind faith from its members.  If so, why did it start so many universities?  Was that to keep its members wallowing in their ignorance?  
     Now, regarding the Bereans in Acts 17, I always find it fascinating when someone uses them as an argument for Sola Scriptura, when they are actually an argument against Sola Scriptura.  
     Mr. Fitz implies that the example of the Bereans proves Sola Scriptura, because the Bereans were examining Scripture to see if what Paul was saying was true.  First problem with Mr. Fitz’s conclusion: Nowhere does this verse say the Bereans went by the Bible alone. In fact, it is well known that Jews, whether in Berea or elsewhere, did not go by the Bible alone...they did not practice Sola Scriptura...they believed in authoritative Scripture and authoritative tradition.  Which means Jesus, being a good Jew, didn’t believe in Sola Scriptura.   
     What was going on here with the Bereans in Acts 17 was this: Paul was preaching to them about Jesus being the Messiah. And Paul, in his preaching, would quote Scripture verses - from the Old Testament - that he would say pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.  Paul would say something along the lines of, “It has been testified somewhere...” and the Bereans would then simply open up their Scriptures to verify what Paul was saying.  They were not searching the Scriptures to settle doctrinal disputes, they were searching the Scriptures to see if what Paul told them was actually in the Scriptures! In other words, they apparently didn’t know their Scriptures very well.
     Besides, if this verse is a “proof” of Sola Scriptura then you have a little bit of a problem in that the Bereans were Jews, and the only scriptures they had were the Old Testament scriptures.  So, if Acts 17:11 “proves” Sola Scriptura, then it would be proving Sola Old Testament Scriptura.  
     Furthermore, the fact that the Bereans obviously did not understand the true meaning of the Scriptures until Paul explained it to them, actually works against the Sola Scriptura position.  As we’ve discussed here, the belief in Sola Scriptura relies heavily on individual interpretation of Scripture.  That each individual, guided by the Holy Spirit, has the ability to read the Bible for themselves - without answering to any outside authority - in order to come to a correct understanding of the truths necessary for salvation.  
     Yet, the example of the Bereans shows us that this obviously isn’t the case.  The Bereans needed Paul to explain the Scriptures to them.  The Bereans, left alone with the Scriptures - me and my Bible - obviously had not come to a correct understanding of the truths necessary for salvation.  They needed a guide, Paul, to correctly interpret Scripture for them.  Which means the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, with its corollary of individual interpretation of Scripture, obviously is not supported by this passage from Acts 17 about the Bereans.  The Bereans needed a guide - an infallible guide - to properly interpret Scripture.


Closing Comments

Okay, my responses went a bit longer than I had originally intended, so I'll stop here and hopefully finish up with my response next week and then we'll move on from Mr. Fitz.

I hope all of you have a great week!



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Apologetics for the Masses