Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray and Hunter Street Baptist Church

Bible Christian Society

                                                             AN OPEN LETTER TO:

                                                             PASTOR BUDDY GRAY

                                                                     BRADY TARR

                                                                         AND THE

                                      MEMBERS OF HUNTER STREET BAPTIST CHURCH


Dear Pastor Gray (and members of Hunter Street Baptist Church):

       Greetings in Christ!  

        I am writing to you to introduce myself and to make you a proposition.  I am the President of the Bible Christian Society - a world-wide Catholic ministry engaged in evangelization and apologetics.  A few months ago I attended a presentation at Hunter Street that was made by one of your ministers, Brady Tarr.  The title of the presentation was: “How to Evangelize Catholics.” This was the last presentation in a several week lecture series Brady did on the Catholic Church.

        I was alerted to this presentation by a few different Catholics - independently of each other - who are married to members of your church.  They had attended previous lectures in the series and were quite upset about the lack of accuracy in the information being disseminated about the Catholic Church, so they contacted me to ask me to look into it, which is why I attended that last presentation of the series.

       After listening to Brady’s talk, I approached him and introduced myself.  I let him know that I appreciated the tone and the spirit in which he made his presentation; however, I also let him know that he had materially misrepresented several aspects of Catholic belief and practice.  He was open to hearing what I had to say and we had a very congenial and informative conversation.  

       Which leads me to the proposition I wish to make to you.  At the end of my conversation with Brady, I asked him if he would be interested in having another conversation along those same lines, but this time open to the public.  He said he would be very interested in doing so, and a few of the people who were still there listening to our conversation said they also would be very interested in attending such a public dialogue.

       Brady stated, though, that he would need your approval, as the Senior Pastor, in order to engage in such an event.  Which is why I am writing to you, to seek your permission to have this public dialogue.  The purpose of the dialogue would be for people of each faith tradition - Baptist and Catholic - to better learn and understand what the other believes and why they believe it.

       I often tell people that they have every right to disagree with what the Catholic Church teaches; however, they need to disagree with what the Catholic Church actually teaches and not with what some people mistakenly believe the Catholic teaches.  There are any number of misperceptions, misunderstandings, half-truths, and such that people often wrongly present as authentic Catholic teaching.  Which is exactly what Brady did.  On several major points of Catholic teaching - salvation, the Bible, Mary, and the Eucharist, to name a few - he simply got it wrong.

       I wish to make clear, though, that I am not saying he did so out of any kind of malicious intent or that he was deliberately presenting error about the Catholic Church.  I do not believe such a thing, which is why I told him that I appreciated the tone and spirit of his presentation.  Brady is genuinely concerned about the salvation of the souls of Catholics, and I greatly appreciate that.  Would that all Christians had the same attitude about the salvation of souls.  

       Here’s the thing, though, if Catholic teaching was what Brady presented it to be, I, too, would have a great many problems and disagreements with it.  But authentic Catholic teaching is not what he presented.  What Brady did is analogous to having Nancy Pelosi teach a class on the Republican Party.  Do you think you would get an accurate picture of the Republican Party in such a class?  Not a chance.  Even though she would use all the right terms, and quote members of the Republican party and party documents, you would still end up with a skewed version of what Republicans believe and why.  Just so the members of your church left Brady’s presentations with a skewed version of what the Catholic Church teaches and why.  

       Which is why I am proposing this public dialogue.  A good number of Baptists left Brady’s presentations with ideas about the Catholic Church and its teachings that are simply not true.  In other words, a member of your ministerial staff materially misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church to a sizeable number of your church membership.  I cannot imagine that Brady, nor you, as Christians, could be genuinely comfortable with that.  "Bearing false witness," even when inadvertent, should be corrected whenever possible.

       In a public dialogue such as the one I proposed to Brady, and now to you, both Brady and I would be able to explain our individual church’s beliefs, ask questions of each other so as to clear up any misunderstandings, and open up the dialogue for questions from the audience.  You would hear Baptist teaching explained by a Baptist, and Catholic teaching explained by a Catholic.  From the Catholic perspective, I can tell you that we would probably have several hundred Catholics who would be willing to attend such an event.

       Again, the purpose would be to better know and understand each other’s beliefs.  It would be conducted in the same manner as Brady and I conducted our conversation - friendly, mature, and Christian - with a genuine interest in learning what the other believes.  We could have it at Hunter Street, or a Catholic Church, or some other venue - maybe the theater at Samford University, for example.

       Baptists and Catholics have a lot in common theologically - although we do have some serious disagreements - and we have issues of common interest that we often work together on: abortion, same-sex “marriage,” religious liberty, and more.  Given that, it behooves us to get to know one another better and I believe this type of event would provide a wonderful forum for doing just that.  I hope you will agree.

       I look forward to hearing from you...


In Christ,


John S. Martignoni
Bible Christian Society

Apologetics for the Masses