Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray and Hunter Street Baptist Church (cont'd)

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Follow Up on the Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray and Hunter Street Baptist Church


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     Two weeks ago in this e-newsletter, I published an Open Letter to Senior Pastor Buddy Gray, Minister of Membership Brady Tarr, and the members of Hunter Street Baptist church.  The purpose of the letter was to request a public dialogue between Minister Brady Tarr and me on Baptist and Catholic beliefs, in order to clear up misrepresentations about the Catholic Faith that were put forth in a series of lectures that Minister Tarr held at his church, and also to generally allow Catholics to hear about the Baptist faith from the Baptist perspective and for Baptists to hear about the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective. 

     This newsletter is to let you know what has happened since that Open Letter was published.  Below are a series of Facebook posts.  They are from my page: John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society.  If you are not a member of that page, I invite you to join.  It's all about apologetics.  Anyway, these posts will bring you up to date on what has transpired in the last couple of weeks, and also give you more information about the misrepresentations that Minister Tarr made in regard to the Catholic Church during his lecture series. 


Regarding the Open Letter to Hunter Street Baptist Church

An update on my Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray and Hunter Street Baptist Church

     A number of you have been asking if I have received a response from Pastor Buddy Gray at Hunter Street Baptist Church in reply to my Open Letter to him to have a public dialogue between Baptists and Catholics - which I wrote in response to one of his ministers having put on several seminars about the Catholic Church - seminars in which Catholic teaching was materially represented any number of times.

     I have not been answering your inquiries, though, because I knew the Open Letter was still being forwarded to members of Hunter Street Baptist and I wanted to let the pressure build before I made another public statement. Well, apparently the pressure has been building because Brady Tarr, the minister from Hunter Street who put on those seminars has been trying to get onto this Facebook page in order to respond to my letter.

     When I did not allow him access, he started sending messages to all of the page administrators/moderators and, apparently, to everyone on the page who had commented on my post with the Open Letter.

     So, in my next post I am going to post what Minister Tarr wrote to folks associated with this page. I will respond to that and then I will post what he wrote to me a few days ago in response to my Open Letter, and then also respond to that.



Here is what Minister Brady Tarr, of Hunter Street Baptist church wrote to a number of folks associated with the John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society page.

“Interested in your response.
On August 29th, I replied to John Martignoni’s personal email that he had sent me with a link to his open letter. My response is below. He didn’t respond to my response, and so today I decided to post my response to him on his Facebook page to make sure that he got it and to let everyone know my response. He denied me access to post my response on his page. In light of his comments on Facebook some of which are after he has received my response, it seems to me to be disingenuous for him to act like and lead his readers to think I have not responded to his open letter when I did 12 days ago. Therefore, I wanted to send you my response to his open inquiry.”


This is my response:

     I find it incredibly ironic that he is complaining about me denying him access to my Facebook page, and accusing me of giving my readers a false impression of what he has said and done, when he and his Senior Pastor have given hundreds, if not thousands, in their church a false impression of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church; yet, they refuse to engage in an open and public dialogue to allow a Catholic the chance to correct the errors that they have taught about the Catholic Church to the members of their church.

     I, with purposeful intent, denied him access to my Facebook page, because he and Senior Pastor Buddy Gray have denied my request for a public dialogue about Catholic/Baptist teaching. They are more than willing to talk about the Catholic Church behind the closed doors of their church, but, apparently, they are not willing to do so out in the public square. So, if they are not willing to let me respond to the accusations they have made in their church, about the Catholic Church, then I feel no compunction to let him respond to anything I have written behind the "closed doors" of my Facebook page.

     Having said that, though, I will go ahead and print the response to my Open Letter that he sent to me because I have nothing to hide and I am more than willing to publish anything and everything Minister Tarr, or Senior Pastor Gray, have to say about the Catholic Church.

     My next post will be his response to my Open Letter, and my response to that.



Minister Brady Tarr’s response to my Open Letter to Senior Pastor Buddy Gray


     Thank you for the email letting me know about your open letter. I want to remind you that I answered your invitation “no”, the same one you recently posed in the open letter, ten months ago when we met for lunch. Also, at that meeting, we both agreed that it would be productive and good to continue to meet with each other to discuss each of my PowerPoint presentations. Since then, I have emailed you on a couple of occasions hoping to continue our friendly discussion as we agreed, but have been disappointed that you were unwilling to do so since you didn’t respond to any of my emails.

     I am still happy to meet with you if you are willing to do so. When we met for lunch and in your open letter, you accused me of misrepresenting Catholic doctrine. I would be interested to see what you understand to be misrepresentations, as we work through the PowerPoints from my classes. I am especially interested to see any misrepresentations, since the quotes I used were from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the authoritative Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church when I referenced Catholic doctrine. I am always open for correction if I have said something contrary to what the 66 books of the Bible teach. I understand if you don’t want to meet, but that is the only way that I am willing to continue a discussion with you.

     John, I wanted to respond to your email you sent me a few days ago with the open letter you posted since I am the one who taught the class and met with you. I plan to send this response that I am sending you to anyone who asks us if we are going to take you up on your invitation to have a public dialogue. I trust that this response will help people understand what has taken place since we first met ten months ago.


My Response
     I met with Minister Tarr for lunch a few weeks after the last of his presentations on the Catholic Church - the last presentation was titled: “How to Evangelize Catholics.”

     At the beginning of the lunch, he gave me Senior Pastor Buddy Gray’s response to the letter that I had written him privately (which was the same as the Open Letter). The answer was, “No,” he was not interested in having a public dialogue between Catholics and Baptists. I expressed my disappointment with that response to Minister Tarr and that they were willing to talk about Catholics behind the doors of their church, but not out in public.

     Minister Tarr proposed that instead of a public dialogue, he and I meet privately to discuss his presentations. I said that I was “open” to doing so, but made no commitment to do so, and certainly did not give the impression that I was accepting that as an acceptable alternative to public dialogue. And certainly never said that I thought it would be “productive and good” to do so. I’ve engaged in too many such conversations over the last 25 years with Protestants to think they would be “productive.”

     By the end of the lunch, however, it was clear to me that further dialogue with Brady would, for the most part, be a waste of time. He is, as he says in his response above, “ for correction if I have said something contrary to what the 66 books of the Bible teach.” Translation: He is “ to correction if he has said something contrary to his personal fallible interpretation of what the Bible teaches.”

     My assessment of the usefulness of further private dialogue was confirmed when, within about a week or so of our lunch, he sent me some 120-130 pages of excerpts of entire chapters from books, a paper he had done in seminary, and other materials he had put together, which he apparently expected me to read in order to continue our dialogue. I don’t think so. Not my idea of a dialogue. Although, in retrospect, I suppose I should have reciprocated and just sent him a copy of the Catechism and said, “There, this proves I’m right," which was, essentially, what he was doing.

     Because Minister Tarr and Senior Pastor Gray are not willing to say in public about the Catholic Church what they are more than willing to say behind closed doors about the Catholic Church, I chose to take my letter to Pastor Gray public and make it an Open Letter not just to him, but to all the members of his church so that they could know exactly what was taking place.

     And it has resulted in Brady at least saying that he is open to having his misrepresentations of the Catholic Church corrected - that is the first time he has said such a thing to me. So, given this newfound openness, this will be my challenge to Brady:

     I know that there is an email list which contains the names of all the people who attended your Catholic seminars. Are you willing to have a dialogue, via email, that you will send out to the people on your email distribution list, and I, for my part, will send it out to the 40,000 subscribers to my email newsletter? This is not to take the place of the public dialogue I have proposed to Senior Pastor Buddy Gray - I am still going to push for that - but it would at least be a step in the right direction.

     If you are willing to do so, I will be happy to let you choose the 1st topic for discussion.

     What say ye?



One Further Post - Misrepresentations that Were Included in Minister Tarr’s Lectures About the Catholic Church

     Okay, to follow up on the Hunter Street Baptist Affair - several people have asked me for details as to exactly how Minister of Membership Brady Tarr misrepresented Catholic teaching in the seminars he did on the Catholic Church. So, I will give several examples here (this will be a little lengthy, so bear with me):

     First, he followed basically the same formula in each of his seminars. He would begin by mentioning a particular Catholic topic (e.g., penance, indulgences, Purgatory, the Eucharist, Mary, etc.), then he would cherry pick quotes about this topic from either the Council of Trent, or the Catechism, or both - with little comments from him mixed in - and then he would close with a section titled: "What Does the Bible Say About...," and he would proceed to give Bible quotes that "proved" the Catholic teaching was contrary to the Word of God.

     So, in general, he misrepresented every Catholic teaching he discussed as being contrary to the Bible, when actually not a single Catholic teaching, properly understood, is contrary to the Bible, properly understood.

     What Minister Tarr was doing, in fact, was not comparing Catholic teaching to what the Bible says, he was comparing it to what Minister Brady Tarr interpreted the Bible to say. Yes, Catholic teaching is contrary to Minister Tarr's fallible, error-ridden, interpretation of the Bible, I agree. However, Catholic teaching is not contrary to what the Bible actually says. Contrary to the Word of Tarr, not contrary to the Word of God.

     In addition to the error of comparing Catholic teaching to faulty Bible interpretations, Minister Tarr was indeed misrepresenting what the Catholic Church actually teaches in many instances. Yes, he would quote from Trent or the Catechism, but then he would put his own little spin on those quotes. Here are some examples of what he said about Catholic teaching, and these are direct quotes from the copies of his Powerpoint presentations:

     1) Brady Tarr: "[According to the Council of Trent] Faith alone in Jesus is not sufficient preparation for receiving the [Eucharist]."

Trent does indeed say this very thing; however, Minister Tarr doesn't give you the full context. He is trying to make it seem that Catholics give short shrift to faith in Christ. Yet, what he fails to mention is why canon 11 on the Eucharist says such a thing. It's because earlier in the article on the Eucharist, 1 Cor 11 is cited by the Council - where Paul says anyone who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment on himself. So, canon 11 says that faith alone is not enough, because one must be without mortal sin. One must approach the Eucharist with reverence and holiness. So, does Minister Tarr believe Paul was wrong in 1 Cor 11? Does he believe it is okay to approach the Lord's table in an unworthy manner, as long as you have faith in Jesus? Apparently so.

     2) Brady Tarr: "The idea that Christ is called down from heaven, made into bread, and then sacrificed as a victim again as the same sacrifice contradicts the plain position of Scripture that Jesus suffered once for sins." How many Catholics reading this believe this is anywhere close to what the Church teaches?

     3) Brady Tarr: "Jesus' work was not incomplete after he rose from the dead. It was finished then and it is finished now." Implying, of course, that Catholics teach Jesus' work is incomplete.

     4) Brady Tarr: "Rome, by claiming Mary is the mediatrix of all graces, ends up giving her divine attributes which only God has..."

     5) Brady Tarr: "Mary worship." How many of you guys worship Mary?

     6) Brady Tarr: "The act of baptism makes you a new creature and gives you full and complete forgiveness (without faith and repentance)." Yes, that's why so many people just walk into the Church to be baptized, because they don't have faith - they just wanted to get their hair wet.

     7) Brady Tarr: "Taking the Eucharist for the dead, praying for the dead, giving alms for the dead, and other good works of piety for the dead are considered doing penance to help the dead." "Taking the Eucharist for the dead?" Anyone ever heard of that?

     8) Brady Tarr: "Those who do penance are pardoned for their sin." That's right...Jesus' death on the Cross had nothing to do with it. That's what we believe, isn't it?

     9) Brady Tarr: "But another purpose mentioned repeatedly in Catholic literature is that of paying or atoning for one's sins."

We do not atone for our sins...Jesus did that. CCC #1992 - "Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men." We offer reparation, not atonement, for our sins.

     10) Brady Tarr: "[According to Catholic teaching] The only penance that God validates depends on the labors/works of men." Indeed! The merits and grace and sacrifice of Christ have nothing to do with it in Catholic theology...oh, wait a minute...

     11) Brady Tarr: "The Catholic practice of 'penance' is unbiblical & contrary to Scripture because it focuses on man's works in order to be forgiven, not the blood of Jesus and the work he accomplishes for Christians."

     12) Brady Tarr: "The Bible says a person is justified by faith not works." Implying, of course, that Catholics teach one is justified by their works, and not by faith.

     13) Brady Tarr: "Good works are required in order to obtain the grace of justification."

And he then quotes from Canon 9 of the article on Justification from Trent...which, by the way, says nothing at all about good works. Plus, he also leaves out any mention of Canon 1 from that same article on Justification which states: "If any one shall say, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the strength of human nature, or through the teaching of the law, without the divine grace through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema."

     14) Brady Tarr: "The Catholic Church is saying that the punishment that Jesus paid on the cross for Christians was/is not sufficient and that his suffering was not enough to pay anyone's debt in full."

     15) Brady Tarr: "Because Catholicism is authoritarian, individual Catholics don't need to read the Bible to learn about God or doctrines, but instead, they simply must believe what the church tells them they must believe in order to be a 'good' Catholic."

     And that is by no means an exhaustive list of the errors put forth by Minister Brady Tarr.

     Finally, in addition to his error-ridden Bible interpretations, and his misrepresentation of Catholic teachings, his presentations were sprinkled with lines like these:

     "No Catholic who believes (as anyone who is a true Catholic must) the official and authoritative teachings of the ecumenical councils, the teachings of the Pope, the teachings of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of the magisterium, is a Christian because what they teach is a false gospel."

     "The Catholic Church teaches a false gospel where justification/the gospel is not dependent on faith alone, but also on works and sacraments and is therefore a false church."

     So, fellow Catholics, what say ye in regard to Minister Brady Tarr's understanding of Catholic teaching?


Closing Comments

     You will notice, that even though I denied Minister Tarr access to my Facebook page, I did, nevertheless, publish his response on my page.  That is because I am not afraid of publicly airing the words of anyone who disagrees with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  I am not afraid of a public dialogue between Baptist and Catholic.  I am not afraid of letting Catholics hear the arguments Baptists make contra Catholic teaching.  Apparently, though, the reverse cannot be said of Minister Tarr and Pastor Buddy Gray.  What do they have to fear?

     So, let's wait and see if Minister Tarr will at least take up my challenge to have an email dialogue that will be sent out to the couple hundred or so of his fellow Baptists who attended his lecture series, while I will send it out to the almost 40,000 Catholics who are subscribers to this newsletter.  I mean, that's a pretty fair offer, don't you think? 

     Have a great week!



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