Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #41

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Well, it has almost seemed as if the internet gods did not want this newsletter to go out. Last week I was rushing to get this done before leaving town for a long family weekend on Thursday. I got it done, after making my wife and kids wait an hour longer than I had told them it would take, and just as I went to save it, my internet connection hiccuped and the whole thing disappeared into the ethernet. I still had the actual correspondence that was featured in the newsletter, but it would have taken another couple of hours to put all the coding back in (now I know to save as I go). So, I just said, “It will have to wait ’til next week.”

Then, this week, I was wanting to send it out since Wednesday, but my internet provider had a major crash on Wednesday (in my area only) and it just came back up about an hour ago.

Anyway, the last newsletter, with my comments about folks who trash the Novus Ordo Mass, resulted in a few emails. So, I would like to take this opportunity to clear up something. In that newsletter, I spoke of those who say “the Novus Ordo Mass [is] not valid, that the Pope [isn’t] really the Pope, that Vatican Council II wasn’t a real council, and a bunch of other stuff along those lines.” And then I made some comments about the Novus Ordo Mass being free from doctrinal error.

Two things: 1) I want to make clear that those comments were directed primarily at folks who would commonly be called schismatics, not folks who would commonly be referred to as “Traditionalists.” Schismatics are those who have broken from the one true Church of Christ, whether they admit it or not. Traditionalists, however, are Catholics in good standing with the Church. Most folks I know who are Traditionalists, do not say there is currently no valid Pope, or that Vatican II was a false council, or that the Novus Ordo Mass contains doctrinal error, as do most schismatics that I have come across.

These folks who call themselves Traditionalists, simply prefer the Tridentine Mass to the Novus Ordo Mass. They believe that the Novus Ordo Mass has some problems with it, not doctrinal errors per se, but flaws that lead to doctrinal confusion. They simply believe the Novus Ordo is bad liturgy. That does not affect their standing within the Church.

2) I am not saying that the Novus Ordo Mass is perfect and cannot be improved upon. However, I am not an expert in the field of liturgy, and will not venture any more deeply into that subject. What I am saying, is that there are no doctrinal errors in the Mass. There may be bad liturgy…again, I am not saying yea or nay to that…there may be things that lead to doctrinal confusion…I am not saying yea or nay to that…I am simply saying that it is free from doctrinal error. Nothing more.


Still no word from Matt Johnson. It must take longer to answer yes-no questions than I thought.

So, not having heard from him for about four weeks now, I’ve decided to move on to the next guy on the list who is champing at the bit to get some airtime. I will return to Matt should he decide to finally respond to my questions.

This new gentleman’s name is Raymond Woodward. He first contacted me several months ago in regard to one of the newsletters where I featured a Protestant minister named Todd Tomasella (Issues #16-#18). He has sent me several emails in the last few months, which I am now in a position to respond to.

Below are two of his emails, and my responses following each. These are really just a little background, because the big email, with his main arguments, will be featured in next week’s newsletter, along with my response to it. His emails are in italics.



I’ve not been following your newsletter long enough to know the full context of your discussion w/ the Protestant fellow named Todd. For the record, I am protestant, but note that that adjective is not capitalized because I regard that as distantly subordinate to being a follower of Christ of the Bible. (I can’t seem to get over the fact that the Body of Christ started under the singular headship of Jesus of Nazareth and will eventually culminate there.)

That aside, I think that you and Todd are arguing past each other, unless I missed something in an earlier edition.

The Biblical “protestant” view is that salvation is the singular point-in-time event that BEGINS the process of sanctification — ,becoming holy, being made into the image of Christ, good works according to God’s definition of “good”, however you want to express it — and that the singular threshold condition for that is faith, which is itself, a gift of God.

If Roman Catholicism teaches that salvation is a protracted process dependent upon the accumulation of a certain number of good works plus faith, then there really is substantive disagreement.

Beyond salvation, real saving faith will ALWAYS be evidenced by “the good works that The Lord has prepared for us in advance”. You’ve heard the old protestant cliche’ — no fruits means no roots.

The chicken and the egg really are easily separated here.

I certainly agree w/ you that anyone bereft of ‘good works’ is probably not saved. Christ put it clearly when He said, “…by their works you will know them…”. James pounds home the point w/ brutal clarity. But scripture also makes it abundantly clear that God, alone, knows the heart of a man, and that even His best followers stumbled miserably at times.

If Todd represented it differently, then I think there are two likely possibilites: 1) it just didn’t come across clearly, or 2) he’s peddling some sort of cheap grace that’s been humanized for our convenience. I prefer to believe that it’s the former.

PS - thanks for your newsletter, even though I am a pedigreed “protestant”




If you can’t get over the fact that the Body of Christ started under the singular headship of Jesus of Nazareth, then why are you a “protestant,” even if that is “distantly subordinate” to being a follower of Christ? Are you not aware that Martin Luther is the father of Protestantism? And, that he was originally a priest in the Catholic Church before breaking off to found Protestantism? Which means that Protestantism was not founded by Jesus Christ – it was founded by a man, or group of men, who took it upon themselves to break away from the (even at that time) centuries-old Catholic Church. Now, you may not admit that the Catholic Church is THE Church founded by Jesus Christ, but you have to admit that since Protestantism is a break-away from the Catholic Church, that there is absolutely no way it was founded by Jesus Christ. You claim to be a follower of Christ, yet you seem to have no problem with the fact that your church has Martin Luther, a former Catholic priest, as its founder…not Jesus Christ. That seems to be a not very well thought out position.

Regarding salvation, please give me the “Biblical ‘protestant’” verses that state salvation is the “singular point-in-time event that BEGINS the process of sanctification?” That supposedly “Biblical ‘protestant’” view actually flies in the face of scripture. In other words, you’re saying that a man can be saved, even if he isn’t sanctified…even if he isn’t holy. An unholy man can be saved and make it to Heaven? In Hebrews 12:14, the Bible very clearly states the exact opposite of what you believe. That verse states: “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” The Bible states that one must be holy to see the Lord. Raymond Woodward states that one does not have to be holy to see the Lord. Which should I believe…the Bible, or Raymond Woodward?

The Catholic Church, just like the Bible, teaches that salvation is a process. Paul says in some letters that we “were” saved. In other letters he states that we are being saved (which, in and of itself denotes a process), and, in other letters he says that we will be saved. We were saved, we are being saved, we will be saved…past, present, and future…a process. Catholics believe that the process of our salvation begins with Baptism…as 1 Peter 3:21 says, "Baptism, which corresponds to this [Noah and his family being saved “through water”], now saves you." Faith and good works are both part of the process. So, yes, there is substantive disagreement between the Catholic and the supposedly “Biblical ‘protestant’” view on salvation..

Regarding good works “ALWAYS” being the evidence of “real saving faith,” again, you make a bold claim that is not supported by Scripture. Please give me the Scripture verses that state “real saving faith will ALWAYS be evidenced” by good works? The “old protestant cliche” of “no fruits means no roots” is indeed old…about 500 years old. For it to be a truly Christian cliche, however, it would need to be how old? Let me ask you this, if a person is a branch of the vine which is Christ, are they saved? In John 15:5, Jesus states that He is the vine, and “you” [His followers] are the branches. Are the branches saved or not according to “Biblical ‘protestant’” theology? Yes or no? In other words, do the branches have “real saving faith?” Yes or no?

Regarding your statement that God alone knows the heart of man and that even His best followers stumbled miserably at times, I am in complete agreement (with one exception). However, your other statement in that same paragraph, contradicts an earlier statement of yours. You say that you “certainly agree” that anyone “bereft of good works” is probably not saved. But, you earlier stated that salvation is the event the BEGINS the process of sanctification…that it comes before any good works. So, by your “Biblical ‘protestant’” view, everyone who is saved is by definition bereft of good works. They are saved before they do a single good work, according to your theology. But, then, you state that they are probably not saved if they are bereft of good works. So, your position is that salvation comes before good works and has nothing to do with good works, but that you probably aren’t saved if you don’t have good works. Again, I believe this is a not very well thought out position.

God bless!




Your response to Todd’s reply is deeply disappointing. I don’t doubt that your response and analysis is completely sincere, but that says precisely nothing about being right.

He flatly, unambiguously replied to your question w/ flat, unambiguous scripture, then you blithely declared that no one has EVER answered your incisive question(s). You seemed to flatly ignore his citation of Ephesians 2:8 and following.

I defy you to honestly study that scripture and then tell who-knows how many of your readers that no Protestant ever answered this issue Biblically. Far more importantly, The Lord, Himself holds me and you and all others who purport to be teachers to a much higher standard of judgement - James 3:1.

While you’re in James, you should also ponder James 4:11-12, particularly v.12. What does that say about your traditions, catechisms, pontifical declarations of whaever sort? Can you really answer me?? Do you have the courage to try?? Do you even understand, or are you precisely the sort of whom Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2, especially v.14?

Your handling of this issue utterly wreaks of intellectual dishonesty, if not cowardice, and proof-texting is the most obvious ways. You’re not even sneaky or clever about it!! I had been delighted to find, I thought, a genuinely undiluted Bible-believer who just happened to be Roman Catholic. Evidently I was wrong, and there is no benefit to any true child of God in reading the thoughts of one who so glibbly ignores Holy Scripture. That’s real Holy Scripture, not some institutional tradition, however old it might be.

I will pray that God Almighty (NOT some flesh-and-blood church bigshot) will send His Holy Spirit to lead you, love you, and guide you. But I sure can’t believe what you write anymore. Very disappointing.



Dear Raymond,

With all due respect, Todd has not answered a single one of my questions. Yes, he has thrown Eph 2:8-9 out as a response to my email, but that is not an answer to a single one of the questions that I asked him. I will list those questions again here, for your sake, so that you can see quite readily that he has not answered a single one of my questions.

1) Can you give me one verse of Scripture that states we are justified (or saved) by “faith alone”?

2) If a man does not care for his family, does that affect his salvation? (Yes or no?)

3) If I can show you a verse in Scripture that states we are “not justified by faith alone,” will you renounce your belief in that false dogma? (Yes or no?)

4) Can we be saved if we go against God’s will and do not walk in the good works that God has prepared for us beforehand? (Yes or no?)

5) If you have faith, but have not works, can your faith save you? (Yes or no?)

6) In Romans 2:6-10, it states that God will give or deny eternal life to every man according to his works. Do you believe that? (Yes or no?)

Please tell me where Todd has answered a single one of these questions. Let’s see if Eph 2:8-9 answers questions #1. Eph 2:8-9 reads as follows: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, is it the gift of God – not because of works, lets any man should boast.”

Please tell me where the phrase “faith alone” appears in this passage? Plus, if you take this to mean that all we have to do is have faith, and works play no role in our salvation whatsoever, then you have a problem with verse 10 (not to mention that you have a problem with a whole bunch of other verses as well): “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we SHOULD walk in them.” See question #4 above, if we don’t walk in the good works that God has prepared for us beforehand, can we be saved? Yes…or no? Very simple question. You guys get tunnel version on one verse and you seem to make it kind of trump all the other verses in Scripture. Instead of taking all the verses in context, you just ignore all these other verses that say the exact opposite of what you believe.

Also, can you give consistent answers to the other questions above…I don’t think you can. You challenged me to respond…I have done so. Now I’m challenging you to respond…answer these questions for me. Give me one verse that has the phrase saved or justified by “faith alone” in it, and then answer the other questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” I don’t think you can do it.

In regards to what James 4:11-12 says about my “traditions, catechisms, [and] pontifical declarations,” it says nothing at all about them. But, it says something about you…you are speaking evil against me, I have spoken evil against no one, and have judged no one. You have called me intellectually dishonest and cowardly…I made no such statement regarding Todd, or anyone else. (Maybe you should check out Matt 7:1-5, too.) All I said is that he either will not, or cannot, answer my questions. And, I’ll bet you cannot, or will not, answer them either.

Would you like to try? This is all I need: 1 verse, just one, that says we are saved (or justified) by “faith alone.” (I have one, from the Bible that says we are justified by works and NOT by “faith alone” but for some reason that one doesn’t seem to count with you “faith alone” folks); plus I need 5 yes or no answers to the other questions. You will not answer them, though. You can’t answer them, and be consistent. But please do try.

And, while you’re at it, why don’t you take a shot at the other questions I asked Todd in the last newsletter. They are as follows:

1) Do we need to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood in order to have eternal life? (Yes or no?)

2) Do we need to labor for the food which endures to eternal life? (Yes or no?)

3) Do we need to keep the commandments in order to have eternal life? (Yes or no?)

4) Do we need love in order to be saved? (Yes or no?)

These should take you all of 10 seconds to answer. I’ll be looking forward to your response.

God bless!

John Martignoni

P.S. I’m not trying to be sneaky or clever…I just want someone to answer my questions, that’s all.

In Conclusion

Please let folks know about us…www.biblechristiansociety.com. Along with this newsletter, we’ve got free mp3 downloads, CDs, and cassette tapes. Three more talks will be added in the near future (probably 2-3 weeks if all goes as planned.) They are: “Infant Baptism and Original Sin,” “Was Hitler Right,” (an audio version of 2 of my previous newsletters), and “Baptist Minister Becomes Catholic Priest,” the first non-John talk we’re offering. It’s the conversion story of my parish priest…Fr. Gray Bean.

How to be added to, or removed from, the list

If this newsletter was forwarded to you by a friend, and you would like to be added to our distribution list, all you have to do is go to www.biblechristiansociety.com and click on the “Newsletter” page to sign up. It will take you about 10 seconds.


Apologetics for the Masses