Apologetics for the Masses #367 - Dialogue (Sort Of) With A Baptist Author.

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A Facebook "Dialogue" With Baptist Author Steve Christie



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General Comments

Hey folks,

     I hope all of you and your families are staying safe, and staying healthy.  Bizarre times in which we are living.  Hopefully this storm will pass in the next few weeks and we can all get back to some semblance of normality.  In the meantime, please keep all of the front line health professionals in your prayers, and their families, as well as all those who have lost their jobs, and all of those business owners who are being hurt by this viral craziness.  And please - all 40,000+ of you subscribed to this newsletter - pray for each other, and loved ones, as well!  Nothing like the power of prayer!

     And, finally, especially pray that we can get back to attending Mass as soon as possible!



     Okay, this week I am going to share with you a "dialogue" that I had on my Facebook page - John Martignoni and the Bible Christian Society - with Steve Christie, a Baptist (at least, I think he's a Baptist).  By the way, if you're not a member of that page, I invite you to look it over and consider joining.  If you ever have a question about the Catholic Faith, apologetics, how to reply to objections to the Catholic Faith, and so on...or just want to learn more about your faith...this page would be a good place for you.

     Anyway, on that page, I occasionally mix it up, so to speak, with non-Catholics who have issues with the Catholic Faith.  One of those folks was Steve Christie.  He wrote a book called, Why Protestant Bibles Are Smaller, which I assume is a play on the title of Gary Michuta's book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, and he fancies himself somewhat of a scholar in regard to the canon of the Bible - maybe even THE scholar on the canon of the Bible.  So, he and I got into it a bit, but, as you will see, he was rather unwilling to answer certain questions that I asked of him. 

     Which is what I wanted to focus on, the questions he would not answer, because you can use those same questions in pretty much any dialogue/debate you have with non-Catholic Christians.  And, I can guarantee you, that you will get essentially the same responses I got from Mr. Steve Christie.  By the way, the reason I put "dialogue" in quotes earlier, is because he never really gave direct answers to any of my questions.  The questions that he did respond to, he would talk around what I was saying and/or mischaracterize what I was saying, but he wouldn't just give a direct answer to what I was saying.  He would sort of just pronounce an answer in a manner similar to what I imagine the town crier in the Middle Ages would do as he made pronouncements from the king.  So, he wasn't so much talking to me, as he was talking at me. 

     Anyway, the conversation below might be a little disjointed in a place or two, as we were simultaneously discussing a few different topics in parallel threads, but I am just going to focus on one specific aspect of the conversation, so I'm pulling pieces of that specific part of the conversation out of posts where several different things were being talked about at the same time. But, I think it will be easy enough to follow.

     The first comments you will see below are from "Paul", one of the members of the Facebook page, who was also engaging with Mr. Christie.  I used his comments as my starting point for this part of the discussion.

      I hope you enjoy...




     Steve Christie, I’m afraid it’s your Fallible, Unauthoritative, Nonbinding opinion. [He was referring back to something Mr. Christie had said about some Scripture verse - and he was using Blue Collar Apologetics Strategy #4 in the process.]


Steve Christie

     Paul, how subjective. You realize I could say the exact same thing about you, which is why saying things like that are pointless.  Someone is always misunderstanding [Scripture]. But when someone simply says something like, that’s just your interpretation or your view, it’s a lazy way of not responding back to the other persons argument. This is why I never say, "Well that’s just your interpretation," because it doesn’t move the discussion forward and, to a point, even makes your or my argument weaker.


My Response

     No, saying things like what Paul said is not pointless, it is merely holding what you say up to the light of truth. You talk as if you are definitively and without a doubt correct in everything you say. There is no, "Well, it could possibly mean this, or possibly mean that," or "In my opinion it is saying such and such," or any similar thing. No acknowledgement whatsoever that all you give...all you ever give...is your opinion. You speak as if you have THE one and only authoritative and definitive answer and that we poor, ignorant Catholics are expected to simply bow to your superior intellect. Yet, there is absolutely no authority behind what you believe other than your own subjective, fallible, non-binding opinion. There is no church that backs you up. There is no authority that backs you up. And, no, you cannot say the same thing back to me.



     Okay, what's going on here?  Paul tells Steve Christie that something Steve said about some Bible verse - and pretty much everything Steve says about any Bible verse - is nothing more than Steve's fallible, non-binding, non-authoritative opinion/interpretation.  And how does Steve respond?  He responds exactly as Blue Collar Apologetics Strategy #4 ("That's My Interpretation") says he will respond.  Strategy #4 states that, in Protestant theology, the best any Protestant can do in any debate/argument of what this or that verse of the Bible means is their fallible, non-binding, non-authoritative, private opinion/interpretation vs. the other person's fallible, non-binding, non-authoritative, private opinion/interpretation. 

     It has to be that way because, in Protestantism, there is no authority that can definitively decide disputes over Scripture, as to what is or is not an authentic interpetation of Scripture.  So, when a Protestant says, for example, that a certain verse "proves" the dogma of Once Saved Always Saved, and another Protestant says it does not, there is no authority in Protestantism that can decide, in a binding manner, who is right and who is wrong.  They are, essentially, left with nothing more than one fallible person's opinion vs. the other fallible person's opinion. 

     The irony of Steve's response to Paul, is when he says, "Paul, how subjective."  Everything...and I mean EVERYTHING!...Steve says is subjective.  Every interpretation of Scripture he makes is subjective.  Every speculation he makes as to what Jesus, or the writers of Scripture, would do under certain conditions, is purely subjective.  It is all his private, fallible, opinion!  Yet, he wants to make everyone think he is being Mr. Objective in everything he says.  No, no subjectivity at all in anything he has to say.  Everything Mr. Steve Christie says is purely objective and absolutely 100% a correct understanding/interpretation of Scripture.  Yeah, right...

     The other ironic thing about Steve's response to Paul, is that he is basically admitting that Paul is right.  Oh, he will never admit it directly, mind you, but by saying that he "could say the same thing about [Paul]," he is indirectly admitting that what Paul said about him is true.  So, it is not, as Steve claims, merely a "lazy way of not responding to the other person's argument," it is, rather, establishing the underlying principles for the argument: 1) That the persons involved in the argument are fallible, and 2) That any purely private interpretation of Scripture coming from a fallible person is - by definition - fallible, non-binding, and non-authoritative.  Which applies to everything Steve says.  At some level of his psyche Steve knows this, but he simply cannot bring himself to admit it.  It's what I call being fallible in theory, infallible in practice.

     All of that is why I repeated, and emphasized even more, what Paul had said.  There is no authority behind anything Steve has to say when it comes to Scripture, to theology, to doctrine and/or dogma...none!  It is all merely his fallible opinion. 


Steve Christie

     John, [You said,] “[Steve,] you speak as if you have THE one and only authoritative and definitive answer and that we poor, ignorant Catholics are expected to simply bow to your superior intellect.”

     Except I have never even implied any of this. And why such the anger? Are you even taking into consideration that something I’m saying might be true, despite it disagreeing with Catholicism? Have you even tried to see if what I say to you is more in line with scripture than what Rome is saying? Or have you already made up your mind that Rome is right and I can’t be?


My Response

     1) Anger? Really?! I think you reading anger into what I said says more about you, than it does about me.

     2) I carefully consider everything you say. Why would you think otherwise? Oh, I know, you think I'm not considering what you say because I continually disagree with what you say, right? And the fact that I disagree with what you say must mean - it has to mean! - that I'm not considering it properly, because it is so brilliant, that anyone with half a brain would have to agree with it if properly considered, right?

     Look, I disagree with what you say because I have carefully considered it, and, having done so, have rejected your arguments. Also, you do not have the intellectual honesty to admit that everything you have said here, and ever will say in your entire life regarding biblical doctrine, is nothing more than your fallible, non-binding, non-authoritative, personal opinion. So, yes, THAT fact does cause me to have little to no respect for your arguments from the outset. But, I consider them anyway, and reject them after careful consideration. Not because the Church tells me to reject them, but because they are, at their root, pure conjecture; they are not systematic; there are holes all through your arguments; there are inconsistencies in them; and they disagree with Scripture. After all of that, they also disagree with the teaching of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, which simply confirms the conclusions that I have already arrived at.

     So, will you admit that you are doing nothing more than speculating in everything you have said here? [Referring to his Facebook posts]



     I'm not trying to argue the Bible passages with him, nor doctrine and dogma.  I am sticking to the underlying theme of: authority.  Does Steve Christie, or any Protestant minister, deacon, theologian, apologist, or lay person, have the authority to: a) authentically interpret Scripture, and b) claim that any other Christian - Protestant or Catholic - is bound to accept that interpretation as authentic?  The answer is a resounding, "NO!"  And that is true of every single Protestant you will ever engage with.

     And, again, what is he trying to get me to do?  He is trying to get me, as he himself says, to accept that what he says to me is "more in line with Scripture" than what "Rome is saying."  In other words, he is trying to get me to accept his personal interpretation of Scripture as opposed to accepting Scripture itself.  He is telling me what this or that verse of Scripture means, according to him, and he wants me to gamble the eternal salvation of my soul on his interpretation.  He wants me to buy into the Word of Steve.

     However, what he claims to be doing is just giving me the "plain meaning of Scripture."  No, he's not interpreting Scripture, he just understands what it says and he wants me to understand it to...in the exact same way he understands it.  This is what I focus on all the time.  Protestants are not asking Catholics to simply accept the Word of God as written, they are asking, nay demanding, that Catholics accept the Protestant interpretation of the Word of God.  In this case, I am being asked to accept the Word of Steve as opposed to the Word of God.  Always, always! remember that when you are in a discussion with a Protestant.  When they say, "The Bible says...," if they are not giving you an actual quote from Scripture, then what they are really saying is, "I say the Bible says..." 


Steve Christie

     John, you realize I could turn the question around & say the same thing about you ("Will you admit that you are doing nothing more than speculating in everything you have said?") It's a subjective accusation that anyone could ask anyone else who disagrees with them on a particular passage. So, unless you are willing to say your Catholic views on Scripture are subject to error, it is subjective to do the same to someone else, which is why Catholic apologists I have talked to don't use this line of questioning.


My Response

     Actually, no, you cannot turn it around on me. You know why? Because I am not giving you John Martignoni's speculation. I am giving you the teaching of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. Here's the very important thing you need to realize: In your theology, it is indeed your pathetic, non-authoritative, fallible, private speculation about what this or that verse of the Bible means vs. my pathetic, non-authoritative, fallible, private speculation about what this or that verse of the Bible means. Do you honestly believe that's how God left us to decide things? Matthew 18 tells us otherwise.

     However, in my theology, it is your pathetic, non-authoritative, fallible, private speculation about what something means vs. the infallible, authoritative teaching of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. So, again, sorry, but no, you cannot say the same thing to me, and no, I will not admit that all I am doing is speculating in everything I said above, as you apparently have admitted to doing. I am giving you Church teaching. You are giving me your private, fallible, speculation. And here's the sad part, you cannot do anything but that.

     Are you intellectually honest enough or not, to admit that everything you say here is nothing more than your fallible, private, non-binding, non-authoritative opinion or not? If you cannot admit that, if you cannot be that intellectually honest, then why should anyone believe you on anything you say?



     Again, Mr. Christie indirectly admits that what I am saying about his interpretations being fallible and nothing more than private speculation on his part, is true.  But he tries to deflect that by leveling the same charge against me.  So now I introduce Steve to the fact that in Catholic theology, as opposed to Protestant theology, there is an authority.  An infallible authority.  An authority that can be traced back to Jesus Christ Himself and to the Holy Spirit.  Also, that as long as I am in line with that teaching authority, then he cannot say I am simply giving my private fallible opinion or speculation.  And, again, I am challenging him to directly admit that he is fallible and that everything he says carries absolutely no authority and is in no way binding on anyone.  But, he simply cannot bring himself to do so.  Nonetheless, I will keep asking.


Steve Christie

     John, for someone whose forum rules state to attack the argument not the person, you sure break your own forum rules frequently by attacking the person. Again, I could write the exact same ad hominems and accusations of personal interpretation towards you, but it would be equally subjective and would not advance the discussion. And based on your replies I don’t know if rewording my intentions would do any good, since your replies demonstrate you are still misunderstanding what I wrote. For example, I don’t desire for people to believe in what “I” believe. That is what Rome does. Rather, after I write something, my desire is to compare what I write TO Scripture, meaning not compare it TO Rome. I am afraid you are doing the latter, which is why you believe I am wrong


My Response

     Sorry, but I have not attacked you. Quote the words that you consider an "ad hominem" attack against you. I have indeed asked you if you are intellectually honest or not, but that is a question, not an ad hominem attack. I am still waiting on an answer from you so that I can decide if you are or not.

     And, AGAIN, you cannot "write the exact same accusations of personal interpretation towards [me]." I am not trying to give you John Martignoni's teachings, I am giving you the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ that was founded 2000 years ago and which is guided by the Holy Spirit. You, however, are giving me what? The teachings of the Church founded by Jesus? You don't even "claim" that. You are giving me the Word of Steve - what you "think" this or that verse of Scripture means, nothing more.

     And, yes, you are trying to make me believe what you believe. Your own statement confirms that. You say that I believe you are wrong only because I am comparing what you say "TO Rome" as opposed to comparing it "TO Scripture." I have told you that I am comparing what you argue "TO Rome," but only AFTER I have compared what you have said "TO Sripture." ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?! I have compared what you write "TO Scripture" and I have found what you write to be inconsistent with Scripture. I have found your reasoning and your logic, such as it is, to be wanting. I have found it to be inconsistent. I have found holes - big holes - in your arguments.

     So, if you were trying to simply get me to compare what you wrote to Scripture, you would now cease your attempts to convert me because I have done what you said you wanted me to do, and have not been convinced by you. I have weighed your arguments, I have measured your arguments, and I have found your arguments wanting.

     But, you haven't ceased your attempts to convert me. Why not? Because you aren't trying to just get me to compare your arguments to Scripture, you are trying to get me to believe as YOU believe. You can't accept the fact that I believe you to be wrong, because you believe yourself to be infallible in your interpretation of Scripture. Oh, you won't say it quite that way, but you do indeed believe it. You believe you could not be mistaken, at all, ever! Ever!!! You believe your interpretation of Scripture is THE one and only correct interpretation of Scripture and I MUST accept it or I am automatically wrong! I call what you're doing being fallible in theory, infallible in practice.

     You will not accept my assessment of what you write, as compared to what Scripture actually says, so you keep coming back to try and convince me that what YOU believe is correct. That how YOU interpret Scripture is THE one and only correct way of interpreting Scripture. That what YOU say Jesus would have done if such and such were true is the absolute, definitive, no doubt about it, solemn, indisputable truth!!! You act as if you know the mind of God!!!

     How do you know what Jesus would have done, or what the Apostles would have done, if circumstances were different? HOW DO YOU KNOW?! Easy answer: you don't! The thing you base almost the entirety of your arguments on is your own speculation...pure and simple. How you are not fully cognizant of that fact is beyond me. But, actually, I believe you are fully cognizant of that fact, which is why you avoid answering my question over and over and over again, so as not to admit it for all to see.

     And the rest of your arguments, when not based on pure speculation, are based on your private, non-binding, non-authoritative, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Why can you not admit that? Is it me you are having trouble admitting that to, or is it yourself that you are having trouble admitting that to?!

     So, here's the thing, I will give you one more chance to answer the questions I asked in my previous post. If you do not, then, according to the rules of the page, you will be removed:

     1) What authority is behind your interpretations of Scripture? Can you give me one, just one, other than your own personal, non-authoritative, non-binding, fallible opinion? It's a very easy question to answer, Steve.

     2) Are you infallible in anything and everything you have written on this page? Yes or no? If, yes, why should I believe that to be so? Give me a witness that will corroborate your infallibility.

     3) If, no, then will you admit that anything, or even possibly everything, you have argued here, could be wrong? And, if all or part of what you have said could be wrong, then why do you want me to gamble the eternal destiny of my immortal soul on your possibly flawed opinions?

     I believe what the Bible says, Steve, in its entirety! I came to the Bible as a cafeteria Catholic. I came to the Bible not believing a good deal of what the Catholic Church taught, on faith or morals. I came to the Bible doubting the Catholic Church and its authority. I came to the Bible not caring one whit about the Pope or what he had to say. The Bible, however, convinced me of the truths of the Catholic Faith. Over and over again the Bible proved me wrong and the Catholic Church right.

     So, you cannot say that I believe what I do because Rome tells me so. I believe the Catholic Church because of what I read in the Bible. Not the other way around. So tell me, why should I now jettison everything I have come to believe through my reading and study of the Bible over the last 30 years, in order to accept your fallible interpretations of the Bible? Give me a reason, or go away. Tell me you are infallible and give me proof of such, or go away. Give me the authority behind your interpretations, or go away.

     I have done what you say you wanted me to do - examine the Bible for myself and compare what you have said to the Bible - and I have found your arguments to be, honestly, pathetic. So, I ask you: Should I believe the Word of God, or the Word of Steve?



     At the root of every discussion between a Catholic and a Protestant - regardless of the particular topic - is the question of authority.  Who has the authority to decide, in a binding manner, what is or is not an authentic interpretation of Scripture?  Who has the authority to decide, in a binding manner, what is or is not authentic Christian doctrine and dogma?  Does the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit have the right to decide, or does each individual Protestant, interpreting Scripture on their own, have the right to decide?

     So, those 3 questions that I asked above, are at the heart of any theological/scriptural discussion between Catholic and Protestant.  You can use some form of those 3 questions in pretty much any discussion you have.  And I encourage you to do so, as those questions instantly take the discussion to its core - who has the authority to decide the issue(s) being discussed?  If the Protestant says no one has binding, infallible authority to decide, then you should ask: "Then why are we discussing this at all, if the best you believe we can do is your fallible interpretation vs. my fallible interpretation?  Why bother?"  By asking those 3 questions, you can possibly save yourself a lot of time and frustration. 

     Finally, just so you know, he never did answer any of those questions, and he removed himself from the page.  However, I am going to reach out to him to see if he would like to respond in this venue - no one can ever say that I don't give the other side equal time.  We'll see...


Closing Comments

     Again, please pray for one another and for one another's families.  And keep in mind that fear is not of the Lord.  It is my hope that this viral storm will get many of those who have turned away from God to at least be open to the possibility that there is something greater than themselves out there.  God always brings good out of evil... 



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Apologetics for the Masses