Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #5

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

I keep having to apologize for being behind schedule in sending these out, but my travel schedule and then the Thanksgiving holidays put me way behind on a bunch of things. I have a request of you: please pray that the Lord will send the funding I need to hire an Administrative Assistant. That would free me up to concentrate on the apologetics and evangelization parts of this apostolate and not use so much time for the business end of the apostolate.

One other thing I wanted to mention…just as you can get all of my apologetics tapes/CDs for free from our website (www.biblechristiansociety.com), there is also another website where you can get a bunch of free tapes pertaining to the Catholic Faith…www.catholicity.com. This is the website for the Mary Foundation. It is an excellent resource that all Catholics need to make use of. They have Scott Hahn’s and Fr. Corapi’s conversion stories. They have “Confession” and “The Mass Explained” by Fr. Larry Richards – an incredibly dynamic priest. They have a Christopher West talk on the Theology of the Body. There is a talk by Pat Madrid and Marcus Grodi on “The Truth About Mary,” and they have a Rosary CD which also has the Divine Mercy Chaplet on it and a short history of the Rosary. And, all are offered free…make sure to check it out if you haven’t already.


This will be probably be the next-to-last newsletter where I respond to Phil. I’m hoping to get one more out soon after this one. But, for the purposes of this newsletter, I think we’ve gotten pretty much all we can out of this exchange. I will continue to correspond with Phil privately, however, and will let you know if anything results from that correspondence. So, we’ll soon begin an exchange with someone new.

Again, Phil’s comments will be in italics, my responses will be immediately below each of Phil’s paragraphs, and then the Strategy/Tactics will be immediately below my response.


Hi John,

Phil, I’m going to respond paragraph by paragraph to your comments, and then I’ll add some more of my own at the bottom.

I guess you’re reading what I write, but it seems you’re doing it with a closed mind. When did I say my opinion counts more than anybody else’s? What I have said is that I’m not a bible expert; I just try to read, listen, learn and apply common sense. If I come to a different conclusion than you, it’s not the first time ever.

Why am I the one with the closed mind? Why aren’t you the one with the closed mind? You asked about when did you say “[your] opinion counts more than anybody’s else’s?” Well, how about every email you send me? Your opinion obviously counts more than mine, that’s why you can tell me I’m wrong and you’re right. Your opinion counts more than that of one billion Catholics, as you say below. You admit that you are not a Bible expert, yet you insist on interpreting the Bible for yourself, even though you admit that there are passages…very important passages…that you have no clue as to their meaning. Yet, you can definitively say that the Catholic Church is wrong?! How can you say that, when you readily admit you know so little about the Bible, and when you readily admit that there are things in the Bible about which you know nothing at all? How then can you say the Catholic Church is wrong and you are right?

Strategy/Tactics: Simply calling a spade a spade. Phil, as does every Protestant that I’ve ever come across, tends to contradict himself when challenged. If you pay close attention to what folks say when you ask them questions, you will hear them contradict themselves time and time again. But, you have to be asking the questions to get these responses.

Jesus said “Remove the plank from your eye”, and “With prayer you can move mountains”, and in John 10:1-9 he called himself a gate and called people “sheep”, but he meant none of it literally. In John 16:25, he even said he was speaking figuratively. Did he have to say that everytime? How do you know he literally meant to eat his flesh and drink his blood? How do you know anybody took Jesus literally that day 2,000 years ago as you claim? In John 6:60, when the disciples said “This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?”, they might have been refering to Jesus saying he is the only way to eternal life. Did Jesus say when to start eating him? Did he get mad when they didn’t start that day? Did he say how to eat his flesh and blood? Did he say a priest and only a priest could transsubstantiate?

The problem with your comments here, is that Jesus didn’t say he was the only way to eternal life in John 6. Your interpretation has the disciples responding to something that Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospel of John. That makes no sense whatsoever. You’re really grasping at straws here.

The whole conversation from John 6:25 through John 6:59 is about the Bread of Life. And that Jesus is the Bread of Life. And that the bread which Jesus will give for the life of the world is His flesh (6:51). The question you need to ask yourself, Phil, is did Jesus give His symbolic flesh for the life of the world, or His real flesh? Because, the flesh Jesus is talking about us eating, is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world. What did the “Jews” say in verse 52? Did they say, “How can this man claim to be the only way to eternal life?” No, they didn’t say that. But, those are the words your interpretation would put in their mouth. What was the last thing Jesus said before the disciples said, “This is a hard teaching?” Well, we can see for ourselves in verse 58, “This is the bread which came down from heaven [Jesus Himself] not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread [the flesh that Jesus gives for the life of the world] will live forever.” And the disciples said, “This is a hard saying,” and then they walked away from Him and no longer went about with Him.

They walked away, Phil, because they took Him literally, as did the Jews. The Jews said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” That’s why I can say that everyone took Him literally, because the Bible says so in black and white. It’s not my interpretation, that’s what it says. So, again, my question is: why do you take Him metaphorically, if everyone who heard Him speak at the time took Him literally?

In other places, He does speak metaphorically, and the disciples and everyone else understood Him metaphorically. But, here, in John 6, everyone takes Him literally. Why? Because He was speaking literally. That’s why I take Him literally. Because there is nothing in the Bible that says otherwise. At the Last Supper, He doesn’t say, “This represents My body,” or “This is symbolic of My body,” or anything else like that. He says, “This IS My body.” Yet, what do you now believe regarding the Lord’s Supper? You believe He was speaking symbolically. Why? Where in the Bible does it say He was speaking symbolically? God Himself says, “This IS My body,” and what do you say in response, “No, Lord, it’s only a symbol of Your body.” Why? You go by the Bible alone, don’t you? So, please tell me where in the Bible does it say God was speaking metaphorically, either in John 6 or at the Last Supper.

The truth is, you take Him metaphorically in all of these places, because the alternative, that He was speaking literally, is a hard teaching. Which is why the disciples walked away from Him. Will you be among the ranks of those who walk away because it is a hard teaching?

Strategy/Tactics: I always teach Catholics to pay close attention to what folks “claim” the Bible is saying. As you can see here, Phil makes a claim about why the disciples walked away from Christ; yet, his claim, his interpretation, makes absolutely no sense given what the Bible actually says. Again, listen to the words coming out of their mouths (or off of their fingertips), and compare them to what the Bible actually says. Most, if not all, of the time, the two don’t match up. I really spend some time here, because John 6 is about as much of a “slam dunk” as you will find in terms of Catholic vs. Protestant interpretations. There is just no way around what is said here, especially the fact that verse 51 says that the bread that Jesus wants us to eat is His flesh which He will give for the life of the world. Ask the question: Did He give His symbolic flesh for the life of the world, or His real flesh? And, again, what did the disciples find such a “hard teaching” that they walked away? Keep asking those questions.

You asked if I can be sure I’m not one of the ignorant people that Paul talked about. I think I sent a paragraph previously and clearly labeled it as my strongest argument: The Council of Trent met in 1545 and declared that Catholic TRADITION is equal in authority to scripture. This is huge because it strongly opposes what the bible says. In Mark 7:6-8, Jesus said “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the TRADITIONS of men. You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own TRADITIONS”. Also look at Titus 2:1, Galatians 1:6-10, Matthew 15:6-9, Isaiah 29:13, and Colossians 2:8. That man-made decision from 1545 never changed, and it was reinforced by the new catechism in 1994. Why do you ignore this?

Okay, again, you don’t answer my question, but switch to a different argument. My question to you is: Did everything Jesus said and taught and did get recorded in the Bible? The answer is no. Were the things that weren’t recorded unimportant? Well, the Bible tells us that man shall live by every word of God, not just the ones that were written down in the Bible. So, the answer is, the things that Jesus said and taught and did that were not recorded in the pages of Scripture are very important, as well, weren’t they? So, your position basically is that we only need to know the things Jesus said and taught and did that were recorded in the Bible. The Catholic position is that we need to go by every word of God, whether it was recorded in the Bible or not. My question to you is: Can you show me a single verse in the Bible, that says the Bible “alone” is the sole source of all Christian knowledge and all things that pertain to the Christian faith and to Christian morals?

But, what can I show you in the Bible regarding traditions? Well, first of all, we see in Acts 2:42, that one of the things the believers, the first Christians, devoted themselves to was “the apostles’ teaching.” That’s where our traditions come from…they are rooted in the Apostles’ teaching. They taught what they had received directly from our Lord. Part of their teaching was eventually written down, but not all of it. And, listen to what Paul says to the Thessalonians (1 Thes 2:13), “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you HEARD from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” That is the “tradition” we as Catholics accept, Phil. We have received the Apostles’ teaching, which was passed down from them through their successors (see 2 Timothy 2:2), to us in the Church today. And how does Paul say we are to receive it? As the Word of God, not the word of men. Yet, you call it the word of men. You are the one who goes against the Scriptures, not Catholics.

The Council of Trent merely reaffirmed what had been since the beginning of the Church. That the Word of God was passed down in the Church in written form (Sacred Scripture) and in oral form (Sacred Tradition). Paul tells us as much in 2 Thes 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the TRADITIONS which your were taught by us, either by WORD OF MOUTH [Sacred Tradition] or by letter [Sacred Scripture].” Yet, you say we are not to hold firm to these traditions. Why do you want Catholics to go against the very words of the Bible? And, if you say that all of these oral traditions were written down in the Bible, please show me where it says that in the Bible? You can’t, because it doesn’t.

You keep railing against traditions, but the Bible very clearly commends folks for holding fast to the traditions that they were taught. Your problem is not with the Catholic Church, as much as it is with the words of Scripture. You need to consider this question very carefully: Did the early Christians go by the Bible alone? I’d be very interested in knowing your answer to that one, Phil.

Strategy/Tactics: He’s mentioned traditions several times, so I thought it was time to give him some response. Again, look at what he says about traditions, and then read what the Bible actually says about traditions…the two don’t match up.

There’s also the magisterium, another set of man-made decisions that were also made equal to God’s word. Then there’s Revelation 17:9 and 17:18. Many bible scholars say the “city” and “woman” are Rome. Revelation 17:6 sounds a lot to me like the story of how Catholic popes and bishops ordered the murder of thousands of Christian believers in the Middle Ages.

Once again, and I don’t mean to be offensive here, but you are showing your ignorance of the Catholic Faith. The magisterium is not a set of “man-made decisions.” The magisterium is the teaching office of the Church…it is the Pope and the bishops in union with the Pope. There are man-made decisions handed down by the magisterium, but they are clearly recognized as man-made decisions…these are called Church law or Church disciplines. They are not passed off as the Word of God or as dogmas or doctrines. The Church has a right to govern its members, does it not? These man-made decisions are just that…rules and regulations for governing Church members. Which, God has clearly given the Church’s leaders authority over those whom they shepherd. Paul tells Timothy to teach, to rebuke, and so on. How can a leader do that if he has no authority over those in his flock? Sacred Tradition, on the other hand, is, as I mentioned above, the teachings of the Apostles that were passed down orally in the first few centuries of the Church and which Scripture clearly tells us is the Word of God, not the word of men.

Regarding the whore of Babylon, from Revelation 17, would you be interested if I can give you scriptural proof that it is Jerusalem?

Strategy/Tactics: Once again this former Catholic shows that he left his faith because he didn’t really know it. This is why apologetics is so important, because it helps to teach Catholics about the Faith in a way that will hold up to attacks and questions from non-Catholics. I can almost guarantee you that if Phil had been exposed to this stuff a few years ago, he would still be Catholic. Regarding the whore of Babylon, I can make a very good case, from the Bible, that it is Jerusalem. And, since Phil’s theology allows him to only go by the Bible, he will have a problem with the case I present.

I heard a priest say that Heaven and hell are not real physical places, but represent relationships between us and God. I went to a Protestant service and the pastor said heaven is real. It has rooms and dimensions. We will have new, physical bodies. How’s that for two contrasting opinions? I haven’t been to heaven to see who’s right; all I can do is read the bible which says exactly what the pastor said, and decide accordingly which one knows what he’s talking about because he follows God’s words. One of them is seriously flawed! The bible makes it clear to me which one is right.

First of all, you seem to be misinterpreting what the priest said. He didn’t say Heaven and Hell weren’t real, he said they were not physical places. He said that because God is spirit and spirit does not occupy physical space. It is still real, but it is not physical. Also, Satan and his minions are all spirits, they do not occupy physical space. Hell is separation from God. Heaven is being present with God. I would say, again, that you may be misunderstanding exactly what the priest was saying. But, either way, the priest is not the Church. He is a member of the Church. He may teach something incorrectly, because of sin, or misunderstanding, or some other such thing, and it would not affect the fact that the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ. By the way, how can you say the Bible makes it clear to you which one is right, when you admit that there is much in the Bible that you don’t understand? Could your lack of understanding be leading you into erroneous, and potentially soul-threatening interpretations of Scripture. Again, could you be one of those ignorant ones Peter is talking about who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction?

Strategy/Tactics: I could have avoided this altogether, because it really is not germane to any of the arguments presented here. But, I used it to re-emphasize an earlier point.

Catholicism is “works” oriented. Satan built many false religions based upon that concept – he knows of man’s desire to prove he’s good enough to earn something, but that’s clearly contrary to 1 John 5:12-13. Here are 14 more applicable verses:

Phil, I’m going to show you how you pay attention to certain verses of Scripture, but not others. Catholics believe, again, that we must take every Word of God into consideration. Underneath several of your verses, I’ll put another that shows why Catholics believe in faith and works as necessary responses to God’s free gift of grace…instead of just a response of faith alone. The Catholic position on justification is succintly given in Galations 5:6, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith WORKING through love.”

- John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

- Hebrews 12:14 “Strive for peace with all men and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Both faith and works…we have to “strive” for holiness

- John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

- Romans 2:6-7 “For He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”

- John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

- James 2:19 “Even the demons believe – and shudder.” Yet, the demons aren’t saved, are they? But they believe, why aren’t they saved if they believe?

- John 6:40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

- John 6:53-54 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Isn’t that something we have to do?

- John 6:29 The WORK of God in this: to believe in the one who he has sent.

Amen! You’re proving my point. God considers, as do Catholics, that the act of believing is a WORK. It is something we do…by the grace of God…but we have to cooperate…we have to work with…that grace in order to be saved. We have to allow that grace to be applied to our lives.

- John 6:47 I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.

- John 15:1-6 “…Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he [the Father] takes away…Abide in me and I in you…I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.” Got to bear fruit, or you’re cut off from the vine.

- Acts 10:43 All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins (This one is significant in that it pulls in the entire Old Testament as additional proof)

- Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you don not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So, we have to do a work…forgive others of their trespasses…in order to have our trespasses forgiven. And, if we don’t do this, we can’t be saved, can we?

- Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be
saved-you and your household.”

- Matthew 19:16-17 “‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’…‘If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’” Isn’t keeping the commandments a set of works?

- Romans 3:23-24 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.


- Romans 3:28 For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from WORKS of law.

- James 2:20 “Do you want to be shown you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren?”

- Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- James 2:25 “And, in the same way, was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works…”

- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift-NOT from WORKS, so that no one can boast. (That just about nails it, I think)

- Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good WORKS, which God prepared beforehand, that we SHOULD walk in them.” And, Matthew 7:21 tells us that not everyone who calls, “Lord, Lord” shall enter Heaven, but he who DOES the will of the Father. Well, if the Father created us for good works, which He prepared for us beforehand that we should walk in them, then isn’t it the will of the Father that we do these good works? And, if we don’t, how can we enter Heaven if we don’t do the will of the Father?

- Galatians 2:16 Yet we know that no one is justified by the WORKS of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the WORKS of the law, BECAUSE BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW NO HUMAN BEING WILL BE JUSTIFIED.

- James 2:24 “You see that a man is justified by WORKS, and not by faith alone.” The only place in the whole Bible where the words “faith” and “alone” appear together, and it is to say NOT by “faith alone.” Who goes by what the Bible says and who doesn’t?

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.

Amen! Again, a perfect summary of what Catholics believe. Faith WORKING through love.

Question: If Faith alone is necessary for salvation, do we have to love God or our fellow man in order to be saved? After all, if it’s faith alone, then love has nothing to do with our salvation, does it? Is that really what you believe, Phil?

Phil, Catholics go by all of the Bible, not just a verse here and there. The Bible says faith saves us in some places. In other places it says our works are very important to our salvation. So, does the Bible contradict itself. No! In other words, it’s not either faith or works, it is both faith and works. The Bible clearly teaches this. Love is important to our salvation. Therefore, it cannot be faith alone that saves us. It is faith WORKING through love that saves us.

Strategy/Tactics: Putting these verses side-by-side helps to show folks that it’s not one or the other…faith or works…but both faith and works that are necessary responses to God’s free gift of grace.

I assume you are familiar with Islam. How anybody buys into that crock is beyond me. Catholicism is more believable, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Did I just say 1 billion people are wrong – yes, I guess I did. Add in both Catholics and Muslims and we’re up to 2 billion. I’m allowed to have an opinion. I don’t pass judgment on the world; I just make a decision, like all 6 billion of us.

Here is where you say that your opinion is better than that of 1 billion others. Actually, you’re saying it’s better than 2 billion others. So, you contradict yourself again.

Strategy/Tactics: No response is really necessary to this particular paragraph, but I did want to show that in one place he says that he never said his opinion is better than anyone else’s; yet he does just that right here.

Yes, I agree that you can match any book I reference with one or more of your own. I agree there’s confusion about the flesh and blood issue. You and Joey seem hung up on popes and religions and man-made traditions. You ignored my comment about Catholic seminaries being homosexual bastions. You ignored my comment about Catholic heirarchy murdering people, extorting money for the forgiveness of sins, and keeping the bible in Latin to keep people in the dark, all done for centuries. Why do you give them a free pass – oh yes, the man-made TRADITION reason.

Protestant ministers are guilty of all the same things that you can say Catholic priests and bishops are guilty of. That proves nothing. Regarding keeping the Bible in Latin, now you are showing your ignorance of history. Latin was the language that all people who were educated enough to read, could read. Also, according to the introduction of the King James Bible, the Church translated the Scriptures into the languages of all the nations shortly after those nations came to Christ. Do you doubt the veracity of the King James Bible on this?

Strategy/Tactics: Again, calling a spade a spade. His ignorance of the Bible and his ignorance of history combined to make him a perfect target for anti-Catholic attacks.

I don’t put my faith and salvation in any church or religion or tradition or men. I put myself and my future in Jesus’ hands, something He clearly said to do. If you do too, then all else is just meaningless bicker that I don’t need to win. I don’t get hung up on the little stuff. The big thing is, why do you believe the TRADITIONS?

No, you are not putting yourself in Jesus’ hands, you are putting yourself in the hands of the folks who are teaching you all this nonsense about the Catholic Church. And, very dangerously, you are putting yourself in your own hands for deciding between true and false doctrines. You admit that you are no Bible scholar; you admit that there are parts of the Bible that you have absolutely no idea what they mean; yet, you trust what you can discern from the Bible for your salvation. I’m sorry, but that’s downright foolish. As Scripture says, the foolish man trusts in his own ways.


In Conclusion

I have a little bit more to say to Phil, but this newsletter is a bit long, so I’m going to put it into the next one. Stay tuned!

God bless!


Apologetics for the Masses