Apologetics for the Masses #375 - Hunter Street Baptist Church (Part 1)

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Minister Brady Tarr's Anti-Catholic Presentation at Hunter Street Baptist Church - Church Authority



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General Comments

Hey folks,

     A few notes to follow up on the notice I sent out on Wednesday about the new talk we're offering by Deacon Dr. Patrick Lappert - "A Plastic Surgeon on Transgenderism":

     1) We now have the mp3 download of the talk and Q&A session available on our website: www.biblechristiansociety.com.  While the talk, and Q&A session after the talk, are broken up into 2 CDs, when it comes to the download, it is all together as just one download.

     2) Deacon Lappert uses a Powerpoint presentation during his talk  - which isn't necessary to see in order to follow along with the talk on audio (he reads off the points he has listed on the slides) - but, I was made aware that the slides are available online.  You can find them here:  https://2robvs3orwmpltvze4ct35t2-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/DenverConference.pdf.  That way you can look at the slides as you listen to the download, if you would like to do so.  The slides are for a talk he gave in Denver, which is, essentially, the same talk that we are offering, but if you want to listen to the audio of the talk he used those specific slides for, you can find that here: https://respectlifedenver.org/2018/11/08/gospel-of-life-lappert/

     3) However you get the talk, though, please listen to it carefully as it is a powerful refutation of the disinformation campaign on transgenderism that the media is trying to get us to buy into.  And get the older teens and young adults in your family to listen to it if you can.


     Okay, this week, I am going to start a refutation of the points that Minister Brady Tarr made in a presentation on Catholicism at the Hunter Street Baptist Church here in Birmingham a couple of years ago.  I've been meaning to do this ever since that whole incident happened, but just never got around to it.  Now I am. 

     You may recall the newsletter I sent out once upon a time that was titled: An Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray and Hunter Street Baptist Church ( http://biblechristiansociety.com/admin/newsletters/432-open-letter-to-pastor-buddy-gray-and-hunter-street-baptist-church).  The background is that Minister Brady Tarr (who is sort of like an Associate Pastor) gave a series of presentations over six Wednesday nights that was supposedly a "comparison" of Catholic vs. Baptist teaching.  What it actually was, was a biased hit job on the Catholic Church and her teachings.  I attended the last presentation of the series, and afterwards went up to Minister Tarr and told him that probably 70-80% or so of what he said about Catholic teaching was wrong.  I told him that what he did was akin to Nancy Pelosi giving a presentation on the Republican Party - it was skewed and slanted in a number of places, and the places where it wasn't skewed or slanted, it was just flat out wrong.

     I offered to have a public dialogue with him where I could accurately present the Catholic faith from a Catholic perspective and he could present the Baptist faith from a Baptist perspective.  He said he would love to, but that he would have to get permission from his Senior Pastor, Buddy Gray.  So, I wrote Buddy Gray a letter suggesting the public dialogue.  He never responded.  But, Minister Tarr told me that Pastor Gray said, "No."  At which point I informed Minister Tarr that I thought it was shameful that they were more than happy to spread misinformation about the Catholic Church behind the closed doors of their church, but they were not willing to make similar statements in public. 

     That was pretty much where it ended.  Although, I did geofence their church a few months later with Catholic ads - i.e., whenever someone would enter the church, or even their parking lot, if their smart phone was on, they would get a banner ad that would link to something on the Bible Christian Society website that explained Catholic teaching and/or to the Open Letter to Pastor Buddy Gray. 

     And, now, I have finally gotten around to analyzing in detail what Minister Brady Tarr was teaching his congregants, and this newsletter, and probably the next 2 or 3 as well, is my response to the poor research and poor catechesis that he did.  Everything you see from him below, are quotes taken straight from his PowerPoint presentations, unless otherwise noted.

     We're going to start where I always say you need to start...with his comments regarding the question of authority.   



Minister Brady Tarr of the Hunter Street Baptist Church

I. The Authority Claim of Those Who Wrote the Council of Trent:

A. All those who were a part of the ecumenical council claimed to have the authority of God and of the Apostles.

B. "Wherefore, relying and resting on the authority of that Almighty God, Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, and on the authority of His blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, [an authority] which we also exercise on earth...we indict, announce, convoke, appoint, and decree a sacred, ecumenical and general council."  [Council of Trent; Bull of Indiction]

C. This is important to mention because the Catholic Church teaches that any decision or statement that an ecumenical council makes is from God Himself, carries God's authority, and can never be changed..


My Comments

     I always get a chuckle out of folks when they attack the authority claims of the Catholic Church, because all they are really doing, in essence, is slitting their own throats. With his words above, Minister Tarr is taking exception to the claims of the Catholic Church that it acts with the authority of God Almighty Himself.  How dare those Catholics think they operate with God's authority and that any doctrinal or dogmatic teaching they make carries God's authority and that it can't ever be changed.  No one can claim such things.  Okay, fine.  But, where does that leave Minister Tarr vis-a-vis his own church?

     Well, let's look at it.  What is Minister Tarr claiming here regarding his church - Hunter Street Baptist Church - and those who are in positions of authority at his church?  He is claiming, essentially, that the pastor and ministers of Hunter Street Baptist Church do not operate with God's authority; that any "decision or statement" they make does not come from God; and that every "decision or statement" they make can be changed.  In other words, they operate completely on man's authority and not on God's authority.  Which tells me, that the church that the Bible tells us was founded by Jesus Christ, and which the Bible tells us is guided by the Holy Spirit, cannot be Hunter Street Baptist Church.  Hunter Street Baptist Church, by the admission of its own ministers, is a church of men - it is guided by men, it speaks for men, its decisions and statements are made by men, and its authority is of, by, and for men.  God is nowhere to be found in the decisions, statements, and teachings of Hunter Street Baptist Church - according to the logical conclusions drawn from the statements made by Minister Brady Tarr.

     Is Minister Tarr not familiar with verses such as Matt 28:18-20; Matt 16:19; Matt 18:18; Luke 10:16; Matt 9:6-8; John 20:22-23; John 16:13; 2 Cor 10:8 and 13:10 that all speak about the authority that Jesus gave to His Apostles and is he not aware that that authority was passed along to the successors of the Apostles, the bishops, through the laying on of hands (1 Tim 4:13-15; 2 Tim 1:6-7).  And is he not aware of Acts 15:28 which speaks to the authority God has given to a council of the Church?  Apparently not.


Minister Brady Tarr

II. Catholics Claim that Peter was the First Pope for the Following Reasons

A. Peter's name appears first in various lists of the apostles in the Bible.

B. When Jesus called Peter the rock upon whom the church would be built, Peter was being elevated to supremacy.

C. Jesus gave Peter the "keys to the kingdom" (Matt 16:19), so he is supreme among the apostles.

D. Jesus placed Peter in authority over the church, saying "tend my sheep" (John 21:15-17)

E. They claim he ruled and died in Rome as the first Pope.


III. The Bible Doesn't Support Peter as the First Pope or the Supreme Apostle

A. Paul stated that he was not inferior to any other apostle (2 Cor 12:11).  He wouldn't have said this if the Pope was an office.

B. Peter is prominent in the first 12 chapter of Acts, but Paul is the prominent figure in chapters 13-28.  This wouln't make sense if Peter had become the Pope.

C. When Paul lists the authority structure of the Church in 1 Cor 12:28 there is no mention of a Pope: "god has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers.

*Ask a Catholic friend why the Pope was omitted.


My Comments

     Okay, first thing to notice here is the difference between how a Sola Scriptura person determines doctrine and dogma, and how a Catholic does it - which leads to a huge misunderstanding on the part of the Sola Scriptura believer in regard to Catholic doctrine.  Minister Tarr gives 4 reasons from the Bible for why "Catholics claim Peter was the first pope".  Well, sorry, but no.  Catholics do not believe Peter was the first pope because there are Bible verses we can point to which support our position.  We believe he was the first pope because of 2000 years of Church history that says he was the first pope.  We believe he was the first pope because of the historical record - particularly the writings of the early Church Fathers - showing he was the first pope.  Yes, the Bible does indeed have evidence to support our position, but the Council of Trent, for example, did not open up the Bible and read through it and then declare: We believe that Peter was the first pope because of Matthew 16 and John 21 and because his name always appears first in a list of all the Apostles."

     In other words, our beliefs do not come from the Bible, rather they are reflected in the Bible.  That's because the truths of our beliefs existed before a word of the Bible - the New Testament I should say - was ever written.  Peculiarly Baptist/Protestant beliefs come from fallible man's interpretations of the Bible - they came into being after the New Testament was written.  Sort of a, "Hey, God left us this book, so it's up to us - each individual - to read and decide what is or is not authentic doctrine and practice."  Whereas, Catholic beliefs are reflected in the Bible by the writers of the New Testament.  They were passed down by the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit first through oral tradition, and then through written tradition (Scripture) along with the oral tradition.  Our beliefs are in the Bible, but our beliefs were out there before the New Testament was written, so they do not, strictly speaking, come from the New Testament.  We can say, however, they come from the Word of God.

     Now, regarding our claim that "he ruled and died in Rome as the first Pope," well, yes, we do indeed claim that and, again, the historical record supports our claim.  "Oh, but wait," Minister Tarr will say, "the Bible doesn't say a word about Peter being in Rome."  So, if the Bible doesn't say it, then that means it didn't happen?  Apparently so.  Well, does the Bible say anything about any of the Apostles ever having to use the bathroom?  Nope.  So, that means it didn't happen by Minister Tarr's reasoning.  Does the Bible say anything about Christians being martyred in the Colosseum in Rome?  Nope.  So, I guess that didn't happen either.  There are a lot of things that history tells us happened in the first century that are not mentioned in the Bible, so I guess they didn't actually happen.  Does the Bible tell us that the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.?  Don't think so.  Which means, it never happened.  Sorry, but that line of reasoning is exceedingly weak.

     And notice what he does - he mentions John 21 and Matthew 16, where Jesus tells Peter to feed and tend His sheep and where Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, respectively, and then basically ignores them.  By Minister Brady Tarr's reasoning, what the Bible doesn't say is much more important than what it does say.  He points to Paul saying in 2 Cor 12:11 that he wasn't inferior to the other Apostles.  And Minister Tarr then proceeds to tell us the mind of Paul by saying that if "the Pope was an office" then Paul wouldn't have said that. How does Brady Tarr know that?  Peter is given the keys to the kingdom...no other Apostle is.  Peter is told by Jesus to feed and tend His sheep and lambs...no other Apostle is told the same.  Yet, those passages count for nothing in Brady Tarr's theological calculus.  Oh, but what Paul would have or should have or shouldn't have said if there was indeed an office of the Pope...that counts for everything.  In other words, what the Bible says is of less importance than Minister Tarr's speculation as to what it should have or shouldn't have said "if" Peter was indeed the Pope.

     The other thing is, the context of 2 Cor 12:11 (and 2 Cor 11:5 - which has the same wording as 12:11) has nothing to do with the office of the Pope or with Peter being the chief of the Apostles and the early leader of the Church.  And, these "apostles" mentioned by Paul - it's not even clear who they are.  There are those who have speculated Paul was being ironic and was talking about some false apostles who had been filling the Corinthians' heads with the bad teaching he mentions in chapter 11, verses 1-4.  To use Minister Tarr's methodology of speculation, if Paul was talking about Peter, then he would have mentioned Peter by name.  I, John Martignoni, declare it to be so.

     Plus, Brady mentions how Peter is "prominent" in the first 12 chapters of Acts...ya think?!  But, that evidence is completely ignored.  Who called for Judas to be replaced?  To whom did God give the mission to start preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles?  Who had the power of life and death?  Who preached the first sermon in Christianity on the Day of Pentecost?  Who spoke at the Council of Jerusalem and afterwards all of the assembly was silent?  One answer to all of those questions...Peter.  But, none of that is mentioned by Minister Tarr in his presentation.  I wonder why?  But what is mentioned, and what is given greater weight than the Word of God, is Brady Tarr's speculation as to how things should have been if Peter was the first Pope.  You see, Paul is the prominent figure in chapters 13-28, Brady tells us.  Well, according to Brady, that just makes no sense if Peter was the Pope.  Really?  Why not?  Brady Tarr is giving nothing but pure speculation here. 

     Finally, Brady tries to turn 1 Cor 12:28 into an early church organizational chart.  Where does it say that this is the definitive "authority structure" of the early church?  And, if it is, so what?  The first Bishop of Rome, the Pope, was an apostle, so this passage fits.  The fact that the office of "the Pope" isn't mentioned is irrelevant.  Again, an argument from silence - which is the weakest of arguments.  It seems that the speculative theological opinion of Brady Tarr is all that matters when it comes to matters of authentic Christian doctrine.  And, if this list is a definitive list about the authority structure of the Church, then what role do prophets play at Hunter Street Baptist Church?  Are they second in command at Hunter Street?  Do they even have any prophets?  Do they have any apostles?  What about miracle workers?  Healers?  Speakers of tongues? 

     But, what do they have at Hunter Street Baptist Church?  They have a Senior Pastor.  Where exactly does "Senior Pastor" show up in this list in 1 Cor 12:28?  You know, I don't see it in my Bible.  And, I checked the King James Version - not in there either.  Using Brady Tarr's methodology of speculation, if a church was meant to have a "Senior Pastor," then 1 Cor 12:28 would have said so.  I, John Martignoni, declare it to be so.  And, where is the Minister of Membership - Brady Tarr's position - in 1 Cor 12:28?  Again, nowhere to be found.  So, using the Tarr Method, if there is supposed to be such a thing as a Minister of Membership in the church, then 1 Cor 12:28 would have mentioned it, since it gives us the "authority structure" of the church.  I, John Martignoni, declare it to be so.


To be continued...


Closing Comments

I hope all of you have a great week!



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Apologetics for the Masses