Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #45

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Bringing you this newsletter a day earlier than normal because I will not be in the office tomorrow. My wife and her sister are going to the beach for the weekend for a little rest and relaxation. Which means I will have the kids from Friday morning until Sunday evening. Three of the kids will be in school tomorrow, but little Noah is only two, so I’ll be at home with him. Which means I won’t be able to come into the office to do any work. Thus, a Thursday newsletter.

Also, I want to let you know about a wonderful new resource for Catholics regarding the difference between Catholic bibles and Protestant bibles. It’s a book by my friend Gary Michuta. The book is called: “Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: The Untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible.” Gary uses Scripture and historical sources (both Christian and non-Christian) to give you the real “scoop” on why Protestant bibles have 7 fewer books than Catholic bibles. If you’ve ever been asked, “Why did you Catholics add books to the Bible,” you now have a thorougly in-depth answer to give. I highly recommend this book. You can order it through the following link:



No reply yet from Mr. Woodward to my last newsletter, nor am I yet to receive a reply from Matt Johnson – going on around 7 or 8 weeks or so since I sent him my last response. He used to be so prompt in replying and even jumped on me once or twice when my responses were delayed. Hmmm. You think he might be asking other folks for some help?

Anyway, since I have not heard from either gentleman yet, I will simply do a little Q&A this time with a couple of questions I have received from folks – one Catholic and one who was trying to decide between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.



Regarding your most recent newsletter correspondence with RW on the topic of salvation and works I have a comment. If we look at the good thief crucified with Jesus, he accepted Jesus as the savior through faith. He was not in much of a position to do any type of good works
hanging on the cross. He was not baptized. Yet Jesus said that today he will be with Jesus in paradise. So it is possible for a person to be saved by faith alone as in a death bed conversion, with no real
opportunity to do good works. Yet, it is clear that if we are able to do so we must or our faith is not real and it will not save us.



Well, if the good thief had kept his mouth shut…had not rebuked the bad thief…had not said anything to Jesus…would he still have been saved? I consider it a mighty work for someone with nails through his hands and feet, struggling to breathe because of the fluid building up in his lungs, to use some of his precious breath to defend Christ.

Also, the New Covenant had not yet been instituted…the Old Covenant was still in effect. The Old Covenant equivalent of baptism was circumcision…and this thief being a Jew, he was undoubtedly circumcised. Therefore, the fact that he wasn’t baptized (as far as we know) is not really relevant.

Plus, if you consider that Scripture tells us that the act of having faith is, in and of itself, a work (John 6:27-29), then it is not possible to be saved by faith alone…the act of having faith is a work
of the intellect and a work of the will.

God bless!

John Martignoni




I guess my biggest stumblingblock is not any Catholic doctrine per se but the idea of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope being the supreme head of the whole church. The Orthodox are just as old and have a plausible claim of going back to the beginning of Christianity, but never accepted claims of papal supremacy. They accept him as first among equals but not as supreme head. I think they see the Catholic concept of the papacy as a historical development not as something from the beginning.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

In Christ,




First of all, isn’t first among equals…still “first?” I think we see from the examples of the New and Old Testaments that God’s people had one person ultimately in charge. Wasn’t Moses in charge? Wasn’t David? Wasn’t there always a high priest?

I think so much depends on whether or not there was one apostle, Peter, who was given authority at a higher level than all of the other apostles. I believe the Bible clearly supports this. For example, Peter walked on water…albeit for only a very short period of time, but he did walk on water. Peter is mentioned first in any list of the apostles save one. Peter is mentioned almost twice as much as all the other apostles combined. Peter has his named changed to Rock. Peter decides that Judas needs to be replaced. Peter speaks at the Council of Jerusalem, and the issue is decided…all are silent after he speaks. Peter is the first to preach to the Gentiles.

It is Peter that Christ appoints as shepherd (John 21:15-19). It is Peter, and Peter alone, who is given the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:15-19). All the apostles as a group are given the power to bind and loose (Matt 18:18), but Peter is given that power specifically and individually (Matt 16:19). The first half of the Acts of the Apostles is all about Peter. Peter speaks to the crowds at Pentecost. Compare what the Lord says to Peter in Matt 16 with what is said of the Prime Minister of the Davidic Kingdom in Isaiah 22:19-22. One last thing, Luke 22:31-32. Satan has demanded all of the Apostles, that he might sift them like wheat, but Jesus has prayed for Peter, and Peter alone, so that when Peter has “turned again” (after his denial of Christ), he (Peter) can strengthen his brethren.

So, if Peter was the head of the Apostles…head of the Church…which I believe he was, then Peter’s successor should also be the head of the Church. And, we can see in Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, which was written when the Apostle John was still alive, that he was obviously acting as if he, the bishop of Rome, had authority over the Corinthians. Why did Clement write that letter? Why didn’t the Apostle John step in instead?

Also, there is a book written by a convert named David Currie, which is called, “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.” Have you ever read it? (You can order it through the “Recommended Reading” page on my website if you’re interested.) In that book is a fascinating chart. Across the top of the chart are the 5 main bishoprics of the ancient world…Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Antioch. Down the side is a listing of the major heresies that popped up in the first several hundred years of Christianity. The chart shows that Bishops of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch all taught one or more of these heresies at some point during the first few hundred years of the Church. Never did a bishop of Rome…any bishop of Rome…ever teach one of these heresies. In other words, just as the North Star was what the ancient mariners steered by, it was the Bishop of Rome that the ancient Christians steered by.

In the end, I think it comes down to whether or not you are going to allow another to have authority over you. In the Orthodox Church, as I see it, if there is no one who can pronounce definitively on a matter…no one who can pronounce infallibly on a matter…then, ultimately, nothing can ever be truly decided, and no one really has authority over anyone else, because you can never decide even the question of authority in an authoritative manner. However, if there is a single head to the Church here on earth, and this head has been given authority to decide on matters of faith and morals when there is a dispute over same…and the authority that this person has carries with it the gift of infalliblity…then decisions can be made and made authoritatively. Decisions that everyone has to adhere to.

I believe the latter is how the Lord set things up for us, so that we can know things with certainty.

That’s how I see it.

God bless!


In Conclusion

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Apologetics for the Masses