Apologetics for the Masses: Issue #4

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Finally! I tell ya, it seems like the world is against me whenever I’m trying to get one of these newsletters out.

As always, the comments of the person writing to me are in italics.


Anyway, here’s the latest from and to Phil, the recently fallen-away Catholic. It is a bit lengthy, because he answers several of my questions all at once, so I replied to each.


Dear Phil,

I am responding to your particular email below. I will respond to your questions about the Council of Trent and Traditions and married priests in my next email. I prefer to focus on 1 email at a time. So, be patient, it’s coming. My responses will follow your paragraphs.

Hi John,

I guess I’ll respond, even though neither of us is budging. you’ll find this interesting. Jesus sent out 12 (and I guess 70) to teach in his name. Yes, they had his authority. They even had the power that no one since has had – the power to bring people back from death. I’d say those few who knew Jesus were given something extra that no one since has had. If anyone had infallibility, it was them, but I’m not saying that they did. I’m asking who says anybody had infallibility? How did popes claim it?

Phil, if I told you that you can know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error by listening to what I have to say, not by reading the Bible, would you think that I was saying I was infallible? Afterall, I would be saying that by listening to me, you can know truth and error. Didn’t Jesus not only give the disciples His authority, but didn’t He also say to them, “Whoever hears you, hears Me. And whoever rejects you rejects Me?” Did He say that to His disciples or not? Wouldn’t you think that would mean they were infallible in what they taught? After all, if they weren’t infallible, then if they taught error, Jesus’ words would mean that the people would be hearing Jesus teach error. “Whoever hears you, hears Me.” And, again, isn’t the ability to know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error…isn’t that essentially the gift of infallibility when it comes to teaching?

Strategies and Tactics:I start off by asking questions…being offensive (awfensive) without being offensive (uhfensive). These questions are based on 1 John 4:6, which says, “We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” In other words, you know truth and error, and you are of God or not of God, by listening to or not listening to the leaders of the Church. This verse is one of my favorites for showing that the Catholic teaching on infallibility is definitely backed up by Scripture. Luke 10:16 is another powerful verse to show the same.

But, again, I ask him a set up question, I want him to explain his logic, his theology to me. Because, when he starts explaining, it ain’t going to make a whole lot of scriptural sense, and I can go back and show him as much using his own words.

“Whatever he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever he looses one earth shall be loosed in heaven”. Frankly, I have no idea what that means.

You have no idea what that means?! And, I guess, you don’t really care either, do you? At least, you don’t seem to care. Are you not familiar with the passage that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God?” Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 16, and then Peter and the other disciples in Matthew 18 that whatever they bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven and that whatever they loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Don’t you think that to be rather significant? From the early Christians on, this authority to bind and loose has been applied to the authority of the Church – in having the authority to pronounce on matters of faith and morals, and in having the authority to forgive or retain sins (see also John 20). But, even if you can give me a good scriptural reference to refute those meanings, can you not admit the fact that if they are endowed with the authority to bind or loose something on earth and that it will be bound or loosed in Heaven, that God probably protects them from binding or loosing error?

Strategies and Tactics: He, the one who goes by the Bible, as opposed to us Catholics who don’t go by the Bible, has no idea what this rather significant verse means. So, I explain it to him…he can’t really tell me I’m wrong here, because he admits he has no idea. We need to keep that fact tucked away in our minds.

No, I don’t think I’m infallible. I believe in reading and trying to understand and follow what the bible says. Yes, I’m quite open to others telling me what the bible says. How the heck do you know what everybody thought that heard Jesus say something 2,000 years ago?

How do I know what everyone thought who heard Jesus say something 2000 years ago? Because it tells me in the Bible. Have you read the passage? The Jews ask, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Does that not tell us that they took Him quite literally? His own disciples walk away from Him and call it a “hard teaching.” Does that not tell us that they took Him quite literally? And, it’s very obvious from Jesus’ question to Peter, that the 12 must have understood Him quite literally, because He asked them if they were going to leave to. Peter didn’t say, “Oh no, Lord, we know you’re speaking figuratively.”

Strategies and Tactics:He obviously does not read his Bible very carefully, as this passage from John 6 can’t be any clearer as to what everyone thought Jesus was saying. I simply quote the Bible to back up my position.

I think I know quite clearly what Catholics believe. I just think they came to some bad conclusions. Maybe that’s why you did not respond to my biggest arguments, which I clearly labeled as such.

How can you say you know “quite clearly” what Catholics believe, when you think the doctrine of infallibility means that the Pope can’t sin or can’t make a mistake? The Pope sinning or making mistakes has nothing to do with the doctrine of infallibility. How can you say you know “quite clearly” what Catholics believe, when you have no idea (see your statement above) as to why Popes claim infallibility? How can you say you know “quite clearly” what Catholics believe, when you have no clue what “binding and loosing” mean? This passage bears directly on several Catholic doctrines that you question. Come on, Phil, you’re doing exactly what so many others do…you’re disagreeing with what you think Catholic teaching is, but you don’t really know what it is…as is evident from your own words.

Strategies and Tactics:Do not be afraid to point out the contradictions in logic…he claims to know what Catholics think, yet, he never gets it right when he mentions Catholic beliefs.

1. Are we saved by faith alone? Yes, but I know why you will say otherwise.

Well, of course I’m going to say otherwise, because the Bible says otherwise. Please give me one verse…just one!…of the Bible that says we are saved or justified by “faith alone.” If you can give me that verse, I will renounce my Catholic Faith tomorrow. But, let me ask you the reverse, if I can show you a verse in the Bible that says, very directly, that we are “not” saved, or justified, by “faith alone,” will you consider coming back to the Catholic Church? Will you consider the possibility that the folks whose words you’re now accepting could be teaching you error? And, if you’re not willing to consider coming back to the Church, will you at least admit…again, if I can show you that verse that says the opposite of what you believe regarding faith alone…will you at least admit that the Bible does not teach salvation by “faith alone” (again, if I can show you a verse that says that)?

Also, please answer me this. Do you have to love God in order to be saved? And, do you have to love your fellow man in order to be saved? In other words, can you break the two great Commandments of Christ, and still be saved?

And, one more on this: in 1 Cor 13:13, it says, “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” Why doesn’t it say the greatest of these is faith? After all, if salvation is the ultimate goal, and the only way to reach salvation is through faith alone, why isn’t faith greater than love?

Strategies and Tactics:Asking set up questions. No matter how he answers them, he’s in trouble. For example, if he says you don’t have to love God in order to be saved, he is being consistent with salvation by faith “alone.” But, that would be a pretty ridiculous thing to say, wouldn’t it? If he says that you do have to love God in order to be saved, then it can’t be salvation by faith alone, can it? The only thing he can do to is to avoid them.

2. Sole criteria – faith? Yes, but I know why you’ll say otherwise.

Of course I’ll say otherwise, because the Bible says otherwise. Name me one passage where the criteria that God uses to judge someone is faith? Again, just one passage where we see someone being judged by whether or not they have faith? You repeatedly state that you go by the Bible and that Catholics don’t, well, as they used to say in the Old West, I’m callin’ you out on that one, partner. Lets take a look at some verses:

Romans 2:6…God will render to every man according to his faith? No…according to his deeds.

James 2:12-13…God will judge without mercy those who have shown no mercy; which fits well with the next verse…

Matthew 6:15…God will not forgive you if you have not forgiven others; which fits well with the next verse…

Matthew 18:23-32…God will not forgive those who do not forgive others. In other words, we can’t be saved by faith alone…we have to forgive others to be saved. Isn’t that a work?

Matthew 25:31-46…how does God separate the sheep from the goats? By their faith? No…by what they have done.

Matthew 7:21…how do we get into Heaven, by crying Lord, Lord? By our faith alone? No…by whether or not we have done the will of God.

Rev 20:12…the dead were judged according to their faith? No…according to their works.

I could go on and on…every passage in the New Testament, that I know of, speaks of people being judged by their works, their deeds, by what they have done or by what they haven’t done. Not a single passage that I know of says that we will be judged by our faith alone. Yet you believe that! Why? Because people, not the Bible, have taught you that. Don’t get me wrong…I believe we are indeed saved by our faith, but not by our faith “alone.” I don’t believe that because God’s Word doesn’t teach it. Faith and works are both necessary responses to God’s free gift of His grace. If I believed in salvation by works “alone,” which I don’t, I could make a much better case for that from the Bible than you can for salvation by faith “alone” from the Bible.

Strategies and Tactics:He has absolutely nothing in Scripture with which to back up his answer to my question about the criteria for salvation, according to the Bible, and I’ll come back to that in my next email to him.

3. Once saved, can it be lost? No, but I know why you’ll say otherwise.

Yes, I will say otherwise, because the Bible says otherwise. Again, give me one passage from Scripture that says we cannot lose our salvation. I’ll give you several that say we can. I ask that you read them carefully. Hebrews 6:4-6; Galatians 5:1-4; John 15:1-6; Romans 11:17-22; and 2 Peter 2:19-22. In this last one, God’s Word tells us that is better not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and turned away from it. How can that be if once saved always saved is true? Again, you give me no Bible verses…you who goes by the Bible alone.

Strategies and Tactics:I’m giving him very direct passages in the Bible that clearly and directly say the exact opposite of what he believes…he needs to explain those verses in light of his beliefs.

4. Why are there 25,000 Protestant demoninations? Fair question, but proves nothing. There are many, many divided opinions within the catholic church. Look at all the changes made over the centuries. Many issues are in flux today.

There have been changes made in Church discipline, but no changes made in Church doctrine over the centuries. Again, you are showing that you really do not know the Catholic Faith which you claim to know. Do you know the difference between a “doctrine” and a “discipline” in Catholic teaching?

Yes, there are divided opinions among those who claim the title of Catholic. There are those who wish the Church would teach something different than it does. There are those who teach error and falsely call it Catholic teaching; however, there are no divided opinions as to what the Church actually teaches. All one has to do is pick up the Catechism and see for himself. The Catholic Church has one, and only one, set of doctrines. Those who call themselves Catholic may disagree with one or more of these doctrines, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is only one set of doctrines. This is not true among Protestantism. There are thousands of different sets of doctrines. Thousands of individuals, pastors or not, acting as the Pope for their particular faith tradition. Each one claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and each one claiming to go by the Bible alone, yet they come up with thousands of contradictory and conflicting doctrines. Is that how God wants it?

Strategies and Tractics:This is a common Protestant ploy…well, yes, there’s division within Protestantism, but it’s the same situation in Catholicism. I don’t think so. You need to be ready to explain the difference between having different sets of doctrines to believe in (Protestantism), and dissenting from one distinct set of doctrines (Catholicism).

5. Does it matter if we all believe the same doctrine? It would sure be nice. God hopes we all believe the bible.

It would be nice?! In God’s Church, the one founded by Jesus Christ, do you believe there can there be conflicting doctrines? Can we say that it’s okay for one person to believe something that is in direct contradiction to what another believes? Can we say that contradictory and conflicting doctrines are all welcomed in the Church founded by Jesus Christ? Do you believe that’s okay to have conflicting and contradictory doctrine in the Church? Can we say that it’s okay if Jesus’ Church sometimes teaches error?

Strategies and Tractics:He’s rather flippant here. It betrays a lack of understanding of the necessity of being able to know what is true and what is false doctrine. And, how important doctrine is in the Church founded by Christ.

6. Believe in trinity? Yes, I think we actually agree on that one.

But, the point is…why do you believe in the Trinity? Is it in the Bible? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that there is one God Who is 3 persons, each person consubstantially God. You could give the Bible to a million non-Christians to read, and not a single one of them would come up with the doctrine of the Trinity, just from reading the Bible. The essence of the Trinity is there, but it is not there directly as we believe it. Do you know why you believe in the Trinity? Because of the Councils of the Catholic Church.

Strategies and Tractics: Making the point that he believes things that are not found directly in the Bible and that his beliefs rely upon the authority of the Catholic Church.

7. Mary – we’ll never agree so who cares

I care. You said that Mary had other children besides Jesus. I say you are spreading false teaching by saying that. So, either you’re spreading false teaching or I am. And all you can say about that is, “Who cares?” I say, and Christians for 2000 years have said (even non-Catholics like Martin Luther and John Calvin agree) that Mary was a perpetual virgin. I asked you about the Apostle James in Galatians 1:19 who is described as being the “Lord’s brother.” And, in Mark 6:3 it says that the Lord had “brothers” and “sisters.” One of those was named James. So, James the Apostle mentioned as the Lord’s brother in Galatians 1, must indeed be the James mentioned as the Lord’s brother in Mark 6:3, right? Well, he has to be the same unless the Lord had two brothers named James. But, there is a bit of a problem, here. Matthew 10:2-3 gives us a list of the Apostles. There are two Apostles named James. Now, one of those must be the son of Mary and Joseph, according to what you believe. After all, there is an Apostle named James who is the Lord’s “brother.” But, we have a problem when we actually read the list in Matthew 10. The two James’ are the sons of Zebedee and Alphaeus, respectively. Well, that just can’t be, can it? Doesn’t one of them have to be the son of Joseph? Well, one of them does have to be the son of Joseph if you interpret “brother” in an absolute sense as being a son of Mary and Joseph. But, if you interpret the word “brother” as the Jews of the time did, then it keeps Scripture from contradicting itself. The Jews did not have a word for cousin or nephew or uncle or brother-in-law or step-brother – they used one word for all of these close relations…brother. So, the Catholic intepretation, that the “brothers” of Christ were actually cousins or some other family relation, fits all of scripture in this regard…the common Evangelical interpretation, which is your interpretation, does not.

Strategies and Tractics: This is where we finally spring the trap regarding the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus.

8. Mortal versus non-mortal sin – please show me.

Easy. 1 John 15:16-17. In the language of the KJV, it says that there are sins “unto death” and sins that are not “unto death.” We have a name for those two kinds of sins…mortal and venial. Scripture doesn’t get too much clearer than that. So, do you now accept the Catholic teaching that there are two types of sin…one deadly and one not?

Strategies and Tactics: Showing him a Catholic teaching that cannot be plainer in the texts of the Bible. But, don’t just show him the text, ask the question: “So, I’ve shown you where it says that, do you now accept it?”

9. Confession to a priest? It clearly says in one place to confess to a priest, just like it says elsewhere that Jesus is the only mediator. How does that get resolved?

Again, for someone who claims to know what Catholic believes, I have to say that you certainly don’t say anything that reinforces your statement. As you say, it clearly says in to confess to a priest. Nowhere, in fact, does the Bible say to confess your sins to God and God alone. And, we have John 20:222-23 that tells us the disciples were given the authority to forgive (or retain!) sins. How could they do that if folks weren’t confessing their sins to them? And, Matthew 9:6-8 tells us that the “authority on earth to forgive sins” was given to “men.” Not just to one man…Jesus Christ…but to men…plural!

However, as Catholics, we clearly recognize that this authority is from God. It is not something the priest does all by Himself. It is God Who forgives the sins, but exercises this authority to forgive sins through the ministry of the priest. Just as God has used men to heal bodies, so He uses men to heal souls. So the priest is acting in persona Christi…in the person of Christ. Jesus Christ acting in and through human beings, to bring about the ministry of reconciliation. So, this does nothing but reinforce the teaching that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man. The priest, as a member of the body of Christ, heals and reconciles by the authority Christ has given him.

Strategies and Tractics:More Bible verses to back up Church teaching.

10. don’t know

11. don’t know, don’t think the answer makes the grand statement that Catholics or Protestants are right

12. I don’t have a bible with me right now to look up Malachi 1:11

Did you ever look up Malachi 1:11? If you did, what is the one and only perfect offering ever made to God? What about the incense thing in that passage? Do you use incense in your worship services? Do you offer a perfect offering to God from the rising of the sun to its setting in all nations? We do.

Strategies and Tractics:Asking another set up question.

I think the grand statement is what I wrote last time, and in this new thought. I wrote a long letter to my parents recently who have been Catholic their whole life. The letter encouraged them to read the bible, to see what God says, to know Jesus, to pray, to do more than go to church. I got back from them the dopiest paragraph. It said they think all churches teach a good message, that being to be a good person, then it’s up to us to go out and do it. End of topic. That’s it! That’s their entire Catholic relationship with God, father, son, and spirit. Their lifetime of accumulated knowledge is that it’s up to the church and us to prove how good we are. They barely know God, they do not know Jesus, they have no interest in reading God’s word, they are content letting priests tell thme what dopey things to think, and what they’ve been told for 80 years will probably only get them to hell (I’m not judging; I only say that because that’s what God says). They are typical Catholics. Some Catholics will go to heaven; some Protestants will not. There’s no doubt in my mind which does a vastly better job of teaching us what God says. After 40 years of being a Catholic, I was as totally dumb and uninterested in god as my parents. They are so into doing it their way that they did not even mention God’s name in their letter. They’re following the totally wrong “traditions” that Jesus warned us of several times. They never pray or read the bible. They go to church to feel good about themselves. The answer is not Catholic or Protestant; it’s to know God, but if I had to pick, I’d say Protestant for the many, obvious real-life reasons given.


With all due respect, the manner in which your parents, or any one else who calls themselves Catholic, practices their faith, has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Catholic teaching is true. And you are judging them. God’s doesn’t say in Scripture that Phil’s parents are going to Hell. It’s you saying that. If indeed they don’t know God, whose fault is that…theirs or the Church? The Church can’t make them pray more or read the Bible more or practice their faith more than just one hour on Sunday morning. Would you blame Jesus because the Apostles abandoned Him when He was arrested? Would you blame Jesus because Peter denied Him? Would you blame Jesus because Judas betrayed Him? I don’t think so. Then, why do you blame the body of Christ, the Church, if some who call themselves members do not do what they are called by the Church to do…become holy? Love God with all of their heart, mind, and strength.

You say that some Catholics will go to Heaven. I’ll tell you which ones will…the ones who take the Church’s teachings seriously and who strive for peace with all men and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Those are the Catholics who will make it to Heaven…not those who give mere lip service to the Church’s teachings. But, my question to you is…how can you say a Catholic, who believes all those “dopey things” that the priests teach, will end up in Heaven? And, how can you say Protestants do a much better job of teaching us what God says, when Protestant beliefs as to what God says are all over the Board? Some believe in salvation by faith alone, some do not. Some believe in once saved always saved, some do not. Some believe in the rapture, some do not. Some believe in infant baptism, some do not. Some believe in baptismal regeneration, some do not. Some believe in the Eucharist as the actual body and blood of Jesus, some do not. So, please tell me, how can Protestants do a better job of teaching truth, when there is no consensus among Protestants as to what the truth is?

Strategies and Tractics:Do not ever let someone say that the Catholic Church cannot be true because of the individual practices (or lack thereof) of Catholics. That logic just doesn’t fly.

In Closing

Now, again, this has been a bit long, but I hope you can see from Phil’s responses, that his theological system has quite a few holes in it. That’s true across the board in Protestantism…you just need to learn to ask the questions necessary to expose the holes, and then plant some seeds in those holes!

Also, please notice that I had to ask Phil several times to answer my questions, but, to his credit, he finally did. However, that would not have happened if I hadn’t kept asking. Now that he has answered, I responded with the heavy artillery, so to speak. Again, I don’t expect him to answer everything, I doubt he can…which should cause him some discomfort, theologically speaking. In other words, it should make him really think about some things…at least, we pray it will.

’Nuff said. Please let folks know about this newsletter and the website (www.biblechristiansociety.com). Thanks!

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Apologetics for the Masses