Thursday, November 19, 2015


Last month, we specifically addressed the “authority to interpret Scripture” concept which we found in one of John Martignoni’s newsletters (#268).  Martignoni is a well known and influential Catholic apologist who has thousands of people who subscribe to his newsletter and other materials.  So, we feel that it is important to address some of his errors and misrepresentations.

This month, we will take a look at Martignoni’s view of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”).  In newsletters #83 through #85, which can be found here

Martignoni addresses Sola Scriptura and claims that this doctrine is not logical, not historical, and not scriptural.  But his foundational argument is based on a couple of false premises.  For example, Martignoni first defines Sola Scriptura in this way in newsletter #83:

“First, let me define the dogma of Sola Scriptura so that you know exactly what I mean when I use the term.  As I understand it, it is the belief that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the only thing that a Christian needs in order to know whatever they need to know about Christian teaching and practice.”

This definition is the first false premise.  Perhaps there are some Protestants who would define Sola Scriptura in this way, but that is certainly not a biblical definition.  We believe that Sola Scriptura is indeed a biblical concept and we would simply define it this way:

  • Scripture is the only infallible Rule of Faith for the church today.

Key word, “infallible.”  There are indeed other sources of authority (or rules of faith) in the church today, like church leaders, theologians, the writings of church fathers, archaeological and historical evidence, traditions, councils, Bible commentaries, catechisms, etc.  We are free to use these things to help us learn and grow spiritually, but none of these are infallible.  Scripture is the ultimate Rule of Faith today because it is the only infallible one.  But John Martignoni’s false premise is that those who believe in Sola Scriptura must use ONLY the Bible to learn anything spiritual.  But that is a misrepresentation of Sola Scriptura.

At the end of this particular newsletter, Martignoni appeals to his audience to help him by asking for advice from his readers so he can “tweak” his upcoming article on Sola Scriptura.  And, in fact, in newsletter #84, his readers are the ones who pointed out that his original definition was “too narrow,” and convinced him to use a somewhat more biblical definition of Sola Scriptura.  His second (refined) definition is this:

“The Bible is the sole authority that one needs to decide what is and is not authentic Christian teaching and practice.  Now, that is not to say that one cannot learn things from sources other than the Bible, but these other sources are not infallible, as is the Bible, and do not carry the kind of binding authority that the Bible carries.”

Here, it appears that he is starting to understand the meaning of Sola Scriptura.  But immediately after this, Martignoni turns right around and contradicts this new definition by saying:

“In other words, the Bible is the sole rule of faith for the Christian.  If it’s not in the Bible, then I, as a Christian, am not bound to believe it.”

He misses the fact that Sola Scriptura allows for the Christian to believe in other rules of faith, as long as that rule does not conflict with Scripture.  Again, he goes from “sole authentic teaching” to “sole rule of faith.”  He reverts back to his original (faulty) definition.

And once again, in newsletter #85, Martignoni does another word switch:

“Does the Bible teach that it is the sole infallible authority for deciding matters related to Christian teaching and practice?  In other words, does the Bible teach that it is the sole rule of faith for the Christian?”
Do you see what he does here?  In the first half, he gets the biblical definition right, but then turns right around and switches back to his original wording.  This is a typical bait-and-switch tactic.

Still again, he later contradicts his refined definition of Sola Scriptura by saying:

“However, it nowhere says anything about the Bible being the sole rule of faith for the Christian.”
Martignoni seems to have trouble maintaining a consistent definition of Sola Scriptura.  How many times do we need to remind him that Sola Scriptura DOES NOT mean that the Bible is the sole rule of faith.  It is the sole INFALLIBLE rule of faith.  There is a world of difference. 

Is Martignoni intentionally muddying the water?  A professional apologist like himself should know better; he should easily be able to recognize the difference between the two definitions.  Apparently (by his own admission) even his readers can tell the difference, since they were the ones who suggested the new definition.

John Martignoni’s second false premise in these articles is that we need infallible authority when we interpret the Bible and we cannot allow “individual interpretation” of Scripture.  But we already addressed that error in last month’s article here:

Again, this “authority to interpret” argument is one of Martignoni’s foundational arguments that he uses often.  For him, it is a major building block for many (if not most) of his teachings.  But exposing this false “need” for infallible interpretations undercuts Martignoni’s whole “authority argument” and brings it crumbling down.

We cannot emphasize this enough:  Even if John Martignoni’s church was infallible (and we strongly assert that it is not) and if they were able to perfectly and infallibly interpret Scripture, he would still be in the same “trap” as the Protestant.  He must still use his own fallible mind and faculties, along with common sense, to interpret his supposed infallible source (the Catholic Church).  He cannot claim that fallible interpretations are a problem for Protestants, but not for Catholics.  We are all fallible.

So, John Martignoni is off to a very bad start if he cannot even get the definition of Sola Scriptura right, and if one of his most foundational arguments (“authority to interpret”) is invalid.  Interested readers can find, in this blog, answers to Martignoni’s other arguments against Sola Scriptura, as well.  See these links:

We also have an eight-part series on Sola Scriptura starting here:

Friday, October 30, 2015


In the latest edition of his Bible Christian Society newsletter, popular Catholic apologist John Martignoni is addressing comments that were made to him by a Protestant named Don Jackson.  We don’t know Don Jackson and our purpose here is not to defend him or the things he said.  We simply want to comment on just one specific aspect of what John Martignoni said.  Martignoni’s newsletter article can be found here:

In this newsletter (#268), Martignoni encourages his readers, when debating with Protestants, to “get to the issue of authority as soon as possible.”  He feels that this is a strong point for Catholics.  He assures his readers that Protestants are unable to answer his questions concerning authority without somehow falling back on the authority of the Catholic Church. 
At one point, he asks, “Who is it that can authoritatively interpret Scripture?”
But the question contains a false premise.  Martignoni is assuming that one must have some special authority to interpret Scripture correctly.  But that’s not true at all.  This would be like asking, “What authority must I have to follow the Ten Commandments?”  In either case, it’s not about authority; it’s just something that God wants and expects us to do.

And it’s not just church leaders who are expected to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 3:15; Acts 17:11; Matthew 13:3-9).  The people that followed Jesus were not mostly the rich, or scholars, church leaders, teachers or the elite.  Most of them were just plain folk, the uneducated, the poor, the down and out, and the lost.  It was these people who cried out to God, recognizing their need, and followed Jesus.  It was those who were spiritually hungry and those who pressed in and wanted to do God’s will that understood His message (John 7:15-17).  Jesus never said or implied that one needed “special authority” to understand His words.  See these articles:

Toward the end of the newsletter, Martignoni tells Jackson, “I do not follow my own teachings based solely upon my own authority and my own private interpretations of Scripture as you do, so I have no need of being infallible.  You, however, relying on your own authority and your own private interpretations, which you have admitted could be wrong, have need of being infallible – but you’re not.”

Here, Martignoni now goes a step farther and implies that not only does one need an “authoritative” interpretation, but he needs an infallible one!  Again, this is a false premise.  First of all, who says that one has to be infallible to interpret Scripture?  He certainly doesn’t get this idea from the Bible (Mark 4:3-9).  Second, let’s break down what he said.  He implies that his teachings are not based on his own authority / interpretations, but those of the “infallible” Catholic Church, as opposed to the Protestant, who merely follows his own interpretation of the Bible.
But in order to understand and follow the (supposedly infallible) teachings of the Catholic Church, Martignoni must still use his own fallible understanding to do so, just as the Protestant does when interpreting his infallible source (the Bible).  There is no escaping the fact that we are ALL fallible today, and must ALL use our fallible minds to understand an infallible source.
So, Martignoni is simply playing word games when he says he doesn’t follow his own authority or his own private interpretation.  It is still his fallible interpretation of what the Catholic Church teaches.
Just before the previous quote that we gave from the newsletter, Martignoni had asked Jackson,  “Will you admit that you could be wrong in your interpretations of Scripture and that you could mistakenly be following the father of all lies by relying on your own private, fallible, non-authoritative, man-made interpretations of Scripture?”  Martignoni thinks that he has Jackson over a barrel here and that Jackson cannot escape his trap.  But we would turn this question around on him and ask:  “John Martignoni, will you admit that you could be wrong in your interpretations of the Church and that you could mistakenly be following the father of all lies by relying on your own private, fallible, non-authoritative, man-made interpretations of the Church?”  Is Martignoni humble enough to answer yes to this?  He needs to remember that this sword cuts both ways.
The bottom line… one does not need infallibility, or even “authority,” to interpret Scripture correctly.

We just might do some commentary on more of John Martignoni’s newsletters in the very near future.  By the way, we’d also like to refer our readers to a very good website that deals in-depth with many of Martignoni’s teachings here: 

Thursday, September 24, 2015


The Catholic Church has a number of unbiblical teachings on Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Some of these include the concept of her bodily Assumption into Heaven, Mary as the “Queen of Heaven,” Mary as the “Mother of the Church” (i.e., of all Christians), and Mary as the “Ark of the New Covenant.”  It seems that a misinterpretation of Revelation chapter 12 is the springboard, at least in part, for these particular Catholic teachings.  But is Mary the woman portrayed in Revelation 12?  What does the Catholic Church say?

Note these official Catholic sources:

On February 2, 1904, Pope Pius X, in his papal encyclical (an official letter to the church), titled Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, said: 

“A woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.” Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary… (Paragraph 24)

On May 13, 1967, Pope Paul VI, in his papal encyclical, The Great Sign, said: 

The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun,”…as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

And Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1987, wrote in his papal encyclical (Redemptoris Mater):

For Mary… by her ecclesial identification as the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev. 12:1)… (Paragraph 47)

So, according to these popes, the Catholic Church officially sees Mary as the woman who is clothed with the sun in chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, where she is (supposedly) revealed in all of her splendor.  But it doesn’t stop here.  This interpretation also leads to other doctrines which cause Mary to be overly honored in other aspects, as well.  The influence of this interpretation develops a mindset that can eventually lead to the worship of Mary, though most Catholics will not admit it.

But to be fair, there are some Catholic apologists who see several different interpretations of the “woman” in Revelation 12.  In spite of the official Catholic documents quoted above, some will say that the woman clothed with the sun could possibly represent 1) the church, 2) Eve, 3) Mary, or 4) Israel.

But let’s take a look at the passage in context so that we can determine if it does indeed point to Mary or not.  Here it is: 

(Revelation 12:1-6)

  1) And there appeared a great wonder in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

  2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

  3) And there appeared another wonder in Heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

  4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth:  and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

  5) And she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:  and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.

  6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 

Ok, it seems obvious that the manchild who will rule with a rod of iron (v. 5) is Jesus Christ, I think most everyone would agree; although there are some who believe that the manchild will be the 144,000 Jews who are sealed by God (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5).  But anyway, let’s find out who this “woman” is in context.  

  1) It is not the church.  

How do we know?  Because the church did not give birth to Jesus (v. 5).  One could argue that Jesus “gave birth” to the church, but not the other way around.  

  2) It is not Eve.

One could say that Eve, in a sense, gave birth to Jesus, but she also indirectly gave birth to everyone else on the planet (except Adam).  So, this is not helpful.  Also, there is nothing in Scripture about Eve fleeing into the wilderness for special protection for 1260 days (v. 6).

  3) It is not Mary.

Yes, Mary directly gave birth to Jesus Christ, but she did not flee into the wilderness for protection.  Someone might object and say that this happened when she and her husband Joseph fled to Egypt, but according to Revelation 12, the woman’s flight was not when her Son was a child, but it was after the ascension of Jesus to the throne of God (v. 5-6).  And again, their flight into Egypt had nothing to do with her being fed for 1260 days.  So, this “woman” in Revelation does not describe Mary.

  4) It is the nation of Israel.

If the “woman” is seen as Israel, everything lines up.  Israel is “clothed with the sun” (a symbol of her glory given to her by God).  She has the “moon under her feet” (symbolic of the dominion God gave her).  She has a crown of twelve stars (representing the twelve tribes - Genesis 37:9-10).  She produced / gave birth to the Messiah (John 4:22), Who will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9; Revelation 19:15).  She will flee into the wilderness to escape the wrath of the antichrist and will be under God’s special protection for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) - (or 42 months - Revelation 11:2; 13:5), (or three and a half years - Revelation 12:14; Daniel 7:25; 12:7) – these are all referring to the same thing.  This extremely heavy persecution of Israel will begin in the second half (middle) of the seven-year Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-21).  These 1260 days have nothing to do with Mary, but everything to do with Israel.

By the way, the mention of the angel Michael in the same context (Revelation 12:7) is another clue that the author is speaking about Israel, since Michael is identified as the “great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people [Israel].” (Daniel 12:1)

Since the evidence points to Israel as the identity of the “woman clothed with the sun,” shouldn’t the Catholic Church make some serious changes in their doctrines and dogmas concerning Mary?  Yes they should, but we seriously doubt that will happen.