Sunday, December 27, 2015


When discussing salvation, the Catholic Church sometimes uses the term “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.”  This is a Latin phrase meaning “outside the Church there is no salvation.”  In Scripture, the word “church” means “called out ones,” and it refers to believers / saints (Acts 2:47), i.e., all those who are saved, throughout the world (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:17-18), and sometimes it refers to the local assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1 and 2).

If the biblical definition of “the church” is what is meant in this Latin slogan, then it is somewhat redundant.  It is like saying that there are no Christians outside Christianity.  But that is self-evident.  But what does the Catholic Church mean by “the Church” in this context?  Are they referring to all true believers, no matter what denomination or group you belong to?  No, when they say “the Church” here, they mean only the Catholic Church, the organization / institution headed by the Vatican in Rome, the supposed “One True Church.”  They are claiming that no one outside the Catholic Church can be saved.  If there is any doubt about this definition, here are just a few official Catholic sources to prove the point:

  • In the Lateran Council (A.D. 1215), Pope Innocent III wrote about the Catholic Church:  “One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved…” (Emphasis added)

  • On November 18, 1302, Pope Boniface VIII wrote in a papal encyclical / bull called “Unam Sanctam”:  “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff [the pope].” (Emphasis added)

  • In 1441, at the Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, in the papal bull, “Cantate Domino,” wrote:  “It [the Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock… ” 

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church, teaches the same concept, but in a softer, less abrasive, more ecumenical language, “reformulated positively.” CCC #846, quoting the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium (LG 14), says:  “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council [Vatican II] teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation…” (Emphasis added)

In the past, the Catholic Church has hurled many anathemas (declarations of condemnation) toward Protestants and other non-Catholics.  But it seems that today it is not as blunt as it used to be, but is more concerned now about using ecumenical, “separated brethren” language that is not as offensive.  However, the point remains.  They are clearly telling us that one needs to be a member of the Catholic Church to make it into Heaven.  They’re not saying that all Catholics are saved, but that only faithful Catholics are.

However, in all fairness, the Catholic Church does also teach that a non-Catholic can still possibly be saved, if he is “invincibly ignorant” about the Church, “through no fault of his own” (CCC #847).  We can agree with the concept that a person who has never heard of Jesus Christ (and perhaps never will) can still be saved if he reaches out for God (Acts 17:26-27; Romans 1:18-20).  But these people are the exceptions to the rule.  We don’t have a problem with these exceptions.  But we do have a problem with the Catholic Church claiming that the norm is that no one is saved apart from the Catholic Church.  That’s an extraordinary claim, and as we’ve said many times before, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  But biblical proof of this teaching is not to be found.

Catholicism’s concept of “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” exists because of their belief that they are the “One True Church,” as mentioned earlier.  And why do they say this?  Mainly because they believe:

  • The Catholic Church has all the right sacraments. 

  • The Catholic Church has “Sacred Tradition.” 

  • The Catholic Church has a leader in the pope who unifies its people, backed by apostolic succession.

  • The Catholic Church has the “four marks of the true church,” and therefore, the fullness of the truth.

But we would respond in this way:

  1) Concerning the sacraments, it is (supposedly) through these that one can obtain and maintain eternal life, especially baptism, the Eucharist, and confession to a priest.  For the Catholic, the sacraments are inseparably tied into salvation (CCC #1129).  But there are some major problems with this system of salvation by works.  See here: 

  2) Concerning “Sacred Tradition,” not only does this teaching have some special problems, it has an identity crisis, as well.  See here:

  3) Concerning the concept of a pope, there is nothing in Scripture that teaches there is such a person or such a position in the church.  Furthermore, the Catholic Church’s concept of “apostolic succession” is not scriptural either, and it is morally and historically unsustainable.  See here:

  4)  Concerning the “four marks of the true church,” the Catholic Church cannot claim either the fullness of the truth, nor can it claim all four marks.  Actually, they cannot even claim one of the marks in the way they define them.  See here for a four-part series of articles addressing this topic:

In conclusion, this idea that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is a trap; it is just as much a trap as Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6).  The temptations may not be the same, but the end result is:  spiritual death (Genesis 2:16-17).

When a person joins the Catholic Church, he is hoping to obtain eternal life, but if he is faithful to the Church’s teachings, he will only have a system which attempts to gain salvation through faith plus works - a network of bondage that enslaves its members from cradle to grave.  It is a method in which there is no power to save.  It is precisely the type of system that the Apostle Paul warned us about in Galatians 1:8-9, one which condemns the individual because it attempts to add our pitiful, imperfect works to the perfect, complete, and absolutely sufficient work that Jesus did on the cross (Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:16-20).

The bottom line is that “No Salvation outside the Catholic Church” is an arrogant and unscriptural concept that has burdened and entangled millions of souls.  So, dear friend, what will you do?  Will you give in to the many unproven claims of the Catholic Church… or will you submit to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16)?

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: 

[Update - This link is no longer in service]