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A Conversation : Fifth Response - Mr. Walker - Part One
In this portion Mr. Walker responds to Mr. Martignoni's previous e-mail, injecting his comments into Mr. Martignoni's e-mail.

Dear Pastor Walker,

I would have to say that, overall, you simply are not understanding the thrust of my arguments. I will assume responsibility for most, but not all, of the misunderstanding and seek to do a better job of clarifying my position. I say that I will accept “most” of the responsibility because I believe some of the misunderstanding comes from preconceived biases against the Catholic Faith on your part.

You speak of starting from scratch without preconceived notions when it comes to building one’s theology and doctrines, so I would simply ask the same of you when it comes to Catholics and what it is we believe and practice. You look at our Faith through what are, essentially, Protestant lenses and with an essentially Protestant understanding, rather than attempting to view our Faith through the eyes of a Catholic and with Catholic understanding.

Mr. Martignoni, I am not calling into question what you or the Roman Catholic Church teaches in their religion. I am seeking the truth and helping others to find it. My point is that the Bible is truth, and when I build my theology on it, I know it is true. The Roman Catholic Church can teach anything they want and you are free to believe anything you want. I just want you, Mr. Martinez, and anyone else in the Roman Catholic Church to understand that when they meet the creator of the universe he is going to tell them that everything they did in his name was done in vain, because he did not know them. (Matthew 7:21-23 and 15:7-9) I only wish to share with you and others the truth of scripture, because the truth will set you free. In other words we do not need to agree, just know that when you follow Roman Catholic teaching, you are not following the God described in the pages of scriptures. The doctrines and teachings are not found in the scripture, and as you have shown several times rely on such arguments as “the Bible doesn’t say we can’t do this or that we shouldn’t do that” or they are based on flawed logical progressions originated upon faulty foundations. My challenge for you and Mr. Martinez is not start an argument with you, but simply to get to know the God, that by His Holy Spirit has written us and revealed his great mysteries. You do not need to read the scriptures the same way as I do, I never claimed to be in fallible or to have all knowledge. However there are several problems with Roman Catholic teaching when you compare it to the Bible, not the least of which is that, when simply building your doctrine from scripture, you will not find most of them at all. Now as I respond to your questions, know that I am not debating you, but only interested in showing everyone the truth that is in scripture and how they can rest in his name and be saved.

It’s as if you went to a “football” game in Italy , expecting to see and hear things in a certain way, only to find them playing a game (soccer) that didn’t fit with your definition of football. So, you set about telling them that they’re not playing football in the right way and how they’ve gotten all the rules wrong and so on. Instead of realizing that they use the term “football” to mean one thing, and you use it to mean another, you try to force your definitions and your rules and your understanding onto their practice and their language and their understanding. Now, this is not a perfect analogy, but basically what you’re doing is taking your rules and applying them to our game. And when we don’t play by your rules, you condemn us to Hell.

First of all I condemn no one to hell. Not only do I not have the power, but when I show someone from scripture that they are doing something worthy of hell, it is not I that condemn them, but themselves and God. I would only be a messenger. However, I do agree with you, I would say this is obviously not the same sport as I know and I would make the clear distinction between the two based upon the aspects of the game and not on their similar names. And I feel the same way regarding the Roman Catholic faith and Biblical Christianity. They are entirely two different games. I do not believe you and I share a similar faith in the least, I only hope to show those who think they are playing the right game that, they are missing the real game. (No negativity intended here for the sport of football or soccer J) As I said you are free to “play” any game that you want. You are free to do as you want, I am not forcing you to “play” a different game, nor am I condemning you for playing a different game than I do.

But to use your analogy, if I went to Italy and I knew I was going to watch a football game, and the players, coaches and fans were very excited because they were anticipating scouts from the NFL to visit soon, then I would realize there was a problem. I would know that they were going to be sorely disappointed, if they thought the NFL scouts were looking for “football” (soccer) players, and had been practicing soccer in preparation. I would want to let them know, that they are practicing for the wrong game, the scouts will not be impressed, because they will be looking for different skills. So if I were to show the Italian players what the NFL scouts were looking for, it would not be a condemnation of their game. Instead it would be to help them to be ready for the scouts and to understand what they would be looking for. If they choose to keep practicing soccer and not listen to my words, I would feel sorry for them, but I would also know that they did not fail because no one told them, but that they chose to practice a different game.

And please don’t respond with, “It’s not my rules, it’s the rules of Jesus Christ as found in the Scriptures. I’m just going by what it says in the Scriptures.” No, you are not going by what it says in Scripture. You are actually going by your interpretation of the words of Scripture, but yours is an interpretation that is not grounded in anything other than your own understanding of the Bible, as you freely admit in your response to me; and your understanding of Scripture, and thereby your interpretation of Scripture, is fallible – as you also readily admit.

I have never said that I was infallible, as other men have done, but that simply does not mean that we can not know truth. This has been my challenge to you and Mr. Martinez from the beginning, to look at the scriptures together and see what we get, when we let the inerrant word of God guide us. I never said you had to understand the Bible as I do. When I teach the word, I teach so that others will search it out for themselves. I do them no service if I train them to follow me. Even if all my teachings were right on, I would have then trained up people to not think for themselves, but to follow a man. No, my challenge for us, Mr. Martignoni, is not to follow what I tell you scripture says, but to read scripture and see where it takes us. If from reading it, without something to prove, you are able to build the same doctrine that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, than that doctrine would be solid.

And relying on your own interpretation can lead you into a great deal of trouble. In my last email, I asked you if you were “seeking God.” I asked because you were interpreting Rom 3:23 (“since ALL have sinned…”) as an absolute statement and were thereby using it to “prove,” from Scripture, that Mary was a sinner. So, I asked you if you seek God, because in Rom 3:11 it says that, “NO ONE seeks for God.” I wanted to see if you thought Rom 3:11 should be interpreted as an absolute as well. I thought that there was no way you, as a Christian pastor, would claim not to be seeking God and I could then show that you were being inconsistent – interpreting Rom 3:23 as an absolute but not interpreting Rom 3:11 as an absolute.

I knew you may have difficulty understanding this, so I will try to explain to you. First of all, lets look who Paul is quoting here and the purpose to which he is quoting. Paul is quoting David here and making a statement in Romans 3:23, because he trying to show the Jews, that they are in the same boat as the Gentiles when it comes to sin. The Jews weren’t going to escape punishment because they had the law, in fact Paul said in Romans 2 that they even less an excuse for their transgressions, because the had the law and knew what was right or wrong but then did the same things. So When he quotes David, a man after God’s heart ( I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), he is showing the Jews that even someone that they esteemed so highly, understood that he could never claim to be good or to be seeking God. David understood what, Isaiah would describe as our best works being like filthy rags “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6

This is similar to someone thinking that they can follow the commandments or that they could ever truly love God with ALL their hearts. The reality of the situation is that we are divided in our very bodies and there is a sin nature that will continue to fight us, never allowing us to be “good”, the best we can do does not even come close to what God is looking for.

So when I say I do not seek God, I understand my humble state. I understand Paul’s words in Ephesians, that I have received salvation 100% by God’s grace, and not even a fraction of a percent on my ability to “seek” God. It is not that I don’t want or try to seek him and do good, it is that I truly am incapable of truly seeking him or of doing good.

But, you surprised me. When I asked if you were seeking God, you responded as follows: “I am not. I would say this is impossible, while living in this body of sin. We are in a constant battle with the flesh, and our hearts are always set on evil. (Romans 7) I would not presume to say that I am living this out, nor can I accept that you are. Especially when scripture tells us that no one does…So we can not say that we are really seeking God, especially when God say that no one does.”

Pastor, your preconceived bias about Catholic teaching on Mary has led you astray here because in order to be consistent in your interpretation of Scripture, and not to concede my point, you have to interpret not only Rom 3:23 in an absolute manner, you have to also interpret Rom 3:11 in an absolute manner. You are at least consistent, but you are consistent in error. By the way, you must not fear God either, because Rom 3:18 says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Do you not fear God, Pastor Walker?

Mary has absolutely nothing to do with this understanding. I can assure you neither she, nor the Roman Catholic Church was on my mind, when I read this or came to understand it. In fact this understanding is the very foundation of the gospel. It is only the understanding that I can not save myself, that I will never be able to please God by my works, that I am already condemned from the moment I am conceived and that I stand on death row, from a sentence that was past at Adam (Romans5), that makes the gospel truly good news. When we were all in death and powerless to do anything to save my self, God himself died for me, his enemy. This is the good news, taught by the apostles. Paul says in Galatians 2:21

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

So if anyone could in fact gain righteousness through their works, than Christ’s death was worthless and not necessary. Grace through faith, trusting in his name and not ours. This IS the Gospel of Jesus.

As for Romans 3:18, no I do not truly fear the Lord, especially not all the time. Anyone who says otherwise is deceiving themselves. If anyone truly feared the Lord all the time, they would understand that sin is an affront to him, it is a personal attack to him and he sees and knows everything. If anyone truly feared God there is no way they could sin. They would not fear starvation and think to even steal bread. They would never be proud or put anything before the Lord. Simply, when someone fears God they will not sin. John tells us in 1 John 1:8

1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

To fear God, means that you would have to be without sin. And the scripture is clear that nobody fits this.

Imagine, a Christian pastor who says he does not seek God! Is your interpretation of Rom 3:11, which states that ABSOLUTELY no one seeks God, consistent with the rest of the Scriptures, though? Let’s see.

Deut 4:29 – “But from there [the land of Israel ] you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

1 Chron 16:10-11 – “Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually!”

2 Chron 11:16 – “And those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel …”

Ezra 8:22 – “The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him…”

Psalm 9:10 – “For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.”

Prov 28:5 – “...but those who seek the Lord understand it [justice] completely.”

Amos 5:4 – “For thus says the Lord…’Seek me and live.’”

Zeph 2:3 – “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land who do His commands.”

Matt 6:33 – “But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness…”

Matt 7:7-8 – “Seek and you shall find…for he who seeks finds.”

Heb 11:6 – “For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

Yes, absolutely no one is good and no one truly seeks God.

There are many more passages that I could have cited, but these will suffice to show that your interpretation, Pastor Walker, of Rom 3:11 is inconsistent with the rest of the Scriptures. There are plenty of folks throughout the Scriptures who are seeking God. Scripture commands us to seek God! Yet, you say “I am not” seeking God. Your answer that you do not seek God is rather damning. 2 Chron 14:13, “And that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death.”

Those verses do not teach this. Half of them aren’t even saying that anyone seeks God, but what God would promise to those who would seek him. Anyway I have tried to explain this to you earlier in this email. I understand it may be difficult for you, but the summation of the concept is that even the best I can do is nothing at all compared to what is required. I do not come close to meeting the perfect standard of God and no human born and conceived in sin can. This is why we need a savior.

In other words, Pastor, your interpretation of Rom 3:11, and thereby the rest of Romans 3, is not in line with the Word of God. And, if you have so badly interpreted these passages, whose to say you haven’t done the same with many others? Your answer, “I am not,” to my question as to whether or not you are seeking God, speaks to the terrible bind you put yourself in when you rely on your own fallible understanding of Scripture. As Proverbs 3:5 says, “Lean not unto your own understanding.” Yet, that is exactly what you are doing. And your understanding has led you to believe and teach things that are contrary to the Scriptures, as I’ve just shown. For a Christian pastor to admit that he is NOT seeking God, is absolutely bizarre!

Well, I think I have answered you here. And have shown that no one can claim to be good, to seek God, or to fear him.

However if you would like to search it out with me, I would love to study this with you. Let’s search scripture, reading all these passages in context and see what scriptures says regarding our ability to please God and see if it is possible to truly seek God and to be righteous..

You said, “My beliefs are directly taken from scripture, from my own study and from the Holy Spirit.” In other words, you rely on no one other than yourself for your interpretations of Scripture. Yet, in an earlier email, you stated that the writings of the early Christians were important, as they give one insight into the mind of the Church in those early centuries. But, in reality you don’t give a hoot about what the early Christians said and what the mind of the Church was in the early centuries, or in any century, of Christianity, do you? You rely on your interpretation, and yours alone, to arrive at what you believe to be the truth.

My statement was to tell you that I was not regurgitating someone else’s teaching, but telling you what the Holy Spirit has shown me. Mr. Martinez seemed to think that I was simply restating what I had been fed by some teacher or Catholic basher. And I wanted you to know that my beliefs are based on solely on scripture. I did not mean that I did not listen to or ever consult other men for their thoughts or inputs. In a way, I don’t give a hoot as what early Christians wrote about. I know their writing is not inspired and that it is merely the thoughts of a sinful man. Their writings originate with them, scriptures originates from the Holy Spirit. If a man has a doctrine that contradicts scripture, it is wrong. I do find it interesting to read what other Christians have found in their study of God’s word, but all things must be tested against the scripture. The same applies to anything I find, if it contradicts scripture, I must reject it as well.

I think all history is important to read, but that does not make it anything I would build my faith on. If their writing did not originate with them, but with the Holy Spirit, than I would as I would know that it is truth. But I think both of us would admit that these writings were not inspired.

You say that you take your beliefs from the Holy Spirit as well as from your own study of Scripture, but how is that so? Is the Holy Spirit guiding you in all of your interpretations of Scripture? If He is, then why do you admit to being fallible when it comes to interpreting Scripture and why do you admit that you could be wrong in some of your interpretations and that I could be right? Being fallible in your interpretation of Scripture, and admitting to the possibility of being wrong in your interpretation of Scripture, are incompatible with being guided by the Holy Spirit, are they not? Is the Holy Spirit fallible? Can He get His interpretations of Scripture wrong? Plus, can you show me, in the Bible, where it says that we are to rely solely upon our own study of Scripture in order to decide for ourselves on matters of faith and morals? Where, and please give chapter and verse, is your doctrine of self-interpretation of the Scriptures…without relying on any outside authority…where is that taught in the Bible?

I know that I am not infallible and that God will guide me into all truth.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

I am not saying that you should accept what I say or teach as truth, but to search it out for yourself. I was not telling you that I had all truth and understanding, but again just that I did not arrive at my conclusions because I followed some other man. It is good to seek the counsel of Godly men. I did not mean that I am some sort of rogue man wandering in the wilderness seeking truth.

However, we do have in the scriptures a mandate to use them to teach and train and command to stick to the scriptures. Scripture is the authority.

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

When we use the scriptures for matters of training, rebuking, correcting, and training we will thoroughly be equipped for every good work.

And, if the Holy Spirit is not guiding you in all of your interpretations of Scripture, then we can rightly say that your interpretations are man-made, can we not? Or, if you claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding you some of the time but not all of the time, why is He not guiding you all of the time? And, how do you know when He is guiding you and when He’s not?

With all due respect Mr. Martignoni, this accusation should not be pointed at me but the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. I never claim infallibility in any matters or whatever chair I am sitting in.

Again I am not spending my evenings writing and responding to your emails to make you a disciple of mine. I do not want anyone following me. I don’t teach in my church for them to follow me or any man. We are all sinners and fallible. We know in part and understand in part. On the contrary I know that I am wrong on some things, I continue to search so I can find out where and fix it. And I train others to read the scriptures and search it out for themselves. Just as I have done with you and Mr. Martinez, was not to have you accept my thoughts, but to instead search God’s word and see what it says not what I say.

I hope this helps to clarify that I am not seeking for anyone to simply leave the Roman Catholic church and follow me. Only that they seek the truth of the word of God and not rely on men to tell them what to believe.

So, to sum up this portion of my arguments, you admit that you rely on your own understanding, and no one else’s, when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Yet, you also admit that you are not seeking God. You further admit that you are fallible in your interpretations of Scripture, and that you could be wrong and I could be right when it comes to interpreting certain passages of the Bible. So, my question to you is, given all that you have here freely admitted, by what authority do you declare my interpretations wrong and yours right? If you could be wrong, as you have admitted, then that means the Catholic Church could be right on some of the doctrinal matters that you currently disagree with, couldn’t it? How then can you, as a Pastor, teach people regarding what the Word of God says when you admit that you could be teaching them error…that you could be leading them astray? Do you think, “Well, there’s a 99% chance that I’m righ t,” or some such thing? You are, in essence, gambling the souls of those in your flock on your fallible, and possibly wrong, interpretations of the Bible.

I think I clarified these points earlier in this email. I teach so that each person can search the scriptures and use proper study techniques to understand them.

Now, as to what you stated about building the Church from Scripture. Again, my question, which came first, the Church or the Bible? The Church came first. So, we have historical precedence for building the Scripture from the Church, but not for building the Church from Scripture. But, as I will show, you do not really even build your church from Scripture.

In what way did the church predate the scripture? I am curious to what you mean here. Are you referring to the body of Christ, than I could agree with you. As Adam was the first Christian as he knew Christ in the Garden as his creator. However if you are referring to the New Testament church, than are you dismissing that fact that the majority of the Bible was written before Jesus was born on Earth? Not only was it written prior, but firmly held to and known as the inspired word of God.

Did not the members of the early church hold all things in common (Acts 2:44)? Does your church do that? Did not the early church call councils to resolve doctrinal disputes instead of consulting the Bible (Acts 15)? Does your church do that? Did not the early church have leaders who said that we could know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error by listening to what they said…not by reading the Bible on our own (John 4:6)? Does your church have such leaders? Did not the early church believe in the Word of God in both written and oral form (1 Thes 2:13; 2 Thes 2:15)? Does your church do that? Did the early church not build its doctrine and theology on both written and oral tradition? Does your church do that? Did not the early church have leaders – Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons – who were ordained by the Apostles or whose line of ordination could be traced back to the Apostles. Does your church have such leaders?

In other words, Pastor Walker, your church is not really built on the Bible as you claim it is. It is built on a hollowed out version of the church we find in the Scriptures. In your church, as you have admitted, the members of the church choose and ordain their pastor. Where in the Bible does it relate such a thing happening? By whose authority were you ordained a pastor? Where did that authority come from? How far back can you trace your line of ordination? 25 years? 50 years? 150 years? You freely admit that there is no such thing as apostolic succession in your church…how then can you claim your church is the church founded by Jesus Christ? Wouldn’t the church of Jesus Christ be able to trace its line of authority all the way back to Jesus and His Apostles?

Again I am puzzled as to how you know what my church believes? You continue to assume things as to what I believe or teach. My church seeks to stick as close to the teachings of scripture as we can.

Anyway, as I have explained previously the Bible clearly shows us how overseers and elders and deacons should be ordained in a church. It did not have to be done by one of the apostles as we see that Paul leaves Timothy and Titus to do it in their respective areas. So when I was appointed to be the Pastor I was appointed in accordance with the qualification found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and in Titus 1 and by its authority. This clearly would show a steadfast allegiance to the way in which they should be appointed going back to when the very first pastors were appointed.

However, as I contrasted before, an overseer, deacon, or elder is not an Apostle. They did not have to have been direct witnesses of Christ, but only faithful to hold to the teachings of the Apostles. When Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, the qualification for choosing an Apostle was set:


21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

Paul was only accepted as an Apostle after his message was seen to be the same message of the Gospel that the other Apostles taught.

On the other hand Overseers and Elders only had to be reliable and faithful men who would teach others the SAME gospel taught to them.

2 Timothy 2:2

2And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Again it is not I that claim infallibility or some unbroken succession of an apostleship. Paul, after he told Timothy how to choose overseers and Elders, warned against those who would come teaching the doctrines of demons. They would forbid people to get married and tell them to abstain from certain foods. He explained why this was wrong and then he said: “1 Timothy 4:6 “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.”

In other words a good minister of Jesus Christ, is one that teaches the good teaching that Paul taught and Timothy followed.

Now regarding my questions about who wrote Mark. I do not have a misconception about what you believe. I never said you think that truth can only be found in the Bible. My argument is that you do not really build your theology and doctrines on the Bible alone, but on the Bible and some other authority outside of the Bible. You claim not to have preconceived notions, yet your assumption that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God is a preconceived notion. You came to the Bible with that belief already in place. You came to the Bible with the preconceived notion that we should only rely on the Bible for building our theology and doctrines. You came to the Bible with the preconceived notion that every one of the individual books of the Bible is rightfully in the Bible and is to be considered the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Even though the Bible nowhere tells us we should build our doctrines and theology based on the Bible alone and nowhere tells us which books should and should not be considered Scripture. Do you deny these things?

I did not approach the Bible as it was inerrant before I decided if it was truth. Instead I knew that if it weren’t 100% truth, than it is false, because how could I tell the lie from truth? I would have to either accept it as truth, something I could only do if I confirmed it’s truth, or I had to reject it in its entirety. How could anyone live their life by writings that they could not know what was truth and what wasn’t? That would be foolish. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians, mans’ wisdom and God’s wisdom at opposition to each other. So in other words, there are many things in scripture that would fail the test of human wisdom and have to be believed by faith that if God said it will happen. Being fully persuaded that what God says will come true. If anyone is going to trust in his words, they must first know that they are his words.

When I examined scripture I did not approach it as it was all inspired, but instead I sought to prove it first. My reasoning was that if I was going to radically alter my life to follow the teachings of the Bible I better know that it is truth. If it is simply wise sayings or good thoughts, or even if most of it was true, but not all, than how could I know what to believe? How could I make life altering decisions, if there was a possibility that it was not completely reliable?

Let’s look again at my questions and then at your answers. I asked the following 3 questions: 1) Who wrote Mark? 2) Was the writer of Mark inspired by the Holy Spirit? 3) Where, in the Bible, does it give us the list of which books should be in the Bible?

You answered as follows: 1) The Holy Spirit, through a man. 2 Peter 1:21; 2) Yes, 2 Timothy 3:16; 3) It doesn’t.

With all due respect but you didn’t really answer my first two questions. The Holy Spirit did indeed write the Gospel of Mark through a man, but how do you know, and which man did He write it through? Who told you? Does the Bible tell you these things? No, it does not. So, how do you know? What authority do you rely upon to tell you that Mark is inspired Scripture? Plus, when you say that 2 Tim 3:16 tells you that the writer of Mark was inspired by the Holy Spirit because it says all Scripture is inspired by God, this is a beautiful piece of circular reasoning. You say not to bring preconceived notions to the table when building one’s doctrines and theology, yet that is exactly what you do. You assume Mark is Scripture, and then you say that 2 Tim 3:16 says all of Scripture is inspired of God; therefore, Mark is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It is circular reasoning to use 2 Timothy to prove Mark, but not to affirm what Mark says. I rely on the Old Testament to tell me that Mark is inspired scripture. This is the same thing that all the early Christians had to do and the same thing we see the Bereans doing when Paul came to preach to them.

How do you know 2 Timothy is inspired by the Holy Spirit? Who testifies to this fact? The Bible cannot be its own witness. If you allow the Bible to be its own witness, then you must allow the Koran to be its own witness, unless of course you’re starting with preconceived notions as to the inspiration of the Bible.

Well we know that Paul wrote the letter, we know that Paul was an Apostle, that Jesus appeared to him directly and taught him. We also know that his message was consistent with the other Apostles as well as the Old Testament (see the Bereans), and we know that the other Apostles affirmed him and his teaching as well. We can read the message contained in 2 Timothy and compare it with other works we already know to be scripture and see how it compares.

The Bible can stand as a witness, because it is not just one book, but 66 books. It is not one standing on the witness of itself, but a continual chain of witnesses attesting to each other. However I think you bring up an interesting point. If the Roman Catholic church is responsible for collecting and giving the Bible, so making it a work of the Roman Catholic Church, then by what authority does the Pope or the church exist or operate? Would that be by the authority of Matthew 16? But if the Bible is a work of the church, than wouldn’t the church then be it’s own witness? Interesting?

With all due respect, but you talk about not bringing preconceived notions, and when I take you up on this, and start the conversation with the question of how do you know the Bible is indeed inspired Scripture…you all of a sudden stick hard and fast to your preconceived notions. I know that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God because of the testimony of the Church. I know that the 73 books of the Bible are the ones that belong there – no more and no less – because of the testimony and the authority of the Church. In other words, I know these things because of the Traditions that have been passed down in the church.

But if we both agree that the writings that we have are inspired and therefore truth, my point is why did we have to rebuild that. I understand that you believe the church to be the authority that chooses some of the books to be included. But we both say that it is the word of God. I am unclear as to why we can not look at this as a common starting ground. Why must we re-establish the only common ground that we seemingly share? I am willing to accept that you believe the Bible to be a product of the church, but if you believe that it is truth, we can start there. It is not a pre-conceived notion for us to both start with the one thing we have in common. I know that you approach it a different way, that is fine. If you believe that the Bible is truth, not just is true, than we can start there. If not that we have to go back further and we would truly have nothing in common.

But, you have stated that we must begin with the Bible to build our theology. We must begin with the Bible to develop our doctrine. So, is it part of your doctrine or not, that the Gospel of Mark is inspired Scripture? I believe you will say that it is. But, if you are building your doctrine from Scripture – starting from acratch as you say – where in Scripture does it say, “The Gospel of Mark is inspired Scripture?”

It says the Gospel of Mark is scripture in Genesis through Revelation.

Once again, if we both acknowledge the Bible to be the word of God, than when we build our theology from it, it will be built upon a firm foundation. Even if the church was the authority that chose what books to be included we would at least know that at that time the church deemed they contained the inspired writings and were truth. We could then build our theology on what the church established in writing as to what was the word of God and what was inspired, and again our theology would be solid.

In your reply to me, you speak of “testing” the books of Scripture to know that they are indeed Scripture. You say that, if we know Genesis is the truth, then we can test Exodus against Genesis to see that it is the truth, and then we can test Leviticus against Exodus to see if it is the truth and so on. Really? The first problem with that is, where does it say this in Scripture? What tests does the Scripture give us for Exodus and the other books based on Genesis? The second problem is that you have a preconceived assumption that Genesis is the inspired Word of God. Well, again, who told you this? What authority do you rely upon to know that Genesis is the inspired Word of God? Next, please give me an example of how you can “test” Exodus by Genesis to prove that Exodus is inspired of God? With all due respect, but that’s just a bunch of jibberish.

Well again, you apply the same tests to all scripture. But as you point out eventually you must have a starting point. You have to have to have a foundation to build upon. So you must accept something as truth. For me, it began with prophecy, as I could see in prophecy that there was no way that any human could know or foretell the things that God knew. The writings of Isaiah and Ezekiel mostly but also several other prophets really showed me that, whoever this YHWH is, he can surely back up his claims. Now is the God of Isaiah and Ezekiel the same God as Moses and Abraham, was my next question. This search lead me further and further back though the OT. And what I found was that this was one in the same, each writing, while penned through a different man, carried the same message, the same voice, and did not contradict itself. We know that this has to be the case because we know this YHWH says that He is unchanging. ( Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Psalm 102:27) If he claims to be eternal and unchanging and we find contradiction, we must either conclude that the work is not inspired of YHWH or that YHWH is not who He claims to be. So this is how we can test each piece of scripture, how does it compare to what we already know is scripture. For me the starting point was that if the God of these men could do and know things well outside their own ability and life spans, than I have to find out who this god is and what else he says.

Now as to my jibberish on using other scripture to prove subsequent scripture, we see this throughout scripture. We see it when Moses warns them about false prophets, we see this When Moses and God warn Joshua to stick to the law and writings of Moses. We see this, When David sings about the Law of God in the Psalms. God always cautioned the people to not forget the things he had already done to help them determine the future. I have already mentioned that the Bereans did this with Paul, and we see that Jesus taught from the OT Scriptures, and opened their eyes to realize that it all was about him.

One of the tests can be in authorship. While we don’t know for sure, it is commonly thought that both Genesis and Exodus are authored by Moses. This is from tradition passed down orally or through written sources. It doesn’t mean that it is truth, but it can help us to understand why both books would be accepted as scripture by the Israelites. They knew that Moses had a special relationship with God and that his words came from God. Therefore the fact that they included this as inspired and written by Moses gives us some understanding to their trust worthiness.

But the real test must come in the message. Just as Paul warns us in Galatians, the message has to be the same. Is the same message being spoken in Exodus, the same as was given in Genesis? Exodus 33:1 says:

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.'

This is the Lord beginning to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, in Genesis. It continues along with the same message and theme started in Genesis. Exodus is clearly a continuation of the same story begun in Genesis and carries with it the same themes, the same overriding message, and is delivered in the same voice. And while we may not be able to test all the events spoken of in either book, I know that the God Isaiah wrote about is the same God Moses knew and wrote about because they describe themselves the same way and do the same things.

The truth is, Pastor Walker, as you have readily admitted with your answer to my third question above, that you rely on some authority outside of the Bible, in order to have the Bible in the first place. On the one hand, you admit that the Bible doesn’t tell you which books should be in the Bible, yet on the other hand you say we should build our doctrines from the Bible alone. Yet, you are relying upon someone or something, other than the Bible, in order to even have a Bible! You say that nothing outside of the Bible can be trusted in regards to determining what is and is not truth, yet you rely on something outside the Bible to give you the Bible – which you claim is the basis of all your religious truth. So, the basis of all of your doctrines – the Bible – is dependent upon, built upon, some unnamed source that is not at all trustworthy, because it’s not the Bible.

Slow down a minute. The Bible itself is only a collection of the books that we recognize to be inspired. The fact that there is no succinct list given by God as to which books should be included, doesn’t mean that I rely on an outside source to tell me which books should be included. We know from the writings we have, that not all of Jesus teachings or Paul’s letters are included. Did they contain truth? Yes. But God did not choose to preserve those writings or teachings and we don’t have them now.

So just the opposite of what you said is true. The writings we have in the Bible affirm each other as scripture. We can accept the New Testament because the Old Testament is its witness. I can trust that the books preserved here are in fact inspired. And the authority that has preserved them is God. Just a God is credited with writing them, he is credited with preserving them

If the Bible is truth, than any foundation built on it will be solid. What else in this world do you know to be true? Gravity? Inertia? There is nothing outside of God that we can know to be true. So if I can fully attest to the Bible as a source of truth and can not attest to any others validity claims, than I must build my house on the firm foundation. Even the authority to which you claim the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church posses comes from the Bible. So if the word of God the Bible truly teaches these things than there should be no hesitation on your part to accept this challenge.

But, as you’ve stated, you can’t even trust the writings of the early Christians for doctrinal matters, right? Oh, to be sure, there is truth outside of the Bible, but it’s not something that can necessarily be relied upon for building doctrines and theology. Only the Bible can be relied upon for that. But where did you get your Bible from?! You start with a preconceived notion, based on something other than the Bible, to believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Yet, you say your doctrines and theology come only from the Bible! I don’t think so.

1 Peter 1:21 says:

21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

So if there is anyone that we can say is inspired from the Holy Spirit, than they have received their message from God and not from man. So if we both claim that the Bible is inspired than we are affirming that its message is one from God. Since the writings of the early Chirsitans or even modern Christians are not considered inspired than we can attest to their message not being from God. Therefore the conclusions they draw do in fact originate with men and can not be placed in authority. Do you believe their works to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore Holy scripture?

Furthermore, you say over and over again that there is truth outside of the Bible, yet you do not allow for even the possibility that Mary could have been assumed into Heaven, do you!? The Bible does not say she was, but it does not say she wasn’t. In other words, from a purely scriptural point of view, it’s an open question. So, you admit to there being truth outside of the Bible, the Bible is silent on the Assumption of Mary, yet you do not admit to the possibility of Mary being assumed into Heaven. You also admit that you are fallible and could be wrong on these matters, but then you say it’s not possible that Mary could have been assumed into Heaven. With all due respect, but you seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth on this particular matter.

I did not say that Mary could not have been assumed into heaven. So could Joseph (Mary’s husband, not the son of Jacob) for that matter. My point here is that there is absolutely zero reason to even think that she was assumed. In fact we do know of two people that did not die but were taken up to heaven and she is not one of them. A better argument could be made against it her assumption than for it, as we are told of the abnormal ending to Elijah and Enoch, but not of anyone else, implying that everyone else died. To teach that Mary or any other person was assumed into heaven when we have zero proof, is deceptive at best, and at worst a blatant lie designed to cause people to worship her and to nullify Jesus’ death on the cross. Is it possible that she were assumed? Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything. Is it possible that she was conceived without sin or lived a sinless life? No, not at all. So if we have no reason to even guess that she was assumed, and more evidence that she probably died like everyone else, and we know she was a sinner and needed a savior than we have no reason to even begin a conversation about her being assumed.

In your response to me, you talked about a person being on a deserted island and that if they had a Bible to go by, they could build a replica of the early church. My question is, if someone was on a deserted island, and they found a Bible, and they had no preconceived beliefs about this book, what would make them believe that this is the inspired, inerrant Word of God? “Oh, look, a book washed up on shore…it must be the inspired Word of God!” Don’t think so. So, why do you believe it is what you believe it is?

I did not say that they had to believe it. There is no condition of believe here. Only a simple question, if someone had the inerrant word of God and no other knowledge of culture, tradition, or anything else, and they set on the task of recreating what a church would be, based solely on the inspired word of God, what would they get? What would that church look like, what would be fundamental precepts taught in it’s pages, what would be the practices of the people? I think this is a compelling question to be asked, one that we should both ask ourselves and then compare what we have now to it.

Now, I asked you some questions about your authority: 1) Since you are not infallible, could your interpretations of the meaning of certain Scriptures be wrong? 2) By what authority do you hold your interpretations of certain Scripture verses, for example James 2:24 and 2:26 to be right and mine to be wrong? 3) If a man says he has faith, and has not works, can his faith alone save him? Yes or no? 4) Please give me the meaning of the analogy drawn by the Holy Spirit in James 2:26. Are both faith and works necessary for life, just as both the body and the spirit are necessary for life? Yes or no.

These were your answers: 1) Of course; 2) By the authority of the whole of James and scripture. You can not just twist and distort a few passages and teach another gospel. Again we have to read it in context and be honest as to what it is saying and then interpret it with other scripture; 3) Faith alone does not save, but Grace alone does. God has made his grace available through faith, but even that is from God. Faith is not saying that you believe, or even knowing that God exists, it is being FULLY persuaded that God’s word is truth and living it out. 4) I think you may be confused, because you speak as if you can have faith and not live it. You can have works, but not have faith though. Matthew 7:22-23

I want to quickly mention just a few things here: 1) You admit your interpretations could be wrong. Yet, you persist in teaching others, and you persist in trying to persuade me that what you teach is right. You say you are fallible, yet you dispute with me as if you are infallible. How so? 2) I have read all of James, and I find my interpretation of James 2:24 and James 2:26 to be consistent with all of James 2 and all the rest of James and the rest of the New Testament and all of the Bible. By what authority do you say otherwise? The letter of James is a book, it cannot speak. If there is a dispute over what James really means, who decides the dispute? And, since you have already admitted that you could be wrong in your interpretations, how can you then assert that you’re right on this one and I am wrong? Again, you say things that I don’t believe you really mean. You say you’re fallible in your interpretations, but you certainly don’t act like you are.

1) I do admit to being fallible, a realistic and honest admission that should come from EVERY man. Yet I persist in teaching others to read scripture and base their faith on what we know to be true and not my words. Simply because I know that I am fallible does not mean that I must accept any old interpretation of scripture, especially when it is as flawed as many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. How so? Because when these false things are taught they contradict scripture and teach that Jesus’ death was in vain. That is another gospel than the one that the Apostles taught and that the elders and overseers of the church were called to adhere to. 2) I am fallible and I do not insist that you believe what I teach. I insist that you build your doctrine on the word of God, however. The rest of scripture decides what James meant. James did not write James, the Holy Spirit dd. The Holy Spirit is consistent in all of inspired scripture.

3) Catholics believe we are saved by grace alone. You quote Ephesians 2:8 – 9, but we quote Eph 2:8-10. Grace alone saves us, but it is faith and works that keeps us there. In John 15:1-6, Jesus is the vine, Christians are the branches. How did the branch become a branch…by something it did? No. Solely by the action of the vine. How does the branch abide in the vine? By producing fruit. Does it produce fruit all by itself? Absolutely not! But, it cooperates in the process with the nourishment (grace) given to it by the vine. And, if it stops cooperating with the grace received from the vine, and doesn’t produce fruit (good works), then it is cut off from the vine (salvation is lost). Grace alone saves, but faith and works are both necessary to abide in that salvation. So says the Bible. Find me a passage on judgment that says we are saved by our faith, without works?

John 15:3

3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

This is from the very same passage you are referring to. Jesus is clear to contrast what he is saying about living productive lives for God, with that of salvation. We are made clean because we believe his words.

1 Corinthians 3:15

15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

This is directly dealing with judgment, as all our works will be judged and all those not made of eternal material will burn. If a Christian man’s work is burned, meaning it was not of eternal material but of earthly, than he will still be saved, but barely.

Galatians 2:16

16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 3:2-3

2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

4) I am not confused, because the Bible states that you can have faith without works, but it states that such faith is dead. James 2:26, if you have the body (faith), but you do not have the spirit (works), does that mean you don’t have a body? No, it means you have a dead body. When you say that faith without works really means one doesn’t have faith, you are bringing another one of your preconceived notions to this discussion. You state in your response about the demons believing, but not being saved. Scripture doesn’t say that that means the demons don’t really believe, it says they believe, but they did not do…so they were not saved. The believing part is there, the works part isn’t. Faith and works…by the grace of God. James does not say that faith without works is not really faith, as you try to make him say, he says it is dead! Stop putting words in the mouths of the Scripture writers! Stop adding to the Bible not ions that are not found in the Bible!

I am not adding to the Bible. Saying that you believe in Jesus is not the same as putting your trust in him, is it? I don’t believe you to have put your trust in his name, and I am not sure what your feelings are about me, but we clearly follow two different gods. We can not both be trusting in the same name. So even though we both may claim faith in Christ, that does not make our faith equal . James says”

James 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

So what will separate the two of us who both say that we follow the same God, will be which one lives out this faith in what they do.

James 2:26 – “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without works is not really faith?” No! That’s not what it says, because that is a bad analogy. The body without the spirit is still a body…but it’s a dead one. There is no life in it. Faith without works is still faith…but it’s dead. Please give me your interpretation of this verse (James 2:26)!? You’ve avoided doing so the last two times I’ve asked. What is the analogy, in your opinion, that is being made here? Is the body without the spirit not really a body? If you died at this moment and your spirit left your body, does that mean your body wasn’t really there to begin with? What a ridiculous notion! Yet, that is exactly the meaning you are trying to foist upon James.

I thought I thoroughly explained James 2 previously. But I will do my best to answer your question here on 2:26. The body without the spirit is useless, it is dead and of no use. Only when the two are joined together is the body of any use. Faith is of no use if it is not accompanied by the works, it really isn’t faith at all. Faith is only good when it is accompanied with the works of the faith. A Christian has been chosen by God, predestined to be saved and to do good work. However the faith is what saves you and the works are the result. You can not say that you have faith and not live it out in your actions. The two must work together. I don’t believe it is possible to have faith that does not produce works. How can someone say they have believe, if by their actions they deny him? The righteous will live by faith. This means that their lives will be lived out based upon their faith. If I claim that I have faith in the God of the Bible, than I will do as it says, I will do as Abraham, the man of faith did. I will live it out.

Titus 1:16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Eph 2:10 – God has prepared works for us beforehand that we should walk in them. My question to you is: If we don’t do these works, which are the will of God for us to do, can we be saved? Yes or no?

No. If we have the spirit than we will do the things of the spirit. (Galatians 5.) What the individual works are, are different for each individual. The thief on the cross had only to repent and bear witness to the other thief. While others the Lord has other plans for.

What we need to look at here is the gospel itself, in the book of Galatians Paul, is confronting many errors that have come in to the church. He extols them to stick to the gospel he has taught and tells them not to believe any other gospel, even if he himself teaches it or an angel, or anyone. (1:8) As I pointed out earlier, Paul then asks this question in chapter 3:

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

They had begun with faith and believing but had become bewitched by the false teaching that was now telling them that they had to do works in order to be saved or to remain saved. In verse 10 he explains that if you think that you can earn it by observing the law, that we need to understand that we would be under a curse, as we would have to follow the entire law. As James also says in James 2:10. Since that is impossible, who ever trusts in their ability to do good to save them is cursed to fail.

I could spend hours and many, many pages responding to your last email, but I wish to only mention a couple of other things since I’ve gone on so long already. I will be happy to visit, at a future time, some of the things that I am not responding directly to, but I wish to narrow the focus of our discussion a little bit further with this email. Because I think we are zeroing in on the heart of the matter with the above discussion.

First of all, you stated that the Old Testament Scriptures were “well established” or some such thing in the time of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. Are you not aware that the Sadduccees only accepted the first 5 books of the Old Testament as scripture? Plus, the Essenes had a different canon of Scripture than did the Pharisees. The Samaritans had a separate canon as well. And, are you not also aware that inside and outside of Israel , many Greek-speaking Jews accepted the Septuagint – with the 7 books of the deuterocanon – as Scripture? You really do need to do more study on these matters.

I did not know about the Sadducees, I will l have to look into that sometime. However the OT canon was well established by the time of Christ. The new testament itself attests to the canon, through its quotes of the OT. Through the admonition of Jesus of the writings of Moses, the prophets, and writings, in Luke24:44. Josephus speaks as to how they were held as scripture and how no one would add or take away from them. The Babylonian Talmud speaks of inspiration ending after Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

While there was certainly groups that may have held to different lists, just as you do from me, this doesn’t mean that these books were not generally known to be scripture and inspired.

My point to you here, is that the Roman Catholic Church in no way predates the Bible. Most of it being written and held to long before the Roman Catholic Church was ever started and long before Jesus’ ministry on Earth. We accept the testimony of the New Testament, because of the inspiration of the Old. The Bereans searched the OT to see if what Paul taught was true. The writers of the NT affirmed the OT and had the same message of salvation by faith that was promised to Abraham long before the law or circumcision.

Another point: you again state that Catholic doctrine has changed, yet you nowhere give an example. The Immaculate Conception being declared a dogma is not a change in doctrine. The Pope’s declaration was simply a definitive statement that this belief is of God. It simply settled the matter in the case of any doubt anyone may have held. It’s a way to settle any argument once and for all. Again, you show your ignorance of Catholic teaching and practice with such a statement. And, regarding the Inquisition, again you show your ignorance of Catholic teaching and of history. May I suggest you acquire a little booklet off the internet entitled, “Why Apologize for the Spanish Inquisition.” I think it will enlighten you a good bit. It quotes mostly non-Catholic sources to give a more accurate historical picutre of the Inquisition then what you seem to have.

If early church leaders, including Popes did not teach that Mary was born without sin, would this be proof enough that the teaching had changed? But even the fact that it had to be clarified, should serve as proof that somewhere at sometime it was not being taught.

Pope Innocent III said "Eve was produced without sin, but she brought forth in sin. Mary was produced in sin, but she brought forth without sin.” 2 De Festo Assum Colon ," 1552 (emphasis added)

Pope Gregory the Great said "For he (Christ) alone was truly born holy." Tom. 1, page 598, Ben. Ed., Paris 1705 (emphasis added)

Thomas Aquinas said "So even if the parents of the Blessed Virgin were cleansed from original sin, nevertheless the Blessed Virgin contracted original sin. Tert. Part Sum. Sac. Theol., Lug. Edition 6.144, Quest 27th, Art 2,60 (emphasis added)

Posted on Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:16 am by accesservant

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