Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Do You Know What An Apologist Does --- No. 12

An Apologist Doesn't Apologize for the Church's Actions.

An Apologist Defends the Faith of the Catholic Church and its Interpretation of Holy Scripture!

Would You Like to Become a Good Apologist?

John Martignoni at the Bible Christian Society is an apologist and has a free newsletter that gives instructions on how to be a better apologist when you feel called upon to defend the Church when you hear someone say or write something that is incorrect.

John's instruction system makes a lot of sense. He prints a question that he has received; then he explains how a question like that should be handled; and then then he gives his answer. If you would like to be better able to speak confidently about your Catholic faith, why not visit John's web site and subscribe to his newsletter. He also has audio tapes that he will send you for free (he will accept a free will offering, though).

Here is an example of the information he sent in today's newsletter:

General Comments

Well, so far so good in regard to weekly issues. Haven't yet heard back from Jon (Issue #11), so in this issue I'll just be answering a couple of questions.

Introduction Issue No. 12

One of these questions is from a Catholic and one is from a former Catholic who is looking at returning home. The one about the 10 Commandments I hear relatively often. The other one, about Catholics and how they worship, is also fairly common. The questions are in italics.

As always, your feedback is welcomed and all of it will be read.


Question: I was in an apologetic discussion today and could not answer why our commandments are different than the protestant version. Can you help? Thanks.


Dear Diane,

Our 10 commandments do not differ from the Protestant version, there is simply a difference in how they are organized. The Protestants first two commandments are: 1) I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any false gods before me; 2) Thou shalt not make any graven images... And, their last commandment is simply: Thou shalt not covet.

The 1st two commandments, Catholic version are: 1) I am the Lord thy God...; 2) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. And, our last two commandments are: 9) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; 10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

So, the Protestants combine our #9 and #10, into their #10. While we combine the Protestants' #1 and #2, into our #1. Now, some folks say that the Catholics purposely left out the graven image thing so that we could worship our statues and all that kind of rot. Which is probably what this person you were talking to was saying, but, you can take anyone to page 496 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and show them that we did not leave out the graven image thing. In the left hand column of that page, you will see the whole first commandment written out just like it appears in Exodus 20. You have the long version on the left, the shorter version in the middle, and the traditional version for catechesis on the right.

So, in essence, we simply don't write the whole thing out, because we know that not worshipping graven images falls under: thou shalt not have any false gods before me. Just so, the Protestants shorten the commandment about coveting. Go to page 497 of the Catechism (or go to Exodus 20) and see all the things that are included in the "thou shalt not covet" section. The Protestants don't write out all those things, they just say, "Thou shalt not covet." Did they change or leave out part of that commandment? No. It's understood that thou shalt not covet means all those things. Just like we understand that thou shalt not have any false gods before me means that we should not worship idols (false gods).

Hope that helps.

John Martignoni

Hello. I've recently found your radio program and listen in the mornings - about a week now. I have been raised in the Roman Catholic Church, but have been away from it since I was 19 yrs old (now 54 yrs old). I've been searching for a spiritual home for 15 yrs. and most recently a fundamental, bible-believing church - 3 yrs now. I am questioning where I belong and re-thinking Catholicism because of your radio show and this website. I went to mass a few weeks ago, and I can't help but feel like there is no heartfelt participation by the congregation. It feels like the worship singing is done by the "singer" up front and not very much singing from the people. I almost want to come back to my upbringing, but not sure if I can get past this stumbling block. I have seen and felt the enthusiasm in my bible church and feel like this is something I would have to give up to come back to Catholicism. Can you help me with this? More than anything, I want sincerity in my worship. Am I being too judgemental of the mass attendees? Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Dear Sally,

I know exactly what you're talking about, but my question to you is: Which is more important, the way other people react to the truth, or the truth itself? Are there Catholics who just go through the motions at Mass and who, in general, just go through the motions of being Christian? Absolutely...way too many in fact. Are there priests, and even some bishops, who don't properly instruct their people and give bland and fairly meaningless homilies? Absolutely. Are there parishes where the singing (or lack thereof) leaves a whole lot to be desired? Absolutely.

But, again, do you allow those who don't appreciate the priceless treasure they have right in front of them to keep you away from that treasure? Would you have allowed the reactions of the twelve apostles on Holy Thursday to keep you away from Christ? Afterall, one of them betrayed Him and 10 of the other 11 abandoned Him. Would you have said, "Well, if that's how those closest to Him react, then I don't want to have anything to do with Him?" Should the sincerity of worship be the determining factor in what you believe to be true? Mormons worship very sincerely, and they have some incredible singing. Muslims are very sincere in their worship...they stop, wherever they are, five times a day to hit their knees and pray. The trouble is, sincerity has nothing to do with determining truth.

Also, you need to consider that Catholics, in general, are not as emotional in their worship service as our Protestants. Why not? Because we don't need to be. Now, that's not to say that we shouldn't have good singing and more participation in the singing and things like that, but our worship service is not about making us feel good, it's about worshipping God. The God Who is physically present in the Eucharist in a way that He is not present in any other church. And, while it is possible that at any particular parish there is a lack of "heartfelt participation," it is also possible that the participation which on the surface doesn't appear to be heartfelt, is actually much more heartfelt and much more intimate than at other simply isn't expressed in song or such.

Catholics have a lot we can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters...particularly in the areas of fellowshipping, Bible reading, youth ministry, singing, etc. That's not to say that there isn't good singing or good youth groups or Bible studies or fellowshipping in the Catholic Church, there is. But, on average, Protestant churches do such things better. However, we have something that no other church has...the fullness of the truth as given to us by Jesus Christ. We have the Eucharist. We have the other Sacraments. We have the Priesthood. We have the Pope and the Magisterium. We have the Communion of Saints. And so much more. Do we often fail to appreciate all that we have...yes, unfortunately. But, that shouldn't be enough to keep someone who knows the truth away from the truth.

I would simply say to keep attending Mass, but do some independent study on the Mass. Know what's going on and why. If you would like, I could suggest some resources. And keep praying that Christ show you the truth and ask Him to help you get past this particular stumbling block. And, don't be surprised if, once you get past this stumbling block, others get thrown in your way.

Well, I hope that helps. If I can do anything else, please let me know.

God bless!

John Martignoni

In Conclusion

Not much else to say on these...they're pretty straightforward. I'm getting ready to take off for a few days of vacation, capped off by my 30-year high school reunion. Should be fun. I hope everyone has a great week and a wonderful weekend!

One last thing, please remember to let folks know about us and about our free tapes and CDs at By the way, we have 3 new talks at the website: 1) Which Came First, the Church or the Bible? 2) Debate: Sola Fide (Are we saved by Faith Alone? 3) Two-Minute Apologetics. Check them out if you haven't already!

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Previous Issues

Issue No. 11 I just read one of your newsletters about salvation, and you said that it doesn't say in the Bible that public confession has to be made to be saved. That we are saved by baptism. That is not the truth. It is belief in Christ, and confessing him before others that we are saved by. The Holy Spirit will only come to those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Issue No. 10b I am a Deacon in the Archdiocese of _____. Admittedly my strong suit is not in prophesy. I found your lecture on the "Rapture" very insightful. However I am getting some flack over the concept of "one resurection". My opponents cite Revelation 20 pointing out that it says "first resurection" which implies more than one. Plus "the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over". Please advise.

Issue 10a I began taking a Catholic Bible Study course a few weeks ago...The teacher has degrees in Divinity and Theology...He says that the Bible cannot be taken "literally"...I understand that, am open to that and believe that...however, I was of the mind that the New Testament was true as written...he used the miracle of the loaves and fishes to challenge us as to whether we thought this "actually" happened or...if the five thousand men listening to Jesus preach were moved to share the food that they had been hoarding...I left there (and my small group of 5 others) feeling upset, confused,and a bit sad...we began to question whether the water became wine at Cana and if all other miracles can be dismissed as well...what are your thoughts on this and what should we do at our next class?

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