Recently I examined how Catholic apologist John Martignoni attempted to prove the immaculate conception without biblical proof while using a Bible. In this mp3 clip Martignoni explains Roman Catholics can defend their beliefs and refute Protestants using just the Bible. He calls this scriptural apologetics, claiming particular Roman Catholic beliefs have both direct or indirect Biblical proof. Last time we saw just how this argumentation works. It amounts to using a Bible without Biblical proof: using meandering logic and inferences foisted upon the sacred text. Mr. Martignoni continued to present more of his scriptural apologetics to prove the immaculate conception. I have again outlined Martignoni’s arguments in the order he presented them. My counter responses are in red.
Argument 1: “Many passages of Scripture can have different levels of meaning.” Revelation 12 is one such passage. The woman described can either mean the church or Israel, but “at the most basic level of meaning, the woman is also a real person ? Mary, the mother of Jesus.” The passage describes Jesus without metaphor: “the male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” Likewise, the ancient serpent, Satan, is not a metaphor. Protestants though insist that the woman is a metaphor because “because they do not want her to be Mary.”
Swan’s Counter: Note first that one of Martignoni’s main proof texts for the immaculate conception comes from apocalyptic literature. That is, it’s easier to take highly symbolic passages of scripture and read in what one wants to. Even if Mary is the intended meaning of Revelation 12, the text states “she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” This would clearly contradict the immaculate conception.
Argument 2: In Revelation 12:14 Mary is given a special grace from God so Satan cannot catch her. This shows once again the enmity between Mary and Satan as earlier shown in Genesis 3:15.
Swan’s Counter: We looked at the enmity argument previously. Revelation 12:14 states, “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpents reach.” Is Martignoni suggesting this special grace is the immaculate conception? If so, on what basis does one extrapolate that from the text, even indirectly? Even if what is given to the woman is a “special grace” she’s only given that alleged special grace “for a time, times and half a time,” that three and a half years, not an entire lifetime.
Argument 3: Neither Genesis 3:15 nor Revelation 12 is direct proof for the immaculate conception. Martignoni states, “I never say this or that passage of Scripture absolutely proves anything.” Since Protestants believe they have the right to interpret scripture for themselves, they can’t logically say Martignoni is wrong to claim these passages are indirect proofs. They can’t claim Martignoni’s wrong, they can only disagree with his interpretation.
Swan’s Counter: Here we find a telling admission: for Roman Catholics like Martignoni, Scripture is not the ultimate authority. It doesn’t absolutely prove anything. The very book that men and women risked their lives for doesn’t absolutely prove anything. Protestants do more than simply disagreeing with Martignoni’s interpretation. They present reasons why they do. They can show Martignoni’s interpretive reasoning is spurious. When the Lord chastised the Sadducees in Matthew 22, he stated they were in error because they did not know the Scriptures. He further states, “have you not read what God said to you?” (Mt. 22:31). The Lord Jesus clearly held these men responsible for knowing and understanding the Scriptures. Were the Sadducees supposed to respond, “That’s just your opinion”?
In our next Installment, we’ll take a look at more of Mr. Martignoni’s scriptural apologetics.