Far From Rome, Near To God
By Richard Bennett
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, 346 pgs.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvific grace is provided through its seven sacraments administered by its priests. Contrary to Catholic doctrine, the Bible teaches salvation comes freely to all those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Justification was the central issue of the Protestant Reformation and continues as the main point of contention between today’s Evangelical Christians and Catholics along with many other doctrinal differences.
One might expect that, if anyone, Rome’s priests would be able to find contentment in Catholicism but religious legalism offers no spiritual peace, either to clerics or their followers. In this book, Richard Bennett, ex-priest and director of the Berean Beacon ministry to Catholics, has compiled the testimonies of fifty ex-priests who turned from Catholicism to Jesus Christ.
Each testimony is short, averaging about seven pages, so there are no lengthy examinations of Catholic theology. The men’s stories are similar in many ways: they entered training for the priesthood at an early age, they were surprised when they found the priesthood did not bring spiritual contentment, they were introduced to the Bible and were amazed at the differences between God’s Word and Catholic teaching, they struggled with the many ramifications of leaving the priesthood, and they finally rejected Catholic legalism and accepted Christ. Because the testimonies are so similar they tend to blend together but we keep in mind that Heaven rejoices when every sinner comes to Christ. Many readers, Protestant and Catholic, will be surprised to learn from this book that many priests have only a cursory knowledge of the Bible.
Many of these testimonies are dated. I imagine several were culled from the pages of “The Converted Catholic” and “Christian Heritage” magazines published many decades ago. In an age of growing ecumenism spurred on by the experiential Charismatic Movement some may be surprised that anyone is still arguing that Roman Catholicism is not Christian. Many Christians have been fooled by the window dressings of Vatican II and the charismatic chaos but Rome has not rescinded any of its anathematizing proclamations from Trent or Vatican I. In his opening speech at Vatican II, Pope John XXIII declared “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council.”
“Far From Rome, Near To God” is available through amazon.com. For a thorough examination of the differences between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism I would recommend “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy. Check my Books tab for a long list of resources which compare Catholicism to God’s Word.
“There is none righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5
“Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13