Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone

I’ve mentioned many times previously that I grew up in a large Catholic family. I was the youngest child, a boy, with five older sisters. Oy vey! There were daily estrogen-fueled drama battles at our house like you wouldn’t believe. Our family wasn’t devout as some of my Catholic friends’ families were back then, with statues in every room of the house, in the yard, and rosaries hanging from rear-view mirrors, but we did attend mass every Sunday and I was even an altar boy from 5th through 8th grades. My sisters and I all attended Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school. In all of those years of Catholic indoctrination, the nuns and brothers never had us read from the Bible. We read short Bible quotes from Catholic booklets, but never from the Bible itself. I didn’t own a Bible and neither did my sisters. I don’t remember either of my parents ever reading the Bible. I don’t know if there was a single Bible in the entire house. I never saw one. The Catholic church did not promote Bible-reading among its members. In my experience, our religious teachers often recommended books about Mary and the saints but never the Bible.

I can’t explain it other than to attribute it to the Lord drawing me to Him, but in the mid-1970s, after I married my bride, I became curious about the Bible and began visiting the local (c)hristian book store, Alpha and Omega, which was situated in those days at the four corners of Penfield, NY. I was kind of embarrassed about entering the establishment and would look around first to see if anyone I knew was watching. Wow! I was amazed at the number of Bibles on display. “These Protestants really love their Bibles,” I thought. Well, I looked around a little bit and came across the Catholic version of the student edition of The Living Bible, called “The Way” (see the above photo), an easy-to-read Bible paraphrase.* I brought the Bible home but hid it from my nominally Catholic wife – I didn’t want her to think I was turning into some kind of a religious nut. I read that Bible on and off for several years.

After our two boys were born and we moved into our first house in 1979, I wanted to be a responsible Catholic parent so I started attending mass again. I even asked the co-pastor of our new parish, “father” Roy Kiggins, to come over and bless our house withNew Am holy water. Yes, I did! I also went back to Alpha and Omega and bought what I thought was a “real” Bible, the Catholic New American Bible version (second photo), which wasn’t a paraphrase. Catholic versions of the Bible contain seven more Old Testament books – referred to as the Apocrypha – than Protestant Bibles. I began diligently reading the New Testament, which, over time, led to a mounting personal crisis. God’s Word repeatedly contradicted Catholic doctrines. The more I read, the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that the Catholic church was wrong on many counts. I eventually stopped going to mass. A few years later, after being further led by the Holy Spirit, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior! Praise the Lord!

Four of my sisters are now self-described atheists or agnostics, while the fifth one claims to be a Catholic (c)hristian although she has firmly stated a couple of times that she doesn’t believe the Bible is divinely inspired or that Jesus was and is God. Do you find that strange? Actually, you’ll find millions upon millions of similarly mixed up and confused people within Catholicism. She has zero use for the Bible but finds comfort in the familiar Catholic rituals and traditions she remembers from childhood. Looking back, I’m puzzled why I was the only one in my family to be drawn to God’s Word. I’m actually grateful for those spotty Catholic versions of the Bible that I initially read. They were stepping stones to the true Word and salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone.

*Bible paraphrases, like the New Living Translation (NLT), are useful tools when studying the Bible, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone use them as a substitute for actual word-for-word translations of the Bible like the NASB or ESV.


44 thoughts on “Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone

    1. Thanks, Stephen! Yes, the vast majority of Catholics are completely lost the second they open a Bible. A Catholic source reports only 7% of Catholics read the Bible daily. I firmly believe that that lack of knowledge of the Bible is by design.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s funny because a couple of Catholic priests I listened to on the radio in the past year refuted the existence of limbo and the Catholic catechism makes no mention of it. Well, I guess you can’t blame the person for trying to defend the notion of limbo because the RCC did unofficially teach it for centuries and it only recently went out of favor.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I find this very strange, because I had a more or less opposite experience. I grew up in a committed Protestant family, studying the Bible all the time, and it led to me rejecting Protestantism and becoming a Roman Catholic… I especially found that salvation by faith alone contradicts the Gospels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The natural man is drawn to religious ritual and merited salvation. You have never accepted Christ as your Savior and try to fill the spiritual void with your works religion. Catholic prelates would have declared Nicodemus the Pharisee and Cornelius the Centurion as good, righteous men and worthy of Heaven, but they fell short, very short, just like we all do. Salvation is coming to Christ without a single plea of your own like the tax collector in Luke 18 as spoken of by Jesus. You’re in spiritual darkness. Accept Christ. Your religious institution is your idol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ve got me all wrong. Just because I reject Sola Fide, doesn’t mean I believe in “merited salvation”. I don’t. But “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17) and we are saved not by faith alone (James 2:24).
        I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour.
        I disagree. No Catholic prelate would say that either of them, or anyone else, weren’t sinners requiring Jesus to save them. If any were to, it would be contradicting the teaching of the Church.
        Yes, salvation is coming to Jesus as a beggar, but also repenting, and obeying Him. It is loving Him, which means obeying Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: No Catholic prelate would say that either of them, or anyone else, weren’t sinners requiring Jesus to save them. If any were to, it would be contradicting the teaching of the Church.

        Interesting. Your church actually teaches that all non-Catholic religionists can merit salvation if they are “good” and “follow their conscience” (Lumen gentum). Pope Francis has said even atheists can merit Heaven if they are “good” and follow their conscience, but I guess you know more about Catholicism than your pope.

        You and I can’t obey God for even a single day. You covet, idolize (put yourself, things, and people ahead of God), lie, steal, lust, hate, are prideful, etc. We’re walking mortal sins. You think you can obey your way into Heaven, which means Christ is not your Savior no matter what you write. We follow Christ in imperfect obedience after we are saved, not as part of our justification.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I have a similar situation within my family, how do you testify to them? When I became saved and began calling my friends and family to repent, and telling them of what had happened to me, I got a few disapproving phone calls and some messages telling me to settle down. I want to witness to my family, but they seem less willing to hear me than anyone else.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My heart goes out to you. My parents, who are now dead, were not receptive to the Gospel, although there were some signs at the end that they may have understood. My sisters remain strongly opposed. I can only pray for them and try to become a better brother in the hope that someday their hearts will soften. I must admit I have not been good about either in the past. Perhaps this will help (I need to practice this myself): After I initially accepted Christ I constantly told my wife about Jesus and the Gospel to the point where our marriage was becoming strained. I went to my new pastor for counsel. He said, “Tom, you’ve already told your wife about the Gospel, now just shut up and pray and be the very best husband you can possibly be.” Well, I surrendered the situation to the Lord and backed off. After a month or two my wife was so dumbfounded by my behavior, she started asking me about “this Christianity thing!” I need to pray more for my sisters AND be a better brother. My outreach created walls and that’s partially my fault. The scenario I’m sure is not exactly the same with your family but this is what I’ve learned (and am still learning). I’m praying for your family, that they’ll soften their hearts to the Gospel.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Thank you Tom, I think that might be exactly what happened with my family and friends. I’ve seen the conversion of just one, a beloved sister in Christ now, who came out of the WoF movement with me. Interestingly enough, and perhaps to the point you made, I did witness to her once without being aware she was a false convert. So my testimony had nothing to do with her salvation, I just loved her, ministered to her when I could, and prayed for her to grow in grace. I think you’re onto something here friend! I have one more question, and I’m sorry for bombarding you with this but I was praying over this yesterday so it’s fresh in my heart and mind! One of those family members, a dear one close to my heart, has become a lesbian. She was previously married, has two children, but left her husband for a woman. Now a few years ago she split with her partner and said she had been converted. She was previously in the Catholic Church. Then she got back together, eventually married her partner, and now goes to a compromised church that preaches universalism. When I spoke to her about it she admitted she cries herself to sleep every night, asks God to help her not sin, then gets up the next day and sins again. When I witnessed to her our relationship was strained. But now here is my problem, the Bible explicitly tells about those who proclaim to be believers but live a life in opposition to God, that we shouldn’t even have dinner with such. How does that look, do you think? Do I separate myself completely, while still praying for her? Do I continue to try and be a good relative?

        I appreciate you praying for my family, I will pray for your sisters as well!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you for your prayers for my family!

        I’ve prayed for your dear family member who you mentioned. While she claims to be a believer, her life gives no evidence of that. 1 Corinthians 5 is for those still within the body, but your family member has withdrawn from the body voluntarily. I would just assume she was always an unbeliever.

        I jump at the chance to invite my unbelieving relatives over for dinner for an opportunity to share my love and my faith. But if someone at our church was being called to repentance by the pastor and elders over a flagrant sin problem, I would not invite them over for dinner.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Ah, ok I can see the difference there. Thank you friend, I appreciate your good counsel! I never expected to be so blessed here on WordPress. Fellowship, even from such a distance, is still so very edifying!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Thanks! Yes, fellow believers can build each other up in the faith here at WP, as I have been by your postings! As might be expected, there’s also a lot of ecumenism here.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, DebbieLynne and I praise the Lord for your husband’s similar testimony. The Word of God in the hands of sinners often leads to miraculous results, like the dead being raised to life!


  3. “I can’t explain it other than to attribute it to the Lord drawing me to Him…”

    It is the sovereignty of God in His electing grace. See John 5:2-9. See also John 6:35-40. This idea is a major theme in John’s gospel. After you chew on these two stones, Romans 9 awaits.


    1. Hey Randy, After accepting Christ my wife and I started out at a fundy Baptist church but then went to two mildly Reformed Baptist churches. I’m somewhere in the middle of the Arminian-Calvin debate but don’t worry about it because it doesn’t affect my salvation.

      Here’s a middle of the road post from last year. The comments are interesting.


    When The Lord drew me out the practice of catholicism through His Holy Spirit one of the many questions on my mind was “You don’t believe in the words of The Holy Bible but, you read a part out of it when the “reader” gets up and reads? The “priest” quotes Bible scriptures… How do you know which scriptures are true and which ones are not?”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! Yes, as Catholics we gave lip service to the Bible being God’s Word but we had no personal knowledge of it. We didn’t think we needed to read the Bible because we were taught the church told us everything we needed to know.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It is sad that the Catholics have had such a strong hold. But even today in our evangelical circles we don’t look to Our Lord and Saviour nearly enough and thank Him for what He did for us , past present and future. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tom, As I’ve told you previously, I consider myself a “new” Christ follower…almost 5 years now! I was a Catholic but left the Catholic Church when I could see no results from my devotion to weekly Mass, weekly or at least monthly confession, following the Ten Commandments (to the best of my ability in my own strength), etc…etc… So I need some help in understanding some things. Why the NASB or the ESV? Why not the NKJV? (I personally really like reading from the NLT but have thought it better to learn from the NKJV…though I find it somewhat difficult). I’m not at all familiar with the NASB or ESV. I appreciate your insight on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jackie. I appreciate your questions about Bible translations. I had the same questions and I’m sure most Christians do as well. The KJV was THE standard English translation for 300 years. There are some Christians who passionately believe the KJV was actually an inspired translation and the only one that should be used but I disagree strongly with that viewpoint. And the 17th century English of the KJV is far too difficult. Bible scholarship had discovered older Greek manuscripts than those used for the KJV which had depended heavily on the Catholic Latin Vulgate translation. The NASB eventually came about from the study of the earlier manuscripts. It’s a very accurate word-for-word translation and I used it for a long time but the English does not flow easily. The ESV is recent and is also word for word but they tried to update the English and keep it flowing. The NLT is a paraphrase and therefore easy to read but it’s not a word for word translation so I don’t think it should be viewed as Scripture. My opinion. I do have an NLT which I find very helpful but I have it strictly for reference. The NIV is halfway between a word for word (NASB and ESV) and a paraphrase. The NKJV translators updated the English but they still used the later Greek manuscripts used by the KJV translators.
      The NKJV is a fine word for word Bible translation and I would not advise you to get rid of it. My personal preference is the ESV because it’s a word for word translation which uses the earliest Greek manuscripts but the differences between the NKJV and ESV are so slight in the big picture and not worth going out and buying a different translation if all you want is one Bible.

      Below is a short article which gives an understandable breakdown of the various translations:

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m always interested in what you share of what you’ve learned. I was able to have another conversation with my mom and my aunt yesterday. These conversations are rather strained and I struggle to remain composed…but I did better yesterday. My aunt was offended, she accused me of being critical of her church and her beliefs. I apologized for saying anything that hurt her feelings but explained to her as a former Catholic myself I believed I would be remiss if I didn’t share the truth of the Gospel with her and that I was indeed critical of the Catholic Church because I believe it to be false and teaching her things that are false. I told her I can’t judge her heart…but I am called to judge error when I see it based on the Bible. Am I right in that? I told her because I love her and my family and other Catholics, I am worried about their salvation…because I KNOW FOR A FACT I was not saved yet I was following very religiously my Catholic faith for YEARS! And that makes me passionate about helping others see the truth. I believe I planted seeds of truth and gave her and my mom things to think about. I read to them from Galatians 2:14-16…my mom got out her bible and read the same passage and even further and I could tell the Holy Spirit was working on her. I told them both that I was questioning my own church affiliation right now, because I am involved in a church that seems to be part of the Emergent Church…or ECT Movement…maybe even a mix of all of that and Word of Faith…it’s been a little disturbing everything I’m learning. But…I am seeking a Bible teaching church. I look to the Bible as my authority…the Word of God. My aunt has a very aggressive form of cancer…she has chosen no treatment and says she’s ready for whatever God has for her. I believe He is stirring her heart for truth. I believe it is His mercy and His will that she come to true repentance and be saved. The doctors have given her 3-6 mos. I believe God is giving her time to come to the truth…but it’s a rough road.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: I told her I can’t judge her heart…but I am called to judge error when I see it based on the Bible. Am I right in that?

        You are certainly right. I pray the Lord uses your witness to soften the hearts of your mom and your aunt and causes them to contemplate salvation in Christ vs. loyalty to their religious institution. That was a very appropriate passage that you shared and that your mom was able to read for herself.

        I share your concerns about many of today’s evangelical churches. It’s a sad reality. Many are preaching prosperity or are moving towards ecumenism. It is very confusing for Catholics who are contemplating the Gospel. They think, why should I leave my church when popular evangelicals like Ravi Zacharias and Max Lucado (and many others) embrace Catholicism as Christian. The church we attend is not ideal either, it tends towards being seeker/sensitive in some respects, but it remains doctrinally solid. As bad as things are getting, there will always be a remnant. I hope you find a church that is faithful to the Bible.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great insight to your wake up moment! Sometimes we just cannot explain God speaking to us through what we choose to do. Like when I came out of new age, I felt more and more lead out and could not explain it. AMEN BRO!

    Liked by 1 person

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