A priest and nun trust in Christ by faith alone and come out of Catholicism

From Darkness to Light
By Frank and Joan Testa
Xulon Press, 2012, 173 pages

This book is the testimony of Frank and Joan Testa, a former Roman Catholic priest and nun.

Frank grew up in Newark, New Jersey as part of a Catholic family and states that he “came to know the Lord Jesus as (his) personal Savior” in his early teen years, but that he remained in Catholicism out of ignorance. He determined to become a priest and attended seminary in the U.S. and Europe and was ordained in 1964. He quickly became involved with Catholic social agencies and was drawn to urban activism in several New Jersey cities, often earning the disapproval of his more traditionally-minded superiors. But by reading the Bible and through contact with Christians in the communities he was serving, Frank came to understand that many of the doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism are opposed to Scripture. He resigned from the priesthood and left Catholicism in 1977.

Joan grew up with her Catholic family in Newburgh, New York (sixty miles north of NYC) and entered a convent of the Dominican order in 1955, immediately following her high school graduation. She earned college degrees and subsequently taught in Catholic schools in the States and Puerto Rico. She was drawn to studying God’s word and also became involved in community activism in New Jersey, where she became acquainted with Frank on a strictly professional basis. Through the study of God’s Word and the witness of Christian friends, Joan accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone in 1978 and left her religious order and the Catholic church.

Although they were both out of Catholicism, Frank and Joan were still involved in urban activism and their paths crossed regularly. A special friendship developed and the two were married in 1980. Together, the couple founded an urban mission church, ministered to addicts through the Teen Challenge program, and became involved in foreign missions. In 1999, they began their “Repent America” ministry, which involved guest-speaking at churches and street preaching all across the U.S.

While I enjoyed this book, I do have a few qualifications. Firstly, Frank says he entered into a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ as a young teen while reading the book, “God Goes to Murderer’s Row” by “father” M. Raymond, a Trappist monk. I am curious how a person could trust in Jesus Christ by faith alone, and then go through eight years of Catholic seminary and thirteen years as a priest without ever comprehending that Catholicism’s legalistic calculus and ritualism have no connection with the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Perhaps Frank had had a preliminary insight into salvation in Christ as I had as a child in 1967 (see here), although I would not actually accept Jesus as Savior until 1983. Despite the confusion, it appears from his writing that Frank eventually acquired a full understanding of the Gospel and genuinely accepted Christ as his Savior by faith alone.

Secondly, both Frank and Joan are outspoken Pentecostals. I’m a cessationist in regards to the apostolic gifts of the Spirit, so there are several passages in the book that I read with a good amount of skepticism. I generally avoid discussing the apostolic gifts in a general forum such as this because there’s nothing to be gained by debating this topic involving secondary beliefs with my Pentecostal and charismatic brethren, but I do need to point out that in this book, Frank refers to believers who are cessationists in a negative manner.

Despite the above qualifications, I enjoyed this book overall.

10 thoughts on “A priest and nun trust in Christ by faith alone and come out of Catholicism

  1. As Jesus would say, the apostles complained to Him when others were going about doing their work for them, Jesus replies, If they are doing the work of Spreading the Truth about the Father, encourage them, all the flowers have colors, they are not the same, same as the fish, the trees, getting on together is the problem, and the politics we profess, amen. You don’t knock people down, you lift them up, it’s that simple

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, BW. In this book, an outreach to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of grace, it’s my opinion that Frank and Joan should have stayed away from debates about the secondaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I can’t wait to read this book, brother! It sounds like an amazing testimony from these two, minus the negative cessationist comments. I so appreciate the warning you’ve given, that’s so helpful! Thank you so much for this review.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! It was a very good book except for the two qualifications. It’s a miracle of the Holy Spirit that souls so deeply entwined in darkness are set free. They chose Christ knowing their lives would be radically changed, but they came to a point where they knew could no longer stay and be obedient to the Lord.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this is a more recent publication. I imagine these kind of testimonial books of former priests and nuns are more rare today than it was a few decades ago? Like you I’m rather reluctant to believe he was genuinely born again on the date he said he came to Christ though of course I do believe you in regards to the fact that somewhere along the way he did get saved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, this kind of testimonial from former priests and nuns is becoming a rarity. I believe that is because the pool of Catholic religious has shrunk so dramatically and because ecumenism has muddied the Gospel. Why would a priest think about leaving Catholicism when many popular evangelicals are embracing the pope as a brother in Christ?

      Yeah, when people talk about “having a personal relationship with Christ” or “asking Jesus into my heart,” that could mean many things not including genuine salvation. I don’t understand how a person could genuinely accept Jesus Christ as Savior, and then become a leader in a system that denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Does not compute. I think it’s absolutely impossible for a genuine, blood-bought, born-again believer to “celebrate” mass with all of its associated anti-Gospel doctrines for 13 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You said “ I think it’s absolutely impossible for a genuine, blood-bought, born-again believer to “celebrate” mass with all of its associated anti-Gospel doctrines for 13 years.”—> that’s a long time. You’re right

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I can see a priest accepting Christ and then resisting the Holy Spirit for a period, but not 8 years of seminary and 13 years of telling thousands of people they had to merit their salvation.

        Liked by 1 person

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