Throwback Thursday: Leaving Catholicism for Christ “down under”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 28, 2015 and has been revised.


Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories
Edited by Mark Gilbert
Matthias Media, 2012, 124 pp.

5 Stars

This is a short, very readable collection of testimonies from eleven people who left Roman Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

There’s not a lot of heavy-duty theology here. Most of the folks have a similar, short testimony of growing up within legalistic, cultural Catholicism, being invited to a Bible study, and noticing the differences between God’s Word and their works religion, and responding to the Gospel.

All of the contributors note that Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit, which left them exasperated. Through God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit, they came to understand the GOOD NEWS! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and repented of their sin and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Gilbert and the ten other writers are Australians so there’s an interesting “down under” twist to the stories. Also, most of the writers heard the Gospel for the first time in Bible studies sponsored by the Anglican church in Australia. Gilbert is an Anglican minister. I had assumed the Anglican/Episcopal church was completely spiritually dead, but evidently there are pockets within Anglicanism, like down under in Australia, where the genuine Gospel is still preached. Surprise!

Below are a couple of other books from Matthias Media dealing with Roman Catholicism:

  • The Road Once Travelled: Fresh Thoughts on Catholicism (2010) by Mark Gilbert
  • Nothing In My Hand I Bring: Understanding the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs (2007) by Ray Gallea

See Matthias Media’s online catalog here.

Just one look, back, at the Hollies

It’s time for a little pandemic lockdown frivolity!

The Hollies: Look Through Any Window, 1963-1975
Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2011, 120 minutes

4 Stars

I’ve told the story several times about how I became a fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young) back in 1969 at the age of thirteen. I liked the group so much that I delved into the back catalogs of the members’ previous bands; David Crosby’s Byrds and Steve Stills’ (and Neil Young’s) Buffalo Springfield. To each their own, but of the three amigos, I liked Graham Nash’s songs the least. They were way too heavy on the saccharine for my taste. But being the nerdy completist that I was, I also lightly delved into the back catalog of Nash’s previous band, the Hollies.

During this COVID-19 quarantine, I was looking to fill some time and stumbled across this documentary on Amazon and decided to queue it up on the turntable for a spin for nostalgia’s sake.

Graham Nash and Allan Clarke grew up as grammar school mates in Manchester, England and both had a talent for singing. With the rise of rock and roll, the pair aspired to forming their own band. The duo founded the Hollies in 1962, and after several personnel changes, they cemented their hit-making line-up in 1966 with Clarke as the lead vocalist and frontman, Nash on rhythm guitar (barely) and vocals, Tony Hicks on lead guitar and vocals, Bernie Calvert on bass guitar, and Bobby Elliot on drums. The band had phenomenal success in the U.K.  – 18 Top Ten singles – and to a lesser degree, in the States (6 Top Ten). The Hollies were especially noted for their unique vocal blend with Nash’s high harmonies nicely complementing Clarke’s tenor lead and Hicks rounding out the bottom.

Like the Beatles and most of the other bands that were part of the early years of the British Invasion (1964-1967), the Hollies were strictly a pop band that played songs with simple melodies and simple lyrics for their teeny bopper audiences. But whereas the Beatles and others progressed into more sophisticated musical forms, the Hollies largely stayed in their bubble-gum lane. A frustrated Nash prodded the group to expand their horizons, resulting in the slightly-adventurous albums, “Evolution” (1967) and “Butterfly” (1967), but the increasing tensions caused him to finally part with the band in 1968 and begin his tenure with CSN&Y.

This documentary traces the history of the Hollies from their start to their less-successful, post-Nash years. There’s interesting interviews with Nash, Clarke, Hicks, and Elliot. Twenty-two song performances are included in the video. Some are live and some are lip-synched. The only criticism I have of this documentary is that each song is played in its entirety. Many of the lesser-known songs should have been sampled and the interview segments expanded.

Clarke retired from the band in 2000 and Hicks and Elliot soldier on as the Hollies with journeymen filling the slots. The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

The Hollies’ 18 U.K. Top Ten singles:

  • 1963 – Stay
  • 1964 – Just One Look – Here I Go Again – We’re Through
  • 1965 – Yes I Will – I’m Alive – Look Through Any Window
  • 1966 – I Can’t Let Go – Bus Stop – Stop, Stop, Stop
  • 1967 – On A Carousel – Carrie-Anne
  • 1968 – Jennifer Eccles
  • 1969 – Sorry Suzanne – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother
  • 1970 – I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top
  • 1974 – The Air That I Breathe
  • 1988 – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother (re-release)

Three “shoulda been Top Tens”: One of my favorite Hollies songs, “Dear Eloise” (1967), wasn’t released as a single in the U.K. and only made it to #50 in the U.S. Although it performed only modestly in the U.K. (#32), “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” (1971) was a huge #2 hit in the U.S.  The excellent “Long Dark Road” (1972) was released only in the U.S. and peaked at a disappointing #26.

Postscript: As the documentary ends and the closing credits roll, an excellent 1971 rendition of the Hollies singing “Amazing Grace” a capella plays in the background.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #29

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. Both of these sermons were preached on Resurrection Sunday, April 12th.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana.

Next is Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City.

Pastor Roger Copeland


Pastor Cody Andrews

Only Jesus and “Lordship Salvation”

Only Jesus: What It Really Means To Be Saved
By John MacArthur
Thomas Nelson, 2020, 173 pp.

5 Stars

In this small book, Pastor John MacArthur presents the genuine Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. As part of his presentation, MacArthur includes the teaching that genuine conversion includes repentance; turning from sinful rebellion against God to trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior AND also as Lord.

A little history. In the course of his ministry, MacArthur observed that MANY people had made a profession of Christ, but subsequently bore no spiritual fruit. These people lived their lives the same exact way that they did before they allegedly trusted in Christ. MacArthur believed many of these false believers were the product of “decisionism,” the evangelism tool used at some crusades and some churches whereby people are led to pray a “sinner’s prayer” followed by raising a hand or coming forward as a confirmation of their conversion. JMac stirred up a lot of controversy with his book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” (1988), in which he insisted that those who genuinely trust in Christ as Savior will also submit to Him as Lord and follow Him in obedience, albeit imperfectly while in this world.

Some evangelicals were horrified. They thought JMac was attempting to add works to the Gospel of grace and branded his message as “Lordship salvation.”* Actually, MacArthur’s point was quite Biblical (James 2:14-26). Those who genuinely trust in Jesus Christ as Savior will also desire to follow Him as Lord (albeit imperfectly) and will necessarily bear spiritual fruit. Throughout this new book, JMac once again emphasizes that obedience (always imperfect) will follow genuine salvation.


  1. Master and Slaves
  2. What is the Gospel Message?
  3. You Must Be Born Again?
  4. In Spirit and in Truth
  5. Good News for Sinners
  6. To Seek and Save the Lost
  7. Repentance
  8. Faith
  9. Justification
  10. The Cost of Discipleship
  11. The Cross

Order from Amazon here.

Some Christians are critical of John MacArthur for more than this “Lordship salvation” issue (which is actually a non-issue if viewed Biblically). JMac offends some for his strong stands on the following:

  • Ecumenism with Rome – He’s against it and regularly warns against Catholicism and its false works-righteousness gospel.
  • Apostolic gifts of the Holy Spirit – He teaches the apostolic gifts ceased with the deaths of the apostles.
  • Genesis – He teaches a literal interpretation, i.e., Young Earth Creationism.
  • The role of women in the church – he teaches Complementarianism rather than Egalitarianism.
  • Prosperity gospel – MacArthur teaches the prosperity gospel/Word of Faith movement is bogus, pseudo-Christianity.

I agree with JMac on all of the above. I “disagree” with him (only somewhat) on the following:

  • Calvinism – JMac is an unapologetic Calvinist and teaches the Reformed view of election and predestination.

Hang on my beloved Reformed brothers and sisters! Please hear me out. Although I’m somewhere in the middle of the Calvinism-Arminianism debate, I definitely lean closer to MacArthur’s Calvinism than to Wesleyan Arminianism. I suspend any final decision on the issue because I can. However, JMac’s approach is actually quite tolerant. He acknowledges that God somehow integrates man’s freewill into His divine, sovereign plan. I can agree with that. Watch JMac’s excellent sermon on the topic, “Sovereignty and Freedom,” here. Thanks for the video, Crissy!

  • Evangelistic invitations – As I mentioned above, MacArthur is against the “sinner’s prayer” and other types of evangelistic “promptings,” e.g., walking the aisle, raising the hand, signing a card, etc. In this book, he also criticizes using such terminology as “accepting Christ as Savior,” evidently feeling it’s too Arminian.

After trusting in Christ, I was discipled at a Baptist church where an invitation was given at EVERY church service or function. Not to do so would have been considered a serious dereliction. I was initially surprised when I learned that Reformed believers objected to invitations. I now understand. Invitations can certainly lead to false, disingenuous professions. But the prohibition against invitations also has shortcomings. See my 2018 post on “Decisionism” here. Also, “accepting Jesus Christ as Savior,” a term regularly used by many Baptists, is quite Biblical as I noted in this post.

Bottom line: I don’t agree with Pastor John MacArthur on everything. There’s probably not a pastor anywhere that I would agree with 100% on every single secondary and tertiary doctrine. However, I agree with Pastor MacArthur on MOST things, especially the most important things, and I’m regularly blessed by his sermon podcasts and books.

*See the interesting Wikipedia article on the “Lordship Salvation Controversy” here. Regrettably, I still come across people here and there who falsely accuse JMac of adding works to the Gospel of grace and who also usually have a warped understanding of “repentance” as being some type of work when the New Testament clearly and repeatedly teaches “repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance (Greek, metanoia) means “change of mind”; turning from rebellion against God to Jesus Christ. See my post on Biblical repentance here.

The article below nicely clarifies the “Lordship Salvation” issue:

What is lordship salvation?


Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 4/25/20

After the FDA blocked teleshyster, Jim Bakker (photo above), from peddling his bogus COVID-19 antidote “silver solution,” the credit card companies made the decision not to process contributions or product orders to his “ministry.” Bakker is now appealing to his supporters to mail in paper check donations immediately or he’ll be forced to cease operations. Now there’s a positive thought.

Speaking of ceasing operations, many Catholic parishes in the U.S., especially up here in the Rust Belt, were already in major financial trouble prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis will definitely force many parishes to further consolidate or lock their doors permanently. I’m not sad at all about that. I contend that the RCC’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit is a much more serious sham than Jim Bakker’s bogus “silver solution.”

Not only are many Catholic parishes and dioceses being pushed over the financial edge because of the COVID-19 lockdown, they’re also simultaneously facing unprecedented claims from abuse survivors due to the short-term liberalization of claims limitations. Here in Rochester, survivors are suing individual parishes to circumvent the diocese’s “safe harbor” bankruptcy filing, but the diocese’s lawyers have managed to temporarily put the kibosh on that. Stay tuned.

Conservative Catholics believe, as the RCC catechism states, that “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). Eating the consecrated Jesus wafer is the “ultimate” in Catholic spirituality. But progressive, social-gospel Catholics believe (g)od is everywhere (most especially among the poor) and see conservatives’ fixation on the consecrated Jesus wafer as a holdover fetish from pre-conciliar days.

For the last several weeks, we’ve watched the Roman Catholic church scramble to adapt its sacramental system during this pandemic. This article details how hospital nurses are holding smart phones up to critical patients while an off-location priest administers “last rites” via FaceTime or some other two-way video application. The sacrament of last rites/extreme unction/anointing of the sick, administered by Catholic priests to the critically ill, is alleged to cleanse away sins prior to death. A Catholic who dies without last rites, as many Catholic coronavirus victims have, is thought to have missed this “safety net.” This is all voodoo religious superstition, folks. Many of the critically ill Catholics who receive last rites aren’t even conscious.

When “God Friended Me” premiered back in October 2018, I intended to check in on the show every so often, but the pilot (reviewed here ) was so bad I bailed out immediately. I’m very surprised the show lasted this long. So un-Biblical.

Interesting. Under pressure from pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI, pope Francis vetoed the ordination of married men to the priesthood after the Amazon Synod, to the absolute horror of his progressive allies. He then stacked the new fact-finding committee looking into the ordination of women to the diaconate with conservatives. Progressives are pondering if 83-year-old Francis has lost his nerve and voluntarily put himself out to pasture?

It’s no secret that Catholic prelates and priests have a penchant for the hard stuff. We also know that progressive Francis is not a big fan of conservative Catholicism’s baubles and fetishes. There’s definitely a good degree of truth in most humor.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #21: “Not to Baptize but to Preach”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. In this last of his four chapters dealing with baptism, the Catholic apologist attempts to refute Protestants’ argument that the apostle Paul was sent “Not to Baptize but to Preach.”


The Roman Catholic church teaches that baptism is essential for salvation while evangelicals teach that baptism is an ordinance and a believer’s public testimony of their identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. As Broussard points out, some Protestants use the verse below as a proof text to dissociate baptism from salvation:

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17

Evangelicals ask, if baptism is necessary for salvation, then why didn’t the apostle Paul prioritize baptizing people during his ministry?

Broussard states that in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul had observed that many in the church had identified themselves with various ministers according to who had baptized who, and that Paul expressed gratefulness (vv.14-16) for having baptized only a few and not being a part of the regrettable factionalism.

But Broussard then points out that Jesus Christ commanded all of the apostles, which would later include Paul, to baptize:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19

Since Paul was commanded to baptize, Broussard suggests that the apostle’s statement, “Christ did not send me to baptize,” is hyperbolic speech; that Paul’s intended meaning was that it doesn’t matter who baptizes a person, not that he dismissed the alleged salvific nature of baptism.

Broussard argues that Paul couldn’t have been dismissing the essentiality of baptism since he affirmed its necessity in Romans 6:3-4:

“3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

In answer to Broussard, while in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17, Paul is certainly addressing the cultish factionalism associated with baptism that was plaguing the church at Corinth, it would have been inconceivable for him to use the words that he did, “For Christ did not send me to baptize,” if baptism were a part of the Gospel and a requirement for salvation. It’s significant that when Paul wrote a detailed outline in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 of what he considered the Gospel, he conspicuously did not include baptism.

Broussard interprets the baptism that’s referred to in Romans 6:3-4 as physical baptism whereas Paul is certainly referring to spiritual baptism/immersion in Christ that comes only by trusting in Him as Savior by faith alone. This metaphorical spiritual immersion/baptism in Christ is referred to many times in the New Testament:

“But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” – 1 Corinthians 6:17

The Catholic practice of the pouring of water over an infant’s head has absolutely no basis in what Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-4.

Has Broussard convinced us that baptism is necessary for salvation? Not hardly. Broussard can’t even convince himself of the necessity of baptism because as a Catholic he MUST also uphold the RCC’s dichotomous teaching that all unbaptized non-Catholic religionists and atheists may also merit Heaven if they are “sincere” and “good.”

“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” – Lumen Gentium,  para. 16, Second Vatican Council, November 21, 1964

Broussard guilefully omits any mention of that teaching in his four chapters on the necessity of baptism. This deliberate omission is gapingly underhanded and dishonest.

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

Next week, Broussard continues his twelve-part section on the Sacraments with the first of four chapters on the Lord’s Supper and the communion elements with, “God Will Cut Off the Person Who Eats Blood”

Throwback Thursday: Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for the Truth

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 30, 2015 and has been revised.


Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for the
By Bartholomew F. Brewer
Bob Jones University Press, 1982, 164 pp.

5 Stars

The years tend to blend together at this stage of my life, but I stopped attending Catholic mass around 1981 and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983. Very shortly after my conversion, I discovered the Mission to Catholics ministry led by ex-Carmelite Catholic priest, Bart Brewer.

Mission to Catholics was the type of “old-school” ministry that’s becoming increasingly hard to find these days. Bart and his wife traveled the country speaking in churches and debating Catholic apologists. He offered a very large assortment of tracts, pamphlets, and books dealing with Roman Catholicism and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. In my early years as an ex-Catholic Christian, I was very grateful to have a resource like Mission to Catholics available.

In “Pilgrimage from Rome,” Bart gives an informative and heartfelt account of why he left Roman Catholicism. Bart was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1953, but began to struggle with the doctrines of the church in comparison to what he read in the Bible. He left the church in 1963 and eventually trusted in Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Bart founded Mission to Catholics in 1973 and faithfully delivered God’s Good News! to Roman Catholics until he went home to be with the Lord in 2005.

Inexpensive used copies of “Pilgrimage from Rome” are available from here.

The Mission to Catholics website has recently been updated and is a good resource. See here.

Postscript: I wonder what ecumenical evangelical Judases would say to an ex-Catholic priest like Bart Brewer or Richard Bennett who knew the Roman Catholic church intimately and knew that it does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? What would they do with the testimony of a Brewer or a Bennett? The Gospel betrayers cannot allow inconvenient truth to derail their march towards unity with Rome.

Dated but decent info about the New Age Movement

Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust
By Dave Hunt
The Berean Call, 2008, 282 pp.

Eschatology (theology of the endtimes) is not one of my strong interests. I received this book, written by evangelical apologist, Dave Hunt, and subtitled, “The New Age Movement in Prophecy,” as a gift a few years ago and it sat on my bookshelf until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down our local library and forced me to peek beneath the cobwebs in my queue of unread books.

“Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust” was originally published in 1983 and then republished in 2008 as a “Dave Hunt Classic.” Being 37 years old, some of the information is no longer pertinent. Most notably, there are many references to the tensions at that time between the U.S. led by Ronald Reagan and the Yuri Andropov-led Soviet Union. But the main subject of the book is the burgeoning New Age Movement, which has its roots in Hindu mysticism and has seeped into many aspects of Western culture including religion, medicine and health, philosophy, psychology, government, education, entertainment, etc., etc. I learned quite a bit about the history and reach of the New Age from this book. Since “Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust” was written, the New Age has infiltrated even farther into society. I’m not even going to bother commenting on Dave’s theories regarding how the endtimes are going to go down. Ask ten eschatology experts and you’re going to get ten different theories.

Dave tended to express his ideas with a good amount of hyperbole and this book was no exception. There’s also a noticeable amount of redundancy. Be that as it may, this was still a decent quarantine read.

Dave Hunt (d. 2013) was beloved by many Christians. I especially appreciated his uncompromising stand against Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The apologetics ministry that Dave founded, The Berean Call, is still reaching the lost and equipping Christians under the leadership of T.A. McMahon. Find the website here. See my review of another one of Dave’s books, “A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days,” here.

Postscript: I dabbled in Eastern mysticism in the late-1970s prior to accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983. Among other things, I read Carlos Castaneda’s popular books on Shamanism and also practiced Yoga and Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #28

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. Both of the sermons were preached on Sunday, April 5th, 2020.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana preaching about the sufficiency of God’s grace.

Next, Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaches an evangelistic message using the Romans Road.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Sufficient Grace


Pastor Cody Andrews – The Romans Road

“Saved? I don’t need to be saved!”

In my Friday “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist” series, I get into some heavy-duty comparative theology, but sometimes a simple, anecdotal story can be quite illustrative.

I have five older sisters who were brought up in Roman Catholicism and attended Catholic grammar school and high school just as I did. Four of the sisters are now self-proclaimed atheists or agnostics, while the fifth sister still identifies somewhat as a Catholic and enjoys going to mass occasionally, mainly because the rituals and ceremonies evoke pleasant childhood memories for her.

One day, this sister came over for dinner and the conversation turned to spiritual matters. In our discussion, I shared that we are all sinners and deserve eternal punishment, but the Good News is that God so loved us, He sent Jesus Christ, God the Son,* to pay for our sins and that we must accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone.

My sister immediately responded with a good measure of emotional indignation, saying, “I don’t need to be saved!” She claimed that she was a good person and did not need a Savior. Her self-righteous remarks exemplified the thinking of Catholics and Catholicism in general. While the Roman Catholic church does refer to Jesus Christ as “Savior,” it teaches its members that they must essentially save themselves via sacramental grace (for those who still bother to avail themselves of the sacraments) and good works. The bottom line for Catholics is merit. Catholics believe they are basically good people who deserve to go to Heaven. They will tell you that, while they are not perfect, they do a fairly decent job of obeying the Ten Commandments. After all, they haven’t killed anyone or robbed a bank, etc., etc.

Accept Jesus Christ as Savior? Such a thought is offensive to Catholics. They know that their church technically refers to Jesus Christ as “Savior,” but they surely don’t believe that they themselves need to be saved.

*In addition to her belief that she doesn’t need a Savior, this particular semi-practicing Catholic sister also declared that she does not believe that Jesus was/is God. Catholics generally have a very shallow grasp of their church’s theology and/or knowledge of the Bible.

“30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16:30-31