Don’t Miss the Celebration in Heaven
By Philip J. Gentlesk
Xulon Press, 2021, 124 pp.
In this independently published book, the author, an ex-Catholic evangelical layman, examines many of the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. He remarks on such anti-Biblical Catholic doctrines as papal authority and infallibility, purgatory, prayers for the dead, indulgences, veneration/worship of Mary, confession of sins to a priest, praying to saints, the sacrifice of the mass and transubstantiation, and reliance on sacramentals (scapular, holy water, rosary). Most importantly, Gentlesk cites the difference between Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental faux-grace and merit and the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
I give the author an “A” for effort, but there are several drawbacks to this book that I must mention. Some older, polemical Protestant works are referenced such as Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” and Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism.” Critical examinations of Catholicism have come a long way since those days (see Gregg R. Allison, Leonardo De Cherico, and James R. White to name a few). Also, in an attempt to appear as even-handed, Gentlesk grants that many Catholics will be in Heaven. “I know many fine Catholics who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and will be spending eternity in Heaven with Him – beyond any doubt” (p. 80). Fine Catholics? There are certainly some individual Catholics who have responded to a Gospel message from outside of their false religion and who genuinely trusted in Christ as Savior, but the Holy Spirit is drawing them out of Catholicism. It’s impossible to reconcile the Gospel of grace with Rome’s false gospel of works. Gentlesk is comfortable in pointing out the Roman Catholic church’s many heterodoxies, but draws back from condemning it as a totally apostate church.
I commend Gentlesk for his effort, but there are many other critical examinations of Roman Catholicism that present the evangelical view from a much more theologically knowledgeable (and forthright) basis.