An ex-Catholic invites Roman Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as Savior

Don’t Miss the Celebration in Heaven
By Philip J. Gentlesk
Xulon Press, 2021, 124 pp.

4 Stars

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.

31 thoughts on “An ex-Catholic invites Roman Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as Savior

  1. As hard as I tried there was no way I could stay in that building and it’s falseness ( I thought I could change them (RC) if I stayed! 😂)
    It got creepier and creepier the harder I tried to stay!!!

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    1. I stopped going to mass before I accepted Christ, so my experience is a bit different. I can certainly understand how an individual could be born-again while still in the RCC, but it would be increasingly difficult to stay as you describe. When people like this author say they know many Catholics who are genuinely saved, that’s either wishful thinking, trying to please their audience, or ignorance of Catholicism.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. }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” . This is an important point you raised Tom. It has been my experience that some in my circle that left the Roman church still defend it somewhat. Maybe is lack of understanding.

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    1. RE: It has been my experience that some in my circle that left the Roman church still defend it somewhat.

      In addition to doctrine is being so watered down in evangelical churches these days, there’s the growing ecumenical trend, and the secular worship of tolerance, plurality, and inclusiveness affecting the church.

      Ex-American vice-president, Mike Pence, was very public about his evangelical faith, but also went to great lengths in stating his conversion to evangelicalism from Catholicism was a personal choice and that pious Catholics were as much Christians as he was. Zero discernment.

      A Catholic who reads this book might very well conclude they’re one of the “many fine Catholics” headed to Heaven who Gentlesk refers to.

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  3. The author says “I know many fine Catholics…” I often hear similar statements when the errors of Rome are being addressed and I find that to be very mIsleading and a hindrance to Roman Catholics who may be on their way out of Rome. It also makes me think that the author is lacking in discernment. The natural progression when a Roman Catholic is born again is to leave the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit of truth will lead you out. It’s that simple.

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    1. Good points, Cathy. Roman Catholicism and the genuine Gospel are incompatible and every Catholic apologist will unabashedly admit they must “cooperate with grace” in order to merit salvation (although the word “merit” is generally avoided).

      It’s impossible to be saved and remain long term at a church that teaches believing yourself saved is the “sin of presumption.”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A fair review. I appreciate you noting problematic sources it reference while also noting more accurate critique of Roman Catholicism out there. I see this is published by Xulon which I understand is self-publishing press and it has titles that seems all over the place!

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    1. Thanks! Yup, there’s lots of good information in this self-published book, but also some weak spots. Not recommended when there are several excellent critiques of RC-ism out there.

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  5. I’ve heard it explained like this. “I believe there are some Catholics who are genuine Christians, but that’s because they have understood the true Gospel, and they are ignorant of what the Catholic doctrine actually is. Now, if there are Catholics who believe in the doctrine and do the practices, they are not saved. You can’t have it both ways.” I think that makes it clear, and I agree, clarification is needed.

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    1. Yes, I agree with your comments. Some people just aren’t knowledgeable about doctrine. That said, there’s more than enough things said and practiced at mass that should make a genuine believer who reads his/her New Testament increasingly uncomfortable.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Exactly! And I think those who are truly being led by the Holy Spirit would eventually notice problems. 🙂 and I get babes in Christ, are not going to soak up everything at once, it takes time, and I praise God that He discerns hearts and minds because that’s all complicated and impossible for us to do. So, there’s always hope in Christ, and there is the promise the Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. (John 16:8)

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    2. You can’t have it both ways. For, you say, “If you accept Christ as your Savior, you are saved.” Unless you’re the special case of being a Catholic Christian, and accepting Christ as your Savior is not enough: You must also reject the heresy of the Church that Christ founded. This would mean that even Christ’s salvation can not overcome the “sin” of being Catholic. That Christ’s saving power can not overcome sin is the real heresy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You must reject the heresy of attempting to merit your salvation as your church reaches. To claim you have trusted in Christ as Savior but then attempt to merit your salvation by “cooperating with grace” and “maintaining friendship with God” is a dichotomy.

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      2. To borrow your term, you can’t have it both ways. You couldn’t have genuinely trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior while simultaneously believing you must merit your salvation as your church teaches you must. Any salvation system that teaches you must merit salvation to any degree is pseudo-christianity. I don’t rejoice in any disingenuous works-righteousness salvation, but I do encourage you to trust in Jesus Christ by faith alone and come out of the RCC.
        By the way, your church officially teaches that all religionists and even atheists can merit salvation if they are sincere in their beliefs and are “good.” That teaching is a blatant mark of apostasy.

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      3. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day also trusted in their institutional religiosity and works-righteousness. Your church is antithetical to Christ’s Good News. Laboring on a religious treadmill to merit salvation is very bad news, can’t be done. Great judgment is coming to the RCC for deluding billions of lost souls.

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    1. Thanks for reaching out, Stella. I was a Roman Catholic for 27 years, having attended 8 years of Catholic parochial school and 4 years of Catholic high school. I’ve since studied Roman Catholicism extensively. All that to say I’m very aware of RC doctrine.

      While the RCC calls Jesus “Savior,” it teaches its members that they must essentially save themselves by “cooperating with grace,” i.e. obeying the Ten Commandments and church precepts. No one has successfully obeyed their way into Heaven, as your church teaches they must.

      Yet who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:16 New American Bible

      I would be happy to discuss with you the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity.

      An excellent, concise resource is “Same Words, Different Worlds: Do Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Believe the Same Gospel?” (2021) by evangelical pastor and theologian, Leonardo De Chirico.

      May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the heresies of Roman Catholicism and guide you to the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, that’s okay. Since I accepted Christ as my Savior, you said that is all that’s required. So, if I believe that obeying the Ten Commandments is a heresy, it matters not, according to your posit that My acceptance of Christ as my Savior has already saved me. Therefore, if you believe my “heresy” is a sin, that is also a moot point, because all saved people are sinners. You’re saying that Catholics are a special exception, because accepting Christ Jesus as my savior is now not enough to be saved?

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      2. “I accepted Christ as my Savior” has become a trite phrase that many claimants don’t even understand. If you had genuinely trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior you wouldn’t be trying to merit your salvation by “cooperating with grace” as you and your adult Catholics cohorts are instructed to do by your RCC.

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      3. I see your problem is not with our salvation, but that you share your Salvation with Catholics. “Catholic cohorts, in ‘my’ RCC”, and insinuating that I’m ignorant about accepting Christ as my Savior, something I take very seriously, is demeaning, and irrelevant to my salvation. I pray that God opens your heart. Until then, there is no further need to discuss this matter with a closed heart.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Again, anyone who believes merit plays any part in their salvation has not genuinely trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior. How can you be trusting in Christ as Savior while also trying to merit your salvation? It’s a blatant incongruity.

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      5. I know what you believe because you’ve stated that you hold to the doctrines of the RCC, which teach that salvation is via sacramental grace and merit.

        I’m curious what you think about your church’s official teaching that all religionists – Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. – and even atheists are able to merit Heaven if they are sincere in their beliefs and try to be “good.” What do you make of that? I’m curious about why you’re so passionate about your RC religion when your church teaches all religionists and atheists may also merit Heaven?

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