An irenic invitation to Roman Catholics to accept Christ

The Road Once Travelled
By Mark Gilbert with Cecily Paterson
Matthias Media, 2010, 63 pages

There are hundreds of good resources on Roman Catholicism from a Bible Christian perspective (see my listing here). They range from the very confrontational to the almost irenic. ‘The Road Once Travelled” definitely tends toward the latter. Australian conservative Anglican minister, Mark Gilbert, gives his personal testimony of starting out in life as a Roman Catholic, but then reading the Bible and discovering the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

There are no nasty put-downs of Catholicism in this booklet. But Gilbert places himself in the shoes of his Catholic readers regarding the irrelevant, boring, and confusing aspects of Catholic ritualism and the ever-present guilt cycle that’s part and parcel of religious legalism. He then discusses the authority of the Bible and the ultimate “solution” to man’s spiritual need, Jesus Christ.

This booklet is very well-designed and non-confrontational in tone and meant to be given to Catholic friends and family. It’s a little too loosey-goosey to my way of thinking and comes close to erring on the side of politically correct “niceness.” Gilbert almost seems to be telling his readers that it’s probably a good idea for them to accept Christ and leave Catholicism rather than compelling them (e.g., “…it seemed best for me to leave” and “Everyone’s journey is different and, in many ways, is not that important…,” both quotes from p. 61).

But personalities are different and some Catholics who would never consider reading something more forthright and confrontational might read this quasi-irenic booklet.

Order from Matthias Media here.


Coming to Christ, Down Under

Nothing in My Hand I Bring: Understanding the Differences Between Roman Catholic and Protestant Beliefs
By Ray Galea
Matthias Media, 2007, 121 pages

Over the past three and a half years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing many books that examined the differences between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism, but this little book is extremely well done.

Author and minister, Ray Galea, begins his testimony with his experiences growing up with his family as part of a Catholic community in Australia. Like most Catholics, Ray and his family participated in the rituals of their religion, but had no personal trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Ray began reading the Bible as a college student and discovered many differences between God’s Word and Catholicism. He eventually accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone and joined a conservative Anglican church, much to his family’s disappointment.

Ray’s testimony mirrors my own in many ways. When a Catholic first begins to understand the Gospel, they think about how accepting Christ as Savior will affect their relationships with their Catholic family and friends. For many Catholics, their religion is a big part of their “tribal” identity and when they accept Christ, they know they will face opposition from family and friends and be labeled a “Bible banger,” as one who “takes religion way too seriously,” and as a traitor to their church and parents. These are the chains of popularity and acceptance, but who would choose them over a sweet, saving relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? After accepting Christ, all such concerns are rendered inconsequential.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:37-39

Ray then addresses some of the major differences between Bible Christianity and Catholicism including short chapters on the mass, authority, justification, and Mary. The last chapter examines Catholicism’s relatively new ecumenical and interfaith approach, which teaches that people of all religions and even atheists can also merit Heaven if they “sincerely follow the light they have been given,” whatever that means. Of course, the main difference between Catholicism and Bible Christianity is their respective gospels. Catholics believe in salvation by sacramental grace and merit while Bible Christians believe in the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE, without one, single claim of merit or entitlement of our own. Have YOU trusted in Christ as your Savior by faith alone?

Ray writes in a warm, inviting, personal style and covers the topics without using a lot of unnecessary theological jargon. This is a very good introductory book for Catholics who are curious about Biblical Christianity and for evangelicals who are curious about the main beliefs of Catholicism, but don’t care to wade through a 400-page tome. Highly recommended. Order from Matthias Media here. The publisher also offers two additional books about Catholicism, “Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories” (see my review here) and “The Road Once Travelled: Fresh Thoughts on Catholicism.”

Topsy turvy Catholicism! Conservative Catholic leaders advising laity to disobey the pope!

Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock
By Philip Lawler
Regenery Gateway, 2018, 203 pages

Roman Catholicism had a huge problem on its hands. One of the church’s doctrines is that Catholics who are divorced and remarried without having their first marriage annulled by the church, are considered to be living in an open state of adultery and are barred from receiving communion at mass. The church states that the mass is its most important and sacred act of worship. In an era when divorce is rampant, remarried Catholics felt like second-class citizens and many stopped attending mass altogether. Progressives in the church saw the need for change.

In 2016, pope Francis issued “Amoris Laetitia” a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, and buried deep within the document, in a footnote no less, was a statement which allowed remarried divorcees access to communion based upon their parish priest’s pastoral guidance and discretion. Conservative clerics and laypersons were shocked beyond measure! The banning of communion to remarried divorcees was considered to be infallible doctrine, and yet the pope had guilefully subverted it. The controversy over “Amoris Laetitia” has been escalating for two years with conservative outrage growing stronger and bolder with each passing month.

The author of this book, Philip Lawler, is the editor of Catholic World News, a conservative source of Catholic news and commentary. In “Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock,” Lawler describes in detail the behind-the-scenes political maneuverings and manipulations at the extraordinary and ordinary assemblies of bishops in 2014 and 2015 that wrestled with, among other things, the question of communion for remarried divorcees. The subsequent publication of the exhortation and the reaction from conservatives, especially the Five Dubia (questions) sent to Francis by four conservative cardinals asking him to clarify the document, are then discussed. Lawler fills in many blanks for those of us who have been following the “Amoris Laetitia” crisis for almost two years.

Francis no doubt views “Amoris” as a pragmatic step that sacrifices dogma in an attempt to retain members. But Lawler and other conservatives can’t imagine a Catholic church in which once-infallible dogma is rendered transitory. For centuries, Roman Catholics have proudly boasted to Protestants that their church alone was guided by the infallible “Vicar of Christ” and that the Holy Spirit would prevent any pope from leading the church into doctrinal error.

“Providential guidance of God will see to it that the Pope shall never lead the Church into error in any matter of religion.” – The Month, Vol. 135, 1920, p. 485

Conservative Catholic pundits now have the impossible job of defending this claim in light of Francis’ artifice.

Lawler stops short of actually labeling Francis a “heretic,” but infers as much. He also briefly calls into question Francis’ psychological health. Lawler counsels his fellow conservatives to ignore the pope and remain faithful to bishops who uphold the centuries-old teachings of the church regarding the ban on communion for adults living in “irregular marriages.” Schism is not discussed…yet. But make no mistake, “Amoris” is just the beachhead. Francis and his progressive allies are currently floating additional changes to church dogma (e.g., shared communion with Protestants, blessing same-sex marriages, etc.).

This book is an absolutely incredible resource for evangelicals like myself who scrutinize the Roman Catholic church and have been observing this ongoing “Amoris” controversy. I read the entire book in only two sittings. We have not witnessed a similar crisis in our lifetime, as conservative Catholic clerics and lay leaders are absolutely bewildered by their pope and advising the laity to disobey him. My prayer is that this crisis will lead many Catholics to question the false claims once routinely made about their pope and the other man-made traditions of their church and to seek out the unchangeable Savior who offers them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5

“Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” is absolutely MUST reading for evangelical Vatican-watchers.

Postscript: Many of the priests I’ve listened to recently on conservative Catholic talk radio have, like Lawler, advised their listeners to disobey Francis’ “innovations.” However, one conservative Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, has taken Lawler to task for airing Catholicism’s “dirty laundry” in public.

Creation or Evolution?

The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate
By Jason Lisle
Master Books, 2010 Kindle Edition, 256 pages

My brain is wired in such a way that I generally avoid most material dealing with science, technology, mathematics, logic, and such like. But Christians can’t help but encounter the debate over divine creation versus evolution, so it’s helpful for all believers to get some grounding on the topic. This book is one of blogger SlimJim’s favorite resources on the creationist view of origins and he finally talked me into downloading it to my Kindle.

“The Ultimate Proof of Creation” by Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis (website below) can be broken down into four sections. The first part of the book explains the basic arguments of the creationists and the evolutionists in the origins debate. Each side approaches the debate from their own worldview and presuppositions. Only a worldview based upon the Bible is able to successfully account for the existence of morality, logic, and the uniformity of nature. The atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for these outside of the Bible. Advice is provided on how to debate with atheistic evolutionists. The evolutionist often resorts to arbitrariness and presents claims that are inconsistent with evolution theory. He/she must also reject preconditions of intelligibility such as the reliability of the senses and memory since these are not dependable sources of information in a strict, hypothetical evolutionist worldview.

The second part of the book deals with logical reasoning. I have seen many of the rules of logic – logical fallicies, begging the question, the straw man argument, circular reasoning, etc. – in various books and articles over the years, so it was very helpful to see this information presented in a systematic manner. But I won’t lie, this was difficult reading for a “right-brain” guy like myself.

In the short third part of the book, Lisle argues that for the creationist debater, a presuppositional approach is superior to an evidential approach. Atheists view all evidence through their worldview, so evidential arguments will not persuade them. Lisle recommends a presuppositional approach, which argues for a literal understanding of the Genesis creation account based upon the Bible as the Word of God right out of the gate. This approach may seem counterintuitive, but the presuppositionalist is able to draw upon the nature and characteristics of God as recorded in the Bible as the basis for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature. Once again, the atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature from their worldview.

The last part of the book includes a large number of actual emails sent to Lisle and Answers in Genesis that attack the creationist view. I found this section to be very helpful. After reading through the somewhat challenging initial material, which detailed the opposing views of creationists and atheists regarding origins, Lisle pulls all of the information together by using actual examples of how to counter the atheist’s faulty reasoning, thereby reinforcing the preceding material.

This was a very interesting book and I recommend it highly. But if you’re new to the origins debate, you may want to get grounded first in something a little more basic. The author assumes the Christian reader already has some familiarity with the fundamentals of the origins debate and means to equip them to be more effective witnesses, and even debaters themselves, for the Biblical account of creation.

Answers in Genesis website

First “convent escape narrative” published in America

Six Months in a Convent
By Rebecca Theresa Reed
Book Verve E-Books, 2014 (originally published in 1835)

Several days ago, I posted a review of “Fire & Roses,” a history of the burning of the Mount Benedict convent and boarding school in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1834. See here. Intimately entwined with that unfortunate event is the story of Rebecca Theresa Reed.

Reed was born in Charlestown in 1813 into an Episcopalian family. It was in 1826, in her walks past the newly-built convent, that the thirteen-year-old became mesmerized by the impressive building with its manicured grounds and gardens and by the nuns with their unusual garb and their separation from the world. Reed envisioned convent life as a blissful existence of prayer and dedication to God and began pleading with her parents to allow her to enter the convent, which they were not agreeable to. But after the death of her mother, Reed entered the convent as a postulant in 1831 at the age of eighteen. However, her romantic notions of convent life quickly came crashing to the ground. In this book, she describes the harsh living conditions imposed upon the nuns and the severeness of the mother superior, Mary Anne Moffatt aka Sister Mary Edmond St. George.

After Reed began resisting Moffat’s heavy-handed discipline, she overheard the mother superior and bishop discussing plans to forcibly transfer her to a convent in Quebec in order to break her spirit. The postulant nun escaped the convent and her story quickly spread throughout Charlestown and Boston. Protestants were already resentful of the Ursuline convent and boarding school because girls from wealthy Protestant families made up the majority of the student population. Tensions reached the tipping point after another nun escaped the convent (only to return) in addition to several other factors. An angry Protestant mob destroyed the convent on the evening of August 12, 1834.

Reed’s book was published the following year in 1835. Despite Catholic aspersions to the contrary, her 66-page account is actually non-sensationalistic and quite reasonable. In addition to her story, the original publisher included a 71-page “Preliminary Suggestions for Candid Readers” apologia section which seeks to exonerate Reed of any direct responsibility for the riot, to warn Protestant parents of the dangers of educating their children at Catholic institutions, and also to contend for the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone versus Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. “Six Months in a Convent” sold 10,000 copies after its first week in print and more than 200,000 overall; amazing numbers for that era.

After leaving the convent and Catholicism, Rebecca Theresa Reed returned to her family’s Episcopalian church, Old North Church, in Boston. It was at Old North Church on April 18, 1775 that sexton Robert Newman placed two lanterns in the steeple to alert Paul Revere that British troops were advancing by boat across the Charles River into Cambridge. Reed died from tuberculosis in 1839 at the young age of 26. See here. It’s not explicitly clear from the text whether she ever placed her trust in Jesus Christ as her Savior.

Reed’s “Six Months in a Convent” was the first “convent escape narrative” to be published in the United States. Many more would follow throughout the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Catholic critics were duty-bound to dismiss the accounts as sensationalistic and prurient fiction, but we know from recent research (and headlines) that Catholic convents, rectories, seminaries, and schools were hothouses of abuse and deviancy. See here for one example.

The editor of this 2014 Kindle ebook version thought it proper to include a five-page introduction that smears both Reed’s factual testimony and the publisher’s apologia as anti-Catholic “hate literature.” No surprise. The text of the book is a bit difficult to read, especially the apologia section, due to the flowery, 19th-century prose. This book is strictly for those readers interested in the circumstances involved with the burning of the Mount Benedict convent and/or convent escape narratives in general. Order from Amazon here. Several free PDF versions can also be found on the internet including this one.

Postscript: American Protestants eventually grew indifferent to the concept of Catholic convents, but actually few religious establishments are more cultish if you stop and consider it. In reading this book I couldn’t help but remember those women who lived together in a convent only two blocks from our house and taught us in our parochial school that salvation is merited by all those who are baptized (preferably into the Catholic church) and are “good;” sisters Imelda, Annunciata, Tarcisius, Lourdes, Gemma, Maryanne, Virginia, and Edwardine. They dedicated their lives to trying to merit Heaven and inculcating their young charges with the same.

Interesting quote: “The (Irish) Bishop remarked, ‘The Yankees celebrated independence day in honor of men, and appointed days of thanksgiving, instead of celebrating the birthday of the Redeemer, in honor of God.'” – Kindle position 581 of 2310


An illustration of Rebecca Theresa Reed following her escape from the Mount Benedict convent

A convent in flames

Fire & Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834
By Nancy Lusignan Schultz
The Free Press, 2000, 317 pages

Catholic and even non-Catholic journalists and commentators often like to cite examples of anti-Catholic bigotry in American history. One of the most notorious examples of anti-Catholic hatred was the burning of the Mount Benedict convent and boarding school in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1834. I had always wanted to acquaint myself with the particulars of that event, so I borrowed this book from the library.

The first convent and Catholic school in Boston, Massachusetts was established in 1820. Nuns from the Ursuline order were enlisted from Quebec to staff the fledgling school. Due to inadequate space, the convent-school was moved to an impressive, newly-built structure on Ploughed Hill* (renamed Mount Benedict) in Charlestown in 1827-1828. Most of the student boarders were daughters of wealthy Protestants.

The Protestant majority of Boston and the surrounding towns already harbored feelings of fear and distrust toward Catholicism, but a number of circumstances and events led to the burning of the convent in 1834:

  • Working-class Protestants in Charlestown were resentful of the visibly prominent and grandiose convent-school building with its 24-acre manicured grounds and the foreign French Catholic nuns with their unusual outfits.
  • The influx of Irish Catholic immigrants into Boston and Charlestown increasingly forced working-class Protestants to compete for employment.
  • Protestants were angered that children of Protestants were being educated/indoctrinated by Catholic nuns.
  • In 1832, a young postulant, Rebecca Theresa Reed, left the convent and subsequently related stories of abuse within the institution. She would later publish her experiences as “Six Months in a Convent” in 1835.
  • In July of 1834, another nun, Elizabeth Harrison, left the convent under unusual circumstances, exacerbating the already agitated state of the Protestant population following Reed’s escape.
  • On Sunday, August 11, famous Presbyterian preacher and abolitionist, Lyman Beecher, spoke at several Boston churches on the errors of Romanism and the dangers of Protestant parents sending their children to Catholic schools. Did he cite Mount Benedict specifically?
  • On Monday, August 12, a town committee appointed to investigate circumstances at the convent in regards to Elizabeth Harrison was treated contemptuously by the Mother Superior and students. That evening, a crowd of around 2000 people gathered at the convent’s gates, and beginning at 11:00 p.m., around 50 men participated in burning down the convent. The ten nuns and fifty students escaped, but the convent-school was completely destroyed. Fire brigades stood idly by and favorably observed the destruction along with the cheering crowd.

In December, thirteen men were tried for the crime, however, all but one were acquitted. After an attempt to reestablish the convent and school in the nearby town of Roxbury, the nuns returned to Quebec in 1835. Another attempt in 1838 to revive the school was unsuccessful.

The violent destruction of the Mount Benedict convent was certainly regrettable. Followers of Jesus Christ do not condone sectarian violence. But we do a disservice to the truth if we lift these events out of their wider context. Protestant immigrants to America were painfully aware of the tyrannical nature of the Catholic church in Europe. In countries where Catholics were in the majority, Protestants were oppressed, oftentimes severely. Right up until the end of the 19th century, popes issued encyclicals condemning democratic forms of government and freedom of religion. Persecution of Protestants in Catholic-controlled countries continued well into the 20th century.

I certainly don’t approve of the mob violence in Charlestown in 1834 or any other examples of anti-Catholic violence in American history, but the fear of militant Catholicism had a factual basis in the Inquisition and the persecution of Protestants throughout Catholic Europe and Catholic Latin America.

The author of this book, Nancy Lusignan Schultz, is a Roman Catholic and her account is not without some bias, but I did enjoy learning more about this tragic event. Her less-than-flattering accounts of Mount Benedict’s haughty mother superior, Mary Anne Moffatt, are very interesting. Despite a certain degree of sectarian prejudice, this book is well-researched and informative.

*Although Ploughed Hill/Mount Benedict was eventually leveled and used as fill for the abandoned Middlesex Canal, a marker near the intersection of Broadway and Illinois Avenue in Somerville designates the approximate former location of the destroyed convent-school.


Mount B


How Constantine significantly changed the early church

Constantine Versus Christ: The Triumph of Ideology
By Alistair Kee
Wipf and Stock, 2016 (1st printing in 1982), 186 pages

In many of my posts, I’ve referred to the de-evolution of the early church and its simple Gospel of grace into the institutionalized Roman Catholic ecclesiastical monolith that was focused on the accumulation of temporal power and wealth.

How did that happen? What sources do I sight for my claims?

Most importantly, it’s clear from the New Testament that the beliefs and practices of the New Testament church had little in common with the later Roman Catholic church and its many un-Biblical and even anti-Biblical traditions. What other sources? I’ve read several books and articles regarding the institutionalization and paganization of the church, but perhaps the first one that comes to mind is Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons or the Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife,” first published in 1853. See here. While there’s definitely a lot of good information in that old chestnut, the Scottish theologian presented some conjectural extrapolations as facts. “Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity” by James J. O’Donnell is another good source on how the church adapted pagan beliefs and practices. See here.

I recently stumbled across another excellent resource on the topic; “Constantine Versus Christ: The Triumph of Ideology” by theologian Alistair Kee (1937-2011). In the first half of the book, Kee examines ancient documents written by the church’s first historian, Eusebius, in which the bishop of Caesarea described the emperor’s role as savior and defender of the church. Kee argues that the documents reveal Constantine was a pragmatist who switched from being a patron of paganism to supporting Christianity to suit his purposes rather than because of a personal faith in Jesus Christ. In Constantine’s version of Christianity, Jesus is de-emphasized in favor of an impersonal “Logos.” I found the first half of the book to be tedious reading better suited for academics, although parts were interesting.

The second half of the book provides many fascinating examples of Constantine in his role as defender and shepherd of the church. The emperor assumed the role of an Old Testament king in the pattern of David rather than a follower of Jesus Christ. He acted as a political and military messiah, a role Jesus had absolutely refused. The church, grateful that the emperor had legalized Christianity,* gradually acceded to Constantine’s imperial model. The accumulation of temporal wealth and power and absolute control of its membership in league with the state became the church’s aims, rather than spreading the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Historians label this insidious change that took place in the church under the sponsorship of Constantine as the “Constantinian shift.”

Kee was a supporter of “liberation theology” but his exposé of the church’s de-evolution into Constantine’s willing pawn and partner is compelling.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to those who are interested in how the early church was diverted from its mission and changed the meaning of the Gospel from salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone to religious legalism, ritualism, and sacramentalism, all tightly controlled by the privileged church hierarchy. Order from Amazon here.

Postscript: Where was the bishop of Rome during the years of Constantine’s absolute dominion over the church? Contrary to Catholicism’s claims of primacy for its papacy, the bishop of Rome was actually just another supporting character subservient to the emperor.

*Constantine legalized Christianity in 313. Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the Roman Empire’s official religion in 380. All pagan religions were outlawed in 392.

Yes, even in a thoroughly Catholic country such as Poland, the Gospel shines through!

A Light Shines in Poland
By R.K. Mazierski
Mayflower Christian Books, 1982, 43 pages

In the late 18th century, Poland’s aggressive neighbors – Prussia, Austria, and Russia – began partitioning the country until it was finally wiped off the map. Poland would not reemerge as a nation again until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles following the First World War. In the interim, the Catholic church in Poland became the sanctuary and guardian of Polish nationalism. With Poland under Soviet domination following the Second World War, the church once again functioned as the repository of nationalism and hope for an independent Poland. Perhaps in no other Western country in modern times did the Catholic religion become such an integral part of the national identity. To be a Pole was to be Catholic. That’s still true today. Poles who accept Christ and leave Catholicism to join an evangelical church are looked upon as traitors both to their religion and nation.

In this booklet, Roman Mazierski, ex-Catholic priest, gives his interesting and improbable testimony. Born in 1899, he entered the Catholic seminary in Lwow in 1921. He was ordained a priest but became increasingly troubled by the differences between God’s Word and Catholic legalism and sacramentalism. Mazierski was shaken by the example of a few of his parishioners, who trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Mazierski eventually trusted in Christ himself and left the priesthood.

The booklet doesn’t mention it, but Polish Wikipedia notes that Mazierski subsequently attended evangelical seminary in Warsaw and was appointed a pastor at an Evangelical Reformed Church in Zelow. In 1939, with the threat of a German invasion hanging over Poland, Mazierski was appointed chief administrator of the Reformed chaplaincy for the armed forces, but was immediately captured by the invading Wehrmacht and imprisoned until the end of the war. He joined the large community of Poles-in-exile in London in 1945 and labored as a minister for the Polish Evangelical Reformed Church in Great Britain until his death in 1959.

The last fifteen pages of this booklet are excerpted from Mazierski’s short history of the Reformation in Poland.* Few people are even aware that the Reformation did have an impact in Poland in the 16th century because it is now such a homogeneous Catholic country. But the Gospel did enter into Poland through the liberality of the Polish monarchs and nobility and the ministry of such men as Jerome of Prague, Andrzej Gałka at Krakow University, Jacob Knade, Nicholas Rey, and Jan Łaski. The influence of the Bohemian Brethren also had an impact for the Gospel. At one point, a sizable percentage of the Polish nobility had accepted Christ as Savior and joined the Reformation movement. However, as part of the Catholic church’s counter-Reformation strategy, the Jesuits entered Poland and founded many Catholic schools, ensnaring the children of the Protestant nobility.

Praise God that He freed Roman Mazierski and many others from the chains of religious legalism in a country almost completely overshadowed by Roman darkness!

“A Light Shines in Poland” can be ordered from Revival Literature here.

Postscript: My paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900s. Growing up, our father introduced us to some Polish foods and customs, but like most second generation immigrants, he was more interested in assimilating than hanging on to Old World “baggage.” When I walked away from the Lord during my long prodigal “season,” I needed to fill the spiritual vacuum with something, so I dove headfirst into researching Polish and Polish American history and culture.

One of the most interesting things I learned was that Christ Polish Baptist Church had been organized here in Rochester, NY in 1913 under the leadership of Pastor Ludwik Adamus. Polish Baptists! Another improbability! A sanctuary was eventually built at 910 Hudson Avenue in the middle of “Polish Town” (see photo below). The work was difficult amidst the intensely proud and spiritually-blinded Polish Catholic immigrants. Interestingly, there had been a radical schism in the close-knit Polish neighborhood a few years previous in 1907 when 2000 members of St. Stanislaus left the parish in a dispute over the question of diocesan versus parish ownership of church property. They established St. Casimir’s a few blocks away as part of the breakaway Polish National Catholic Church, which was founded in 1897 in Scranton, PA. But all of the rituals and sacramentalism of the PNCC were exactly the same as in Roman Catholicism.

Christ Polish Baptist Church, Hudson Ave. and Roycroft Drive, Rochester, NY. This building is no longer standing.

*”A Concise History of the Polish Reformed Church,” Polish Reformed Church of Great Britain, 1966.

“Decisionism” – Pro or Con?

Our sister at Biblical Beginnings (see here) and I were recently discussing “decisionism” (sinner’s pray, altar calls, coming forward, etc., for salvation) and so I ordered this booklet, which I had already been planning on reading at some point.

The Invitation System
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, 38 pages

The independent fundamental Baptist church my wife and I attended for eight years after we accepted Christ as Savior had a familiar routine. The pastor closed all three weekly services – Sunday AM, Sunday PM, and Wednesday PM – in the same way: first with a prayer that related to the teachings of the sermon followed by an invitation to receive Christ, followed by the sinners prayer, and then an encouragement from the pastor, “with all heads bowed, and all eyes closed, and nobody looking around,” for anyone who had prayed the prayer and accepted Christ as personal Savior, to raise their hand. Perhaps the most famous (some would say infamous) example of the “invitation system” was at the crusades of Billy Graham* and other evangelists who asked “seekers” to physically leave their seats and walk to the front of the speaker’s platform where they would be led to pray the sinner’s prayer.

That all seemed to me like a reasonable way to lift up Christ and His salvation to lost people and encourage them to accept Christ. Personally, I had accepted Christ after years of reading the Bible and then talking with Christians at work and reading the tracts they strategically placed in the men’s restroom. I had read over the sinner’s prayer on the back of the tracts many times, but resisted praying it for several reasons. But the Lord continued to convict me of my sinful and helpless condition and my need of the Savior and I finally ran out of excuses and repented of my sins and asked the Lord to save me!

Fast forward to 2014. After my very dumb extended prodigal “season,” I returned to the Lord, but at the small SBC church we attended, an invitation was rarely given. Our current church that we’ve attended over the past two years also rarely extends an invitation to accept Christ during the service. What had happened? What did I miss? I’ve learned over the past four years that many churches and pastors don’t favor the “invitation system,” which has also been somewhat disparagingly labeled, “decisionism.”

In this short booklet, Iain Murray, former ministerial associate of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, critically examines the invitation system. He argues that many people have raised their hand or walked the aisle in response to an invitation without genuinely accepting Christ. They didn’t really understand the Gospel, but they responded due to some other internal or external pressure. Years later, they are, in essence, trusting in their physical response, e.g., they raised their hand in a Sunday School class when they were a child because everyone else was doing it, not in a genuine acceptance of Christ. Murray argues that pastors and workers should definitely lead people to a point where they realize their sinful state and their need of the Savior, but maintains that such methods as leading people in the sinner’s prayer or asking people to raise their hands or walk the aisle can lead to confusion and false conversions. The focus, he says, is on numbers rather than on genuine conversions that often take years (like mine).

Murray makes many good points, but I’m in the middle of this debate. It’s obvious that the invitation system can and has led to disingenuous conversions, but I believe there’s also a Biblical mandate to press people to make a decision for Christ.

“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Cor.: 6:2

For many people, having been invited to pray the sinner’s pray and then asked to acknowledge that they did so was eternally helpful.

Reading the sinner’s prayer over and over on the back of tracts was very helpful for me, although it took me a long time to finally trust in Christ. Are there also dangers if we don’t press people to decide for Christ and show them how that can be done through using the sinner’s prayer as an example and guide? Can vital opportunities be missed? Without leading people to pray the sinner’s prayers and pressing for positive affirmations of accepting Christ, do we encourage people to just drift along without understanding how to accept Christ and the desperate urgency of doing that? After getting my groundings in a church that used invitation system methods, our current church’s “non-decisionism” approach feels almost lackadaisical and indifferent.

I can see positives and negatives on both sides of this argument. There’s no doubt the Lord has blessed various approaches to giving out the Gospel. But I can certainly understand why someone who had a false conversion experience through the invitation system and then genuinely trusted in Christ afterward would have criticisms of it.

Comments are welcome.

“The Invitation System” by Iain H. Murray can be ordered from Amazon here.

*Unbeknownst to most evangelicals, Roman Catholics who came forward at Billy Graham’s crusades were referred to Catholic workers who counseled them that their decision for Christ was simply a “reaffirmation” of their confirmation or infant baptism. Beginning in the early 1960s, Graham disappointingly solicited local Catholic bishops to participate in the planning and administration of his crusades.

The Legion of Super-Heroes makes an appearance on “Supergirl”

Yes, it’s time to take a break from theology and discuss the strictly frivolous.

I was a big fan of DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes way back in the late-1960s –  Adventure Comics #350 (November 1966) to #372 (September 1968) to be precise – and I casually followed the various permutations of the 30th-then-31st century superhero team from a distance over the years until DC pulled the plug on the 55-year-old franchise in 2013.

Last month, I had heard that the LSH was making an appearance on the January 15th episode of the popular “Supergirl” television show on the CW cable channel, so I decided to give it a whirl last night via on-demand.

“Legion of Super-Heroes”
Supergirl, Season Three, Episode # 10
January 15th, 2018
Directed by Glen Winter and featuring Melissa Benoist, Chris Wood, Amy Jackson, and Jesse Rath


Kara Zor-El aka Kara Danvers aka Supergirl (Benoist), Superman’s cousin, is in a near-death coma after battling Reign, another Kryptonian with similar powers, who is creating havoc in National City with her merciless brand of vigilante justice. Members of the Legion – Mon-El (Wood), Saturn Girl (Jackson), and Brainiac 5 (Rath) – had journeyed back to the 21st century to assist in Supergirl’s recovery with the help of their 31st century medical technology, but Mon-El is reluctant to intervene directly against Reign for fear of adversely affecting the future course of history. The Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) – Supergirl’s crime fighting allies – develops a plan to defeat Reign, but needs Supergirl’s participation. Brainiac 5, a half-human, half-computer life form, slowly helps Kara regain consciousness. Could a romance be developing? Brainiac 5 and Supergirl were a couple in the old comic book series. Mon-El finally changes his mind and volunteers the Legion in the fight against Reign, but just when all appears lost, the semi-recovered Supergirl arrives, forcing Reign to retreat. Ah, a syringe of liquid Kryptonite to the jugular will do it every time!


It was fun to see some of the old LSH characters on the small screen. Will DC now consider bringing the team back in a monthly book? Mon-El didn’t get a chance to strut his Superman-like powers in his appearance, and Saturn Girl, a telepath in the comic series, is incorrectly portrayed as having the power of telekinesis. We’re talking CW here, so the special effects weren’t exactly top notch but, all in all, it wasn’t an unpleasant hour. Kudos to Melissa Benoist who does a very good job in the role of Supergirl.

Was there enough substance to get me to tune in again? Hmm.