Am I Catholic?: A Struggle with Faith, Humility, and Surrendering to God
By Kendra Von Esh
Self-published, Second edition, 2018, 176 pp.
Several months ago, I was channel-surfing and happened upon the Daystar cable channel, which is similar in content to TBN, although on a smaller scale. Daystar is owned by Pentecostals, Marcus and Joni Lamb, and much of the content on Daystar includes references to prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues, meaning I generally wouldn’t view the channel myself or recommend it to anyone else.
However, what caught my eye that particular July 1st evening was Joni and Marcus interviewing author, Kendra Von Esh, on the station’s flagship show, “Ministry Now.” Von Esh was on the show promoting her book, “Am I Catholic?” Hmm, how would Joni and Marcus handle this? Marcus began the interview by stating that he realized that, “there are Protestant people, that, they don’t agree with some things about the Catholic church…but the test of salvation, when you ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, that is the bottom line, and there are many truly born-again Catholics.” Marcus reiterates that it’s not denominational membership that saves, but whether a person is “a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Von Esh then began telling her story of having been raised in a nominal Catholic family and having no substantial connection to her religion until, as a middle-aged adult, her father had a life-threatening illness and surgery, which prompted her to begin delving deeply back into her Catholicism. Among other things, she described the joy of being able to confess her sins to a priest and receive forgiveness.
Joni nervously interjected at that point, because, what Von Esh was describing, didn’t sound like being born-again:
Joni: “When did you, like, have an, if you will, an understanding that Jesus died for your sins and that He [emphasis] forgives everything and it’s finished, it’s done, He paid the price at Calvary for us?“
Von Esh replied with some nebulous, religious gobbledygook, but did not answer Joni’s question. Catholics believe, as they are taught by their church, that salvation is a lifelong process that is dependent on regularly receiving the sacraments and successfully obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Marcus and other misguided folks extend the hand of fellowship to Roman Catholics because they readily assent to the vague parlance of “asking Jesus to come into your heart” and of being a “believer.”
While it’s true that there are probably some Catholics who are saved, they are saved in spite of their church’s teachings, not because of them. Marcus is correct, that church and denominational membership saves no one, but Roman Catholics never get to hear the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone from their church’s pulpits. The Catholic church unapologetically teaches that salvation is by sacramental grace and merit. Joni sensed a problem with Von Esh’s “testimony” while she was gushing on and on about confessing her sins to a priest, but Joni didn’t follow up. Marcus and Joni failed Von Esh and their viewers by insinuating Roman Catholicism’s false gospel was legitimate or at least “close enough.”
I ordered Von Esh’s short book and read it in a couple of sittings. She describes the “joy” of rediscovering the traditions, rituals, and rules of her church. Many converts and reverts to Catholicism are enamored with the RCC system, but beneath the church’s gaudy “smells and bells” liturgicalism is a works-righteousness treadmill whereby no one can ever find salvation and eternal joy in Jesus Christ.
I said a prayer for Kendra Von Esh’s salvation. Stay away from Daystar, TBN, and other sources that muddy the genuine Gospel by embracing Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity.
For research purposes, I’m providing the video below to the “Ministry Now” July 1st episode in question. The interview with Von Esh begins at the 30:30 mark.
Above photo: Joni and Marcus Lamb muddy the Gospel with Roman Catholic, Kendra Von Esh