Leaving Rome

On the one hand, the Roman Catholic Church seems impressive with her history, symbols, liturgies, popes, and rituals.  Some people become Catholic because they appreciate these types of religious things.  However, others are leaving Rome because amidst the rituals and symbols, they cannot find the gospel.  In Stepping out in Faith, Mark Gilbert has collected eleven stories of Christians who left Rome because they weren’t hearing the message of grace.

This book isn’t too long (c. 120 pages), the stories aren’t too difficult to read, and it isn’t a point by point theological/biblical critique of Rome.  Rather, Stepping out in Faith is simply a collection of short personal stories that explain how and why these people left Rome and became evangelical Protestants.  Though the stories are mostly written by Australians who are now Anglican, they are certainly understandable for any Christian interested in this topic.

A common theme that struck me in these stories is how Rome’s traditions and theology actually cloud the gospel of grace.  One priest told a young boy that if he did what he said (concerning religion) it would all be OK.  Another child grew up thinking that God was ready to condemn him if he’d screw up.  Still another child was told by a nun that if he didn’t confess all his sins to the priest, he would go to hell.  Several stories in this book said the Catholic church taught them that God helps those who help themselves.  Indeed, the theology, tradition, and rituals of Rome cloud the gospel.

Along these lines, here are a few excerpts from the stories in this book.

“I came to believe that Roman Catholic teaching makes it very difficult for people to understand the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I know this is a very serious charge…, but because the gospel is so fundamental, I decided to leave the Catholic Church” (p. 79).

“I was taught that if I didn’t go to church one Sunday and I died before my next confession, I would go to hell.  I became totally confused.  The only thing I truly understood was fear – fear of a God of punishment, fear of committing mortal sins before confession, fear of dying and going to hell” (p. 86).

“I was angry with the Catholic Church for a number of years after I left.  I felt that my trust had been betrayed.  I’d attended mass thousands of times, not to mention the retreats and youth groups I’d been to; I’d even met the Pope.  But I’d never heard the gospel.  I also felt angry because they did not teach the truth about God to the people I loved.  With time that anger settled, and I came to realize that it was only God’s grace and generosity that enabled me to hear the gospel and trust in him in the first place” (p. 120).

Again, this book isn’t a deep Reformed theological refutation of Roman Catholicism.  But it still is a good resource – a good resource for those interested in a starting point for what it means to leave Rome.   This book would be helpful for average Catholics who are questioning.  It’s also a good read for those of us who are in solid Protestant churches.  Stories like this should make us thankful for the Reformation and for churches that proclaim the doctrines of grace clearly Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day.

Stepping out in Faith ed. Mark Gilbert (Kingsford: Matthias Media, 2012).

[This book was reviewed as part of the CrossFocus review program; I was not compelled to give a positive review in exchange for the book.]

rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond, wi

10 thoughts on “Leaving Rome”

  1. Thanks, Shane. I also reviewed this book on my site & Amazon.

    Also just finished reading “Catholicism: East of Eden” by a former RCC priest (22 years) which for me was a very helpful and informative – comparing official RCC teachings to Scripture, history and practices they would rather forget, spin, or cover-up, etc.

    Got that book from Reformation Heritage Books.


  2. My first thought after reading this is; What Anglican church today is going to teach the sovereign Grace of God in salvation? They have long since abandoned the 39 Articles It appears to me that they got out of the frying pan into the fire, granted they will hear a more kinder and gentler approach to God but basically it’safree-will gospel particularly in that organization


    1. Kevin: It is true that some Anglican churches have (sadly) strayed far from their theological and biblical roots. However, there are other Anglican churches that preach/teach the five solas and the doctrines of grace. The book I reviewed above did mention the five solas at one point, although it wasn’t really an advertisement for the Anglican church. The main point was more about leaving Rome and learning about grace and the gospel. Thanks for the comment! shane


  3. For years after my “conversion experience” in a “Plymouth Brethren” environment, I denounced the Anglican tradition in which I had been baptized and confirmed as not having preached the Gospel — but the Gospel is there for all to see in the official Anglican liturgy (at least in the form used at that time). It was not that the Gospel was not proclaimed: rather, it was that I was not ready to hear it.

    I have little doubt that all denominations have clergy who are not good representatives of their church’s official views, so it does not surprise me that there are Catholics who are being told all kinds of strange things.

    I haven’t come across the “East of Eden” book, but I have rad “Journeys of Faith,” in which three former “evangelicals” tell of their transition to Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, or Roman Catholicism, and one former Roman Catholic tells of his transition to “evangelicalism.”


  4. Been there, done this. I left the Catholic Church as a confused, almost biblically-illiterate younger adult. And then…?

    After a decade of wandering in the weeds of evangelicalism (including a Reformed/PCA phase), I discovered via thorough study of God’s Word that His Bride, the truly *biblical* Church, is the very one I was brought up in! She has reliably handed down the Faith once delivered to the saints, through her apostolic ministry & magisterium. No novelty needed, just the straight Gospel brought to you be *the* Pillar and Foundation of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15).

    In lieu of this sad anti-Rome tome, I would highly recommend Pat Madrid’s “Surprised By Truth”–where 11 distinguished converts tell of their journeys Home to the actual Church founded by Jesus in 33 A.D.


    1. For you to have left the false Church of Rome and wandered into a PCA church where you would have heard of the Sovereign free grace of God, of Election and particular redemption And then go back to that Roman lie of a works salvation, you very likely have been given over to a reprobate mind.


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