Sunday, December 13, 2009

FAR FROM ROME . . NEAR TO GOD by Richard Bennett & Martin Buckingham

This book contains the moving testimonies of fifty priests who found their way by the grace of God out of the labyrinth of Roman Catholic theology and practice into the light of the gospel of Christ.

From the back cover:

This is not a narrowly polemical work, nor is its relevance limited to the ongoing controversy between Rome and the churches of the Reformation. The love and concern felt by the former priests for those they left behind, and their fervent desire that they too should experience the joy and peace of salvation in Christ are seen throughout. The wider relevance of the experiences described will also be felt in many contexts remote from Roman Catholicism where human pride and presumption have erected rival sources of authority between people and the Word of God, so obscuring the way of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone.

Richard Bennett is the Director of Berean Beacon, based in Portland, Oregon, USA. Martin Buckingham is the Director of The Converted Catholic Mission in Leicester, UK.


Reviews commending this book from

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book if you want to really get an unbiased view of the RCC, March 14, 2008

By MacLover (Missouri)

This book is probally the best I have yet to read regarding the RCC. I was looking for something that my brother would be able to read that was too loaded with all the technical RCC doctrines. This gives testimony's of priests who studied and studied and still did not find salvation. The more they seeked God, the more they turned away from the RCC and to the one and only Saviour Jesus Christ. The testimonies also provide scriptures which is wonderful. This is the perfect book to give a Catholic person in search for the truth. I have not given it to my brother yet because I can't put it down! What a great book. It really helps me because I was born and raised Catholic and it confirms that when you are far from Rome you are surely nearer to God.

5.0 out of 5 stars Protestant/Catholic Household, August 18, 2006

By Irish Girl "christ like" (jackson co. west virginia)

This is a great book and I recomend it to both Protestant and Catholic alike.It is a book for the open minded only!!!I am sorry to say that I havent run into to many open minded when it comes to religon.This book gives you a good look at the brainwashing involved in not just Catholics but any religion that requires its people to study church doctorine only and not the Bible itself.Out of each story in this book not one of these men came to know God until they picked up and read a Bible.That is amazing to me!!!!

4.0 out of 5 stars A good testimony of those that left the organization., May 23, 1998

By Lee Jensen "riolion" (Rio Rancho, New Mexico USA)


Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

This book contains a small sample of testimonies of people that felt the need to know their Creator but did not find it within the church with its elaborate rituals, dogmatic belief system, and authoritative hierarchial power structure. I read that nearly all of the priests that left either were directed by a small voice within themselves as they carried out their assigned duties or were drawn away from it after reading the Bible which they found to conflict with the unique doctrines of the Roman Church. The book points out the failure of the Roman Church in teaching their leaders the Scripture who are to feed the flock. It is a book that also make one sad in that the spiritual needs of people are not met or the feed that they receive is not at adequate for ones daily spiritual life. As in all critiques, one can gain an understanding of the beliefs of the Roman Church by examining the views of those that left. This book is indeed adequate for that.

4.0 out of 5 stars Far From Rome Near to God, March 23, 2006

By Arnold Urbonas "Bible connoisseur" (Edmonton, AB Canada)


I am enjoying this book very much. This book provides a condensed version of life stories of former priests. Although I was never a priest, I did find that I could identify with many stories, having personally undergone a similiar spiritual transformation.

I am particularly moved by the courage and risk that these men took after studying for the priesthood for 10+ years, and found no other alternative than to leave all that they had come to know. They didn't know what they would do for a living, but God provided for them.

These men didn't just decide to leave the Roman church, but after honest soul searching were convicted even after growing up in the Roman church. But each and every testimony had this in common- these priests encountered True faith from witnesses who were not afraid to speak the Truth.

4.0 out of 5 stars Unless One Is Born Again, November 9, 2004

By CHRIS TAN (Langley, British Columbia Canada)

An excellent testimony and revelation of men (actually, ex-catholic priests) being regenerated by the Holy Spirit to see the Truth. And the Truth have set them free. Jesus said in John 3:3, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." And Paul in Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Only two things stands out from this book, believing in salvation by grace (only God converts) or believing in salvation by works (that man has the ability to convert themself). In the words of Jesus Christ, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound!, April 11, 2002

By A Customer

This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

Though this is a book with 50 testimonies from former priests, it should be viewed as one testimony to God's grace in calling forth his people, even when the odds are against it. I was struck by the extent to which God's Word cut like a sword into the hearts of these men, and awakened them to God's truth and away from the "magisterium" of man-made and erroneous Catholic doctrines. The book is also interesting for the varied perspectives offered by former priests from several orders (Jesuits, Franciscans, Carmelites, etc.), and from all around the world (North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia). One of the saddest testimonies, which would sum up much of Roman Catholic life, was the description of monastic life, and how earnestly deceived men sought to earn holiness and salvation through their futile acts of self-denial, self-flagellation and other acts of humiliation. Also, the testimonies touch briefly on several problematic areas of Catholic teaching that each priest had to accept were sinful, such as teachings on the worship ("veneration" in Catholic doublespeak) of Mary, idolatry, transubstantiation, the re-sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, and other serious errors. Lastly, I would counsel wisdom before this book is shared with Catholics because some of the testimonies are harsh in their criticism of the Roman church's teachings and bishops. Read this prayerfully before you give away, and consider how your Catholic friends and family would react....

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For All Roman Catholics!!!, January 4, 2002

By Pastor Roger "Roger R." (Chicago, USA)

This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

I'm a former Roman Catholic. I got this book as a recent Christmas gift from a friend. I must admit, the evidence in this book is very compelling. If you're a Catholic struggling with your faith, you need to read this book. Or if you're thinking about becoming a Catholic, you need to read this book. God is found in the Bible and in its teachings. I must warn you-you'll find a lot of differences between the Catholic Church and the Bible if you read this book. As you read it, I'd suggest keeping a Bible close by. You'll find that all of the information these former priests give is 100% accurate. Excellent book!!!

4.0 out of 5 stars Far from Rome Near to God, July 22, 2001

By Rev. Ray Dubuque (East Haven, Conn. - USA)

This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

As one of the 100,000 priests who saw the light, I could have been featured as one of its contributors. When I saw the Roman Catholic Church do a U-turn and start undoing the 2nd Vatican Council's reforms that had been 3 centuries or more in coming, I joined the reformation and was welcomed into the ministry of the United Methodist Church.

But more important than my story is the teaching of JESUS that is too often neglected by BOTH the Catholic (as well as the Orthodox) and Protestant traditions, which I highlight at my extensive web site "Liberals Like Christ"....

5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Will Set You Free, July 9, 2001

By A Customer

This book puts a human face on the number of those who eventually had to leave the Roman Church priesthood because they could no longer reconcile their changing beliefs with those that they were required to practice...and it does this via fifty testimonies of the over 100,000 men who have left the Roman Catholic priesthood since 1970

As these priest tell their stories, we are educated in a number of ways.

One, we learn a great deal about Roman Catholic Church theology, including the Mass, confession, justification, etc.

Two, we are provided fascinating insights into the various trainings, practices, duties and obligations of priestly and monastic orders. Some of these practices seem barbaric by our contemporary sense of spiritual awareness. It is appalling, for instance, to think we have Roman Catholic orders of monks who still practice medieval, physical forms of cruelty upon themselves (like flagellation) and their fellows (blows to the face) in an attempt to be right with and pleasing to God.

Since the spiritual journeys of these priests are internationally and ethnically diversified, we are also educated in terms of the Roman Catholic Church's role in various countries and cultures. In some countries, it is apparent that the RCC has a power that is every bit as dominant politically as it is religiously.

Many of these priests feared for their personal safety as well as their future careers when they entertained notions of leaving the priesthood, because of the Roman Church's vindictive representatives in government, in the police forces and in the business community. Some of these priests, after having left the priesthood, were forced to leave their countries to find hospitable refuge elsewhere. Evidently, in some parts of the world, leaving the priesthood is not like quitting a job.

For these reasons, and the fact that many faced the potential of a cultural stigma as well as intense disappointment of friends and family, we learn that leaving the priesthood required a good amount of courage. The fact that all the ex-priests in this book left because of a crisis of conscience or belief, as opposed to yearnings for worldly or physical desires, make their stories even more compelling and credible.

We also learn the extent to which the Roman Catholic Church, despite calling Protestants "brothers," in actual practice in various locales considers Protestantism its number one enemy. Many of these testimonial conversions are remarkable considering the fact that the priests relating them were raised and educated to hate Protestants. Many actually were led to believe that Protestant Bibles were radically different than Catholic Bibles. Protestant literature, in one man's story, was kept in a forbidden, locked closet in a church library.

When reading this book, anyone who considers himself a serious Christian will be shocked by how little the theological training of Roman Catholic priests involves the study of scripture. One man testifies in this book that in thirteen years of training to be a priest, he had twelve hours of studying the Bible. Another stated that he was not allowed to even read a Bible until after he had turned 21, despite the fact that he had been trained to be a priest since he was a ten. One is left with the impression that since so many Roman Catholic Church dogmas (like the sacrifice of the Mass, the Marian dogmas, confession, transubstantiation, purgatory, the priesthood itself) have questionable or no scriptural basis, the Roman Catholic Church prefers to train its future priests with literature on what they say about the Bible, rather than risk having seminarians question Church teaching by reading the Bible itself.

Despite this effort, the constant thread throughout many of the narratives is how God brought the truth to anguished, confused, and troubled souls in spite of Roman Catholic "brainwashing" as one ex-priest phrases it. Many times the seed of God's truth was sown as priests were required to perform actions that in their hearts they knew only God was capable of, such as absolution. Many more times conversion occurred as a result of studying the Word of God and learning that the Gospel message of God's love and forgiveness, and Christ's one time perfect sacrifice blatantly contradicts the Roman Catholic view.

We cannot simply dismiss the conversions of these brave and intelligent men as being a result of ignorance. In some cases, these men experienced decades of training and learning in Roman Catholic teaching. An objective reader, regardless of denominational affilliation, must conclude that there is something wrong with a Christian church that shields not only its laity, but its clergy from the Bible...but when one sees how a thorough grounding in the Word of God can lead to exodus from that church, we can at least understand why.

A quick read: informative and surprisingly entertaining as well.

5.0 out of 5 stars Putting God's Thinking Above Our Own, April 21, 2000

By Rande C. Snyder (San Antonio, TX)

This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

Unfortunately, most major denominations are based on what some person, or committee, thinks of some passage or passages of Scripture, and not what God intended at all. The Catholic Church is just one of many in a long list. While being raised in Catholicism, many times I was taught that a thing was okay as long as I thought it was, and didn't feel bad about it. That's NOT how it works! First you have to read the Bible and get real familiar with what He thinks and adjust your thinking to His -- not the other way around! This is the truth that these ex-priests have found. We cannot do it our own way, or any man's way, and expect to get to Heaven. Sorry, but He says so -- it's His Word, and His thinking, not my own. It is a miracle that these men found their way out of the labyrinth of religion, and into the light of His infallible truth.

4.0 out of 5 stars Common threads in troubled priests - fascinating, January 11, 2000

By J. Long (Raleigh, NC USA)


This review is from: Far from Rome Near to God: (Paperback)

I have always had a fascination for why people believe the way they do. I could not put this book down. It is interesting that all of the priests kept thinking that the next event (entering seminary, becoming a priest, saying the first Mass, becoming a missionary, etc.) would provide them with peace with God. Yet, at each turn, they found no answers to their questions, no peace. Each of them stumbled across the Bible under differing circumstances, but had trouble justifying Catholic dogmas with what they read in the Bible. Most of them had to sacrifice everything in order to leave the priesthood. Some testimonies were very insightful, others repetitious, but all provided me with an insight into the difficulties many priests must be faced with. Anyone opposed to Catholicism should first read this book to gain a greater sense of compassion for the person on the other side. The author should focus on organization of the testimonies (perhaps chronilogically), add dates where missing, and add transitions where it seems to jump.

With Christian love,

June & Ralph Nadolny, two witnesses for Christ

Sinners by birth (Ps. 51:5); Roman Catholics by tradition; converted to Christ by His grace (Eph. 2:1-9); made "new creatures in Christ" (II Cor. 5:17) by virtue of the "new birth" (John 3:3-8) to the praise & glory of God's grace (Eph. 1:3-14)

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