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Seminary by Tutelage, Part 1 – Catholicism

Our pastor, Jim Andrews, has tutored us and directed our spiritual discernment for over five decades, beginning when Juli and her older sister, Kristi, were still children, and continuing on after Juli & I got married and entered seminary.

For example, in the late 1980’s, Jim told us about the amazing testimony of former Roman Catholic priest, Tony Pezzotta, who had just spoken at Western Seminary, where Jim was then Professor of Hermeneutics and Homiletics, and Chair of the Division of Ministerial Studies.

Pezzotta had been born into a devout Roman Catholic family in Bergamo, Italy.  He studied fifteen years in Roman Catholic seminaries of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Italy, England, Spain, and Germany.  He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on February 11, 1961 in Turin by His Eminence Cardinal Maurillo Fossati, then Archbishop of the diocese.  In the Roman Catholic church, Dr. Pezzotta earned degrees in Philosophy and Greek, and a Master’s degree in Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.

Starting in 1964, he served as Director of Schools and Seminaries in Manila, Philippines, as well as a Rector of Local Salesian Communities, for ten years (1964-1974). On February 26, 1974, after studying Scripture on his own, and with Rev. Ernesto Montealegre, a Filipino Baptist pastor, Tony trusted Christ alone as Savior and Lord of his life.  He left the Roman Catholic church and joined the Santa Cruz Baptist church, where he was baptized on March 3, 1974.

Tony earned a Master’s degree from Denver Seminary in Colorado in 1975 and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon, in 1991.  For years, Tony served as a missionary to the Philippines for Conservative Baptist International.  He and his wife, Zita, served in that ministry until 1999.

In 2001, he joined the Conservative Baptist Association of Southern California where he served as Director of Ethnic Ministries.  Here he served the Lord until being forced into retirement in 2011 by illness.  Yet, his ministry lives on in his writings.

Dr. Pezzotta’s testimony also appears in a book with the conversion stories of 49 other former Catholic priests, Far from Rome, Near to God, edited by Richard Bennett and Martin Buckingham. (Bennett was a priest for about 25 years, and is the founder of www.bereanbeacon.org, an excellent source for learning about the heresies of Roman Catholicism.)

So when Jim provided us with a series of cassette tapes featuring lectures that Dr. Pezzotta had recently given, Juli & I listened to them and immediately internalized the content. By this point, both of us were becoming quite ill with our post-viral disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.). Juli already had to drop out of seminary after just the first few weeks due to her lingering incapacitation with the complications of mono, abandoning her planned MA in ET (Master of Arts in Exegetical Theology) degree.

I was forced to drop all of my classes (except one) for my MDiv degree in Missions when I got mono in mid-September, 1987. Jim gave me sound academic advice, urging me to finish my first semester Greek course, since it would be more difficult to go back and pick up than my other classes, including his own Hermeneutics one. (However, since my Greek class happened to be early in the morning, this was, unfortunately, counterproductive from a medical standpoint.)

When both Juli & I improved in our health after traveling to Mexico for her alternative treatment for ovarian cancer in 1995, we were blessed to be able to finally participate in some ministry activities at Lake Bible Church (LBC). I was able to occasionally play offertories on the piano and once taught a short doctrinal series in Ephesians for our Sunday School class.

We relished the opportunity to learn more Bible and theology in various venues: Sunday sermons, reading Christian books and Bible commentaries, and researching for the book we co-wrote with Pastor Jim about a biblical perspective on suffering, Polishing God’s Monuments: Pillars of Hope for Punishing Times.

Many years later, Pastor Jim wrote this 2013 blog post for the LBC website, expressing both his horror at the newly elected Pope Francis. He describes how several influential Christian leaders over the decades had misled him into thinking that there existed a constituency of truly born-again believers in the Catholic church, as had been deceptively portrayed since Vatican II.

The first of these Christian leaders was J. Vernon McGee, who was a frequent speaker while Jim was a student at Dallas Seminary. Unfortunately, like many at Dallas, McGee taught antinomian doctrine and changed his view on Creationism later in life, adopting the popular, heretical theistic evolution position (See his 1990 book, Questions and Answers, published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville.) He also openly partnered with Catholics and liberal Protestants in public ministry, especially with apostate evangelist Billy Graham.

Pastor Jim also mentions the surprising endorsement of Pope Francis by Evangelist Luis Palau. Given Palau’s history of partnering with Catholics during his crusades and rampant theological compromise, this is no surprise. In a 2013 interview with Ed Stetzer, he said, “[Pope Francis] has a love for the Bible, has a love for Jesus Christ above all else, knows God as Father, trusts Jesus Christ as his savior, knows the Lord, and knows that being baptized doesn’t make you a Christian.”

Pastor Jim also mentions a high-ranking staffer for Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) who spoke positively about a previous pope, John Paul II. Unfortunately, CCC founder Bill Bright had been compromised with Catholicism for decades, and he joined Chuck Colson and J.I. Packer to partner with Catholic leaders to form and sign the first ECT document in 1994.

In 2020, I wrote a series of six Study Guides for Pastor Jim’s radio program, www.thefinalwordradio.com on various aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine: Mariolatry, Tradition over Scripture, Asceticism/Mysticism, Faith plus Works, Transubstantiation, and Papal Glory. They can be obtained here (you must click through until you reach the final page, where you will see the September 6-11 entries). So then, Juli & I are lovingly committed to reaching Catholics for Christ as part of our special mission field.

Note: Citation of a source does not necessarily constitute an endorsement.

Note: Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

 

 

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