Grace and peace to those who love Jesus sincerely, and greetings to the enemies of the cross of Christ.
When I was a boy, living in a two-family flat on the west side of St. Louis, Missouri, my family used to pray at the dinner table before meals.
On most days, my mother, together with my siblings and I, ate upstairs, where we lived; but, on weekends and holidays, we would eat downstairs with my grandparents. When we ate upstairs, my siblings and I would say, “Jesus wept,” before we ate. We had no idea why we did this, or what it meant, but we always recited this phrase before we ate. We knew we were praying, but we had no idea why we were praying or why we said, “Jesus wept.”
When we ate downstairs with my grandparents, we still prayed before we ate, but something else was added to the ritual. First, my grandfather would “say grace,” at which time he would utter some words which I gathered were from the Bible. Then, my grandmother would follow with something I cannot fully recall except that it ended with the words, “I can’t understand it.” Next went my mother (I don’t remember at all what she would say), and, lastly, us children. As when we ate upstairs, my brothers and sisters would still say “Jesus wept,” but I would say another prayer that for years I remembered as “Bless the Lord for these I guess which you are about to receive from our bounty, Christ the Lord, Amen.” Many years later, I would learn that the words to the prayer are actually, “Bless us, O Lord, for these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ the Lord, Amen.”
My grandmother rarely missed a Sunday in church, and she used to read her Bible almost every night. She also had a very large Bible sitting on the coffee table in her living room. Because my mother was a very profane woman who seemed to hate anything (and anyone) religious, there was never any doubt in my mind that it was my grandmother who taught us those prayers. I therefore always believed my grandmother was a devout Christian. And, because we always prayed at mealtime, went to church occasionally, and sometimes read that Bible in the living room, I felt that with the possible exception of my mother, we were an average Christian family.
When I got saved, in September 2005, however, I realized that we really weren’t Christians. This actually came as no surprise to me, as, by this time, I had seen and met people who professed to be Christian, and I noticed that I behaved nothing like those people. But, even though I knew my mother and her children (especially me) were not Christians, I never doubted that my grandmother was anything but a devout Christian woman. Years later, however, I would not be so sure.
One day, years into my Christian walk, I was wondering why it was that no one had ever told me what the Lord Jesus had done for me on the cross at Calvary. “Surely my grandmother must have told me something,” I thought, “But I was probably too heathen to listen to her.” I told myself this for years, but the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that my grandmother had never given me the gospel. In fact, I don’t remember her ever mentioning the name of Jesus. In my opinion, a Christian who doesn’t share the Gospel with anyone—especially his own family—is not really a Christian, because the Lord Jesus commanded us to go out into the world and share the Gospel with every living soul. Because she never did this, I began to wonder if my grandmother really were saved.
It was hard for me to accept this as a possibility at first. My grandmother was everything to me. My grandmother was the only person who really cared about me; and treated me as though I were her very own son, while my own mother treated me like I wasn’t even a member of her family.
When I sung my first solo in the high school spring festival, it was my grandmother, not my mother, who came to see me (a fact made even more significant when I later learned that she was very ill at the time). When I went into the military, the first phone call I made from basic training was to my grandmother, not my mother. And it was my grandmother who kept my first paycheck from the first job I ever had. My grandmother was the one ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark and gloomy existence.
Before I got saved, I took great pleasure in the fact that the little exposure I had to “Christianity” was due to my grandmother. I enjoyed reading that big Bible that sat on her living room coffee table, and I enjoyed going to church with her on Sunday and sometimes to a restaurant afterwards. When I would go out on Friday and Saturday nights as a teenager, it gave me great comfort to go downstairs and visit with my grandmother before leaving the house and see her sitting in her recliner with her reading glasses resting on her nose, a Bible in her lap, and Larry King on the television. My grandmother provided the only stability I knew.
It was difficult therefore, considering all she did for me and meant to me, to think that my grandmother may not have had the Blessed Assurance I always thought she had; and that perhaps now, rather than enjoying the eternal rest promised to those who have made the Lord Jesus their Savior, she may be in everlasting torment with “no rest, day or night” (Revelation 14:11).
It is not only because my grandmother never shared the Gospel with me, or mentioned the name of Jesus that I feel she may not have been saved. There were other indicators, some of which would only be obvious to Christians.
Grandma’s Popish Proclivities
For one, most of the things my grandmother did with respect to religion seemed to be based more on tradition than on the Bible. It was never explained to us, for example, why we prayed before meals, and we never learned why we said “Jesus wept.” Though we had some idea who Jesus was, we had no idea why He wept, or, indeed, what it meant to weep. It was not until I got saved and started to read the Bible for myself that I learned that “Jesus wept” is from the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John, and is actually the shortest verse in the Bible.
When I got saved, I learned that with respect to prayers before meals, the Bible only teaches that Christians should thank God in prayer for our food, as the Bible teaches that the food we eat is “sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The Bible also says that we should give thanks for everything (including our food) in the name of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:20).
The primary purpose of praying before meals is to thank God for providing us food for our nourishment. So, to pray at mealtime without giving thanks to God is unbiblical (and ungrateful) and to do any more than this may be nice, but it is not necessary. No one ever thanked God at our dinner table, and we never prayed in the name of Jesus: curious behavior for a Christian family.
Another thing that always puzzled me about my grandmother was that she never told us anything about her religion. She never explained, for example, what Communion was, and why at church during the communion ceremony the congregation would place a small, thin wafer of bread on their tongues and drank a tiny glass of wine. She also never explained why I could never “take” communion with her and the rest of the church. I assumed that I was too young to drink the wine, but I didn’t understand why I couldn’t at least eat the little piece of bread. Whenever I would reach for the elements when they were handed to me, my grandmother would shoot me this look that seemed to say, “I’ll break your neck if you touch them.” But she would never explain why it was forbidden for me to take part. Because I was excluded from this ceremony without any explanation at all, I never felt a part of my grandmother’s church and actually came to resent it and. Christianity. My grandmother also never explained why her church always celebrated Communion on the first Sunday of the month.
It was not until I got saved that I learned the Lord Jesus commanded believers to eat the Lord’s supper in remembrance of His sacrifice, and that the first century Christians ate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday in honor of the day Jesus rose from the dead. Because the Lord’s Supper memorializes Jesus’ death, and Sunday is the day Jesus rose, then, when we eat the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, we honor both Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It is also worth noting that my grandmother never told us anything about Roman Catholicism. This is extremely important, because the Roman Catholic Church has been the sworn enemy of the Christian Church since the Protestant Reformation, the sixteenth-century movement which saw the true followers of Jesus Christ break from the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) condemned Martin Luther, the movement’s founder, and all Bible-believing Christians, whom they call heretics, to death. The decrees of the Council of Trent have never been repealed and are still in effect today.
Because we lived in St. Louis, Missouri, which has one of the largest Roman Catholic populations in the United States, and is home to the largest basilica west of the Mississippi (St. Louis is so Catholic that it is even known as the “Rome of the West”), it is almost incredible that my grandmother never taught us about the Reformation and the historic enmity between Romanism and Protestantism. If my grandmother were really a Christian, then why did she never tell us these things?
The key to that question lies in the fact that the prayer my grandmother taught me that began “Bless us, O Lord” can be found on page 42 of A Practical Catholic Dictionary. It is a Roman Catholic prayer. I believe the reason my grandmother taught us a Roman Catholic prayer, had religious practices that were based more on tradition than on the Bible, attended a church that “took” Communion rather than ate the Lord’s Supper, and never mentioned the name of Jesus was because she was not really a Christian. She was what I call a Crypto-Catholic. And the reason we as children never knew the things Christians should know or did the things Christians should do is because we were not really Christians, but were what I call Christolics.
A Crypto-Catholic is a Roman Catholic who hides his Catholic identity from those non-Catholics with whom he lives, works, and associates in order that wherever he is, he may always work in the interests of the Catholic Church unsuspected by his family, friends, and associates. Roman Catholic doctrine permits and even encourages Catholics to be Crypto-Catholics. Former Roman Catholic priest, Charles Chiniquy wrote, “The theologians of Rome have assured us that we may, and even that we must, conceal our faith” (Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, p. 77).
A Christolic is a person who has been raised or greatly influenced by a Crypto-Catholic, masquerading as a Christian, to the extent that his theology is essentially Roman Catholic, even though he has never been baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, or received formal instruction in Roman Catholic doctrine. Examples would be the children of a Crypto-Catholic parent or grandparent, or the congregation of a Crypto-Catholic pastor, masquerading as a Protestant.
Before I continue, it must be understood that there is no godly reason for a person to conceal his religion from anyone, especially when his life is not in danger. And, because the Roman Catholic Church has always been the implacable enemy of the Protestant Church, then the obvious reason for the Crypto-Catholic to conceal his religion is that he may better work in the interests of the Catholic Church undetected.
History bears record that the influence of a Crypto-Catholic is always ultimately malevolent. We will discuss this in Part Two of this essay.
Now, it could be argued that my grandmother was a Christolic, but there have been some very significant things that have occurred in my life with respect to my grandmother that simply cannot be explained other than from the perspective of her being a Crypto-Catholic. One of those things concerned my late father.
What’s up Dad…Er…I mean, Dude?
From as early as I can remember, I never called my father Daddy, Dad, Pop, or anything like that, but by his given name. This was a terrible thing when you think about it, made worse by the fact that no one seemed to care or to even notice.
There was no conceivable reason why this should have happened. My father was not a bum or a deadbeat dad. He owned a successful business, and he was well respected in the community. He was also not an absentee dad. My parents lived together until they divorced when I was around five years old, and thereafter my father was always in the picture. I knew where he lived, and would visit him whenever I wanted.
If you consider the influence most grandparents have on their families—for good or for ill—then you will understand that it is impossible that such a thing could have happened without my grandmother’s involvement on some level. Young women tend to do foolish things, but grandmothers have the power to correct much of that. And because my grandmother wielded tremendous influence on our family (we lived with her and called her Mama, while calling my mother “Mother”), if she had been so inclined, she could have nipped this shameful practice in the bud. Besides, as a “Christian” woman, she certainly must have known that the Bible teaches a child should honor his mother and father, and that a child dishonors his father when he calls him by his given name. There’s no two ways about it: she was either directly responsible for this travesty, or she acquiesced to it.
This practice of calling my father by his given name may even have been rooted in religious bias. I don’t believe my father ever discussed religion with me before he got saved; so I’m not sure what religious denomination his family was, though I’m relatively sure they were Protestant. They may even have been Pentecostal, because my father’s mother, my Grandmother Ernestine, would sometimes hold church service or choir rehearsal at her house. The way those people sang was nothing like I was used to hearing at my grandmother’s Baptist church; for, whereas the services at Grandmother Ernestine’s house were lively and joyous, those at my grandmother’s church were dull, lifeless, and monotone. Later, during my teenage years, I would visit a Pentecostal church called Lively Stone with my cousin and hear the same kind of joyous praise and worship I had witnessed at Grandmother Ernestine’s house. The only good memories I have regarding religion from my childhood are those visits to Grandmother Ernestine’s.
If my father’s family were Pentecostal, then it is possible that my grandmother may have had some difficulty with them for this reason; for she could be very hard on those who didn’t share her religious beliefs. I can remember, for example, having quarreled with her once as a young man because she remarked that if a person did not belong to the Church of Christ, they were going to hell, because the Church of Christ was “God’s church.”
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sin
There was another incident involving my grandmother that has always been difficult for me to understand, and that for me can only be satisfactorily explained from the perspective of her being a Crypto-Catholic. One day when I was probably about twelve or thirteen years old, I was lying on the living room floor watching television, when my grandmother walks in and throws a book on the floor in front of me. The title of the book was “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex, But Was Afraid To Ask.”
I was afraid to even open the book, as sex had always been a taboo subject in my house, even though sexual sin runs in my family. Not one time, to my recollection, did anyone ever discuss sex with us children. No one ever told me about the birds and the bees, no one ever told me where babies come from, and no one ever asked me if I knew anything about sex. No one ever told me whether I should or should not have been having sex, no one ever explained the conditions under which I should or should not be having sex, and no one ever asked me if I was having sex. Most importantly, no one ever explained to me God’s mind on sex, or whether He even had an opinion on the subject. Consequently, the little I did know about sex was what I had learned from watching T.V. and had gotten off the school playground. This, combined with the deafening silence on the subject at home, left me pretty much believing sex was dirty, sinful, and something that God didn’t really want people doing, but that they did anyway.
Now, instead of giving me that book, my grandmother could have called my father or my grandfather and charged one of them with this delicate task. But that never happened. My grandmother gave me the book, and I read the book. So, I first learned about sex from a book written by an unsaved grown up for unsaved grown ups. This was not a good thing, because, to my recollection, the author did not approach the subject from a biblical perspective, placing sex within the context of marriage. The Bible calls sex outside of marriage fornication, which is a sin God really hates. Without this very important perspective, a book on sex is tantamount to a primer on fornication; and, because my grandmother gave me that book without first telling me God’s mind on sex, she was basically condoning fornication and encouraging the moral destruction of her grandson, which did, in fact, happen.
You must understand that I am not trying to tarnish the memory of my grandmother or imply that she was evil. I’m just saying that sometimes her actions were inconsistent with the person she purported to be, and these inconsistencies ultimately had a detrimental spiritual effect on her grandchildren—especially me.
In my experience, when a person behaves in a manner inconsistent with the person they present themselves to be, either they are not really the person they present themselves to be, or they are being influenced by someone or something to behave in a manner inconsistent with the person they really are. When those inconsistencies are of a spiritual nature, then a satanic influence is at work. I think both things may have been true in my grandmother’s case. I think my grandmother may not have been the person I always thought she was, and I think there was a satanic influence in her life that was the cause of her inconsistent behavior. As far as I’m concerned, that satanic influence was Roman Catholicism.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this essay.
Be encouraged and look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.
The Still Man