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A Protestant in the Midst of Apostasy. - Comments (4)

Printer Friendly Category: Articles,Doctrine,Roman Catholicism
Author: John Malone
Date: 25th July, 2007 @ 02:38:48 AM

Peter Smagacz is 58 years old and glad to have left the Roman Catholic Church. He left it 35 years ago.

I read an article sent to me that was published on Omaha’s daily newspaper, the Omaha World Herald, that described Smagacz’ one-man “protest” at a Luis Palau “Heartland Festival” in Omaha. The event was said to have attracted 105,000 visitors, a record. I suppose, hyperbole being what it is, the crowd was likely half that size, but still large.

Palau is known among Bible believers to be “soft on Romanism,” and far too ecumenical to be Biblically sound. Many of us consider that ministries like Palau’s yoke themselves with unbelievers, contrary to Bible principles set forth in {2 Corinthians 6:14,|2cor 6:14-17} and {Revelation 18:4.|Rev 18:1-5} The more skeptical among us – call us jaded – know that men like Palau don’t become prominent in this country without somehow accepting that Roman Catholics are essentially Christian.

Otherwise, Romanists would have destroyed him by now.

Smagacz passed out a tract and his personal testimony. That, along with his sign that read, “Why I left the Catholic Church,” was his “protest.” He said for the most part he was well received. He was harassed by a Roman Catholic priest, but that fellow was made to stop. Most people gladly received his offer of his literature, but some Catholics cared to argue with him about John 6, perhaps the only Scripture a Roman Catholic takes literally, concerning eating the Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood.

Organizers of the Palau event had Smagacz moved off the event grounds. These same organizers arranged for a large Roman Catholic tent on the premises where RC literature was freely passed out, rosaries handed out (or sold, I do not know which), and Roman Catholic (RC) priests were “hearing confessions” throughout both days. The tent with confessions being heard was a requirement by the RCO locally in order to gain their “support.”

Eldon Curtiss, the archbishop of the Omaha Roman Catholic Archdiocese, was invited to open – or close – the “festival” in prayer. (I am hoping to get the audio of that prayer, and post it here.)

I know some of the prominent organizers and sponsors of this event personally. One couple in particular – Steve and Cheryl Wild – have made a career of inviting and soliciting Romanists into Protestant circles and congregations, even arranging occasional occupation by Catholic women into a major Protestant pulpit in Omaha at Christ Community Church, the flagship church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) denomination.

The current pastor of that C&MA church recently posted pictures of the previous pope on the walls of the church buidling, and commended that pope to the congregation as a “man of faith.”

Curt Hofer, whose sister and brother-in-law I count as faithful fellow-laborers in the gospel, is an Omaha home builder who focuses on building upper class houses. He is very successful, and since moving to Omaha over a decade ago has apparently done well financially. Therefore, as a wealthy man, he has been recruited by many “ministries” and organizations in town to be a “board member.” For instance, he has served for some time on the Grace University Board of Directors.

Curt, as an event sponsor, had this to say prior to the “festival:” “Luis Palau has kind of a great opportunity to bring a wide range of churches together, under the {broad banner|mat 7:13} of Christianity, and say ‘Let’s find some common ground and make it a celebration, a festival,’ rather than an evangelical crusade,” Hofer said.

That’s an accurate statement, no matter how depressing. Palau brought to Omaha something that was certainly NOT an evangelical crusade. It was more of a counter-reformation opportunity for the Roman Catholic Organization (RCO) to woo back those who have been freed from its bondage through the procalamation of the good news – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The best I can say in Palau’s defense is that perhaps, as an older man, he was done in by his advance people, unaware of the ground (and air) forces at work. That’s an excuse he doesn’t solicit, and one I would never tolerate for myself. A RCO priest, Ryan Lewis, who works out of the RCO Archbishop’s office, said this: “It’s certainly going to be a Luis Palau festival unlike anything he’s ever experienced before and he’s taking a risk by coming into this Catholic town and inviting the Catholics in.”

What Palau risked was the {separation from idolatry|2Cor 6:14-18} required of faithful believers. He risked it, and he lost it. May the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on him – and Curt Hofer – at His judgment seat!

The valid criticism of Palau is that he is far too accepting of Romanism, which historically and universally has been the greatest persecutor of Christians.

One man and his sign.

Smagacz’ story is an interesting one. He graduated in 1967, just a couple years before I did, at the RC school just down the road from mine. Our schools were bitter rivals, and yet the boys from the schools occasionally played baseball on the same teams. The Smagacz family was a very large one, and they were known in RC circles, in part, due to his family’s athletic talent.

Peter went on to college (the University of Nebraska at Omaha) and in his senior year decided he wanted to become a priest. He spent a couple years at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, and then transferred for a year to the Theology School in Maryknoll, New York.

While in Denver, he had occasion to visit a little Protestant church and heard a preacher there named Nicky Cruz preach the good news of salvation by simply believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Smagacz’ claims that, up to that point, he had “done everything the Roman Catholic Church (RCO) had offered” but had not simply {received Jesus Christ.|Jo 1:11-13}

Since that time, Smagacz says, he has had an appetite for God’s word that continues to grow. Remarkably, he also says, “As I came to know Jesus more intimately (through His Word), I was set free from a lot of religious rituals practices and ritual that I had grown up with.” He then gives his reason for attending the Palau event. “I desire [my friends and neighbors] to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally, and to be set free from man-made religious practices.”

Smagacz’ story reminds me of the resurrection of Lazarus who came out of his grave at the calling of his name by the Lord Jesus, who then ordered those standing by, to cut Lazarus loose from his grave clothes, {setting him free.|Jo 8:31}

“The Catholic Church has a different Jesus,” says brother Smagacz.

This “different Jesus” Smagacz says the Romanists believe in is certainly not the Lord Jesus Christ, risen, ascended, and glorified in heaven. Perhaps the Roman “Jesus” is a shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Perhaps he is a construction worker from Durango, Mexico. But he’s NOT the Lord Jesus Christ.

RC Jesus.

The RC Jesus does what my Savior does not do. The RC Jesus is said to return to earth in the form of a wafer in thousands of locations daily throughout the entire world.

Underlying much of the argument that Catholics have a “different Jesus” and a “different gospel” is the Romanist doctrine that a wafer is transformed miraculously into the actual real live body of Jesus Christ. The Jesus Christ I know from the Scriptures is the God-man who is physically in heaven in human form. He is staying there until His enemies are {made his footstool.|Psa 110:1;Heb 1:13;Heb 10:13} Not only did He not take on angelic form, he did not take on animal form, nor plant form, nor processed plant form, such as wheat and grapes. he became a MAN, and still is one. He is not some wafer.

That God Almighty became a man is amazing: that he becomes a wafer is ridiculous.

Maybe you say, “That wafer is just a symbol.” To you, the RC Organization (RCO) (I won’t call it a “church”) says “Let him [you] be anathema(‘Let you be cursed.’)”

The RC system of things is far, far different from the gospel in the Bible that says that {like Abraham, we are justified by grace through faith.|Rom 4:1-5} And that’s it. “Justified” means we are declared righteous by God. Once that happens, we are judicially free from the penalty due to our sin. This was made plain in type in the life of Abraham, was stated clearly by the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry, and restated by the Holy spirit through the apostles in the Scriptures. The Jesus of the Bible says to hold that truth. The RCO says “Let him [you] be anathema (‘Let you be cursed.’)”

Now, the RCO takes these matters into their own hands. First, it misnames their fictional ritual as “the Eucharist.” “Eucharist,” is a term based on a Greek word for “good grace,” often accurately translated as “giving thanks.” The casuistry of the RCO frequently uses terms like this without translation in order to mislead. Somehow, “giving thanks” ends up “swallowing RC Jesus.”

But there is much, much more. Romanism is not content to merely practice its vain ritual. It takes this matter and declares that it is absolutely necessary for one to participate in it to be acceptable to God. Moreover, they claim they are the only organization on earth that can determine such things. Moreover, they claim the right to dominate and control governments to enforce their prerogatives!

We become very casual about these things in our society because we have enjoyed freedom from RC tyranny -broadly speaking – for 230+ years. That freedom has not gone unchallenged by the persistent machinations and subversions by the RCO, including nefarious means such as clandestine infiltration of “evangelical” and “protestant” causes and churches. So it should be no surprise for anyone to look suspiciously at popular speakers who promote and enjoy happy relations with the RCO.

The Bible seems to indicate that persecution of true believers gets its legs when evangelism wanes.

So, in faith, I’m with Smagacz.

Guys like Peter Smagacz are the reason the RCO has, with renewed zeal, reinvigorated the counter-reformation begin by the Council of Trent in the middle 16th century. It’s a shame that Luis Palau and his cohorts came into town, and gave them the forum to do so, while consigning Peter Smagacz to a public place across the street.

I’m comforted to know there’s at least one other Protestant in town.

Comment by Kacie Smagacz. » 21st January, 2009 @ 12:26:20 PM

I’m glad to read something good about my dad for once…
seems too many people are so quick to condemn before they even hear him out.

so thanks.


Comment by John Malone » 22nd January, 2009 @ 03:48:25 PM

Kavie, it’s a privilege to identify, even if after the fact, with your father on that street corner.I doubt that people despise your father because they misunderstand him. It’s more likely they despise him because they DO understand him.

Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ was and is despised, and rejected by men. So were his apostles, who were the “off-scouring of the world.”

If a man walks faithfully following Christ, he will suffer the same indignities. A servant is not above his Master. They hated Him, and they will hate us for His Name’s sake.

The apostles Paul identified those whose faith we should follow, and warned us about those who did damage to the cause of Christ.

Comment by Jay Reilly » 18th September, 2009 @ 03:10:33 PM

I am a Roman Catholic who has known and respected Pete Smagacz for 25 years. It grieves me that he and you are wrong about the Roman Catholic Church. But there’s one thing I can say that is different between you and Pete. While I have heard Pete talk about what he disagrees with the Roman Catholic Church about, I have never heard him be judgmental about the Roman Catholic Church or Roman Catholics. Your article however, simply oozes with judgmentalism. See 1 Cor 4:5. (Yes, we Catholics do read the Bible!)

Comment by John Malone » 18th September, 2009 @ 03:31:58 PM

No, Roman Catholics DON’T read the Bible, and the Roman catholic Organization does not authorize you to. The doctrine of magisterium declares you incompetent to do so.

If you actually DID read the Bible, and sought the proper understanding of it, you would flee the idolatry that characterizes the RCO. (1Cor 10:14).

Who’s going to tell you that in Omaha, NE? Pete will tell you that. And I will tell you that. Good luck finding someone else who will tell you the truth.

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