Gospel Outreach is a Fundamentalist ministry headquartered in Philadelphia. Its founder and director is Frank Eberhardt, and its latest project is The Catholicism Explained New Testament, a 480-page paperback featuring interlinear notes debunking Catholicism.
We'll critique The Catholicism Explained New Testament another time. First we want to take a look at Frank Eberhardt himself. For information about him we rely on an article that appeared in the January/February 1985 issue of Voice magazine, published by Bob Jones University.
The article begins by saying, "Of the five Christian organizations attempting to evangelize U.S. Catholics, only two are east of the Mississippi, where most of the Catholic population is located. One of them is Gospel Outreach."
This is confusing because it implies there are only five such organizations in the whole country. It would be more accurate to say there are only five which try to cover the whole country, while there are hundreds of organizations which operate in only one city. Most of them don't seek to convert only Catholics, of course, and each has little influence outside its immediate neighborhood, but their cumulative effect is great.
It would be even more accurate to say there are more than five groups working nationally, but the author of the Voice article is thinking, apparently, of five particular groups which work closely with one another and which share a particular narrow vision.
We're not sure which groups are included among the five. The article names, aside from Gospel Outreach, only The Conversion Center. We presume Mission to Catholics International (headed by ex-priest Bart Brewer) and Christians Evangelizing Catholics (headed by Bill Jackson) are on the list. These four groups refer to one another frequently. But the fifth? There are several that could qualify, but we don't know which is the lucky one.
Anyway, back to Frank Eberhardt. We're told he was brought up in a Catholic family and entered the Vincentian Minor Seminary near Princeton, New Jersey. This was in 1968, and he studied there for four years--in other words, finishing high school.
"By the summer of his third year at the seminary, Eberhardt's questioning had become serious....His introduction to group Bible study came that summer when he attended a Jehovah's Witness Bible study with his parents, who were also beginning to question Catholicism."
Not a good omen. When Catholic parents drag a child to a Bible study sponsored by Jehovah's Witnesses, something is seriously wrong with the parents.
"On January 16, 1972, still unsaved, Eberhardt made a crucial decision. He telephoned his parents and told them he was leaving the seminary and wanted them to find 'a good college that teaches the Bible.'"
What did his parents do? They contact the late Alex Dunlap, director of The Conversion Center, "at that time the only mission to Catholics in Philadelphia. As a result, both of his parents were saved the next day." Two weeks later Frank was "saved" too. Then he made plans to enroll at Bob Jones University, as anti-Catholic an institution as there is.
During his third year there he "got the vision of a mission work designed specifically for the evangelization of Roman Catholics. He spent three summers with Alex Dunlap, 'learning the ropes' and laying the groundwork for Gospel Outreach, which he began in 1976."
"Today  Eberhardt is on the road six months of the year...educating believers about Roman Catholicism and evangelizing Roman Catholics. He conducts forty to fifty church meetings and speaks in eight or ten Christian schools each year. Each meeting involves three services." His wife assists him, as do his father and mother, the whole family now being professional anti-Catholics.
Eberhardt has a radio program that airs on a Dubuque, Iowa station. (Dubuque "is 75 percent Roman Catholic.") His ministry distributes 200,000 pieces of literature yearly--perhaps more now, since the figure is five years old.
Things look pretty good for Frank Eberhardt, but there have been disappointments. "He recounted how he had spent four years witnessing in South Philadelphia, which is 98 percent Roman Catholic, before a single soul was saved." (Let's hear it for South Philly!)
But "the biggest disappointments the ministry has experienced have been, unfortunately, from fellow Christians. Many pastors have been unable to discern the need for such a ministry, and church members have been reluctant to support the work financially." (And let's be thankful for small favors. Think of the damage that could be done if these pastors were as zealous in their anti-Catholicism as is Frank Eberhardt.)
The article about Eberhardt concludes by saying he "would like one day to establish a home for saved former priests and nuns....Such individuals need a haven to provide for them until they can support themselves and get better grounded in the Word of God."
This idea Eberhardt took from Donald F. Maconaghie, present director of The Conversion Center. For several years Maconaghie has been trying, unsuccessfully, to raise funds to convert a wing of his home into a refuge for decamping clerics and religious. [See the March 1990 "Dragnet" for an account of what we discovered when we visited Maconaghie's place.]
Now Eberhardt has come out with The Catholicism Explained New Testament, an ambitious project. He sells this work in case lots; if you purchase a case, the per-copy price is five dollars. The single-copy price is nine dollars.
Eberhardt must have spent considerable time and money preparing this book, which suggests his ministry has grown since the Voice article was published in 1985. It's not unreasonable to suspect that Eberhardt will take over from Maconaghie when the latter, who is no longer young, retires, one way or another, from The Conversion Center.
Since both ministries are in the Philadelphia area, it would make sense to combine them. Come to think of it, it would make sense to do away with The Conversion Center entirely, since it seems hopelessly mired in a 1940s mindset. For example, when its newsletter prints photographs of things Catholic, the photographs are taken from a period antedating Frank Eberhardt, who is too young to remember the pre-Vatican II Church. The Conversion Center seems to be fighting a prior generation's battles.
Frank Eberhardt is an up and coming anti-Catholic. He won't want to be held back by old techniques that grab few Catholics when he can use modern techniques that bring in multitudes--which is exactly what he'll do if the pastors he complains about ever wake up and see that concerted action can get results.