Catholic Answers apologist and author Tim Staples spoke of how as a Protestant he used to love stumping Catholics with zingers from the Bible.Catholic Answers apologist and author Tim Staples spoke of how as a Protestant he used to love stumping Catholics with zingers from the Bible. Staples spoke in Ottawa Dec. 6. CCN photo/Deborah Gyapong

Former Protestant loved stumping Catholics with Bible verses

  • December 9, 2014

OTTAWA - Catholic apologist Tim Staples used to love stumping Catholics with Bible verses in the days he was a Pentecostal, until he met a Catholic who stumped him.

Speaking at a Catholic Chapter House-sponsored event in Ottawa Dec. 6, the director of apologetics evangelization for Catholic Answers based in Southern California said he used to think, “You have to be brain dead to be Catholic.”

Born in Virginia and raised a Southern Baptist, the popular author and speaker experienced a reconversion to Christ through televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and became a member of the Assemblies of God. He became especially fond of certain Bible verses he called “zingers” that he believed proved the Catholic faith was wrong. One of those verses concerned Jesus' command in Matthew 23:9 to “call no man your father on Earth, for you have one Father, who is in Heaven,” he said.

So certain of the truth of this Bible verse, he questioned whether the Pope was “saved” and whether he really knew about Jesus.

“If he knew about Jesus, he wouldn’t go around calling himself the Holy Father,” Staples said.

He believed Catholics were not Christians, but idolaters.

“If anyone had told me 28 years ago I would one day be travelling the world defending the Catholic faith, I would have laughed,” he said. “I would have cast demons out of you.”

Staples said he used to take his “zingers” and use them on Catholics he would meet. They could not answer him and often seemed speechless. That changed the first time he met a Catholic who knew both the Bible and his faith.

This Catholic happened to be a sergeant in the Marines where Staples served a four-year tour. Staples tried out his zinger about calling no man your father on him, expecting it would “stop him in his tracks.” Instead, the sergeant replied, “Did you know there’s more than one verse in the Bible?” He then explained, “You can make that Bible say anything you want to if you only look at one verse at a time.”

Then the sergeant showed him all the other places in the Bible where people on Earth were referred to as “father,” from the Ten Commandments’ call to honour one’s father and mother to references to “Father Abraham.”

It was “startling” to find a Catholic “quoting the Bible,” Staples said. He found himself remembering a song from his Southern Baptist Sunday School about “Father Abraham” that he had conveniently forgotten.

“Is God confused?” the sergeant asked him, when he pointed out these other verses. “Imagine a Catholic saying this to a Protestant guy. Weren’t Catholics not supposed to use the Bible?” he asked. “I got stumped by a Catholic!

“It was the first time I had a Catholic make sense and show me by the Bible,” he said. “I fought him even when I knew I was wrong.”

This began a two-year process where Staples was determined to prove his sergeant wrong, but ended up being convinced the Catholic faith is right. He came to see the priest represents God the Father to us, and “brings Fatherhood to us,” he said.

Other topics he argued about concerned statues, Mary, “praying to dead folks” and the papacy. Sometimes he did successfully stump the sergeant, who would respond, “I don’t know, but I will find out.”

Staples later discovered that the sergeant was offering up daily Mass and the Rosary for him every day. “I was a goner. I just didn’t know it.”

When Staples converted to the Catholic faith, his family thought he was crazy. But by God’s grace they are all now Catholic and his brother is a Catholic priest.

“We have the fullness of the truth God has deigned to give the world,” Staples said. “We alone have it.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life,” he said. “Jesus communicated that truth to the Catholic Church.”

Staples urged those attending the event to learn more about the Catholic faith by turning off the television and reading a good book, listening to a DVD or doing a Bible study. By doing something every day “that’s going to change your life and that’s going to change the world.”

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