The following article is taken from a 2009 talk Tim gave in Australia called “The Bible Made Me Catholic” which shares part of his conversion story from the Southern Baptist faith to Catholicism. Tim became a member of the Catholic Church in 1988.
Along with his speaking and work for Catholic organizations, Tim has written more than 20 books, including titles such as Why Be Catholic, Catholics and the Culture War, Twisted Scripture, Defending Your Faith: How to Counter Standard Objects to Catholicism, and Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines. You can purchase several of Tim’s books, CDs, and DVDs through the Parousia Media online store.
Watch the video below to hear him share part of his conversion story or read this article to learn more about his struggles coming to terms with the Church’s teachings and the Bible verse Matthew 23:9, “call no man father.”
Call No Man Father
I’m going to share with you briefly a little bit of my story.
Being raised as a Southern Baptist, as I was, in Virginia – the last place in the world I thought I would end up is in the Catholic Church.
In fact, if you’d have told me 31 years ago that one day I would be traveling the world defending the Catholic faith, I would’ve probably tried to cast a demon out of you.
That was honestly about the farthest thing from my mind.
You have to understand that before I start my story! You have to understand that from the time I’m eight years old, all that I remember about the Catholic Church is that, effectively, “if you want to know what we don’t believe, just look at the Catholics.”
Honestly from the time I’m eight, nine, ten years old I believed you had to be brain-dead to be Catholic.
I remember thinking “How could anybody with a brain that works be Catholic?” because I learned from my pastor, Pastor Eugene Forman (a wonderful man who told me as a kid about Jesus), the verses in Scripture that were used on you poor Catholics. And it seemed so obvious.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:9,
“Call no man on this earth father.”
So what part of no don’t you understand?
That’s what I used to think. Catholics couldn’t get away with pretending they called priests monsignors. After all, before a priest became a monsignor, he was called Father.
And we could go on. The 10 Commandments, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5. The 1st Commandment “Thou shalt not make any graven image of any likeness of any being in heaven or earth or under the sea” – yet you walk into the Catholic Church and what do you find? Statues all over the place.
And yet God tells us – I mean Charlton Heston tells us, if you’ve seen The Ten Commandments – don’t make these statues.
You see, this is what I was raised up to believe. Why do y’all pray to dead folks? Deuteronomy 18:10 says necromancy is a sin. What’s necromancy? Communion with the dead.
These and so many other things were just proof positive in my heart and in my mind.
I knew that the Catholic Church was false.
And and yet I’m standing here Catholic.
What in the world happened?
A Catholic Marine named Matt happened. When I went after the Catholic faith, he stood up to me. He went toe-to-toe with me for twelve rounds, and I had never experienced this before.
I remember him saying, when I went after him with these arguments,
“Tim, you’re talking about my church. All right. If you’re gonna talk about my church well then you better sit down because I got an answer for you. Don’t be hitting me with these verses and running. You come on back here, we’re going to talk.”
And I thought, “Catholics don’t talk like that!” What happened to the “I don’t want to upset anybody” approach?
For example, when I hit him with Matthew 23:9. It was my go-to verse, of course, it worked all the time. “Jesus’ words: ‘call no man on earth your father.’ What don’t you understand?” It always worked in the past.
“Context Means Everything.”
But what did Matt do? This was wild. He snapped right back, didn’t hesitate. He said, “Tim, we Catholics believe that verse just like its written. But did you know there’s more than one verse in the Bible?”
Well, of course.
And he said, “Please understand then, Tim, even in human discourse, when we’re talking context means everything.”
Makes sense, right? If I said to you right now, “Put the kitty on the table,” what are you going to say?
You’re going to think I’m crazy. You have no way of knowing what I mean.
But imagine if we were in a pet store. And now immediately in your mind appeared a four-legged creature with fur and whiskers, that ought to be exterminated. Am I right?
Well, I just lost all the cat people. That’s just me okay? I’d like to kill all the cats in the world.
But right now, the main point is to notice that,
the context gives you an understanding of the words.
But imagine if we were at a poker game. All of a sudden the same words, “put the kitty on the table,” have entirely different meaning. (In poker, a kitty means a bet.) Why? Because of different contexts.
The 4th Commandment: Honor Your Father…
Matt explained to me,
“Tim don’t just throw Bible verses around, brother, you need to understand what the words mean!”
And I said, “All right, brother, you come and tell me what does it mean.”
He said, “Let’s go to Ephesians 6:1-2.”
Now when he did that, I knew there was something wrong, because I thought there was a law somewhere that said Catholics aren’t allowed to read the Bible.
But Matt said,
“Tim, Ephesians 6. St. Paul says, quoting the fourth commandment, ‘honor your father and mother that your days may be prolonged on the earth.”
(That was one of my of my dad’s favorite verses).
But Matt looked me in the eye, and he said,
“Tim, I thought you said, ‘Call no man on this earth father.’ Well, St. Paul does right here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Is God confused, Tim?”
And I was thinking, “This is a Catholic! There’s no way I’m going to be out-Bibled by a Catholic.”
So I quickly retorted, “Okay, okay, well, in Ephesians 6 you’re talking about a physical father. Okay, you can call a physical father, ‘father.’ But see, what Jesus meant here in Matthew 23:9 is you that can’t call spiritual leaders, ‘father.’ See, that’s what he’s talking about.”
Matt didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, okay, I see. So you don’t call spiritual leaders ‘father.’ Then let’s go to Luke 16:24.”
Now I’m concerned, because in Luke 16:24, Jesus calls Abraham – guess what – ‘father Abraham’.
Matt looked me in the eye, and he said, “Tim, would you say Abraham is a spiritual leader?”
I had no response.
He said, “Tim, give me your Bible.” He took my Bible out of my hand and beat me with it. It’s like cutting a man’s arm off and beating him with it.
He took my Bible and he took me through St. Paul:
7 times St. Paul calls Abraham father Abraham.
And we looked at 1st John 2:13:
John refers to the elders, to whom he’s writing, as ‘fathers,’ exhorting them to teach their spiritual sons and daughters.
And there was even more – check out Acts 7:14 sometime.
This was only one conversation in a long conversion story – but after a few more conversations like this, I became hooked on researching Catholicism in depth – still hoping to disprove it!
And if you want to hear more of the story, you can check out my CD, Jimmy Swaggart Made me Catholic.
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We’re excited to have Tim Staples join Parousia Media in Australia this coming October for several talks and events! More information on dates and sign ups will be announced soon.