Staples vs. Barnes Debate

Catholic Answers is grateful to everyone who supported this project. We are proud to be able to produce such top-notch products as Tim Staples' debate.
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February, 2012
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A Debate That Goes to the Heart of the Catholic Faith.

Did Jesus Mean What He Said or Not?

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Dear friend of Catholic Answers,

If you’ve ever listened to a debate, you know how exciting it can be. Hearing two sides of an important issue argued by two talented debaters can be a thrilling experience. It can deepen your understanding of the issue, clarify misconceptions, and help you understand what’s wrong with other positions—all in the form of a fast-paced, dynamic presentation.

Recently Tim Staples, our director of apologetics and evangelization, engaged in just such a debate.

The setting was in the wilds of Australia, and Tim’s opponent was that nation’s premier Protestant debater, Dr. Peter Barnes, a pastor and an author of many books.

The topic that the two debated was one that is at the very heart of the Catholic life. In fact, Vatican II described it as “the source and summit” of the Christian life itself—the Holy Eucharist.

More specifically, they debated whether Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist: body, blood, soul, and divinity.

As I’m sure you know, the Catholic Church affirms and always has affirmed the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist—for all 2,000 years of its history.

Now Here’s the Bad News

Unfortunately, after the Protestant Reformation began, many people began to deny the Church’s teaching, and today most Protestants deny the Real Presence completely—holding that the Eucharist is “just a symbol” of Christ’s body and blood.

Worse yet, there has been a crisis in the Catholic Church that has left many of its members with only the shakiest grasp on their faith. After decades of “Catholic-lite” religious education programs, countless Catholics have basically no understanding of the faith—including what the Church teaches about the Real Presence.

Opinion polls show this. A frighteningly high number of Catholics do not believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. They have bought into the “just a symbol” viewpoint.

Think about that.

What it means is that these Catholics simply have no understanding of “the source and summit” of their faith lives. Bad catechesis and doctrine-free homilies have left them clueless about the very core of the Catholic life.

They are also ripe pickings for Fundamentalists and others who deny the Real Presence.

You see, not understanding the Eucharist creates a huge vulnerability for a Catholic. If you don’t understand the core of the Catholic faith, then you effectively have no roots in it. Failing to grasp and appreciate the Real Presence means you are very much at-risk.

After all, Fundamentalists can always say, “It doesn’t look like Jesus’ body and blood. It looks like bread and wine. Why don’t you just accept the evidence of your own senses?”

Without a good grounding in the miracle of the Eucharist—and the biblical and theological reasons for it—Catholics who are poorly educated in their faith can fall for that argument.

From there it is only a short step to pulling them out of the Church entirely. All the Fundamentalists need to say next is, “Your Church teaches that it is the body and blood of Christ. If it’s not, then you can’t trust your Church any more. You need to come over to ours.”

Countless poorly-trained Catholics fall for just that pitch—every single day.

The tragedy is that the Catholic case is extremely strong. The Bible is abundantly clear, over and over again, that Jesus meant exactly what he said when he solemnly proclaimed, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” You see, the issue all comes down to one basic question . . .

Did Jesus Mean What He Said or Not?

The Church says that he did. And it always has said so, as the writings of the Church Fathers from the earliest centuries reveal. There is an unbroken line of faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Even the more honest Protestant scholars admit that.

There’s also a powerfully compelling case to be made from “Scripture alone”—something our Protestant friends often insist on.

But you’d never know that by listening to anti-Catholic evangelizers who give a distorted and one-sided presentation of the issue.

That’s why the recent Staples vs. Barnes debate on the Eucharist was so timely.

This time the “just a symbol” crowd didn’t get to make its case without a challenge.

This time someone stood up and fought back.

This time that person was an expert in answering just these kind of charges, a well-trained apologist able to make the Catholic case and show precisely why the Church’s teaching on this issue is—literally—the gospel truth from the lips of the Savior himself.

Wish you could have been there for the confrontation and seen all the sparks fly as the two views clashed? You can—in a manner of speaking.

Catholic Answers has just produced a new audio set titled “This is My Body” – Did Jesus Mean What He Said? which captures the ninety-minute debate in all its hard-fought intensity.

An Information-Packed Tour de Force

“This is My Body” – Did Jesus Mean What He Said? is an information-packed tour de force. It draws deeply upon Scripture—not just well-known proof texts but a range of passages that build a solid foundation for Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.

It also draws upon the words and practices of Christians from the earliest centuries of the Church.

In this two-disk set Tim Staples compellingly draws out the full implications of Christ’s declaration: “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life within you.”

Among the issues that are disputed in the debate (with charity and decorum but with great skill and zeal) are:

  • What Jesus’ own words in John 6 tell us about this subject—and what they don’t.
  • Would the Real Presence make Catholics cannibals?
  • Why Jesus is not really a vine or a door—but why the Eucharist really is his body.
  • What Jesus meant when he said, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail.”
  • Whether the sacrifice of the Mass means Christ’s death on the Cross wasn’t enough.

If you want a great, real-life example of what happens when anti-Catholic claims run up against solid Catholic answers, “This is My Body” – Did Jesus Mean What He Said? is a must-listen.

I’m sure that you’re as excited about this new debate as I am, but before I tell you how to get it, there’s just one more thing.

We Need Your Help

Tim’s recent debate on the Eucharist is only one of many apologetic projects we have been working on. All told, Catholic Answers’ apologists do an enormous amount of work, whether it’s preparing for debates, giving talks, appearing on radio and television, or answering questions one-on-one with people who are going through faith crises.

Between all of our different outreaches—our radio program, our web site, our magazine, our line of faith-building books and audio resources, and all the others—it takes a lot to keep the ministry functioning at top capacity.

We need to do even more than we already are, for the need for solid Catholic information in our society is more obvious than ever.

But we can’t expand our efforts without your help. We can’t even keep doing what we are doing right now. Without your generous assistance, we would have to cut back on our work, and we definitely don’t want to do that.

Please make a generous donation to help Catholic Answers continue all its good work—and to expand and grow that work if possible. [Click here to donate.]

Any amount will be a help, and if you are able to give $40 or more, then as a thank-you we would like to send you a free copy of Tim’s latest debate, “This is My Body” – Did Jesus Mean What He Said? That’s right. Just donate $40 or more, and we will send you a copy absolutely free.

Don’t miss out on this dynamic new debate set. It makes a great, faith-building resource for lots of folks, whether their faith in the Real Presence is strong or needs to be strengthened by the information this audio set contains.

Won’t you please make your most generous donation today to help Catholic Answers keep doing all of its apostolic work?



Karl Keating
President, Catholic Answers

P.S. Don’t forget that if your donation is $40 or more that we’ll send you a copy of Tim Staples’ dynamic new audio set, “This is My Body” – Did Jesus Mean What He Said? absolutely free.

[Click here to donate.]


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Catholic Answers is grateful to everyone who supported this project. We are proud to be able to produce such top-notch products as Tim Staples' debate.