Saturday, May 05, 2007

Scott Hahn makes some unhelpful comments

I'm really surprised by this. I thought Scott Hahn was smarter than that. I loved his book, The Lamb's Supper and I enjoyed A Father Who Keeps His Promises but lately I've been disturbed by his teaching that the Holy Spirit is maternal (In order to be maternal musnt' one be female?) and since he teaches at Franciscan U and teaches seminarians what Scott Hahn thinks is important. I will be less likely to buy any new books by Prof. Hahn in the future.

26 comments:

Coffee Wife said...

This is going to sound weird...but I've been getting kind of uncomfortable with how "powerful" Scott Hahn has become. I don't know any other word to use - I'm not that clever. But I hope you get what I'm trying to say. Folks seem to be taking Scott Hahn as THE voice of the lay Catholic...

anyhoo I'll shut up because I probably sound silly!

Also, it feels almost like there's this "Franciscan University of Stubenville" cliche and unless you are part of it you don't really get noticed by the Catholic media and Catholic publishing etc. There are so many Catholics out there but I feel squeezed by this Franciscan University/Scott Hahn thing.

It is HARD to put thoughts into words sometimes!

Maybe I'm just nuts.

Coffee Wife said...

P.S. I couldn't really understand the video. What was he saying about female holy spirit?? I did catch something about Traditionalists being anti-spiritual and legalistic etc. That kinda got my back up! I am NOT un-spiritual/anti-spiritual NOR am I legalistic!

R J Stove said...

Not having seen Scott Hahn before - as opposed to having read some of his writings - I must admit to surprise at how poor a public speaker he seems to be. Needless repetitions; persistent faltering over words; weak sentence structure. No Toastmasters club known to me would endorse such verbal clumsiness onstage.

If a layman's charging Catholics good money for his theological lectures (as opposed to the theological lectures, a.k.a. sermons, which we get for free from priests), then he surely has an obligation to make his verbal delivery as efficient as he can. It was once my privilege to hear Michael Davies (R.I.P.) give a talk on Church history. Now there was an excellent public speaker. Mr. Davies's content was a good deal more orthodox too.

Best wishes, Mrs. Dymphna, to you and to your blog. If more blogs were as sensible as yours, I would be less opposed to the medium as a whole than I am.

Coffee Wife said...

I bought a set of tapes by Scott Hahn about the Virgin Mary. I thought it was just *me* that couldn't get into his talk. I haven't listened to them since - and I paid good money for them + international shipping. Arrg.

Dymphna said...

Thank you, RJ! And Coffee Wife, you've described perfectly the uneasiness I've begun to feel about Scott Hahn.

Coffee Wife said...

I'm so glad you didn't find my comments to be "catty". I'm not trying to trash Scott Hahn - but it's true that I'm growing a bit uneasy myself with his eh...I don't know how to put it. Strong influence? I feel as if lay Catholics are drinking TOO much Scott Hahn and might not be getting a balanced education in the Faith...

Oh brother, I can't seem to say clearly what I'm *feeling* Sorry for the cheesy attempt.

Paul Nichols said...

The New Oxford Review has called him to task for referring to the Holy Spirit in the feminine, a charge he flatly denies.

It's all there in his writings, though. He makes a feeble attempt to dance a 2-step in the latest NOR, but he ends up falling flat on his face.

This is a problem you can sometimes encounter with someone who hasn't quite shed all their protestant baggage.

a thorn in the pew said...

We have a book in the Didache series coming to our diocese in the fall for high schoolers. Everyone believes this a good thing and while it will standardize the teaching, it just makes the Scott Hahn superstar thing more in the forefront.

Coffee Wife said...

Is the Didache series awash with Scott Hahn?? I was thinking about buying the series for myself! (As weird as that sounds.)

I remember reading several years ago in one of my cousin's newspapers (he's a minister) an article about Scott Hahn. Apparently he was very upset by the fact that no one made a big deal out of his converting to the Catholic Faith. It quoted him talking about his disapointment etc. I thought it was VERY egotistical. I've also read in various places that if you do not call him *Doctor* Hahn he gets upset. I think he's written a lot of great books but I often wonder about his influence and eh...rising superstardom. I don't mind great theologians being very much acknowledged and appreciated. I just feel as if, due to folks like Hahn and his diciples, there's this farr too "protestant-style" approach to the Bible that's starting to flood the Church. Does that make any sense? The protestant-style approach to the bible doesn't fit well in the Catholic Faith.

Sanctus Belle said...

I've got to add, I've "cooled" in my thoughts of Dr. Hahn too. He's a huge star on EWTN and for the most part I enjoyed his enthusiasm, but I'm recently dismayed with all the brouhaha over the Steubenville/Ave Maria U/charismatic movement Catholic group. I prefer solemnity and traditionalism. I could be wrong, but I suspect protestant influences from the 'charismatic' bible churches. For the most part, I've come to read books only written by Saints, Blesseds, the Bible and the Catechism. We must be prudent and careful so as not to be led astray.

We must remember that theologians (not specifically Dr. Hahn) can fall prey to pride and puffed up egos - after all they do teach, talk and write for a living.

Dymphna said...

The whole charismatic thing makes me nervous. It's pure emotionalism and that's all.

Coffee Wife said...

I had NO idea that Steubenville/Ave Maria U was caught up in the charismatic movement. Here I was feeling so sorry for myself that I couldn't attend either of these Universities - but now maybe that's a good thing?? I always thought they were *orthodox* Catholic. Are they not?

Coffee Wife said...

"Scott Hahn, the Feminist"

http://www.newoxfordreview.org/note.jsp?did=0105-notes-hahn


"...we took on the highly esteemed Dr. Scott Hahn for saying outrageous and scandalous things. We noted: Feminist theologians and their Queer cheerleaders have been campaigning for a feminine Holy Spirit for decades. How odd — how depressing, actually — to see Dr. Hahn jump on the bandwagon."

I think we should carefully examine Scott Hahn and see what his true colors are - and if he is found lacking then perhaps we should spread the word. If he is not found lacking then of course we stand corrected in our misgivings.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Never read one of his books or heard a cassette, i seem to be doing well without!

i don't like the proliferation of materials..i mean he can't be an expert on everything can he?

Who gets the money for all the books & tapes, just out of interest?

Paul said...

Without meaning to offend, I must say that these are some of the most ill-informed comments I have run across in some time.

1. Scott Hahn does not call the Holy Spirit "She." The Pneumatology in his book (which apparently none of you have read) is firmly within the Church's teaching in Catechism 370 and is based on the theological writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Ephrem of Syria, Matthias Scheeben, and Joseph Ratzinger among others. The entire chapter is posted on the "What's New" section of his website www.salvationhistory.com. Read it for yourself; it should answer your concerns.

2. Look closer at the manipulatively edited YouTube clip. Hahn is trying to convince charismatics that, if they have really experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, they should focus more of their energy and attention on appropriating contemplation, liturgy, chant, prayer, and fasting. He is saying that these things are fundamental for all Catholics, not just those who want to call themselves traditionalists; how can we possibly have a problem with that! He insists that these essential elements of a Catholic spiritual life retain all of their value despite some people who resort to them in a servile rather than a filial way, as though we were merely God's servants and not also His children. If you've not yet run across apparently loveless traditionalists whose appreciation of and participation in the rich treasures of our devotional patrimony looks a lot like "going through the motions," then you haven't been around the movement for very long. Now imagine what charismatics (who typically have the opposite problem of being hooked on the feelings of enthusiastic religious experience) would first think when he tells them to turn their attention to liturgy, chant, contemplation, etc. He was being smart to anticipate their objection and answer it.

3. I graduated from Franciscan University in 1999 and can perhaps correct some misimpressions that are being spread here about how "charismatic" it is. There is, in fact, a charismatic parish in town (and, frankly, the majority of the liturgical music on campus leaves much to be desired - though the schola is excellent). But the Hahns do not attend the charismatic parish. They (like most of the Theology faculty and a large number of students) go to St. Peter where there is incense every Sunday with about a dozen altar boys, where the deacon chants the gospel, where the tabernacle is dead center in the intact high altar, where the only musical instrument is the large pipe organ in the loft, and the recessional hymn is usually the Salve Regina. The parish has had perpetual adoration for many years now and I've never seen a short confession line there, either on a Friday or a Saturday (despite the fact that the University three minutes away has regular confession times Monday through Thursday). Ask yourself, why would a so-called "charismatic theologian" go to St. Peter instead of the charismatic parish?

4. Scott Hahn IS a member of one of the lay movements in the Church. It's just not the charismatic movement. He is a supernumerary of Opus Dei (hardly the swingin' from the chandeliers crowd). This isn’t a secret; I knew about it when I was a student and recently he wrote a whole book about it.

5. I'm a little baffled by the comments expressing concern about Hahn's "influence" in the Church. I'd be willing to bet that the ecclesiocrats over at the USCCB do not have him on speed-dial. And I'm guessing that he's not turning down offers from Georgetown, Notre Dame, Catholic University, etc. on a regular basis. His views on Scripture mesh nicely with Benedict XVI's, but I'm pretty sure that they both arrived there independently or, if there is an influence, that it's the other way 'round. The guild of scripture scholars and professors are certainly not taking their cues from Hahn. So whom is he exercising a bad influence on? As I said, I'm confused.

6. The most puzzling bit of all, however, is the notion that Hahn is somehow "protestant" in his teaching or his approach to Scripture. I would challenge you to find a single Protestant theologian who would agree with that statement. Thomistic? Liturgical? Patristic? Sure. Even Medieval in some senses. But Protestant? Uh-Uh. I've read most of his books as well as both of the issues of the annual scholarly journal that he publishes, and the only way I can see that you can call his reading of Scripture "protestant" (barring the use of mind-altering drugs) is by being 1)ignorant of Hahn's actual writing or 2)of Protestantism or 3)of both. If some of his stuff seems new and novel that's usually because it is so old that very few people have ever heard it before.

Coffee Wife said...

Paul, thank you for your contribution to this discussion. If we *are* ill-informed then we do not fear being corrected. I am not offended by your remarks - I welcome them. So please don't read anger or defensiveness in this comment of mine:

I am not a college graduate nor a theologian. I am a country housewife and a Catholic convert. Therefore my opinions come from this angle and perspective.

The "influence" of Scott Hahn that makes me uncomfortable has nothing to do with the Bishops. It has to do with what I feel, personally, as a hyper-focus on one small group of lay Catholics. Scott Hahn is at the center of this focus and his influence continues to rise.

Wheather or not HE is the one causing this focus is unknown to me at this point in time.
Either way it makes me uncomfortable that a small group seems to have become THE authority in theology amongst lay people. Scott Hahn et al have a LOT of influence on the education of the laity. Therefore he needs to be carefully scrutinized by all.

When I was investigating the Church 11 years ago there seemed to be a much more balanced spread of "Catholic voices" and they were all speaking, selling books etc. and offering a variety of points of view, opinions and teaching styles.

Now there seems to be a Franciscan University click (I can't spell the right word...) that has risen to the top and taken a lot of the variety away. I have no idea if this click was created or if it just happened. But it is a bit threatening to me: I personally feel left out and cut off - that unless I have a Franciscan U degree I'm basically nobody in the Church. I've run into this feeling many times amongst my fellow lay-people. Would *our* books be published? Would *we* get listened to? Or would we be dismissed as everyone rushes over to the Franciscan U club?

Where does Scott Hahn teach? Do students attend Franciscan U because of the University or because of the Click? I have to wonder sometimes.

I also have a bit of irritation about how much the Bible has shifted into central focus. I feel as if this is a VERY Protestant practice. The Eucharist is the focus of Catholics, *not* the Bible.

I do believe that Catholics should know the big picture regarding the Bible so that we understand the readings at Mass and we understand what theologians write about.

AND we should be able to give a biblical defense of our faith *because* Protestants will only listen to bible quotes, which is their loss sadly.

But I do not believe that it is important for us to "know the bible" in the way that the Protestants do. And I see this kind of Bible-centered focus rising higher and higher each year amongst Lay Catholics.

I seems to me as if the Protestant-to-Catholic converts, many of whom have done a stint at Franciscan U and/or teach there, are dragging a lot of Protestant-style Bible focus into the Church. I appreciate what they are doing for the Church but they seem to have taken a big portion of the spotlight and filled it with a Protestant-style approach to the Bible.

I am afraid that more and more "Protestant" ways are going to creep into the Church, especially amongst the Lay Catholics. We will become engrossed with Scripture and lose our focus on the Eucharist.

I have been made uncomfortable by some of Scott Hahn's remarks about the Holy Spirit. I've also been made uncomfortable by this notion that Adam was in fact the first one to sin in the Garden of Eden because he refused to fight the Devil and protect Eve, his bride. To my dismay I just ran into this whilst studying the "Great Adventure Bible Study." Now I have to worry about the soundness of the theology of this study.

This theology is promoted very strongly by the "Franciscan U/Scott Hahn" click and it contradicts scripture and Church teaching which has always said that Eve was the first to sin because she ate of the fruit.

In my opinion, calling the Holy Spirit "maternal" and trying to blame Adam for the fall of Man sounds like feminism to me. I don't like it one bit.

Calling traditional Catholics "legalistic" is not good either - which Scott Hahn has done. To me his remarks sound as if he is placing himself above those Catholics who do not wish to tamper with the Holy Spirit or the fall of Man but instead wish to maintain what the Church has always taught.

There are cradle Catholics and Catholic converts that come from non-Protestant backgrounds. We seem to be overshadowed by those Catholics who have converted from Protestantism.

Coffee Wife said...

I forgot to add something:

I get this idea of a "click" from another angle as well.

When I was 26 I tried to transfer to one of these "top" Catholic colleges (I won't name which one) and was told that I was "too old" to live in the student housing and that I would have to go live in an apartment out in town. The college continued by explaining that they didn't feel I would "fit in" or "feel comfortable" living with younger students. They never asked ME if I felt I would fit in or feel comfortable. They made that assumption on their own which left a very bad taste in my mouth.

I asked if they had housing for older students? No. They did not: they told all older students to live out in town. Their additude was clear: you older folks are *outside* of what we desire here on campus.

Now if THAT does not smack of "clickyness" I don't know what does. To say that a 26 year old Catholic is "too old" and won't "fit in" on campus tells me that there is an ideal Catholic that these folks have in mind: either you are a converted Protestant pastor or you are a young hip thing. The rest of us...well, we don't belong. So instead of an education that is aimed at a solid Catholic formation and environment I found an education aimed at a specific acceptable group.

So my uneasiness is not just aimed at individuals - but also at questionable theology and a culture that I see developing amongst the laity that is hyper-focused on youth and protestant converts.

Paul said...

Dear Coffee Wife,

Thanks for your gracious response; you don't strike me as either angry or defensive. Here are a couple of points that you might want to consider.

1. Don't let anyone make you feel left out because you don't have a Franciscan University degree. Please! It's just a school. You are a member of the most important body in the universe: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

You didn't say which of the supposedly "top" Catholic colleges told you that you were too old to fit in at 26. That was charitable. I would bet a lot that it wasn't Franciscan University. You see, I was 27 when I showed up there to finish my undergraduate degree (and 30 when I graduated). As it turned out, a lot of my friends were the grad students but I never felt left out or looked down on by anyone. FUS certainly has its problems, but that isn't one of them.

I don't think that the students are aware of any kind of Steubenville clique that they're joining (although I'm sure it doesn't hurt their admissions that a couple of the profs are on EWTN - after all the parents usually have a say as well).

For most students, I think the biggest change is developing a habit of daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration.

2. I'm not sure what you mean about there being fewer Catholic voices out there than there were 11 years ago or that there is some kind of a Franciscan University monopoly going. Think of all the great Catholic blogs and websites that have popped up since then.

What about publishing? Hahn has broken some new ground for orthodox Catholics in getting in with one of the big New York publishers. But most of the Catholic books I buy in a year are still Ignatius Press, Sophia Institute Press, OSV, Servant Books, Roman Catholic Books, Emmaus Road Press, etc. There are even a lot of the great titles from the old Sheed & Ward list that are now coming back as reprints. There are new small start-ups like Grotto Press in Michigan and, with print-on-demand, self-publishing has gotten cheap enough that anyone who really wants to can get their book into print (I have a great little book of rosary meditations written by a housewife that came out this way). If you want diverse voices, the liberal publishers are also still out there (and they certainly haven't started sounding like Scott Hahn).

So much for books, what about Catholic radio? Eleven years ago, there was almost nothing except EWTN short-wave. Now there are dozens of stations all over the country and more being added every year. Plus podcasts and online stations.

Do you see why I'm confused about your "FUS clique" monopoly notion?

3. In answer to your question, I believe that, in addition to teaching at FUS, Dr. Hahn teaches seminarians at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA. I think he also teaches at some of the pontifical universities in Rome during the vacations. He used to teach seminarians at the Josephinum in Columbus, OH but not anymore.

4. If Catholics are starting to make Sacred Scripture more central to their faith life (and I hope you're right), then you should probably not give too much of the credit just to Scott Hahn since the popes have been trying to get this to happen for over a hundred years. They keep on quoting St. Jerome's famous dictum that "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." Or perhaps it was Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation that reminded the Church, in the words of St. Irenaeus, that "the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology." My personal favorite, though, is what John Paul II wrote in 1988 "progress in Christian life cannot be achieved except by continually promoting among the faithful, and above all among priests, a warm and living knowledge of Scripture.” He went on to say that “The most urgent task is that of the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful.”

You are so right that we should never allow anything to displace the absolute centrality of the Eucharist. But Scripture does not do that. There is no tension between the Word of God in Scripture and the Word of God incarnate. The Bible's TRUE home is the Mass where, just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, we first hear the Word proclaimed and then "our eyes are opened in the breaking of the bread."

This is NOT Protestantism. Not by a long shot. It's just a part of our Catholic heritage that some Catholics ignored because they let the Protestants bully them. We should know the Bible BETTER than the Protestants, not just so that we can anwer their questions, but because it's OUR BOOK! Heck, they don't even have the whole thing.

M. Alexander said...

Dear Paul, the brave who writes anonymously. You are a slavish devotee of Scott Hahn. Mr. Hahn, ahem I mean Dr. Hahn comes across as very arrogant and self satisfied. Humility- I see none.

I object very strongly to Catholics who try to make the Faith their own cottage industry. He does not have a "ministry" but a business selling books and tapes.

Scott Hahn is just like NFP, if you're not a fan you're considered not really Catholic.

It's nonsense.

ixtoc999 said...

Forgive my English... It is a great discussion, greetings to everyone. I met Scott in Charlotte, NC in a big Catholic conference. I was a fan of his and asked him to autograph "The lamb's supper" and one thing that took me aback was that he dies his hair! (vanity or marketing??), like a movie star. That gave food for thought, then I read protestant web sites with his dirty laundry, how he scammed a protestant sponsor to get his college education and when he was done, converted to Catholicism. I do not want to judge anybody, but this feminine Holy Spirit seems part of the "new wave" of the New Age Novus Ordo, linked somehow with some "stealth priestesses" in Europe. And yes,Virginia, I am atending a church from the Society Pius X just recently and liking what I am seeing. My old parish was too pentecostal and my priest came to mass drunk. (too bad). So I am trying this new experience and to my surprise, the majority of the congregation are converts!!!

Dorothy said...

The idea of the Holy Spirit being feminine is not a new idea. I heard it in Catholic elementary school back in the 60's. And why not? We are made in the image and likeness of God, are we not? And half of us are female, so we must be mirror-imaging the feminine side of God. The Trinity is a mystery none of us will ever understand, but we try to put it in terms that make sense to us. And since the terms "Father" and "Son" are both masculine to our way of thinking, the Holy Spirit is the only person left to ascribe the feminine qualities to.
What I see is more important than all of this brouhaha over Scott Hahn is the need to grow in our Faith, Hope and Love of God. If Dr. Hahn fosters that, more power to him. If not, find someone who does and keep growing.

Welch said...

I agree with Paul and Dorothy and would like to thank them for their thoughtful and helpful comments about Dr Scott Hahn.A friend lent me a book of his which enthralled me; then an Opus Dei priest recommended the SH site. That was only a couple of months ago and yet his knowledge and enthusiasm have refurbished my faith.We all have faults but one of the least attractive is the need to find fault in the good.See the lives of the saints!Of course it's important to keep an eye open, but let's spread the good news contained in the letter, and not focus on the postman's shortcomings. From Virginia Margaret.

Ron Aller said...

Scott Hahn is a man and catholics will put him in place no man belongs. It is so heartbreaking to see so many mislead catholics riding the coat tails of a man who seems to have all the answers because they dont have a personal relationship with our savior Jesus Christ.

Judas Katolikos said...

Scott Hahn has release a powerful message. The Eucharist.

Unknown said...

St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of the greatest Marian saints, saw the Blessed Virgin Mary herself as the "quasi-Incarnation" of the Holy Spirit: via her Immaculate Conception, Spousal relationship to the Holy Spirit, and as Mediatrix of all graces. So in this very real sense, Mary can be viewed as the personification of the Holy Spirit.


But to view the Holy Spirit as having feminine attributes does not in any way compromise the masculinity of the three Persons in one God. For example, the best male doctors, teachers and clergymen are warm, sensitive, nurturing, loving men--attributes associated with femininity, but in no way diminishing the strong masculinity of these men.

Jose Leo de Castro said...

Hello, I am new to the forum, and unfortunately i haven't had time to read all the comments, but I admire the thoughts that have been placed here. One of my first reactions when I read the post is that we have to remember importantly that Mr. Scott Hahn is an ordinary human being, and human beings make mistakes, either in the formulation of thoughts, or how they are expressed. Actually if it were not for Scott Hahn, and God's using him that faithful day when I was considering converting to Protestantism and seeing him speak about the veneration of Mary, I would not have made the effort to research the faith in the first place and find out its depth, truth and beauty.

THat being said, God is known to use people who are not worthy. Scott Hahn admits to being one of them. If GOd chooses to allow him to have the momentum he has, and aid in the conversion of many in the process, let it be. It's God's business, we can take it up with Him. But it is the job of the lay to pray for him and to temper him. Dr. Hahn himself asked a couple of times for the audience to pray for him fervently that he doesn't fall into pride. Like what Bishop Fulton Sheen said," Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious."

I would say write to him, and ask him to clarify on his comments and act still in civility.