What's Wrong With Scott Hahn?

I mentioned at RCIA tonight that I had just completed The Lamb’s Supper, by Scott Hahn. It came up because my RCIA director was speaking about Revelation and how it is was “code” for the early Church about Rome being Babylon and how John and his followers would have surely been killed if they were caught with the work.

I spoke up and said that Hahn’s work helped me shed light on the book of Revelation with regard to the Mass. Before I could finish my train of thought she really slammed me for it. This turned into a 10 minute sidebar by her. She basically said that Scott Hahn is the hottest new thing that he wasn’t “born Catholic” and as a relatively new converted protestant minister he is still learning about the Church. She went on about how his books are essentially evolving as he matures. That it was “Hahn’s interpretation of Revelation. It is not the mainstream.” In short, she’s not a fan.

I pressed her for details about what she meant by all this because all she ever does is speak vaguely or in generalities about everything. “I am under the impression that Hahn is a respected Church historian/theologian” I said. “He thinks he is” she says and stated that it was his interpretation of the Mass. So I then asked, “Hahn states in his book that his view is the Church’s view but acknowledges that it hasn’t been, for whatever reason, at the forefront of Catholic education about the Mass. I am under the impression that we’re not really to express individual interpretations about such matters?”

From that point she pretty much shut down the conversation by babbling on about ex cathedra. Another member then asked how Job fit into the greater context of scripture: “It is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful book” and then it was class dismissed.

I’m not really liking my RCIA class at all. I’ve been around the block a few times and I’m starting to wonder whether this parish is on the liberal side of things but that is another post.
What I want to know is if Scott Hahn is a mainstream Catholic or is he some kind of controversial teacher who espouses wild ideas as she infers? I really enjoyed The Lamb’s Supper so I bought a few more books by the man. Are they trash? **

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I don’t think so. I am a Protestant turned Catholic and reading Scott Hahn’s book “Reasons to Believe” helped me come into the church

First of all, even if Hahn is an ex–Protestant minister and he’s new onto the scene it doesn’t mean anything. God sometimes blesses unlikely people with extraordinary wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures. There are many people who have been Catholic all their lives who don’t know jack. Converts bring a new fire and life into the church and get people into Scripture more.

Another thing, the things Hahn teaches in his books have not been condemned by the church and have been acclaimed by numerous clergy. If the bishops and priests don’t have a problem with what he’s teaching, it’s not bad.

At least this is my opinion.

Well, she is basically wrong.

Dr. Hahn is not a “new comer” as he entered the Church in 1986. I believe 25 years as a Catholic qualifies someone to no longer be a new convert.

I believe his PhD in biblical theology from Marquette University (a Catholic institution) and that fact that he is “a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and is the founder and director of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. In 2005, he was appointed as the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania” (taken from his curriculum vitae) dispell this little bit of slander as well.

Well, these Bishops are fans.

He is a respected theologian, author, and professor. His books are wonderful. I don’t know what is wrong with your RCIA instructor, she is wrong.

No Scott Hahn is orthodox in his writings.

I just checked, the book you mentioned has an “Imprimatur” meaning that there are no doctrinal errors.

From his website:


Dr. Hahn is an excellent writer of Catholic books, among other things. And for that matter, he converted to the Catholic Church in 1986, according to his website (scotthahn.com/about-dr-hahn.html). So he isn’t exactly a “new” Catholic. For comparative purposes, I’ve been alive since 1983, baptized soon afterwards. Nobody thinks I’m a “new” Catholic.

He is a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

I’ve read his and (Kimberly Hahn’s) Rome Sweet Rome, Dr. Hahn’s Reasons to Believe, and Lamb’s Supper.

According to Rome Sweet Rome, he found himself defending in Catholic theological schools the ideas of Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church, even when Catholics were trashing the teachings of the Church.

Dr. Hahn’s books are excellent, and nothing in them would suggest to me that he has strayed from Holy Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to comment about the comment of either the RCIA instructor’s commentary or about Lamb’s Supper and whether Lamb’s Supper is in accord with mainstream Catholic theology, since there are those who are more qualified in this matter.

Note: I’ve repeated what some of the other posters have said, but when I started writing this post, the OP’s was the only one here, so I don’t mean to be redundant.

Scott Hahn is very interesting, and there isn’t anything seriously wrong with his work - however, his stuff is meant more for private reading. He does express his own personal opinions in his books, and they are certainly not intended to be used as Catechism texts.

I’m also not aware of any “official” interpretations of any part of the Scriptures, including the Book of Revelation, in the Church that would seriously contradict anything that he writes, although it’s also true that his ideas are not “mainstream.”

“Mainstream” is way overrated, IMHO.

I’ve learned over the years not to mention my spiritual reading material, when I go to Bible Study classes or other classes, other than the Catechism and whatever text the class is using. :wink:

The only thing thats wrong is your RCIA instructor. Scott Hahn is a brilliant mind and is in no way a "new"catholic

Okay, I am going to try and give you a balanced opinion on this, using my own thoughts, conversations with priests, traditionalist viewpoints, etc.

Dr. Hahn catches a lot of flack for having been protestant. Personally I think that’s retarded, he’s been a Catholic for what, over twenty years now? My wife was Catholic longer than that and is just now doing RCIA. When are you “Catholic” enough? Where’s the magical timeline?

Dr. Hahn was instrumental in my own conversion, and although I have moved past his fluffier works, I still appreciate his more indpeth works and particularly his revised dissertation on covenant. He is a formidable theologian , but he chooses to write accessible works for your average cafeteria Catholic to deepen their faith. Most of his more scholarly work people haven’t even heard of, and that’s fine. For those that are so inclined, his more accessible work often leads them out of the kiddy pool and into deeper waters, and in that sense he is a true blessing.

Now for some constructive criticism. He tends to have the “shiny new toy” syndrome. It doesn’t bother him if only a few if any theologians have ever interpreted a passage as he does, because he seems (some would contend) to look for a novel idea, and then present it as fact. A lot of his ideas ironically come from protestant scholarship, and if you look at some of his cited sources, few of them are Catholic. Many argue that this isn’t a good thing, that tradition is tradition for a reason, and if it isn’t taught by any fathers or tradition, then there’s probably a good reason for it.

As a theologian, Dr. Hahn has every right to pursue scholarship in areas that have not been defined by the Church. I would prefer a more cautious approach in light of tradition, but I can’t blame him for wanting to trailblaze. Here’s the problem though: precisely because most of his works are for your average layperson, they should be learning what the Church has always taught, not private speculations of Dr. Hahn. If a layperson feels so moved, then he can further look into matters in more scholarly works. However, the average person has neither the time nore inclination to do so. Dr. Hahn’s works, for better or worse, may be this person’s main exposure to Church teaching (the term “Hahn-verts” comes to mind). It should be Church teaching. Dr. Hahn seems to have the tendency, even in his more orthodox works, to promote his own theory, even as he admits it is not the traditional view.

I’ll give an example. The new Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. I have it, I love it. In the book of Galations, he talks about “works of the law.” The Church, along with thelogians, fathers, and the Council of Trent, has taken the hardline view of “works” referring to any moral work of Torah. Law does not justify apart from grace, and circumcision is the main example of a deeper spiritual issue. Dr. Hahn prefers the “New Perspective,” which states that it only refers to ceremonial works like circumcision. Because Dr. Hahn prefers this position, he cites Jerome, Origen, Ambrosiaster, Aquinas, etc in support of his view, to make it sound like it is very old. He does admit that it is contested, but only gives one (Augustine) to the contrary view. This is hardly equal play. Here’s the thing though, New Perspective on Paul was started in protestant, not Catholic scholarship. And I looked up every single example he cited, and they were all cited selectively. Ambrosiaster refers to Law in both ways, implying the traditional broader view, as did Jerome, etc. And even if Jerome did think so, his commentary on Romans admittedly took from Origen, who is not the best witness for orthodoxy. I love the writings of Origen, but you need to exercise caution. More importantly, even though Catholic theologians at the time of Trent espoused the “ceremonial” viewpoint, Trent did not use such argumentation, and this is significant for our situation today.

Other examples could be his viewpoint on the millenium in Revelation. He admits that it is not traditional, the Church understands the binding of Satan as being on the cross, not the Old Covenant under David. He can only point to one Catholic theologian named Corsini that has ever believed as such, and yet that’s the only viewpoint you see about the apocalypse in his books, Michael Barber’s etc. He goes on to say that this viewpoint is completely compatible with the trditional view, a la polyvalent prophecy; the four senses of Scripture, etc. However, this is almost a brush-off, since he never shows how the two views are compatible, and never even teaches the traditional view. Similar things can be said about the idea of “uncovering Noah’s nakedness,” the actual nature of the Original Sin of Adam (absolutely no traditional support), and some of his views on the Holy Spirit (which I don’t personally have an issue with).

part 2:

That’s really the main thing. He presents his ideas as traditional to lay-people, and they aren’t. Nothing wrong with that, but at times he seems a bit slick about the presentation. Some would argue he is being disengenuous, I won’t go that far. I can understand wanting popular acceptance of an idea that you really believe has merit. However, I don’t think the way he does it is necessarily correct.

The reason people bash him, aside from reasons cited, is that many protestant converts tend to fall in love with what they think the Church is rather than the reality, and never quite take off their protestant goggles. This can be seen in the fact that converts love the early fathers and the Bible, but the other 1300 years not so much. St John of the Cross? What about folk Catholicism? How many converts still try to justify Marian beliefs with Scripture rather than accepting tradition as enough? Ever wonder why converts always try to look to the Bible as the *source *for every dogma rather than as a *testament *to what the Church believes? These are legitimate concerns that are often pointed out by traditionalists. Dr. Hahn even coined this term: “prima scriptura.” Yes the novus ordo is very scriptural. But does it have to be? Would these people have converted if it was the old lectionary with the old readings? Would they accept dogmas solely on the authority of the Church? Look how many have problems even as Catholics because they can’t find it in Scipture…and yet God is the source of our beliefs, not necessarily Scripture. Scripture and Tradition are the delivery system, so to speak…

These are my thoughts on the matter. I love Dr. Hahn (although I prefer Dr. Pitre). I am reading one of his works right now. But always be intelligently and respectfully critical. Dr. Hahn is not the Church. God Bless

Dr. Scott Hahn is on the theology and Scripture teaching faculty at both Franciscan University of Steubenville and St. Vincent Seminary of Latrobe, PA. I do not know a whole lot about Steubenville, but I do know a lot about St. Vincent. It is a Benedictine institution which serves as a seminary for both Benedictine monks and diocesan seminarians. It is also known to provide excellent and orthodox theological studies.

In light of all this, whereas your RCIA instructor is dismissive of Dr. Hahn, the Benedictine monks of St. Vincent Seminary hired him to teach biblical theology to future priests!!!

Moreover, Dr. Hahn teaches biblical theology at a conference at St. Vincent each summer specifically for *priests, deacons and seminarians. *

All this sort of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Whereas your RCIA instructor has a problem with Dr. Hahn’s insights being used to teach candidates, the monks of St. Vincent Seminary have no problem with his insights being used to teach clergy and seminarians, and the faculty of Franciscan U have no problem with his insights being used to teach their college students. So I say, keep on reading Dr. Hahn’s books!

I have attended several of Dr. Brant Pitre’s lectures, and I am glad that he has recently started writing books to add to his extensive collection of CD material. It is my belief that as his CDs and books grow in circulation (and exposure) he will be in the forefront of the next generation of greatly renown and respected Catholic biblical scholars.

Is Scott Hahn’s teaching about the “fourth cup” that was missed during Passover and drunk during Christ’s passion his own theory or official Church teaching?

God bless,

Dr. Pitre is excellent, and I will be spreading the word everywhere I can. I think that, like Dr. Hahn, he will be a major heavy hitter in Catholic scholarship in the future. I love that he is very careful to let people know what is his own speculation and what the Church teaches. And yet, his speculation is always orthodox and always illuminative. A seminarian and I are going through his revised dissertation right now. He’s releasing a new book about the Eucharist, but then coming out with a massive scholarly version, similar to what Dr. Hahn did with Kinship by covenant. He’s also got a lot of his talks on mp3 for cheaper direct download now, which I was pretty ridiculously pleased with.

Scott Hahn is not for everybody. While his views are very orthodox and conservative he does not reach everyone with his writings. I will say your teacher is not impressed with him and she is entitled to her own opinions but she should respect what good Scott Hahn is doing and respect your likings towards him. I will not deter from your RCIA program because of her. Just ignore it and go on reading Scott Hahn. I read his books and while they are very informative and scripturally minded I believe his books are generally meant for Protestants who may be deciding to become Catholic. They will be a great tool for those deciding. I am a Greek Orthodox Christian who tends to lean on the mystical side and I find him not to par to the mystics that I enjoy reading. If I was a Protestant I will probably enjoy reading his works. Now I know many cradle Catholics do and Amen to that and may be some Orthodox, who knows, but since I have studied and become more of a mystic I do find him quite far below to the style of writers that I have accustomed to read. May be that is why many Orthodox ignore him. His style is much different than what the Orthodox want and basically his style is groomed for those Protestants entering the Catholic Faith and for those Catholics who want to understand Scripturely more about their Faith. So keep on reading him. He seems to have your number!

It’s his speculation, but I believe the Catechism alludes to a similar position. Dr. Hahn has simply fleshed it out. I find the fourth cup theory absolutely fascinating myself, and I personally believe it has every earmark of being true. Remember, as long as it supports Church teaching, and hasn’t been defined, a theory can be held by the faithful. Being rooted in tradition is always a bonus, however, and is often the best way of ensuring orthodoxy.

Interesting thread. I have read many of Scott Hahn’s books and though I see his style can sometimes be a bit “fluffy” have felt like I learned a lot about the Catholic faith from them. I also haven’t encountered any differences between what I read in his books and what I’ve learned from my RCIA class.

I am appreciate but am puzzled by Nathan Wagar’s post saying that the early church Fathers that Hahn aren’t the most orthodox. How does one determine who are the most orthodox of the Fathers?

I often get basic answers that don’t go very deep in RCIA and find myself searching for more authoritative information on subjects to give myself a more solid base for Catholic teachings. I am fairly well entrenched in Protestant views and have recognized my reluctance to embrace some of the worship practices in the Catholic church. So where does one go to get beyond the fluff? I also am reading Stephen Ray’s (yes, another convert) Upon this Rock and have read his Crossing the Tiber… and knowing that the early church Fathers he quotes are many who are similar to one’s Hahn quotes… I wonder how Petrie’s writings compare. I know I can only know so much going into the Catholic church (unless I decide it really isn’t the authoritative church and stick with Protestant) but is Petrie the only/best orthodox option?

I admire Scott Hahn and his writings…I find that people that tend to have been taught with a more “modernist” view of Scripture always talk about his Protestant background and how it influenced him. My goodness, many of the biblical scholars in the modernist movement, (Ex: Fr. Raymond Brown) studied with Protestant biblical scholars. I am sure that influenced them as well. He has been Catholic for 25 years…he converted when he was 26 so it has been most of his adult life. He found faith when he was 15 years old…he was not raised in a Protestant home. He has way more credentials that your RCIA director so I wouldn’t worry about reading his work. As a matter of fact, her denial of him as a creditable biblical scholar concerns me…I personally would not feel comfortable with someone who couldn’t acknowledge his work and tried to discredit him. You will be definitely getting only one side from her. Here is his Biblical site…take a look at all the scholars that support it…they are some of the best.


I apologize for this confusion, I was on my way out the door for chinese food when I wrote this. I will attempt to clear up some of the ambiguity in my post.

Origen is not declared a canonical saint (hence no “Saint” Origen), because some of his doctrine flirted with the heretical, and part of the canonization prerequisite is orthodoxy and teaching as an example for the faithful. This does not mean that Origen is not a saint (he was martyred and I believe he is), but he is not the best example to use to support a viewpoint you are attempting to prove is Orthodox. Origen is best used as an important witness to early practice and belief, rather than official Church tradition. This is analogous, in a strained way, to the apocryphal protevangelum of James for insight into Mary and the birth of Jesus, even though it is not canonical.

This statement about early fathers wasn’t indicative of Scott Hahn personally. This is how many Catholics see the protestant convert phenomenon, of which they see Dr. Hahn as a sort of poster-boy, for lack of a better word. And one of the interesting things I have noticed (indeed I was guilty of this myself), is that many converts focus on the early Church fathers because “earlier is better.” We often started out attempting to refute the Catholic faith, and in the process, we found early fathers prior to the compilation of the Bible that said otherwise. The problem is, we tend to hold onto this tendency even after converting. We may have problems with the Assumption, for instance, because there is no “early father” that holds the viewpoint, and the fifth century isn’t “early” enough for us. Ironically, we almost take a Sola Scriptura approach to the Fathers, as if the dogma doesn’t exist if they didn’t write it down. Most cradle Catholics would accept it because the Church said so, and the truth is with the Church regardless of how early we find the teaching. It’s a much different mentality, at it’s core. It appears subtle, but is actually a vastly different framework.

Another quick example is that the early fathers are focused on (for the above mentioned reasons), and yet a convert wouldn’t think of looking, to say, the Council of Florence or Trent to prove his point. His fervent readings of Ignatius of Antioch would far outstrip his interest in, say, St. Catherine of Sienna. He probably wouldn’t read the eastern fathers or Saint John of the Cross…it seems that these readings come later in the journey, as he is slowly “Catholicized.” In the process, it is hard, and sometimes impossible for them not to feel the need to find proof for every dogma in Scripture and the first four centuries, and if they can’t find it to their satisfaction, there is a slight leeriness. The Assumption is bar none the most pertinent example I can think of at this moment.

Folk Catholicism can often still make converts uncomfortable. The heavy Marian devotions of Mexican Catholicism, the mystic overtones of Irish Catholicism, actual traditional penances such as fasting and acts of mortification, scapulars and prayer altars and candles and ridiculous Catholic plaster folk artwork (think precious moments). Saints such as Irenaeus would make more sense to them than St. Bellarmine. In my experience, converts discover the early Church and the recent Church, and then as they are Catholic longer, sloooowly discover the middle part. In the process, particularly Traditionalists, tend to feel like that entire time period, that rich culture, gets bashed in the process. Converts say “look how ancient the Church is” and they join it, but they think and experience everything in terms of Vatican II. Everything before that is unknown, and still largely foreign to them.

This isn’t meant to be a dogmatic pronouncement on converts, it is just something I have noticed in my own journey.

Thanks for the clarification Nathan. I thought that was where you might be going, but wasn’t sure. I have recently had to stop and ask myself whether or not I could accept certain practices in the Catholic church and realized that I would need to accept the CHURCH and it’s authority versus ideas of those who have been part the early church only. The whole idea that just because it wasn’t said doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of Tradition has been dawning on me as I read different books. I certainly am part of the group struggling still with some Marian doctrines and praying of the Rosary. I’m slowly getting the idea of apostolic succession and the need of a priest but it leaves me with some questions about how I will think about what communion has been for me in the Lutheran church…the journey continues.

///Converts say “look how ancient the Church is” and they join it, but they think and experience everything in terms of Vatican II. Everything before that is unknown, and still largely foreign to them.////

New convert syndrome.

Yep Nathan that’s me. I admitt it. :smiley: I still get all exited when I see bishops in full attire walking around with crosiers. Its so exotic :smiley:
On th other hand I am a fan of the Latin mass. I came into the Catholic church attending Novus Odro Latin Masses. I think I’m at the stage when I’m more interested in the older stuff than the newer stuff.

I still try to prove everything by Scripture… It is a tough habit to break!

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