Today, I am still processing much of Dr. Scott Hahn's talk entitled, "Faith, Friendship and the New Evangelization" presented by Holy Cross Chapel in Houston last night. There is so much to unpack from his two hours onstage that it is difficult to put my finger on what it was that I enjoyed so much about the experience. It wasn't just that Dr. Hahn is a dynamic speaker, extremely intelligent in matters of biblical theology or that I learned so much about the Eucharist in the New Testament; it was the way he made me think about those topics that touched me.
I enjoyed the talk first of all because I found Dr. Hahn deeply inspiring. Rather than being uplifted in an almost giddy way, it was close to the opposite. I walked away serious and contemplative asking how can I learn more about my faith and where will it take me on my faith journey. Scott Hahn's approach with theological and scriptural studies is intellectually serious which I previously found a bit intimidating; however, listening to him made learning more seem do-able.
God has given him great gifts to understand the scripture as a true scholar and the ability to share it with others in a personal way. Having read Rome Sweet Home, the incredible story of Scott Hahn's conversion to Catholicism from protestant ministry, it appears God multiplied these blessings during his own struggles on his faith journey.
Last night, Scott Hahn spoke of friendship being at the root of the New Evangelization. Friendship is the most natural way to communicate the faith because friendship is the context in which we share our life with others. He modeled evangelizing through relationships for us in his talk by inviting the audience to be friends through the warmth of his personality and humor. (I was surprised to find him seemingly naturally funny. A real bonus to the evening.)
One of my favorite points was his talking directly about the method he employed to evangelize as a protestant and how it expanded as he became a Catholic. He called it the 4 Spiritual Laws for Evangelization. Summarized briefly (in my words):
1. God Loves You. 2. You Have Sinned. 3. Christ died for your sins to save you. It is a great gift. 4. What are you going to do with that amazing gift? Do you believe in Jesus Christ and do you accept his gift?
Dr. Hahn went further to say what I've always felt but couldn't put into words. We, as Catholic Christians, want and need more than a one time evangelical event. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the starting point, not the end point. Having heard that God loves me and believing in His gift of sacrifice is merely the first step. Next we must be catechized, learn more about the faith and what it means to be a disciple in our life. We should grow in our love for Christ before accepting Christ's love in the Sacraments as members of the Church. Being a Christian is a journey, not a one time event.
The next chunk of the evening was spent discussing how we should evangelize others through the Eucharist. It sounded a bit strange to me at first until he went on to talk in depth about understanding the foundation of the Holy Communion in the New Testament. What a discussion! Seriously! I wish I could relate it to you, but my notes are insufficient and I'm not sure I could fully explain it yet anyway. But, I did buy a copy of Scott Hahn's new book, "Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church" (which he signed!) to expand on the topic. If you are interested in the answer to the questions, "Where do you find the Sacrifice of the Mass in the New Testament?" you need to pick up this book and read it.
Last night listening to Scott Hahn lit a fire in me to learn more about biblical theology. After owning several of his books, but only reading one, Rome Sweet Home, I'm now ready to embrace them and explore the foundation of the Church and our faith more from a biblical perspective. And then, I hopefully will be able to better share my faith with others through friendship.
Are you familiar with Scott Hahn's books or heard him speak? How did it affect your faith journey?