Steve Ray — We’re Out to Save

Steve Ray, Producer or “Footprints of God: The Story of Salvation from Abraham to Augustine,” speaks about “We’re Out to Save” at the 2012 Defending the Faith Conference here on campus in Steubenville, Ohio.

Watch the full talk here: Spreading the Gospel Back Then and All Over Again.

Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, author of “Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope,” speaks on the message of the apparitions at Fatima and the continued significance of that message a century later. His talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville was part of the Distinguished Speakers Series.

For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God’s Word

Though rarely stated in these terms, the Christian vision of the Bible must be determined by Christ’s vision of the Bible.

Christian tradition has always seen a close relationship between the pages of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Both are designated the Word of God because both participate in the mystery of God revealing himself and his will in human form.  Scripture is the Word inspired; Christ is the Word incarnate. In the former, the divine Word is expressed in human language; in the latter, the divine Word is enfleshed in human nature. The two mysteries are interpenetrating and mutually illuminating.

The implications of this analogy may be drawn out in different ways. Most obviously, the doctrine of inspiration is akin to the doctrine of the incarnation because it entails a historical manifestation of the Word in a divine-and-human form. Further contemplation reveals that the inerrancy of Scripture is a parallel reflection of the sinlessness of Christ, for both are immune to the privations of truth and love which we call error. So too, on a hermeneutical level, the inspired Word must be read in a way that takes full account of its interconnectedness with the incarnate Word.  This is to say that biblical exegesis must investigate the historical meaning of Scripture as well as its theological meaning, the two being properties of its human and divine dimensions respectively.


Temple Sign and Sacrament: Towards a New Perspective on the Gospel of John

In this article, Dr. Hahn explores how the Gospel of John envisions Christ fulfillment of the Jerusalem Temple and its festivals through the sacraments celebrated by the power of the Spirit, especially the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.

The significance of the Jerusalem Temple in John’s Gospel has been the subject of a large number of monographs in the last decade.  As a result of this work, scholars now generally accept not only that the Temple is a central theme in the Fourth Gospel, but that John is advancing what might be characterized as a “Temple christology”—that is, John wishes to show how the Temple and its liturgy find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, especially in his death and resurrection.

However, if our interpretation of John stops with that scholarly consensus—that John portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the Temple—we are left with an apparently disconcerting situation; for, since Christ is now ascended, our Temple must be gone. And if this is true, the Church’s situation would be not unlike that of Judaism after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple.  But John’s Temple Christology is not conceived so narrowly as to limit it to Christ’s immediate person and earthly ministry. Rather, the evangelist insists that Jesus’ ministry continues in and through the intermediaries of the Spirit and the apostles.


Cultic Kingdoms in Conflict: Liturgy and Empire in the Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel sheds a surprisingly contemporary light on political theology and Church-state issues.

Interest in political theology and the relationship between Church and state, and between religious faith and secular society have grown in recent years—in part in response to the challenge posed by militant expressions of Islam, the ongoing suffering of believers under atheist communist regimes, and the increasingly aggressive secularism of nations of the West. The theological issues being raised are as significant: What is the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the regimes of this world?  How are believers to live in times and places when the expression of their faith is outlawed, discriminated against or discouraged?  How should believers respond when the state commands the unconscionable?


The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life: Romans 7 in the Early Works of Augustine and in Rufinus’s Translation of Origen’s Commentary

Origen’s role in the Pelagian controversy that followed the Pauline renaissance of the late fourth century is given a sharp evaluation in terms of Augustine.

 The late fourth century witnessed a kind of Pauline renaissance in which Augustine and Rufinus participated. Around 400, the commentaries on Paul of six notable men became available: Origen’s (through Rufinus), Jerome’s, Pelagius’s, the Ambrosiaster’s, Marius Victorinus’s, and Augustine’s. Origen enjoyed some of his greatest success after his death: he directly influenced both Jerome’s and Pelagius’s work on Paul. Thus Origen’s presence is felt in the writings of half of the men who found this new interest in Paul at the turn of the fifth century. Caroline Hammond Bammel convincingly argues that even Augustine had read Orien’s Commentary on Romans, but not before 407 when Melania the Elder, a friend of Rufinus, visited Augustine at Hippo.


Oboedientia and Oboedire in the Rule of St. Benedict: A Study of Their Theological and Monastic Meanings

Since the study of particular words or phrases in the Rule of St. Benedict is common for scholars, a word or phrase is often examined instead of the entire Rule itself. The terms oboedientia and oboedire will be discussed in light of the whole Rule of St. Benedict.

 The study of particular words or phrases in the Rule of St. Benedict is a common enough exercise that scholars of the Rule have undertaken. For the most part, however, a word or phrase is examined in a particular sentence or paragraph of the Rule rather than in the Rule as a whole. This has been the case with the words oboedientia and oboedire. With good reason, scholars have focused on Benedict’s treatment of obedience in RB 5, De oboedientia, and RB 68, Si fratri impossibilia iniungantur. Of the thirty-four times in which oboedientia and oboedire appear in the Rule, however, only nine of these are in RB 5 and RB 68. What, then, of the remaining twenty-five instances? Does Benedict’s use of these words in the other instance differ from that in RB 5 and RB 68? Do these other instances add anything to the understanding of obedience drawn from RB 5 and RB 68?


A Reconsideration of the Development of Basil’s Trinitarian Theology: The Dating of Ep. 9 and Contra Eunomium

Evidence indicates a date early in the 360’s for both ep. 9 and Contra Eunomium, the Trinitarian works of Basil of Caesarea.

It is commonly acknowledged that Basil of Caesarea’s thought about the Trinity changed at some point in the 360s. Naturally, the chronological ordering of Basil’s early theological works will reveal the nature of the change in his thought and account for the subsequent evaluation of it. Basil’s ep. 9 and Contra Eunomium are especially important here because they preserve a great deal of what Basil has to say about the Trinity. But according to the way in which most date these works, the change in his thought is not a gradual progression culminating in Nicene orthodoxy but Basil’s purposeful misrepresentation of his own position so as to hide his true thoughts in the interest of imperial and ecclesiastical politics.


Seeking St. Francis in Italy: A Scholar’s Journey

A Franciscan University theologian reflects on his studies in the homeland of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis of Assisi is a fascinating person to study, especially for those who aspire, as I do, to be “Franciscans”—followers of Jesus Christ who model themselves on St. Francis. But this past summer I learned that this 13th-century saint holds a curious attraction even for those who don’t see him primarily as a witness to faith and example of holiness.

In July, I joined a group of 15 college and university professors for a six-week seminar in Italy, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on “St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century.”

Read more at Franciscan Way.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Catholic Faith

In what ways are the Dead Sea Scrolls significant to the Catholic faith?

In the winter of 1946, three Arab shepherds were tending their flocks along the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. One was amusing himself by throwing rocks into the caves that dotted the limestone bluffs above the shoreline. He was startled, however, when a rock produced the sound of shattering pottery. Climbing the cliffs a few days later to investigate, the shepherd entered the cave to find broken pottery and intact clay jars. One jar contained three leather scrolls, including a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah in Hebrew from the second century BC—about a thousand years older than any other Hebrew copy of a biblical book. This was the beginning of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, perhaps the most important archeological find of the 20th century.

Read more at Franciscan Way.

Seeking God in the Silence

Thoughts inspired by a visit to a Cistercian Abbey.

One of the awful torments of modern life—indeed, it is one from whose aggressions no one is entirely safe—is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence whose absence we seem increasingly not to notice.

Where does one go to escape the din? And if such places exist, how long can you stay? I found out last January when, invited by a Cistercian Abbey in Utah to give a retreat, I spent an entire week in the midst of silence. It was glorious.

Read more at Franciscan Way.

On First Going to Guadalupe

A visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe prompts this theologian to ask, “Where are all the gringos?”

Apart from the apparition itself, which is as supernatural a sight as anything to be seen on planet Earth, perhaps the most striking feature about the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the fact that there appear to be only Hispanics and Latinos who actually go there. Vast numbers, to be sure, who present the most edifying spectacle of faith, particularly in the poverty and simplicity of its expression, shorn of every material blessing save that of the certainty of the hope that they are embraced by the arms of the Mother of God.

But where are all the gringos?

My wife and I, who recently returned from Mexico following an intense five-day pilgrimage to Guadalupe, have been asking ourselves that very question.

Read more at Franciscan Way.

Dr. John Bergsma — “Preacher Jailed for Speaking Out on Marriage”: The Nativity of St. John the Baptist


This Sunday we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, a great saint and biblical character who led a very difficult life and ministry.

In hindsight, the conflict that led to his demise and death has a strangely modern ring to it: he was jailed by Herod Antipas for speaking out on marriage (Mark 6:17-18).

Body of Christ or Condemnable Idolatry? The Readings for Corpus Christi

This is what I used to hold and teach about the Catholic Eucharist:

“The mass teaches … that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and a condemnable idolatry.” (from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 80)

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