“Catholicism” Part One: I give it four and a half stars. But there’s a couple of problems.

by Doug Lawrence

Part one of Catholicism, by Father Robert Barron, which aired tonight on PBS station WTTW, in Chicago, was beautiful, awe inspiring, thought provoking, and inspirational.

Father Barron is a gracious host and guide. He knows his scripture, he knows his Catholic theology, and he obviously knows God. (Thanks be to God, for that!)

But there’s a couple of  problems with Father Barron’s approach: He’s appears to be a modernist, who believes in relatively late dating of the Gospels (he believes that Mark, not Matthew was the first Gospel to be written) and he doesn’t seem to believe in Satan, the devil!

While Father Barron did a great job of developing the idea of spiritual combat … in this case, the meek, non-violent, God-man, Jesus Christ, set against Pagan Rome’s Caesar Augustus and all his legions … allied with the nameless, faceless, unidentified forces of evil. But he totally forgot (or decided not) to mention the “Prince of this World” … Satan, the devil … who was the Christ-acknowledged head of all those pagan (and Jewish) minions.

Father Barron also neglected to mention that one of the most essential and significant results of Jesus’ saving death on the cross was to destroy Satan’s power over mankind, and bring an end to Satan’s (legal but totally illicit) dominion, over all the earth.

Who knows … maybe he’ll take up those subjects in the next installment. Tune in next week for the exciting and inspiring 2nd installment of Catholicism. It’s definitely worth watching.

If you missed part one, it will air once again this coming Sunday, at 4 pm, on WTTW (channel 11.1). Check your local listing for days and times in other areas.

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1 Comment

  1. It is a good article and Fr Barron is always worth listening too with some spectacular innovations and concepts that come bubbling up from his observations.

    My only brief concern is in the word of caution about the lack of Satan. I think he may well delve into that pit briefly perhaps later on but his own observations are more wide than just theological. Hence he is making the series for Catholics and others to show an artistic merit, historical understanding and cultural background to the Church.

    Unlike Luther he cannot reinforce Satan as being behind every corner and under every stone ready to pounce. His inspiration or much of it was from the series Civilization and the obvious desire therefore to show specifically the Catholic Church in its own story.
    It is not viewed from the angle of an exorcist or even evangelist but essentially from a cultural historian that nevertheless remains a priest in the church.

    His understanding of Marks Gospel and the first place to start is partly based on the notion of an historical narrative rather than a moral one as with Matthew. Biblical scholars put Matthew first because it deals with whom Christ was/is whereas Mark places the Jesus into historical lifestyle etc. He may well be trying to encourage lapsed or lapsing or uncertain Catholics back to thinking about the faith and its historical personage.

    I think Fr Barron is always good to watch and listen too although the author is write not to accept it without some critique because like any history it will be advanced from a certain angle; that does not invalidate it of course but neither does it make correct in all opinions.


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