The explosion of Catholics and non-Catholics returning to the Catholic Church is an amazing and awesome thing. The sudden increase in desire of so many to learn the faith has brought with it a seemingly endless stream of books, tapes, and videos. And even with the huge quantity of materials available, it seems people still want more.
But there are two things that I have noticed that have me a bit concerned. The first is an overemphasis on the Bible (notice how just reading that causes you to raise an eyebrow) and the second are teachers in the arena gaining such a devoted following that their take on all matters Catholic seem to become to many “official” and definitive Catholic teaching.
First I want you all to breath, … in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Take in the good, … and breathe out the bad. Try to relax. Good, now let me explain.
Having a love for the Bible and actually reading from it is something all Catholics should do EVERY day. We recently had Jeff Cavins teach his “The Great Adventure Bible Study” at my parish. This program is a really great program, not to mention the he is a really great teacher. Catholics have seemed to really begin to get involved in reading and studying the Bible on their own and in groups.
So what’s my concern? Well I’m glad you asked. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about growing up in a home where they never read the Bible. It sat (please choose one): [on a bookshelf, on a coffee table]. This is tragic! But with the new excitement over studying and learning about the Bible, is the pendulum about the swing too far the other way? While the Bible was not being read in these homes, the Baltimore (or equivalent) was. Ask a kid today why God made them and then try not to laugh/cry when they answer. Are we Catholics today raising a generation that will talk to the next about the growing up in a home where the Catechism, one of the great treasures of the faith, collected dust on the bookshelf?
To approach the scriptures with a good understanding of Catholic Theology and Tradition is soooo important. But how much time do Catholics who would be considered “on-fire” (the Lord knows how I hate that term) read their Bible verses their Catechism?
Balance between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and Magisterial teaching must be sought after; to emphasize any of the three is to distort Catholic teaching on the whole.
Are we still doing ok? My wife says I really need to light up in my posts. So honey, this is for you:
My wife was preparing pancakes for two of our daughters Anne and Mary. The girls began to argue over who would get the first pancake. My wife saw an opportunity for a moral lesson. If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, "Let my sister have the first pancake, I can wait." Anne turned to her younger sister and said, "Mary, you be Jesus!" Ok, not that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to business.I am very happy to hear that Jeff Cavins has put together a program called “Catholicism 101”, and that my parish will be offering it this coming Fall. I look forward to possibly even attending the class. He also has put together another course on the Book of Revelation. Now this one brings me to my second concern.
The second concern I have is the amount of influence some lay teachers are gaining. Catholic Theology, in certain areas and on certain topics, allows for different schools of thought. For example there are two MAJOR Catholic theories on man's free will, the Thomist view and the Molinist view. Both are acceptable views for a Catholic to hold, but they are DIFFERENT. We can also look at the Book of Revelation through systems which are different, yet acceptable; like historicism, semi-preterism, full-preterism, and futurism. Will Mr. Cavin’s course cover them all, some, one view, or will he come at it at a different angle? I am very excited and curious to see.
Apart from a few points of disagreement, let me say I really like the ideas taught by people like Jeff Cavins, Scott Hahn, etc. But are we setting ourselves up for trouble? Will people be swept away by ideas and teachings that, while borderline heretical or worse, “tickle their ears”?
Is it only a matter of time before the amount of money to be made in this area draws “teachers” with not such good and true motives? Will the marketplace dictate theology based on the profitability of the message like it has in many areas of Protestantism? We have been very blessed to have the teachers and material we have, but I don’t think it wise to assume that this will always be the case.
I am not calling for the gates to be closed and to disallow lay authors and teachers from instructing the masses. What I am calling for is for the watchmen to take up their posts in the watchtowers, and for the masses to prepare to defend themselves and what the Church teaches against an enemy who could attack from any direction and at any time.
Sorry honey, got a little heavy there.
So a minister, a priest, a rabbi and a duck walk into a bar ………