How Scott Hahn Changed the Church

How Scott Hahn Changed the Church

[lead dropcap="yes"]We’ve been doing some major tidying up around our house, which led me to tackling the bookshelves in my office. And that led me to pulling down some of my very old sets of Scott Hahn audiotapes. These date back to the 1980s and include his series on Salvation History as well as a set on the Lamb’s Supper and on the Eucharist.[/lead]

I still remember my 11-hour drives in the early 1990s back and forth to and from school between home and Steubenville, Ohio, listening to these tapes for hour upon hour. Or before that during my daily commute to work or while I was doing chores at home.1 Then eventually I was able to take some classes with Scott as part of my theology major and to interact with him as a student to teacher.

It was Scott who was a major part of my decision to go to Franciscan University to study theology in the first place. I’d been dithering about going back to school, where to go, and what to study. Then I attended a one-day conference at St. Marie’s parish in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Scott was speaking along with his wife, Kimberly, and Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard. (What a lineup!) In the vendor area, Franciscan University had wisely set up a booth and so, inspired by what I’d heard, I picked up an application and the rest is history.

I gather that some Catholic theologians look down upon “popular” theologians like Scott. But when you think about it for a moment, you realize what an impact this former anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister has had upon the Catholic Church. Hahn started his Catholic theology-by-tape-and-speech ministry back in the 1980s, long before the internet and social media made it possible for this stuff to be distributed easily. There was no YouTube, no Google, no web sites. Catholic radio was virtually non-existent. EWTN was barely even a national network. Apart from Sunday homilies, most Catholics never really heard their own faith broken apart and explained in a logical, consistent, and Biblical manner.

That’s where Scott came in. With his approachable style, Hahn was able to take these theological concepts like the Real Presence or the importance of Mary or even the very idea of salvation history and make them accessible to a mass audience. And because he was willing to travel anywhere to talk about these topics, the numbers of Catholics reached was astounding.

Today, you can hardly find a Catholic who takes his faith seriously who doesn’t at least know about Scott Hahn and frequently they’ll report that his books and tapes and videos were responsible for a renewal of their faith or a deepening of their relationship with Christ. How many vocations to the priesthood were sparked in young men who first listened to a Scott Hahn tape? How many parents have passed on lessons about Jesus and Mary and the Church that they first gleaned from his books or videos?

Another personal anecdote is warranted here. About the year 2000, I was living in a parish in Salem, Mass., and my pastor, Fr. Murphy, wanted to have Scott Hahn come for a conference at our church. Since I was an alum of Steubenville, I was to be the primary organizer. And who attended that event, but a young woman who had just moved to town as a new graduate student at Boston College named Melanie Scott. And that young woman had a re-awakening of her faith inspired by the conference, which eventually led her to start attending a Bible study led by a young man named Domenico Bettinelli. And here we are a couple of decades later, a family of seven serving the Lord as best we can. I’m sure there are many other people who can have similar stories.

Over the past three decades, Scott Hahn has traveled the globe to teach and preach Jesus Christ in a forthright, accessible, fun, and engaging manner. The Lord knows where we would be today without him and others like him, including Bishop Robert Barron and of course Scott’s own inspiration, Pope St. John Paul II.

So apropos of nothing except a little walk down memory lane prompted by some dusty old tape, thank you Scott Hahn for your faithfulness and teaching. Well done, good and faithful servant.

  1. I suppose today they might be podcasts.

Image Credit

  • Hahn-Speaking: | Copyright by owner. Used with permission.