One of my favorite contemporary Catholic thinkers is Fr. Robert Barron, who holds the Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He is one of the foremost Catholic evangelists and is using podcasts and YouTube videos to bring the Catholic faith to our increasingly non-religious citizens.
I admire his online video commentaries, which draw thousands of viewers worldwide and are among the most popular of any evangelist on YouTube. These frequent, high-quality productions include brief and lively theological reviews of contemporary culture, including movies such as No Country for Old Men, Apocalypto, and The Departed, a three-part critical review of Christopher Hitchen's book God is Not Great, The Discovery Channel's The Jesus Tomb, the HBO series "The Sopranos", "Rome" and more.
I ran across his two-part series on contemporary heresies as they are normally unknowingly expounded by the commentators on his videos. The two videos that follow contain his explanation of these "heresies" and how he responds to them. They are important to anyone interested in evangelizing our current culture, since we need to know the presumptions that make it difficult or impossible for people to hear the Christian message. Each video is 8.5 minutes long. The first one deals with these two cultural presumptions:
Scientism: the "real" is only that which can be studied by analytical, empirical methods. Thus, any claims by philosophy or religion can't - shouldn't - be taken seriously.
Ecclesial Angelism: that the Church, including all its individual members, must be perfect, without sin. Since they are not, any claims made by a Christian cannot possibly be taken seriously. And, in case there aren't enough real acts of violence done by the Christians in the name of God, manufactured ones can be easily enough made in HD with Dolby Digital sound and beautiful non-Christian, rational heroines (see Sherry's post on Agora).
The second video addresses the following misunderstandings.
Biblical Fundamentalism: People assume that the bible is unambiguously the word of God - and that includes more than just fundamentalist Christians! Barron discovers that people presume he has a unique, individual interpretation of scripture because he presents the Catholic understanding of biblical interpretation and recognizes that there are different genres within the book we call the bible. While the fundamentalist interpretation of scripture is everywhere on YouTube (and the internet), the Catholic interpretation is almost invisible.
Marcionism: Marcion claimed the God of the Old Testament was a false God, and Christianity and the New Testament reveals the true God. Marcionism is everywhere on YouTube, in which the God of the Old Testament is presented by the Old Testament itself as vicious, bloodthirsty and capricious.
I hope you enjoy these. Let me know what you think about Fr. Barron's responses. Have you encountered these contemporary (and in one case, ancient) heresies in people you speak with about God, or about your Catholic faith?
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