National Catholic Register

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Apologist Hahn Defends Church’s Understanding of Trinity

BY Jim Cosgrove

October 4-10, 1998 Issue | Posted 10/4/98 at 1:00 PM

 

WESTCHESTER, N.Y.—The Church's teaching on the Holy Trinity reveals that God in his very nature is a family of relationships which is the pattern for all human families, said Scott Hahn, a Catholic apologist and Scripture professor, at a recent lecture in New York.

Far from being simply a dogma to memorize, believe, and never quite understand, he said, the mystery of the Holy Trinity opens up for believers the possibility of a deep personal relationship with God, and determines how Christians should look at the Church and the world.

“This is the mystery of all mysteries, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Hahn stated. “What we mean by mystery is not something irrational. We mean something not knowable by our unaided reason. Mysteries of the Christian faith must be revealed, but they never go against reason. They go beyond reason. They are like the light that illumines our eyes to see more clearly and further than we ever could before.”

Hahn, a professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, spoke Sept. 25 at the Thornwood Conference Center in Westchester, run by the Legionaries of Christ. A onetime Presbyterian minister who attacked the Church, he converted to Catholicism in 1986 and has become a renowned lecturer and author.

His latest book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, explores the fatherhood of God and the reliability of revelation found in sacred Scripture and the sacred tradition of the Church.

The truths contained in the Holy Trinity have come under attack in recent years by theologians who wish to do away with the fatherhood of God, he said. Those who use the titles Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, rather than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are not only denying the personal relationships within the Trinity, they are obscuring the true nature of God and reducing him to his actions in history.

Before God ever created, he was Father; before God died on the Cross for sinners, he was Son, and before God sent his grace into the hearts of men, he was Holy Spirit, Hahn stressed.

“God's essential identity is the three persons of the Trinity; we cannot reduce him to his actions. Whatever God does flows from who he is,” he said. He quoted from article 236 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works.”

The names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “are more than metaphorical. They are a metaphysical insight into who he is,” added Hahn. (Brian Caulfield)