Dangerous theology under the guise of conservatism…
Scott Hahn on the John-Henry Westen Show:
A Critical Assessment
Dr. Scott Hahn is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Vatican II religion in 1986 under the direction of Fr. Fabian Bruskewitz. To call him a celebrity in conservative Novus Ordo Land would be an understatement. He is a veritable demigod at the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he teaches, and beyond. A great number of people have converted from Protestantism to the Novus Ordo religion due to Hahn’s preaching, and many such converts have given themselves the moniker “Hahn-verts.”
This past Apr. 21, Hahn appeared on an episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, hosted by Life Site‘s eponymous editor. The reason for the Steubenville professor’s appearance was to promote his new book, Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body. Among other things, the discussion touched on whether the (real or alleged) COVID-19 pandemic is a divine punishment — something many Novus Ordo prelates, including the Jesuit squatter in Vatican City, have denied:
Not surprisingly, much of what Hahn says in this interview is quite orthodox, edifying, right, and true. There are, however, a few things we must take issue with, some of which we will discuss below. Before we get to those items, however, we want to give readers who may not be too familiar with Hahn a little bit of background on this “prodigy” of Novus Ordo theology.
Made by and for the New Religion
Simply put, Hahn is extremely dangerous. This is true for several reasons: Not only is he a highly gifted rhetorician with a wealth of knowledge and great power of persuasion, he is also very zealous, prolific, and comes across as quite sincere. As already noted, much of what he says is good and true; but this only serves to make the heresies and other errors contained in some of his ideas all the more palatable and therefore dangerous to the unsuspecting masses: “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9).
Despite all his ostensible Catholic zeal, Scott Hahn, we would do well to remember, is first and foremost a member of the Novus Ordo religion and an apologist for Vatican II theology. It may not be his fault, but the fact remains that he was never educated in traditional (=real) Catholic theology.
Even if his own work were perfectly orthodox, it would nevertheless be true that it leads souls into the Modernist sect with all its heresies, errors, blasphemies, and invalid sacraments. And no wonder, for Hahn is a public member and promoter of the infamous prelature of Opus Dei, a secretive and cultish elite Novus Ordo group of clerics and laity who specialize in converting Protestants and Evangelicals to the Novus Ordo Sect. In fact, Opus Dei played a major role in his own conversion.
As a theology professor teaching at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Hahn is naturally a proponent of Novus Ordo ecumenism. He also wholeheartedly endorses the so-called interdenominational “charismatic movement” and its pseudo-sacraments of “baptism in the spirit”, but this is not our topic now.
While for most conservatives in the New Church, Hahn is the epitome of the orthodox post-Vatican II “Catholic”, he has put forward ideas that range from problematic all the way to heretical, even by Novus Ordo standards. The man loves novelties, particularly his own, and seems oblivious to the danger of heresy. Pope St. Pius X warned the Church that love of novelty is the characteristic of the Modernist, and is theology’s undoing: “Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty!” (Encyclical Pascendi, n. 49).
Let’s examine some of them.
Hahn’s Feminist Blasphemies
In May of 2002, Hahn published the book First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity. In it he argues that the Holy Trinity is a family. This egregiously false idea was first inchoately introduced by “Pope” and now “Saint” John Paul II in a sermon given on Jan. 28, 1979, in Mexico, in which the false pope stated: “It has been said, in a beautiful and profound way, that our God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love” (source).
Being a man of “creative” novelty, Hahn goes beyond affirming that there are Fatherhood, Sonship, and Love in God. Clearly missing from that “family” image is Motherhood, and Hahn knows just which Divine Person to enlist for the task: why, the Holy Ghost of course! The disgusting blasphemous and sacrilegious implications such an idea has for the overshadowing of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation to effect the Incarnation (see Lk 1:35), need not be spelled out or dwelled upon.
In conjunction with the release of his book First Comes Love, Hahn was also publishing his blasphemous thesis in the popular Novus Ordo magazine Envoy (issue 5.6, article “Family Ties”), edited by Patrick Madrid, and thus disseminated to an even wider and clearly non-academic audience.
The appalling implications and consequences of Hahn’s novel thesis did not escape the conservative Novus Ordos at the New Oxford Review, however, which published a series of critiques of Hahn at the time, including this one:
…Dr. Hahn seems to want to downplay Jesus so as to make more room for the Spirit: “Christians can place too much emphasis on Christ [!] — if we also neglect the stated purpose of His coming. He came to earth in order to give us the Spirit.” But Dr. Hahn has this somewhat backwards. …Yes, Christ gave us the Spirit, but the primary purpose of Christ’s coming was not to give us the Spirit, but rather to call for repentance and offer salvation. The greatest accomplishment of Christ was not to give us the Spirit; rather, the greatest accomplishment of the Spirit was to give us Christ the Savior.
Moreover, the burden of Dr. Hahn’s article is to argue, in his own voice or by approvingly quoting others, that we must see the Holy Spirit as “mother,” “motherly,” “maternal,” and “the uncreated principle of maternity,” as well as “feminine” and “bridal.” Likewise, an “attribute” of the Holy Spirit is “womanhood.”
Dr. Hahn finds great significance in the fact that the Hebrew word for “spirit,” ruah, is a feminine noun, and that an Old Testament term for the Spirit, shekinah, is also a feminine noun. We would add that the German word for girl, das Mädchen, is a neuter noun, not a feminine noun — which proves what? Also, the Greek word for spirit, pneuma, is a neuter noun and the Latin word for spirit, spiritus, is a masculine noun — proving what?
Feminist theologians and their Queer cheerleaders have been campaigning for a feminine Holy Spirit for decades. How odd — how depressing, actually — to see Dr. Hahn jump on the bandwagon.
(“Burn, Baby, Burn!”, New Oxford Review, Sep. 2002; italics added.)
A Novus Ordo female theologian who had been one of Hahn’s classmates at the Jesuit Marquette University, wrote a substantial rebuttal of Hahn’s blasphemous ideas. In it she observes:
It is extremely important to notice that Scott is strangely silent about the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation of Jesus, a role that is arguably the most significant that the Holy Spirit plays within the economy of the New Covenant. The Incarnation of the Second Person in the womb of Mary is accomplished without a human father. Instead Mary is told “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you; hence the holy offspring to be born shall be called the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit causes Mary to become a mother. Jesus’ mother is Mary, not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit stands on the side of God the Father to Mary. Mary and the Spirit are nuptial partners in the Incarnation. She receives what is different from herself. This miraculous intervention of God into the world is the foundational pattern of redemption. Indeed, what we have here is a recreation of the Beginning. By the Spirit stirring above the waters, creation receives its being. Mary’s fiat mihi [“be it done to me” — Lk 1:38] is a creative authoritative utterance that parallels and finally is the completion of the primordial “let it be done” of God’s creative word in Genesis 1. In Mary, God at last receives creation’s answer. The whole sacramental economy is based upon this dynamic. In Mary’s fiat she not only becomes the Mother of God, but she becomes the Bride of the Holy Spirit. There is certainly not a shred of evidence in the biblical account of the Incarnation that the Holy Spirit has a maternal role. Motherhood is all on the side of Mary….
(Monica Migliorino Miller, “The Gender of the Holy Trinity”, New Oxford Review, May 2003; italics added.)
These critiques, all made from a Novus Ordo (not sedevacantist) perspective, demonstrate that Hahn is controversial even among the conservative members of his own religion.
Subsequent to the public outrage over his theses, Hahn made the chapter “The Family Spirit” from his book available online. We do not recommend that anyone read it, as it is dangerous, but just for the sake of documentation, we are linking it here (please note: this is from a second edition of his book, and the page numbers don’t line up with the original 2002 edition).
Hahn is considered a master biblical scholar, and yet somehow the most obvious biblical evidence appears to have escaped him:
But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. …But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you.
Hahn’s wife, Kimberly, also gets a mention in his First Comes Love book. On p. 130 of the 2002 edition, the author refers to the mother of his six children as “the Holy Spirit of our home”! So while in Scott’s Hahniverse the Holy Ghost is the Mother in the “Divine Family”, the mother of his children becomes the Holy Ghost of his human family. One wonders which of Hahn’s five sons is his “only-begotten” (Jn 1:14,18; 3:16) or when he discovers “God the Daughter” in the Most Holy Trinity.
These are serious matters, as we are talking about the very nature of the Triune God Himself (yes, Himself). According to Catholic dogma, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son — unlike in a human family, where the son (or daughter) takes his origin in the cooperation of father and mother, who both pre-exist him.
In the Athanasian Creed the Church proclaims: “The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding” (Denz. 39); and likewise in the Creed of Pope St. Leo IX: “That this holy and individual Trinity is not three Gods, but in three persons and in one nature or essence [is] one God omnipotent, external, invisible and incommutable, so I believe and confess, so that I may truly proclaim that the Father is not begotten, the Son is the only begotten one, and the Holy Spirit is neither begotten nor unbegotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son” (Apostolic Letter Congratulamur Vehementer; Denz. 347).
In other words, Hahn’s “Trinity as Family” is all messed up, and in a most serious way. The poppycock Hahn is putting forward is heresy. No wonder he is so comfortable in the Vatican II Church!
In his book, Hahn cleverly prefaces his heretical blasphemy with the words: “I must emphasize … that our explorations must be cautious, and any observations or opinions tentative. Here especially, as in all things, we must submit our findings to the Church for judgment. Indeed, if the Magisterium should find any of them to be unsatisfactory, I will be the first to renounce them, and rip the [pertinent] pages out of the book and gratefully consign them to the flames — and then invite you to do the same” (2002 ed., pp. 128-129).
Almost 20 years later, the heretical-blasphemous pages have remained in the book and Hahn has not renounced his “tentative” theological garbage, to our knowledge. Here too we see the typical Novus Ordo approach to the sacred: Instead of publishing his thesis, if sincerely held, in a peer-reviewed theological journal that most people would never get their hands on and where other academics would critique it, he includes it in a popular book that will be released and marketed across the entire nation (and presumably beyond), thus ensuring that his “observations” will enter into the minds of as many untrained laymen as possible. And this concerning a matter pertaining to the innermost workings of the MOST HOLY TRINITY!
This is how the Vatican II religion treats what is most sacred! It definitely lines up with how it treats what it claims is “Holy Communion.”
Aside from his “maternal Spirit” blasphemy, Hahn also likes to mess with the concept of original sin in the very same book, First Comes Love. Recognize-and-resist icon Christopher Ferrara — of whom we are not exactly fans here — summarized and criticized Hahn’s ideas well:
Hahn speculates that the serpent in the Garden was actually a dragon or other monster with which Adam should have engaged in mortal combat to protect himself and his bride, instead of eating the forbidden fruit to save his life.
Hahn thus suggests that the original sin was not disobedience to a divine command under temptation, but rather a refusal to sacrifice his life under a death threat: “Knowing the serpent’s power, Adam was unwilling to lay down his own life for the sake of his love of God, or to save the life of his beloved. That refusal to sacrifice was Adam’s original sin” [Hahn, First Comes Love, 2002 ed., p. 70; italics Ferrara’s]. But this sin was never mentioned by any pope, council or catechism in the history of the Church. What is more, Hahn’s theory necessarily requires that the devil was capable of killing Adam in his natural state of immortality and bringing death into the world without Adam having first sinned. When did the Church ever teach this?
…the Church has always taught, and Catholics have always believed, that Eve was first tempted by the serpent, who persuaded her to eat of the forbidden fruit, and that Adam then sinned by doing the same, thus bringing about the Fall of Man. “From the woman came the beginning of sin, and because of her we will all die.” Wisdom 2, 24. “But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted and fall away…” 1 Tim. 2:14.
(Christopher A. Ferrara, “The Sands of Celebrity”, The Remnant, Sep. 30, 2004; revised version.)
This suffices to show what a theological mess Scott Hahn’s mind produces, all under the guise of conservatism and zeal for the orthodox Catholic Faith.
By no means is the above meant to be an exhaustive overview or critique of Hahn’s errors. Rather, it is but to serve as a basic warning to people that Hahn is far from orthodox, something recognized not only by traditionalists.
Hahn on The John-Henry Westen Show
Let us now turn to Hahn’s appearance on The John-Henry Westen Show on Apr. 21, 2020. Westen published an article about it, and the complete episode can be watched here:
Clearly blown away by Hahn’s waterfall of words, Westen spends most of the interview nodding. Yet a few times it would have been necessary for him to interrupt Hahn and challenge him on the clearly unacceptable ideas he was propagating.
Here are three concrete examples.
(1) Hahn’s grave Irreverence with regard to the Beatific Vision
Allegedly explaining the beauty of life everlasting (beginning at the 7:40 min mark), Hahn says we were created “not just to have a staring contest with God to look at His Divine Essence for eternity but to enter into a kind of covenant communion, interpersonal love with God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit but with all of His sons and daughters who become our brothers and sisters”!
The Beatific Vision caricatured as a “staring contest with God”! One is taken aback by such blasphemous flippancy — once again with regard to the Godhead Himself! Contrast this grave impiety with how delicately St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote about the Beatific Vision, the state of perpetual bliss in which we behold and know the Divine Essence as It truly is:
The possession which gives to the soul its fulness of bliss is that of seeing a loving God face to face. St. Augustine says that were God to let his beautiful face be seen by the damned, hell with all its torments would become to them a paradise. Even in this world, when God gives a soul in prayer a taste of his sweet presence, and by a ray of light discovers to it his goodness and the love which he bears it, so great is the contentment that the soul feels itself dissolve and melt away in love; and yet, in this life, it is not possible for us to see God as he is; we behold him obscured as if through a thick veil. What, then, will it be, when God shall take away that veil from before us, and shall cause us to behold him face to face openly?
(St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Passion And The Death Of Jesus Christ [New York, NY: Benziger Brothers, 1887], p. 463)
Alas, Hahn’s flippant treatment of the sacred is characteristic of his rhetorical style. As a contributor to the New Oxford Review once observed:
Despite his propensity for creative theology, Hahn has not to date addressed his ideas to an audience of his peers with books or articles of a scholarly nature. All of his publications are written for a popular audience. Since he often presents material on covenantal and redemptive-historical theology, the consequent mix of abstruse subject matter and popular style sometimes makes for odd reading.
Other authors, even great theologians, have tried to convey the profundities of theology in a popularly accessible manner. Still, there can be something a bit comical about the way Hahn juxtaposes the pedestrian and the profound. In his works one encounters statements such as, “Much like Humpty Dumpty after his great fall, the human race cannot mend itself and restore unity through its own efforts alone” (FKP, p. 34), and, referring to the creation of Eve, “The stage was now set for the exciting drama that was about to unfold; except the director realized that something more was needed: a beautiful actress to play the female lead. Yahweh knew just what to do” (FKP, p. 60).
Another reflection of Hahn’s popular approach is his predilection for summarizing his themes with goofy puns in chapter and section headers. Even reviewers otherwise favorably disposed to him have complained about some of these groaners (a legacy of his time as an Evangelical, where this style of rhetoric is quite common). To give just a few examples from his book A Father Who Keeps His Promises, one finds section heads such as “Prime Rib” (referring to the creation of Eve), “Eve of Destruction” (Satan tempts Eve), “Flood, Sweat and Tears” (the Great Flood), “Deviled Ham” (Canaan’s sin), and “Abraham Makes the Cut” (the institution of circumcision).
(Edward O’Neill, “Scott Hahn’s Novelties”, New Oxford Review, June 2004; italics added.)
Hahn’s flippant style reduces the sacred to the “hip” and “cool”, treating the venerable discipline of Sacred Theology as little more than a Bible-themed juvenile comic strip.
Perhaps his primary motive in that regard is the maintaining of his own cool and creative “Hahn brand”, something that would really have no place in theology. It would dovetail quite well with the emphasis he likes to put on himself and his own family in his publications:
Anyone familiar with Hahn’s works knows that they are relentlessly autobiographical. Even setting aside Rome Sweet Home (his and his wife’s autobiography), the pages of his works are peppered with references to his family (“Boy meets girl. Adam meets Eve. Scott meets Kimberly. You know the story,” FCL, p. 7), as well as anecdotes about it. These sometimes reveal more about the domestic life of the Hahns than one might wish to know, particularly when the marital act or childbirth is involved. Their inclusion might be defended as a way of keeping the text from boring the reader, but it is clear from the content of the anecdotes that the concept of family is very important to Hahn.
(O’Neill, “Scott Hahn’s Novelties”; italics added.)
But we must return to Hahn’s interview with Westen.
(2) Hahn rejects Laicization of Clerics as a canonical Punishment
Beginning at the 37:31 min mark, the celebrity thinker gives his opinion on former “Cardinal” Theodore McCarrick being reduced to the lay state by Francis, thus: “Seriously? You want to take a cardinal-archbishop who was a predator of young men, and a promoter of other predators, who protected them, and laicize him? What does that say about your view of laypeople?!”
Here Hahn shows he has no understanding of the canonical punishment he criticizes. When a cleric is reduced to the lay state, he is punished insofar he loses the rights and privileges pertaining to the clerical state. Simply looking this up in a canon law book would have prevented Hahn’s gaffe:
Clerical privileges and rights are lost, and clerical obligations in general cease, with the reduction of a cleric to lay communion.
Definition–By the reduction to the lay state we understand the juridical privation of all rights and privileges which attach to the clerical state by law. Incidentally this carries with it the cessation of all clerical obligations saving celibacy. There can be no theological but only a canonical reduction to the lay state, or degradation. That is to say, the power of orders is never lost by the laicizing of a cleric….
Effects of reduction–A cleric who has been laicized loses all church offices, benefices, clerical rights and privileges, and is forbidden forever to wear the clerical garb…. [and] all ecclesiastical jurisdiction he may have had ceases automatically.
(Rev. Matthew Ramstein, A Manual of Canon Law [Hoboken, NJ: Terminal Printing & Publishing Co., 1948], pp. 184-185; italics given.)
Degradation, as laicization is also called, “is the severest of all vindictive penalties”, the same author notes (p. 692).
By attacking laicization the way he does, Hahn is condemning, or at least questioning, the Church’s traditional practice of penalizing clerics by returning them juridically to being the very laymen they once were. Although by virtue of sacred ordination — insofar as it was ever validly conferred in the New Church in the first place, one must add — a man who was once ordained a priest remains one “for ever” (Heb 7:17), as the character imprinted on his soul at ordination is indelible, by laicization the priest is no longer permitted to exercise the sacred functions proper to a priest. This obviously constitutes a severe punishment.
Even the Novus Ordo publication Catholic World Report has a better grasp of this issue than the celebrated Steubenvillain: “To be laicized … is not to be ‘punished with being a layperson.’ Rather, it is to be punished by no longer being allowed to function as a priest. Put another way, it is not that being a layperson is bad, but that being a priest is great” (Nicholas Senz, “No, the Church doesn’t think that being a layperson is a punishment”, Apr. 8, 2019).
Hahn adds that in his view, the proper punishment for Fr. McCarrick would have been excommunication. That indeed would have been a fitting punishment, but this is really not an either/or matter. Excommunication does not preclude laicization (or degradation) as an additional punishment, one vindictive in character, which excommunication is not. Excommunication is only a medicinal punishment, which means it has as its aim the reform of the offender and is lifted once he shows remorse for his wrongdoing. A vindictive penalty, on the other hand, seeks to redress the offense caused and make the delinquent expiate his crime. Laicization is just such a punishment.
(3) Hahn claims the Blessed Virgin Mary did not understand Calvary
Lastly, we must address what Hahn says about Our Lord’s Sacrifice on Mount Calvary:
You know, we tend to view Calvary in a single lens — that that is a sacrifice. But, as I point out in the book [Hope to Die], Calvary would not have been seen as a Sacrifice by anybody there on Good Friday, not even His most faithful disciples — it was a Roman execution. For it to be a sacrifice it had to take place in the Jerusalem temple on top of an altar.
(beginning at 41:32 min mark)
To be clear: Hahn is not at all denying that the Crucifixion of Our Lord was the perfect Sacrifice of the New Law. He’s merely arguing, in the interview and in his book, that this was not yet understood by anyone on Good Friday, “not even [by] His most faithful disciples.” But that’s where the problem lies: It may not have been understood by most of the disciples, but it was definitely understood by one of them: His holy Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Co-Redemptrix of the world.
This may not fit into Hahn’s creative theology, but that’s just too bad, for it is Catholic doctrine:
From the nature of His work the Redeemer ought to have associated His Mother with His work. For this reason We invoke her under the title of Coredemptrix. She gave us the Savior, she accompanied Him in the work of Redemption as far as the Cross itself, sharing with Him the sorrows of the agony and of the death in which Jesus consummated the Redemption of mankind.
(Pope Pius XI, Allocution to pilgrims, Nov. 30, 1933; excerpted in Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, eds., Papal Teachings: Our Lady [Boston, MA: Daughters of St. Paul, 1961], n. 326, p. 224; underlining added.)
It was she, the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always most intimately united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father for all the children of Adam, sin-stained by his unhappy fall, and her mother’s rights and mother’s love were included in the holocaust. Thus she who, according to the flesh, was the mother of our Head, through the added title of pain and glory became, according to the Spirit, the mother of all His members. She it was who through her powerful prayers obtained that the Spirit of our Divine Redeemer, already given on the Cross, should be bestowed, accompanied by miraculous gifts, on the newly founded Church at Pentecost; and finally bearing with courage and confidence the tremendous burden of her sorrows and desolation, she, truly the Queen of Martyrs, more than all the faithful “filled up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . . for His Body, which is the Church” [Col 1:24]; and she continues to have for the Mystical Body of Christ, born of the pierced Heart of the Saviour, the same motherly care and ardent love with which she cherished and fed the Infant Jesus in the crib.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 110; underlining added.)
Not only did the Blessed Mother understand that Christ was offering Himself in Sacrifice on Calvary, she herself participated in that Sacrifice in a subordinate and dependent way. Hahn is either clueless or deliberately teaching falsehood. Either way, he is not a safe guide for Catholics.
From all the foregoing, it is clear that Scott Hahn’s theology is disastrous and a grave threat to souls. His hip style of presentation, however, makes him seem harmless, and his riveting way of speaking renders his errors quite appealing to many. This makes him all the more dangerous. The fact that John-Henry Westen would have him on his show as an orthodox, conservative voice shows how far the diabolical disorientation unleashed upon souls by the Vatican II Sect has advanced.
One last thing: Upon reviewing the video interview with Westen and Hahn, we could not help but notice that the Steubenvillain continually made grimaces, for no apparent reason. While some grimacing is normal during an animated conversation or presentation, it seemed excessive and bizarre. We took some snapshots from the video and put them together. Does this look normal?
The many faces of Scott Hahn (Apr. 21, 2020)
Especially in light of everything written in this post, the question must be permitted.
What is wrong with Scott Hahn?
Image sources: youtube.com (screenshots)
Licenses: fair use