In May 2001, I was able to attend An Afternoon with Scott Hahn in Lakeland, Florida. Dr. Scott Hahn, formerly a Presbyterian minister, is a world known Catholic Apologist and Director of the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. In this series of articles I will share with you some reflections from that experience. Weīll focus on the heart of his talks later. For now Iīd like to share from a question and answer session he held at the end of the afternoon. Most questions were directed toward how we, as Catholics, can defend and explain our beliefs and why we do what we do to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters.
Purgatory is a process of purification and while the actual word purgatory does not appear in the Bible, Dr. Hahn cited the fact that the Jews have always prayed for the dead. Those in Heaven donīt need our prayers and those in Hell canīt be helped with our prayers. Certain passages in the Bible refer to a cleansing fire, such as:
But if someoneīs work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. (I Cor 3:15)
Purgatory was never questioned in the Early Church. In fact, it wasnīt until the 1500īs that Martin Luther questioned purgatory.
"Why donīt we just go straight to God?"
Dr. Hahn said we should go right to God as well. On our way to confession we should be talking to God about our sins and our sorrow for them. But, when we sin against the Father those sins also affect the family - our Christian family. This is something else that was never debated in the Early Church. It was a universal practice to confess sins to presbyters (priests).
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:13-16)
On Infant Baptism
Dr. Hahn told us that in the Early Church even Protestants baptized their infants. When households were baptized, everyone was included. Infants were always included. Why should they not be included now? He went on to explain that Infant Dedication, something some Protestant churches practice, is nowhere to be found in the Bible. He said that they want their infants to not be left out - hence the reason for such a practice. But they are.
He described original sin not as a stain, but an absence of supernatural grace. Through Baptism comes this gift of grace.
Go to: Reflections of An Afternoon with Scott Hahn - Part 2
Peace in Christ,