Friday, October 2, 2009

Dr. Hahn and the Holy Spirit (I'm purple)

[new and improved Oct 6, with comments from Dave Armstrong's blog. Thanks Dave!]

There is a controversy swirling around Dr. Scott Hahn's conjectures regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit. Some have said Dr. Hahn is teaching that the Holy Spirit is feminine. Dr. Hahn denies this. Yesterday he dove into a blog discussion over on Unam Sanctam Catholicam.


http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2009/09/scott-hahns-maternal-spirit-compared-to.html


Dr. Hahn and Boniface,
I'm just wondering what Dr.'s teaching will do to this prayer we recite after each decade of the Rosary (at least when we are at Church) "Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary your well beloved spouse." I'm a big fan of 'As we pray, so we believe'. I am afraid such a teaching might alter the way the Church has prayed for 2,000 years....

A Catholic friend waiting for his plane to Iraq said he was put off by the Methodist chaplain who began his public prayer: "Father-Mother God". Was my friend not well catechized? I'm just wondering. Dr. Hahn is saying that God is Father and Mother.....

Of course if Dr. Hahn wants to get on board with my campaign for Communion kneelers, I might lose some of my fears. We monomaniacs can be very tolerant! :-)
K.C.
[PS on another note I just found: Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Moravians, openly taught the doctrine Dr. Hahn seems to be hinting at. I believe the Moravians celebrated the Holy Spirit's enthronement as 'Mother' of the Church. This does not necessarily make the teaching wrong...but I don't see how such a teaching won't conflict with the role we traditionally give to Mary... also if Dr. Hahn is giving us a true teaching, then why does its most clear enunciation come from non-Catholic Moravians? I missed the memo where the Church's magisterial faculty got subcontracted out! :-)]
Randy said...
You seem to be implying that Scott Hahn has some big theology in his head that he is only hinting at. Somehow you know what it is and can figure out that someone else who taught something different is really just teaching a clearer version of Hahn's undisclosed theology. What if Hahn is making his true thoughts as clear as he can? What if he is hinting at something mysterious because all he sees are hints of something mysterious and not something clear that he just does not want to tell us?
Mon Oct 05, 03:54:00 PM EDT
Dave Armstrong said...
I've yet to see real interaction by critics with what Scott Hahn actually stated. Instead we get accusations and innuendoes and second-guessing. That is hardly fair to Scott, given the seriousness of the silly charges freely flung about.I guess it is the propensity for conspiratorialism and cynicism among some folks. Even the person who made the charges that Scott responded to withdrew them after Scott clarified.
Mon Oct 05, 06:14:00 PM EDT
Kneeling Catholic said...
Randy and Dave!You guys are formidable! I've seen much of your work. I'm a big fan!However, I think Dr. Hahn, by emphasizing the "motherhood" of the Holy Spirit, and then resorting to 'I never said the Holy Spirit was feminine,' has earned some second-guessing.What part of 'motherhood' is not feminine?!! This is not a rhetorical question. I'm serious.K.C.
Mon Oct 05, 08:41:00 PM EDT
Randy said...
I don't think Dr Hahn has been "emphasizing" the motherhood of the Holy Spirit. He made some carefully worded comments about it. He observed that there was some Catholic tradition behind it. Besides that his comments have been mostly responses to people who have freaked out. The man is a theologian. He is supposed to explore new territory. Give him a break.
Mon Oct 05, 11:36:00 PM EDT
Dave Armstrong said...
But Randy, it's more fun to find a closet liberal disguised as orthodox under every rock. :-)
Tue Oct 06, 12:37:00 AM EDT
(added 07 OCT 2009)>>>Further, the association of feminine imagery solely with the Spirit would reinforce the subordination of women in church and society"<<<<<

not wanting to beat a dead horse, but Dr. Hahn's idea of 'associating' God's mothering actions 'solely' in the Holy Spirit doesn't work. ((Someone might protest and say 'he's quoting someone else' -- yes, but he is accepting their characterization of his position ))
Did not our Lord want to gather Jerusalem like mother hen? Don't each of us believe that Christ is born of the Father before all ages? Does not the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and Son? If anything , Father and Son seem to be giving birth to the Holy Spirit!. I bring up these instances as examples of where God the Father and the Son are doing things associated with feminity..
(and the other day I heard Tom Delay say dancing helps him get in touch with his feminine side and bores do indeed have teats! and so do most men. Some even change diapers and wash dishes.)
We have as much reason to say the Father and Son are female as we do the Holy Spirit. Given that....Jesus still taught us to pray.....Pater Noster....
Not to mention what Hahn's compartmentalization does with our beliefs about Mary. Can she be spouse to the Holy Spirit (anymore) when she is the Holy Spirit's quasi-incarnation? If she cannot, then I would say Dr. Hahn has stopped being 'unoriginal' ...What Dr. Hahn has revealed about his ideas reminds me of the false compartmentalization worked into the ICEL's [very poor and now rejected] translation of the Gloria where 'worship, thanks, and praise' are only offered to the Father, instead of the to the entire Trinity.
K. C.
Jean Baptiste has left a new comment on the post "Scott Hahn's Response": KC,Hahn posted a link to the chapter in which he treats your concern. He acknowledges that Mary may be characterized as the "spouse of the Holy Spirit," but only in a figurative sense, not in a strict and proper sense. Hahn cites THE book on St. Maximilian Kolbe's teachings about Mary and the Holy Spirit (Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit, by H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, O.P.): "With profound cleverness he (Kolbe) developed the multiple aspects contained in the notion of 'Spouse of the Holy Spirit'.... It is an analogy, Saint Maximilian Kolbe stresses, that gives a glimpse of the ineffable, intimate and fruitful union between the Holy Spirit and Mary." ...
In Kolbe's own words, "the name of Spouse of the Holy Spirit cannot express more than a far-off, pale, imperfect shadow of this union" (p. 152). Hahn tries to show why it cannot be strictly applied to the third Person of the Trinity as anything other than a metaphor: "The eternal personhood of the Holy Spirit... cannot be made to depend upon a creature, no matter how exalted (e.g., Mary is the 'spouse' of the Holy Spirit), since that would imply absurd or impossible notions (viz., before Mary's creation, the Trinity would have consisted of a Father, Son, and Holy Bachelor)" (First Comes Love, p. 205). ..
Jean Baptiste!
Thanks for your interest!..
>>>> "The eternal personhood of the Holy Spirit... cannot be made to depend upon a creature, no matter how exalted (e.g., Mary is the 'spouse' of the Holy Spirit), since that would imply absurd or impossible notions (viz., before Mary's creation, the Trinity would have consisted of a Father, Son, and Holy Bachelor)" (First Comes Love, p. 205). <<<<..
I thought we were talking about one of Mary's legitimate titles, not the Holy Spirit's. Even so, let me adopt the straw man Dr. Hahn gives me. Let's we are discussing the title 'Holy Spirit, Spouse of the Immaculate Conception'. Eternity possesses a foreknowledge we don't. Jesus has the title 'Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.' God knows all of us before we exist. I just don't see the problem here...
>> (Hahn) acknowledges that Mary may be characterized as the "spouse of the Holy Spirit," but only in a figurative sense, not in a strict and proper sense......Hahn tries to show why it cannot be strictly applied to the third Person of the Trinity as anything other than a metaphor <<<..
"....but.....cannot.....absurd...."
It sounds like Dr. Hahn is undermining Mary's title "spouse of the Holy Spirit". At least Dr. Hahn is being logically consistent, but this is exactly where he should not go. That particular title has a long and venerable tradition both in the prayers of the Church (an even better guide to the Faith than College professors) and on the lips of Popes...
>>In Kolbe's own words, "the name of Spouse of the Holy Spirit cannot express more than a far-off, pale, imperfect shadow of this union" (p. 152).<<..
Dr. Hahn's selective quotation here is disturbing. Why did he leave off the beginning of Kolbe's sentence?! I fear that it is because Kolbe uses the dreaded H words, 'he' and 'his' and that is not where Dr. Hahn wants to take us. The entire sentence reads ..
>>The Holy Spirit established his dwelling in Mary from the very first moment of her existence, he took absolute possession of her and so pervaded her that the name of Spouse of the Holy Spirit cannot express more than a far-off, pale, imperfect shadow of this union<<<..
The masculine imagery of the first half of the sentence, along with its pronouns, is hard to miss.
As far as Kolbe's use of the word 'imperfect'....There are different kinds of imperfect.!i.e.' right direction but incomplete' vs 'wrong direction'. Kolbe is saying the title of spouse is right but incomplete. Dr. Hahn is leaning towards 'wrong direction'. And speaking of incomplete!! If Dr. Hahn has truly butchered this quote the way it appears he has, then remind me not to buy a used car off of him!!...
K.C.

3 comments:

  1. KC,
    If you read the chapter Dr. Hahn wrote and posted online, you will notice some things. First, he always uses "he" and "him" with the Holy Spirit. Second, he does not lean against calling Mary the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. He uses it just like St. Maximilian Kolbe did, who he always recommends in his classes and talks and writings. Third, he did not "butcher" any quotes from Kolbe. I did. I pulled the quotes from the book that Hahn cited, and I only shortened them to keep my post from running too long. I know Dr. Hahn is far from perfect, and he knows it too, and he reminds his students of that often. I do not understand why you seem to be so suspicious and severe in your criticisms.
    JB

    ReplyDelete
  2. +J.M.J+

    The following article may either help clear things up a bit or possibly complicate them even more:

    Mary the Bride of God
    http://home.earthlink.net/~mysticalrose/bride2.html

    Our Lady is actually the Mystical Spouse of the entire Trinity, not just the Holy Ghost. It seems the title "Spouse of the Holy Spirit" appropriates the spousal relationship to the Third Person of the Trinity, when it is really common to all Three.

    If God has no sex or gender, but possesses all the respective perfections associated with men and women (as the Catechism says in paragraph 370), then is it not conceivable that God the Holy Spirit could act in a "masculine" manner as Spouse toward Mary and in a "maternal" manner toward us, as Scott Hahn suggests?

    Scripture itself says that God sometimes acts toward us in a maternal manner, see Isaiah 49:15 and 66:13. Yet God is still Our Father, He still acts in a paternal manner toward us as well. So why can't the Holy Spirit act as Spouse toward Mary personally and in a maternal role toward us, perhaps through her and the Church? It would just be another way God that relates to us.

    Also, the Church Fathers and many Saints since have called the Holy Ghost the "Soul of the Church," and we know that the Church is the Bride of Christ, our spiritual Mother, who gives birth to us in Baptism. One Scripture passage Scott Hahn points out is where the baptized are said to have been "born of the Spirit." If the Spirit gives birth to us in Baptism, it is in and through Mother Church whom He "ensouls." It doesn't mean that He is essentially feminine in gender, just that He works through Mother Church in a "maternal" manner. Could He perhaps work through Mary in a similar manner, since she is also our heavenly Mother and very closely united to Him (as St. Maximilian Kolbe said)?

    I hope that adds to the discussion. God bless you.

    In Jesu et Maria,
    Rosemarie

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