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Biblical Scholars Unpack St. Paul“St. Paul was the model of true conversion," says Hahn
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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STEUBENVILLE, OH--“St. Paul was the model of true conversion, which is giving your life over to the Lord in a radical and complete way. In that way, Paul is a true convert and an example for all of us,” said Dr. Scott Hahn, host of the Applied Biblical Studies Conference, held July 23-25 at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.
In honor of the year of St. Paul, over 450 people from across the U.S, Canada, Ghana, and Australia listened to Catholic biblical scholars unpack St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Using the example of his own journey to the Catholic faith from the Presbyterian Church, Hahn said Romans enabled him to better grasp the Catholic faith and pointed out that all Christian denominations can hold Paul’s writings up as truth.
“This book can change people. It can bring Catholics and Protestants together. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that the Pauline Year is an ecumenical event. That’s why he invited so many other faiths to his declaration of the year of St. Paul,” said Hahn. “Because of the amazing grace that he received, Paul was able to spread the message of Christ to many people.”
Dr. Timothy Gray, a professor of Sacred Scripture at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, highlighted the way Paul led early Christians in evangelization. Paul gave the bad news—that both Jews and Gentiles have sin and that sin is a universal struggle—then turned to the richness of God and how Jesus conquers sin. Lastly, Paul turned to the example of Abraham, showing the importance of faith in all circumstances.
Gray explained why Paul took the “good news, bad news” approach. “We can’t have any evangelization when people do not think that they are sick with sin and need help. This is why Paul uses the bad news to show that all people are sinful, and then the good news, with the faithfulness of God and promise to all his people, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.”
Father Pablo Gadenz, who recently completed his doctorial dissertation on Romans at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, celebrated Mass and spoke at the conference. He said Romans is essential reading for any follower of Christ, adding that Paul is the most prominent writer of the New Testament.
“Benedict XVI said it’s not just a question of who was Paul, but who is Paul and how he can speak to us today, especially during this year,” said Father Gadenz. “By studying Paul’s letters and the Acts of the Apostles, where we learn about Paul’s life, we can appreciate what Paul says, because he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he continues to talk to us today.”
Jeff Cavins, former host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, told attendees that it was important that Catholics become more educated in Scripture.
“The typical Catholic simply doesn’t know the biblical story,” he said. “Catholics don’t know God’s words and how he’s revealed himself in salvation history as well as not completely understanding the traditions of the Catholic Church. As a result of not knowing God’s word and the Church, they can’t bridge the gap between faith and everyday life.”
When you can’t connect your purpose in the world with any faith, Cavins said, you can begin to lose hope. “But, Scripture is filled with hope and truth. Studying the Bible is about regaining our story and realizing who we are.”
Cavins mentioned four “pillars of faith”—the Apostle’s Creed, the sacraments and liturgy, life in Christ, and prayer—that can help people to renew hope in Christ and regain “the ultimate intimacy with God.”
By using these pillars, he said, we can show others where we receive our strength and hope, giving others hope as well.
Dr. Scott Hahn closed the conference, reminding attendees of the promises of God. “There is one thing we find in Paul’s writings and that is, the knowledge of our God and Father and of his son, our lord Jesus Christ. Once again, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is going to lead us back to the Father, to discover who God is and what that makes us—sons and daughters of God.”
For audio recordings of the main talks from the Applied Biblical Studies Conference, go to www.franciscan.edu/bookstore and click on the "Your Kingdom Come!" logo.