A few years ago, my roommate transitioned from Evangelicalism to full communion to Rome. In the process, he told me I should check out Scott Hahn, because Hahn was a Presbyterian convert and at the time I was a Presbyterian. I watched Hahn once on EWTN, and read two pages from his memoir Rome, Sweet Home, and swore him off. If you’re not aware, he’s the poster boy and apologist for Protestants-turned-Catholic.

Somewhere along the way, I swore I would have nothing to do with him because of the triumphalism with which Catholics paraded Hahn around, and for the last five years I held to that.

But I heard him speak on Radio Maria a few months ago, and when I recently found a free .mp3 copy of his five-part “Answering Common Objections” series (which normally runs about $35), I decided to listen to it. (You can listen to it in Real Audio here.)

The series looks at the papacy, purgatory, Mary, the Saints and the Eucharist. I’ve listened to all but the Eucharist sessions. The speeches were apparently delivered to a Catholic audience over the course of a number of days, and each session is broken into three 30-minute segments.

During the papacy session, Hahn does a decent job arguing for a Petrine supremacy, though I think his Peter-centric reading of Acts is a bit of a stretch. The question that lingered after this session — at least for me — is do the keys really denote succession?

The purgatory session was the best presentation of the idea that I’ve ever heard, and finally helped me understand just what is actually supposedly achieved by purgatory in the light of Christ’s finished work. Plusses include that Hahn admits that the idea purgatory can only be inferred from scripture with the support of Tradition, and minuses include when he gets a little distracted by trying to prove that the story of Lazarus and the rich man is about purgatory, an interpretation that I think is well beyond any kind of honest reading.

I’ll be honest: I have no idea what Hahn was driving at during the Mary presentation. Hahn mentions the traditional idea of Mary as the true Ark of the Covenant, and then spends far too long talking about ancient near east Queen Mother traditions and the roles they played in Israelite history. He talks a bit about the nativity and the rosary, tries to read Mary into Revelation 12, and recommends a bunch of books about the marian dogmas. FAIL.

The first two segments of the saints presentation was OK, very similar to an Orthodox apology for the cult of the saints, very heavy with proof-texts from Revelation. In the last segment, Hahn remembered that he didn’t really address many of the actual Marian objections, so he touches on them briefly in the context of Mary as a saint. I left this session with one question, the same question I have had for years — OK, so how do we know the saints hear us? Sure, everything that you’ve said may be true, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not talking to the air when I address anyone other than members of the Trinity.

So, has it answered many of my objections? It’s answered — though not necessarily assuaged — some, and perhaps opened a few more.

I’ll finish up with a few thoughts after I finish the Eucharist session.

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