Monday, November 9, 2015

The Mystery of God (Word on Fire)

"There are many views of God. Some see Him as a mythological figure; others as a distant first cause, a supreme being in the conventional sense. Some consider Him a threat to our freedom. But the True God is not one being among many, and he's not a competitor to our flourishing. God is that that which nothing greater can be thought, the strange and unique source of finite existence itself." These are the opening words of Fr. Robert Barron's latest DVD study entitled, The Mystery of God. Judging by those opening words, I can tell that this study is going to be deep!

There are two DVDs, each with three lessons and a little over an hour in length. This makes each lesson approximately 20 to 25 minutes in length. This proves to be the perfect length for the depth of the material discussed. I personally have watched these lessons solo and in a small group, and in both settings, I found myself stopping the DVDs to pause, rewind, and re-listen to what was just said. The six lessons are as follows:

1. Atheism and What We Mean by "God"
2. The Paths to God
3. The Divine Attributes
4. Providence and the Problem of Evil
5. Exploring the Trinity
6. The God Who is Love

The first lesson really sets the stage for the whole series as it elaborate on who God is/is not. Fr. Barron explains that the Incarnation is the chief distinctive doctrine of Christianity, and in the Incarnation we are supposed to find our true identity in God, and that God is not in competition with His creation. He then goes on to explain some of the different heresies concerning God including Nestorianism and monophysitism. He also talks about Ludwig Feuerbach and his influence on Karl Marx which ultimately influenced the New Atheists. What I really liked in this lesson was Fr. Barron contrasting God with the Greek gods. He tells us that when the Greek gods came down and got involved with human affairs, they wrecked humanity. When God involves Himself with humanity, he can do so without taking anything away from the creation He enters. This can be seen in the burning bush, and it can also be seen when He becomes a man, who is fully God and fully human.

Watching this video series was enlightening but at times overwhelming with knowledge. Fr. Barron pulls from ancient figures in theology, philosophy, and psychology like Aristotle and Augustine to more recent figures like Aquinas and Karl Rahner. He definitely showed off his knowledge and kept it at a mostly surface to shallow level, but in these deep waters, that too can be daunting. It is definitely not as approachable as his Catholicism series, not that that is a bad thing, as we need more challenging material to keep us growing and learning. I will end this review with some closing words on who this series is for. I have seen a lot of people say that this series is good for believers and non-believers, but I would disagree. People seem to be under the impression that if they give a non-believer this program, they will have to believe in God and renounce their atheism. That is not the case. It takes more than knowledge to believe in God. It takes humility to accept there is a God and that you are not the ultimate being in charge of your life. This series will help you stand your ground against the attacks of atheists, but it is not a conversion tool.

This program was provided to me for free by Word on Fire in exchange for an honest review.