For years, I made videos explaining the faith, digging into the history and nuance of how Catholicism developed. The “Catholicism in Focus” series was a resource that I know many people appreciated. Unfortunately, I dreaded making them, and eventually couldn’t justify the series anymore. Well, it’s back. Sort of.
Progress Isn’t Always Progress
For many, history is a story of constant progress: we are more advanced than a generation ago, which was more advanced than the generation before that, and so on, back to the caveman. But is this actually true? I’d like to suggest that this is a lie of the Enlightenment, and it’s gotten us into some big problems lately.
Few movies are quite as iconic in recent memory than Braveheart. Before there was The Lord of the Rings, this was the film everyone watched for some ancient, brutish heroism. It definitely has some historical flaws, but Fr. Tito and I are willing to overlook them.
Upon Friar Review Video Blocked
One of the challenges in making a “react” style channel is YouTube’s draconian approach to fair use and copyright infringement. Many weeks, our videos are automatically flagged for including copyrighted material, which requires a dispute process. Every video, thus far, has been released, but sometimes it takes longer than others. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on this week’s video to be released. When it’s up, I’ll let you know!
In Response to Trent Horn
Last week, a popular apologist by the name of Trent Horn posted a response to my video about the Chosen where I discussed the origins of the Gospels. Because of this video, many have concluded that I was incorrect in my presentation, or worse yet, deeply misinformed and heretical. A few words.
The theological position that Horn presents in regards to the dating of the Gospels has gained popularity in recent years, but it remains the minority position. Few legitimate scholars advocate it. In critiquing my take, he failed to acknowledge that what I was presenting has been the prevailing scholarship for decades, found explicitly described in the introduction to the New American Bible, the translation commissioned and approved by the USCCB. Intellectually, I am open to the validity of his claim, but found his presentation very disingenuous and misleading—he is free to critique the prevailing scholarship, but don’t present it as if it’s my personal idea and that I alone am in error. I simply presented what most theologians accept to be true.
The second issue regarded what he deemed confusing about my language. Taking just a few lines, out of context, he concluded and told his viewers that I denied the historicity of the Gospels. This is simply not true. The problem that most seem to not understand, possibly even Horn, is that the discipline of history changed drastically after the Enlightenment. Today, it is all about precision of facts. We want pure objectivity. That is not how history was written in the time of Jesus. It included symbolism, theological reflections, exaggerations, and allusions to other words, and was written not simply to document what happened but to convince the reader of something. With that in mind, it would be inappropriate, as I said in the video, to read the Gospels as we would historical documents today. They are not newspaper articles. They are not history textbooks. They are historical and contain much of what really happened, but they also contain a lot more. For this reason, they should be treated more as theological documents than as pure, objective history.
This is neither my opinion nor a controversial take. It’s simply how biblical scholarship works. To suggest from this that I do not accept the historicity of the Gospels is more than disingenuous—it is highly hurtful to my reputation as a priest. Any suggestion that I am not orthodox in my beliefs of that I am uneducated is simply not true.
Have a Happy Feast!
This week Franciscans around the world will remember the life and death of St. Francis of Assisi. I hope your celebrations go well!
Sadly, there are far too many arm chair theologians running around these days. Please know that those of us with functioning minds, minds willing to admit what we don’t know and willing to learn, appreciate all of your videos and all of your commentaries!
Here, here, producerjt – fully agree with your comments! THANK YOU Fr.Casey for taking the time to clarify for your challengers and your listeners. I, too, was rather stunned that faithful Catholics would fail to see the truth and beauty in your second video on The Chosen. Your faithfulness to Jesus and his Church is refreshing and consoling. Looking forward to the new Reclaiming Catholicism series!
Father Casey, Trent Horn would not have meant to denigrate your priesthood or to hurt you in any way. Maybe you should contact him, to arrange to film an honest conversation between you both. I doubt that you’d end up with much dividing you.
Well, sorry to say but Mr. Horn certainly gave it his best shot Kevin. When someone takes words out of context and states opinion as fact and blatantly tries to convince his audience “his problem with Fr Casey” then in my view, is intentional. Nowhere does Trent Horn leave his interpretation room for debate, which unfortunately is a common thread in our world today, to spread misinformation. placing spins on Fr Casey’s words, deflecting from the true and complete statements made, and small but to your point of his intentions to influence his audience….at the onset…introducing Fr Casey,.”Fr Casey Cole, a Franciscan Friar, a popular u tuber who reaches a lot of people and that’s why I don’t want them to get the wrong idea” Seriously?
Laden with setting up his audience with the “intent” to undermine Fr Casey. If he were truly objective in his disagreements with Fr Casey to leave room for debate perhaps he could have introduced him as……Fr Casey a Priest who is a Franciscan Friar with some respectful verbiage of Fr Casey’s education, training and works. Secondly, because Mr. Horn is an apologetic does that automatically give him a free pass to not first review his material before criticizing a critique on the movie, The Chosen?
Lastly to your point of arranging a dialogue between the two, in my view, it would be futile because once a person can intentionally alter the truth to build up their own empire at the expense of another, I hardly think Mr. Horn would come into the conversation with a contrite heart.
I agree with you.
Keep doing what you are doing, Father. Anyone doing even introductory Bible studies offered through parishes should understand the scholarship you have cited. These debates will still continue and evolve … unless time travel becomes a possibility… and even then human nature being what it is we would still debate it relentlessly….
Hi Father Casey,
I was introduced to critical models of biblical scholarship in college, and while I was raised Catholic, it was very difficult to know what to do with that perspective on the scriptures. My college was not Catholic, so nothing prepared me to reconcile my faith as I understood it with higher criticism. For this reason, I am somewhat sympathetic to fellow Catholics who are uncomfortable with your video. Fortunately, I was later introduced to the work of Fr. Raymond Brown. For me, knowing that a faithful priest fully in communion with the Church studied and educated in this tradition helped me to set aside my concerns and be more open to modern scholarship. I thank God I learned all of this back in the 90s, before this contemporary reactionary movement had trained so may Catholics to have such a narrow vision of the Catholic faith. What must it be like for the sheep to be convinced their shepherds are wolves from the pope on down to friars?
May God bless you in your work.