A Wednesday evening launch party kicked off this year’s St. Paul Center Bible study, “The Bible and the Church Fathers,” at 7 p.m. in the Gentile Gallery.
The Bible study, a six-session video series, will be played for participants weekly throughout Lent, and three of the program’s major contributors — Scott Hahn, John Bergsma and Mike Aquilina — spoke at this introductory event.
The night began with the showing of the program’s trailer, which highlighted the importance of the Church Fathers in understanding Scripture.
Scott Hahn, who holds a doctorate in biblical theology and is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, then took the stage to introduce the speaker of the evening, John Bergsma. Bergsma, who holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame, focused his speech on his conversion story.
Once an evangelical Protestant studying to become a pastor, Bergsma began to doubt the ideas of salvation through faith alone and truth in Scripture alone.
He explained that a “faith alone” mentality often led people he knew to not bother living truly holy lives. And “Scripture alone” did not make sense to him, either, he said, since there were hundreds of different Protestant denominations that interpreted the same Bible in completely different ways.
“All this was bothering me quite a bit,” said Bergsma, so he left his Protestant church.
“I did something rash,” he said. “I applied to graduate school.”
Bergsma enrolled at Notre Dame, where he met a Catholic who explained to him where many Catholic doctrines are in the Bible and also where the Bible affirms the authority of the Church and its tradition.
“My goodness,” Bergsma remembered saying to himself, “what else might there be in Scripture that I haven’t seen before?”
While all of this was tempting him to become Catholic, Bergsma explained that the final push into conversion was reading the writings of the Church Fathers. These great Christian thinkers, some of whom personally knew the apostles, wrote strikingly Catholic material, he said.
In was in that “beating heart of the Church,” said Bergsma, that he was finally convinced. And that is the focus of this new Bible study.
After the talk, Bergsma, Hahn and Catholic writer Mike Aquilina answered audience questions about the Bible and the Church Fathers in a Q&A.
The Gentile Gallery was full, and even more audience members were tuning in to an online livestream of the event. Those present received free Chick-fil-A at the end of the night.
This party was hosted by the St. Paul Center. “The Bible and the Church Fathers” study will take place Wednesday nights from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Pugliese Auditorium from Feb. 26 to April 15.