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Priority of Christ, The: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism [Paperback]

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Item Number 41291  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.62" Height: 0.85"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 8, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  158743198X  
EAN  9781587431982  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Presents a fully Catholic theology that is both biblical and Christocentric, as well as rooted in the ethical and liturgical practices of community.

Publishers Description
For a long time, Christians have tried to bridge the divide between Christianity and secular liberalism with philosophizing and theologizing. In "The Priority of Christ," Father Robert Barron shows that the answer to this debate--and the way to move forward--lies in Jesus. Barron transcends the usual liberal/conservative or Protestant/Catholic divides with a postliberal Catholicism that brings the focus back on Jesus as revealed in the New Testament narratives.
Barron's classical Catholic post-liberalism will be of interest to a broad audience including not only the academic community but also preachers and general readers interested in entering the dialogue between Catholicism and postliberalism.

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More About Robert Barron

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Father Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, the Rector of Mundelein Seminary, and the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award winning documentary about the Catholic Faith. He received a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America (1982) and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris (1992).
He has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He has also appeared on several media outlets including NBC, PBS, FOX News, CNN, and EWTN. His website,, has reached over 3.8 million people and his weekly YouTube videos have been viewed over nine million times. His pioneering work in evangelizing through the new media led Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, to describe him as -one of the Church's best messengers.-

Robert Barron currently resides in Mundelein, in the state of Illinois. Robert Barron was born in 1959.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Learned, passionate, profound  Jul 16, 2007
In this very ambitious book, Robert Barron tries to reconstruct Christian theology, so that it gets beyond the sterile dead ends of modernity and liberalism. The book is learned, profound and passionate. He gives a very well-reasoned analysis of modern philosophy and its limitations. That story, of course, begins with Descartes, Hume and Locke and comes down to Derrida. The problem with all of these thinkers, argues Barron, is that they focus only on the individual. Descartes, of course, argued that the only certain knowledge that we have is the self-knowledge of the thinking individual. The line of logic cuts off the individual from God, and from tradition. As the modern world developed this logic, it has essentially destroyed all certainty, leaving us with this postmodern mush of most educated people believing that all morality is relative and that even truth itself is fundamentally subjective.

The problem, Barron argues, did not start with Descartes. It started with Duns Scotus and William of Occam. Scotus argued that God and creatures (us, the world) share the same type of being. God, in this view, is a bigger, better and more powerful being, but still a being, not fundamentally dissmilar to the rest of us. This view contrasts sharply with that of Thomas Aquinas, who argued that God is not just bigger and better than creatures; God has a fundamentally different type of being.

This sounds like a hair-splitting medieval argument, of no concern to modern times. Barron strongly argues to the contrary. If God is fundamentaly the same as the rest of us, he argues, we get into all kinds of difficulties. That sort of God competes with us. That sort of God tends to be a tyrant, or, alternatively, a deist, watchmaker God with no real involvement with us. That sort of God, in short, is no damm good, in alot of ways, and it is precisely these problems with the view of God that have lead us to all of the intellectual sterility of our own era.

Barron argues that we need to return to a Thomist view of God, as having a being fundamentaly different from the being of creatures. This God does not compete with, or tyrannize over, the world. Because God has a being that is entirely different than ours, God and us can co-exist. Indeed, not only do we not compete with God; we are at our best, when we are closest to God.

Barron makes a very serious argument that, as a matter of rational philosophy, we need to start with the Gospel. The New Testament, of course, makes some very radical claims for Jesus. It says that he is the way, the truth and the light. Barron argues that we need to take this quite literally, that we can not reason successfully unless we start with Jesus. (This is, of course, a return to Anselm. With Anselm, Barron argues that we do not reason, in order to find faith, but rather faith comes first; without faith, we cannot reason.)

Barron also focuses a good deal on the specific content of what it means to reason through the lens of the Christ mind. First, this is why the Universe is understandable and intelligible. The Universe was created by the divine Logos, which is Jesus and which is reason incarnate. The Universe, in short, has an intelligent pattern, which we can find, because its basic nature is to be based upon the divine logos.

Second, the divine nature is to exist in relationship, and according to the Law of the Gift. If we grasp greedily at things, we end up with nothing. If we, on the other hand, accept the gifts of God, and pass them on to others without ego, then we perpetually have more than enough. Barron discusses this in a very profound way, starting with the parable of the Prodigal Son and, along the way, discussing and refuting Derrida's attack on the idea of the gift.

I strongly urge anyone intrested in either religion or philosophy to read this book. I think it is important that this book find an audience beyond Catholics. To Catholics, of course, the book is important, as a defense of and an elaboration upon traditional Thomist and Augustinian thought. It is more than that, though, because it shows how the Church can escape the bind it is so often in, of, on the one hand, defending an undemocratic past in a rigid way (think, Franco), and, on the other hand, launching itself into a modern world that seems to be nothing but mushy left-wing politics and has forgotten God (sorry, but think most of what the Jesuits teach these days.) Barron shows us a way out of this bind, toward a Church which is engaged with the past, the present and the future. It is a real tour de force.

To others, though, I think this book could give a great deal. Many of our Evangelical friends believe that being a Christian means that one is in opposition to much of the modern world and its high culture. In one sense, that is profoundly correct; many things in the modern world are quite corrupt and Godless, and Christians must oppose them. In another sense, however, this is not correct. Christians should not be afraid of philosophy and higher education. This is one of the great gifts of the Church to the rest of the Christian world; it shows how to reconcile the highest and most advanced forms of science and philosophy with the truth of the Gospel. Barron is an excellent guide to that.

On the other side, many of our athiest friends see religion as unalterably opposed to reason and freedom. It has been common, since the Enlightenment, for educated people to believe that religion enslaves men's minds and oppposes science. That view is correct, with regard to certain types of religion. It is not correct, however, with regard to the authentic Christian tradition of the Church. Even for non-believers, Barron's book is important, in that it shows that Christian though is of the utmost seriousness philosophically, and it deeply challenges other ways of thought.

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