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dc.contributor.advisorRae, Murray
dc.contributor.advisorCostello, Tim
dc.contributor.authorHolmes, Martin George
dc.date.available2020-04-06T05:01:34Z
dc.date.copyright2020
dc.identifier.citationHolmes, M. G. (2020). Answering the call: Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire ministry in light of the New Evangelization (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/10019en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/10019
dc.description.abstractThis thesis explores the theology and ministry of Bishop Robert Barron, a prominent American Catholic evangelist. Specifically, it analyzes the purpose, content, and success of his evangelization program in light of the many problems facing the Catholic Church in the United States of America since the Second Vatican Council (1961-1965). This Council aimed to rejuvenate the Church internally and improve its relations with the wider culture. Yet Catholicism in the Western world since the 1960s, and especially since the advent of the new millennium, has experienced a significant loss of influence and active members. For these reasons, Church leaders have called for a New Evangelization, directing their attention in particular to the increasingly secular West. Barron’s Word on Fire ministry represents the most concerted effort in America, home to one of the largest Catholic populations on earth, to actualize the New Evangelization. It also seems to be among the most successful, for Barron has inspired many laypeople to support Word on Fire, earned the respect of the hierarchy and the Vatican, and prompted a substantial number of non-Catholics to convert; he has also made a favorable impression upon the wider culture. As almost no academic literature exists about Barron or his relationship to the New Evangelization, this thesis aims to provide the first comprehensive explanation of his popularity and theological significance. To accomplish this goal, the thesis explores four key aspects of Barron’s thought: his understandings of God, ecclesiology, Tradition, and Catholic humanism. It then discusses the logistics of Word on Fire. The thesis contends, firstly, that Barron’s success is attributable to his vibrant theology. Although Barron strives to be loyal to the Magisterium, he makes a special effort to portray its teachings in a fresh, dynamic manner. This helps him to engage with demographics not usually receptive to Catholic evangelization, for example, committed atheists and lapsed Catholics. A second factor that underscores his popularity, the study argues, is Barron’s innovative use of technology, the internet in particular. For in addition to reinforcing his vibrant persona, his use of these media enables him to reach an enormous number of people. At the same time, the thesis contends that Barron’s unsystematic approach to theology and evangelization, though beneficial in many respects, also has certain shortcomings. Above all, it introduces an element of inconsistency into his theology that, at times, detracts from his main points. In addition, the thesis contends that Barron’s desire to transform Word on Fire into a popular movement akin to Opus Dei before attending to the downsides of his unsystematic style might generate logistical difficulties and damage the reputation of his otherwise successful ministry.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectNew Zealand
dc.subjectCatholic
dc.subjectVaticanII
dc.subjectBarron
dc.subjectRobert
dc.titleAnswering the call: Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire ministry in light of the New Evangelization
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2020-04-06T02:40:02Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineTheology
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelDoctoral
otago.openaccessOpen
otago.evidence.presentYes
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