Swear to God   -     By: Scott Hahn
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Swear to God

Random House / 2004 / Hardcover

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Product Description

This book traces the biblical origins of commitments, showing how physical ritual serves as a reminder of important spiritual values. The result is a powerful lesson about why there is ultimate freedom in real commitment.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 196
Vendor: Random House
Publication Date: 2004
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0385509316
ISBN-13: 9780385509312

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Publisher's Description

The most solemn, majestic, and beautiful gifts that Jesus Christ gave to the world are His sacraments. He endowed them with unprecedented and unparalleled power—power to change lives, save souls, and share God’s very life. The sacraments are the ordinary means by which God directs the course of each human life and all of world history.

The Church celebrates seven sacraments: baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, matrimony, holy orders, confession, and anointing of the sick. Each was established by Jesus for the sake of salvation. When Jesus spoke of the sacraments, He made clear that they were essential: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5) . . . unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (Jn 6: 53).

In Swear to God, Dr. Scott Hahn explores the richness of Christ’s sacraments—their doctrine, history, symbols, and rituals. Drawing upon the Bible and the Church’s tradition, he shows how God’s covenants—with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David—became the driving forces in history. When Jesus came to fulfill all these covenants, He established a new covenant, with greater power than ever before. Christians are God’s children now. Joined to Christ by baptism, we can already share in the eternal life of the Trinity, a life we hope to know fully in heaven. But heaven is with us, even now, in the sacraments.

Author Bio

SCOTT HAHN is professor of biblical theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He also holds the Cardinal Laghi Chair in Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum. He is president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and director of the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies. An internationally renowned Catholic lecturer and theologian, he is the author of many books, including, most recently, Lord, Have Mercy. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio.

Publisher's Weekly

Hahn, a convert to Catholicism who is professor of biblical theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, continues his popular expositions on various aspects of the Catholic faith in this treatise on the church's seven sacraments. Written in the easy style that has opened the depths of Catholic theology to scores of laypeople, Hahn shares how he once regarded sacraments as "boring," but reconsidered that view after a challenge from his wife, Kimberly, while both were still Protestants. In reading the works of the church fathers, Hahn came to see the sacraments as signs of God's covenant with humanity and thus more than mere rituals. When Catholics receive them, he writes, they make a covenant with God that has weighty implications. He explains how in ancient times, parties to covenants would swear a sacred oath, offer a sacrifice and share a meal, all elements contained in the sacraments today. Hahn insists sacraments are based in scripture and makes a convincing case that they were not late additions to Christianity, but were practiced by the early church. He offers personal testimony as well, crediting grace from the sacrament of matrimony with sustaining him and his wife through the difficult period in which he left the Protestant ministry and converted to Catholicism. Catholics in search of a fresh look at their faith will find Hahn's enthusiasm inviting. His frequent references to the Catechism also should make this a helpful resource. (May 18) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

“This book, easy to read but profound in its implications, draws on the Bible, on Catholic teaching, patristic wisdom, and rabbinical learning to explain the meaning and importance of sacraments. What the author tells of his own discovery and experience of sacramental life is illuminating and heartwarming. It will help Catholics grasp better the wonder and necessity of sacraments in God’s plan of salvation and allow other Christians to see their significance for the following of Christ.”
—Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago

“As one who has lived with a lifelong realistic understanding of the sacraments, especially of the Holy Eucharist, I found Scott Hahn’s journey from Calvin’s devout but symbolic understanding to the traditional realism of the Church Fathers most enlightening. This book will be a big help to Catholics confronted by careless and inaccurate teaching about the sacraments. It will also aid Protestants, who have often lost even the sacramental piety of the Reformation and who are beginning to rediscover the sacraments instituted by Christ.”
--Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., author of In the Presence of Our Lord

“Dr. Hahn has done it once again: he has given us a crisp, clear and compelling look at the very essence of Catholic life, the sacraments. Simply put, Scott believes the sacraments really do work. And he believes that the sacraments are God’s wok for us, not our work for God.”
--Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee

“In Swear to God, Dr. Scott Hahn provides his readers with a fresh, enthusiastic introduction to the theology of Sacraments. His readers will be rewarded not only with clear theological information but also with authentically Catholic inspiration. His pen continues to be a blessing for all who seek a deeper understanding of what the Lord has revealed.”
--Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York

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  1. Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 23, 2014
    Nick Norelli
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    More than a primer on sacramental theology, Scott Hahn's Swear to God, is an eminently readable treatise on biblical covenants and the signs associated with them. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read Hahn's work as he's been studying covenant for decades. In fact, he says that "there is no idea more important to Scripture—and no idea more important to your life—than the idea of covenant" (60). He continues by saying that "the covenant cannot be understood apart from its divinely appointed signs" (60).

    And that's how the sacraments are to be understood; as the signs that mark God's covenant with his people. Hahn tells us that they are symbolic, but more than just symbols; memorials, but more than just reminders; rites of passage, but more than just rituals. He describes them as "divine actions on the order of the creation of the universe" (7). He tells us that they "marked moments in history—world history, salvation history, and personal history—when God was making a new start with his people" (7).

    Hahn also tells us that the sacraments "give grace, which is a share in God's life" (13). "All seven sacraments are actions of Jesus Christ. In Christ, heaven and earth meet, time and eternity unite most fruitfully. . . . In Christ, and in His sacraments, there is a marital bond between God and man, between the invisible and the visible" (28-29). And Hahn unpacks these statements in systematic order with a summary of what the sacraments are and where they can be found in Scripture.

    Hahn describes the Eucharist as "the sacrament of sacraments" and "the source and summit of all Christian life" while acknowledging that "Baptism is the doorway to all the other sacraments" (154) and yet he spends about three chapters (12-14) emphasizing marriage! And why not? The Church is the Bride of Christ awaiting the day when we partake in the great wedding feast of the Lamb! But one thing that Hahn does a great job of, especially as the book progresses, is showing how the sacraments are all intertwined.

    Hahn began the book with an anecdote from his time in seminary when he found the sacraments to be boring. Of course he was a Protestant back then and only believed in two sacraments, which he thought of as being largely symbolic. But the more he studied covenant the more he realized the importance of the sacraments and his conversion to Catholicism would help him to realize their ultimate significance. But what for the Protestant who reads this book? Do they need to make the move to Roman Catholicism to embrace the importance of sacramental theology?

    A Catholic might say yes. I'd disagree. I think that Hahn's book is the antidote to boredom with the sacraments among Catholics, but it's also a stimulus to Protestants who haven't really appreciated them to begin with. And appreciating them and partaking in them hinges, largely I think, on one's understanding of priesthood. Of course for Hahn only those validly ordained priests in the Catholic Church can administer many of the sacraments (marriage [which is only witnessed by a priest] and baptism are exceptions); but even he acknowledges a time when all men were priests.

    The priesthood was passed down from father to son before Israel's idolatry in the wilderness. I'd argue that in Christ the priesthood has been restored to all believers and as brothers of Christ and sons of God we're all valid ministers of the sacraments. I wouldn't expect a Catholic or Orthodox believer to agree, of course, but then again if they did they'd be Protestant! This does raise some interesting issues for how Protestants would appreciate and practice the sacrament of Holy Orders. I'd love to see a multiple views book dedicated to just this topic!

    I think the major strength of Swear to God is Hahn's ability to communicate in simple language without being simplistic. He's able to draw from the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (along with reference to some Jewish rabbis) without overwhelming the reader. This is the kind of book that will help readers coming from any perspective to appreciate that there's probably more going on with the sacraments than they had originally thought, and wherever we fall on these issues, a deeper appreciation is always a good thing!
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