The Theology of Robert Barron
The Theology of Robert Barron
In The Theology of Robert Barron, Matthew Levering explores the key themes and sources of Bishop Robert Barron’s theological vision, tracing the development of his thought from his years as a student in the 1970s and 80s to the present. Levering surveys Barron’s theology by studying his critical engagements with a cast of thinkers from his formative period, including Andrew Greeley, Michel Corbin, Raymond Brown, Edward Schillebeeckx, John P. Meier, George Lindbeck, Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and Richard Rohr. Levering shows how Barron appropriated, elaborated, and critiqued the thought of these interlocutors to develop a powerful and nuanced theology of his own.
At the center of Barron’s theological vision is the noncompetitive Creator God, who radically transcends the order of finite beings while sustaining all things by his power and presence. Because God does not “compete” ontologically with his creatures, he is able to come so near as to become one of us without ceasing to be himself. We encounter Christ as the central character of the drama that unfolds in Sacred Scripture. Barron emphasizes that Christianity is an embodied, communal way of being. To become a Christian is to enter into a distinctive cultural milieu, venerate its saints, adopt its sensibility, and embrace its practices.
Levering shows how Barron integrates these speculative, moral, and spiritual dimensions into a theological picture that, although deeply and distinctly Catholic, is also oriented to the world outside the Church and to evangelization.
What People are Saying
"Bishop Barron’s creative and substantive books, lectures, homilies, videos, and films have been a blessing to many. He has now been blessed in turn by this fine study of his theology that is itself both creative and substantive. Matthew Levering provides an excellent exploration of Barron’s theology that helpfully situates it in relation to prominent thinkers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. What emerges with renewed clarity in Levering’s study is Barron’s sense of the absolute centrality of Jesus Christ for Catholic life, thought, and evangelization. As Levering puts it, Barron’s aim is 'to rediscover the radical Gospel of transformative commitment to the "troublesome, fascinating, and culture-transforming person of Jesus Christ."'"
— Fr. Robert P. Imbelli, Author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination
"From the beginning of the Church, bishops were first and foremost preachers of the Gospel and teachers of the Catholic faith. In our time, the Church in America, and perhaps in the whole world, has no more effective and far-reaching preacher and teacher of the faith than Bishop Robert Barron. The tireless Matthew Levering here offers much insight into the spiritual riches and theological depth of Bishop Barron’s work. The countless souls who have drawn spiritual and intellectual sustenance from Bishop Barron will find in this book a faithful unfolding of his Catholic vision and come to a deeper appreciation of what he has given us."
— Bruce D. Marshall, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
"In The Theology of Robert Barron, Matthew Levering deftly explores the central themes and influences of Bishop Barron’s thought and its development over time. This study helps to set the record straight against the distortions that inevitably circulate in social media around such a prominent Catholic figure. The Theology of Robert Barron profiles a theologian of both breadth and depth who brings together the best currents of modern scholarship with the traditional Thomistic underpinnings of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The theology of Bishop Barron comes alive in these pages as an exemplary model of the best of ressourcement theology. At once traditional and innovative, Bishop Barron’s approach ties together the Church’s tradition and Vatican II’s call for a renewal in theology in a manner that is thoroughly erudite and yet supremely accessible. I cannot recommend this timely book more highly to anyone interested in the ongoing theological debates in the Church."
— Larry Chapp, Retired Professor of Theology, DeSales University; Manager of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm, Harveys Lake, PA