4 Lessons from Bishop Barron’s Interview with an Atheist

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Bishop Barron had an awesome interview on the Rubin Report, a YouTube channel dedicated to cultural commentary and has a massive following, especially among the non-theist crowd. Rubin does a fantastic job of asking honest questions and letting his guests explain their ideas, staying away from leading and “gotcha” questions that seem to dominate most of the Internet.

Barron rocked it, and Rubin’s watchers were duly impressed. Some of them are now considering the Catholic Church as a result. Some remain staunch atheists but loved Barron on the show.

The interview itself is great (watch below) lots of lessons we can draw for our own evangelization efforts. I’m going to highlight four things he did really well.


Humility means viewing ourselves the way God does. It means avoiding an inflated sense of self-worth, and also avoiding self-deprecation and thinking we’re worthless.

Humility can’t really be faked, and Barron is the real deal. Early on in the interview, Rubin introduces him as “a man of God” and Barron genuinely responds with, “Yeah, I hope so,” with a laugh. It was a wonderful moment and really showed Barron’s humanity and his genuine love.

In any of our conversations, humility is a fantastic starting point. It helps others see us as people, as human beings. It helps us be real and genuine and not have to have all the answers right away.

Don’t Be Afraid to Admit Weakness

Not only does this one cover admitting when you don’t know the answer, it also means not glossing over problems in the Church. In particular, Barron doesn’t run from the sex abuse scandal, a question many of Rubin’s audience had for him. Instead, he was brutally honest with its negative effects on the Church (and the Church’s evangelization efforts), calling it one of the most destructive things for the Catholic Church in America. And rightly so.

By not running from an ugly situation, by not pretending everything was perfect, Barron gained a lot of respect from the audience by showing an area where they both agreed. And from that common ground, he was able to speak into how the Church has been able to address the sex abuse scandal and make sure it will not happen again, at least not to that scale.

Another area Barron truly shone came as Rubin asked about abortion, particularly abortion in cases of rape. He acknowledged the immense trauma, physically and psychologically, on a rape victim. And at the same time, he remained firm that the life of the child is a human life and deserves protection, that the child should not be the victim of the rapist’s crime. By first acknowledging the difficulty of the situation, Barron was able to speak truth into that situation and the audience would actually listen to it.

Know Your Stuff

Barron knows the faith extremely well, there is no doubt about that. And it wasn’t just a head knowledge either, he could explain it in a way that made sense to the audience, clearly and concisely.

He wasn’t perfect. His answers weren’t all perfectly eloquent, and I’m sure with more time he could’ve done a better job. Yet, all in all, he explained the goodness and beauty of the Church’s teachings in a way his audience, even non-theists, could understand.

We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to know our stuff and be able to explain it well.

Get Out of Your Bubble

In fact, when Barron started his YouTube channel, his goal was to engage those farthest from the Church. He knew a video on lessons from Thomas Aquinas wouldn’t engage them, but a commentary on the Hunger Games would. Barron’s following had theists and non-theists alike, and it was those followers who suggested Rubin reach out to him.

If Barron had stayed in a Catholic bubble, the interview wouldn’t have happened. Through it, and through his videos, he’s able to engage those who would “never darken a church doorway” as he says in the interview.

If we get out of our bubble, who might we reach?

Watch the Interview:

Belief, Faith, and the Church Sex Scandal (Bishop Barron Interview Pt. 1) | Rubin Report, YouTube
Abortion, Gay Marriage, and Porn (Bishop Barron Interview Pt. 2) | Rubin Report, YouTube

Photo: Stillframe from Part 1 of the Interview